Story: The Archeologist
Summary: After having worked for over a decade as a Curse Breaker, Harry wakes up in an alternate time-line, in a grave belonging to Rose Potter. Fem!Harry
The lost city of Atlantis was probably the most famous of the lost cities, among muggles at least, but it certainly wasn't the only one mysteriously lost to the sands of time.
Some of them had been muggle-cities, others had been magical ones. In the end, death and destruction to the point of a city completely disappearing overnight wasn't all that unusual, especially when Dark Lords were involved.
Sometimes it was a ritualistic sacrifice for something, other times it was an attack that went far beyond sense, and sometimes it was an accident or experiment that went out of control. A few times however, it was to hide or protect something.
The tombs of Egypt were a variation of the last category, having been designed as a final resting place that no mortal should ever be able to disturb. More often, the last category was used to imply that someone had gone to a lot of trouble to hide away treasure behind an army of undead, or used a genocide to fuel the defenses in some non-inferi way.
Had Voldemort not been so insistent to work from the shadows, perhaps he would've hidden one of his horcruxes in such a manner. But, whether he'd suspected that it would draw too much attention to the horcruxes he'd wanted to remain secret, or if he just doubted that even sacrificing an entire muggle-village would be enough to stop Dumbledore if he had a vague idea of where to look, Voldemort went for a much more clandestine approach.
Nobody notices a few hundred muggles disappearing, as long as it's spread out over a big area and time-frame. And certainly, nobody would be guessing from those mostly-unnoticed disappearances that someone had set up a lake filled with inferi somewhere. But a small village disappearing without a trace? That'd be more than enough to pull in the attention of anyone who'd know what to look for.
Harry wouldn't have had the faintest idea of where to start looking if Voldemort had been that blatant, back then. Dumbledore might still have figured it out, but honestly Harry was pretty sure that Voldemort would've won if he'd just been a little less insistent on being perfectly hidden.
It's pretty easy to find where someone is hiding 'important stuff' if all you have to figure out is how a person thinks. At least, as long as you know the person in question. If Voldemort had instead just picked a small town at random and turned it into an inescapable death-trap? As long as he'd made sure that the town was randomly picked, and that nobody really knew where to start looking for the 'missing town', then he would've been in the clear.
It'd taken Harry the better part of a decade to reach the point where tracking down lost cities was normal, and if Voldemort had capitalized on Harry's inexperience with Curse Breaking back then, they would've lost.
Still, what was done was done, Harry wasn't really the type of person to dwell on things that could've been. He'd lived his entire life as an orphan, and he'd learnt to not let it consume him.
Things had happened the way it'd happened, and whilst he couldn't exactly say that it'd ended happily for everyone, it could've ended a lot worse.
Harry was content with his job, as awkward as it was to refer to his sporadic trips across the globe as a 'normal job'. And even if it hadn't worked out with Ginny, they were still good friends.
His only real bitterness with how things had happened during Voldemort's second rise was that Teddy was an orphan. Harry tried to be there for him, but with a job that took him all across the world for months on end, that wasn't the easiest thing to do, though he supposed that Teddy was old enough by now to not be all that distraught about it. Teenagers and their need for independence and all that.
Thankfully, Curse Breakers could kind of choose their own hours. It wasn't like a ward that'd remained standing for hundreds of years would suddenly disintegrate itself within the month. So Harry could usually make it back to things like birthdays and Christmas.
And even if Harry was sure that Teddy would've appreciated being able to spend at least a Christmas or two at Hogwarts, the boy really hadn't wanted to leave Andromeda alone. He was really too sweet for words some times.
Harry tried to curl up in a ball in the cold, but couldn't. It was too heavy, and he couldn't breathe.
Eyes snapped open from restless sleep, Harry still couldn't see anything at all. It was just blackness and pressure and no air and-...!
Magic exploded outwards, and the pressure gave way to a biting cold wind as Harry breached the surface of-... Of a graveyard?
He was shivering from the cold, he didn't have any clothes, and he-...
Harry stared at the gravestone in front of him, trying his best to ignore the feeling of winter-rain on naked skin, still shaking from the adrenaline of clawing his way out of the dirt.
Rose Jessica Potter
Beloved daughter, and dearly missed sister.
There were no other 'Potter' names that Harry recognized around him, but when he pushed himself up on shaking legs – absently noting that something wasn't quite right about that – he managed to find a nearby gravestone.
Remus John Lupin
Beloved friend and brother
Which was-... Harry wasn't entirely sure what the hell that was, but it definitely hadn't been what had been on Remus Lupin's gravestone last time Harry had seen it.
Right. No. First things first.
Harry took a deep breath. A wave of his hand weaved a makeshift umbrella of magic over him, keeping the rain off. He was still naked and-... Was he literally a prepubescent girl? Another wave of his too-small hand gave him a robe that at least covered him up enough that he didn't need to think about that.
A wandless 'tempus' told him that it was January of 1993, which was absurd, because last he'd checked it'd been 2015. So either he was completely insane, or he'd somehow traveled back in time.
Except the gravestones didn't make any sense whatsoever, because Remus didn't die until 1998, and Harry was pretty sure he would've known if he'd had a sister.
But then again, this did look a bit like Godric's Hollow, which would've meant that his parents should've been buried here. And since they weren't, that probably meant that they were still alive somewhere.
Regardless, Harry had woken up inside of Rose's grave, which didn't make any sense-...
Wait, no, that wasn't entirely truthful. There'd been that one scrawled warning that'd been translated into something about trespassers being 'banished from life'. Which had sounded kind of very peculiar in the phrasing.
There certainly weren't any signs of anyone from this side of things summoning Harry here, so he must've been 'pushed' here by something from his side of things. Though how the hell he managed to survive what likely amounted to being banished from reality was vaguely terrifying.
He'd always joked that his specialization with Curse Breaking was surviving it, but this was a whole new level of crazy.
There weren't even any traces of magic, beyond his own desperate attempt to dig himself free of the cold earth.
No, he needed to-... He needed to get a wand, and clothes, and money for food. But first-... First, he kind of really needed to find a newspaper to prove that his 'tempus'-spell hadn't malfunctioned somehow.
The newspaper unfortunately proved Harry's 'tempus' perfectly accurate.
It didn't actually tell him anything about any of the questions he'd had about the Potter-family. And it still didn't give him any idea of what the hell he was supposed to be doing.
He'd ended up taking a detour on his way to Gringotts, in order to skim through the history-books of Flourish and Blotts. They proved slightly more enlightening than the newspaper, mostly because they were all too happy to regale the reader about the mysteries surrounding the Boy-Who-Lived, and the fateful Halloween night that'd given him that monicker.
The Potter family had had twins, a boy and a girl. On Halloween 1981 they'd been betrayed by a trusted friend, and attacked by Voldemort. However, the only ones there at that time were the twins and a family-friend who'd been babysitting them. The exact events after that is unknown, but as a direct result, Remus Lupin died attempting to defend them, the daughter died as well, and the boy miraculously survived, whilst Voldemort was vanquished.
Considering what Harry knew of how he himself had survived-... There was no way that Remus would've been given the opportunity to 'step aside', the way that Lily once had been. So even if Remus had sacrificed his life in their defense, it wouldn't really have mattered. The condition was always 'the opportunity to survive' and 'the willingness to sacrifice themselves', and without the first, the latter didn't really matter for the kind of magic necessary to turn away the Killing Curse.
No, more likely, Voldemort had killed Remus, told the girl to get out of the way, and then killed her when she didn't, before failing to kill her brother. The question then became 'why had Voldemort been willing to let Rose live'?
In all likelihood, the prophecy surrounding Voldemort would've mentioned a 'he' as the person capable of defeating Voldemort. Otherwise Voldemort wouldn't have hesitated to kill the girl as well, regardless of anything else.
But even then, Voldemort wasn't the kind of person to offer a chance to step aside to just about anyone. No, there had to be a reason. And, wouldn't you know it, the history-books provided a rather good reason, when it touched on some of the details of who'd betrayed them.
Peter Pettigrew was Rose Potter's godfather.
So Pettigrew likely made a simple request to spare the child he was responsible for, in return for offering up the Potter-child that Voldemort wanted dead.
Harry doubted that any request like that would've been made with an actual belief that Voldemort would follow through with it. And he would've been an idiot to believe that inviting a mass-murdering madman into a place where children lived would've ended happily for the children.
No, if Pettigrew made that request, it likely would've been because of fear. And the simplest explanation for Pettigrew to be afraid of causing Rose Potter's death, was that sometimes being named 'godfather' came with certain responsibilities.
As in, it was entirely possible that Pettigrew had entered a binding magical contract designed around the idea of keeping Rose safe. And if he'd renegaded on that, he could've easily been killed as a direct result. Those contracts had fallen out of favor centuries ago, but it was entirely possible that war-time had made people a bit more passionate about the safety of their children. So, he made a token request to Voldemort to not kill Rose, likely fully expecting that she wouldn't make it through the night regardless.
Except Voldemort had decided to honor that request enough to give Rose an opportunity to stand aside. And Rose hadn't taken it.
She would've needed to understand what Voldemort was saying for the sacrificial requirements to be acceptable, and she'd still done it. Only a bit more than one single year old, and she'd given her life for the safety of her brother.
Harry had definitely done some very brave and very stupid things over the course of his life. But he'd done them after being conditioned to never be able to simply step aside. He'd seen so many people step aside when he'd grown up with the Dursleys, that the idea of doing the same himself was abhorrent.
And even then, he hadn't exactly been happy about being the only one available to step up and save the day. So the idea of a girl who wasn't even a toddler, willingly sacrificing her life for the sake of her brother-...
It was humbling.
Regardless, Peter Pettigrew was in Azkaban, and Sirius Black – the godfather of the Boy-Who-Lived – was working at Hogwarts as the Defense Professor. Lily and James were still alive, and apparently mostly doing magical research or something, the book wasn't very clear on that.
And that was about the end for Harry's ability to skim through history-books without having the owner of the store beginning to badger him into buying the books. And he still didn't have the money to pay for basic necessities, let alone books.
So, onward to Gringotts.
He needed money, and Harry had never been all that good at picking pockets.
It was just too bad for Gringotts that their warding-systems didn't technically require someone to use a wand in order to access the vaults. It normally didn't matter much, because nobody was crazy enough to try robbing Gringotts, even with a wand.
They had some of the most vicious wards in the entirety of the modern world. A result of having nearly completely unrestricted access to a lot of lost knowledge, thanks to their division of Curse Breakers.
However, Harry had been a Curse Breaker for over a decade, and had long since made a name for himself as one of the most competent ones in his field. There were still a few specialized Curse Breakers who could talk rings around him about whatever they specialized in, but they were a dwindling breed.
And that wasn't just a morbid joke about the sudden spike in Curse Breaker death-rates, in the wake of Gringotts uncovering Yharnam. Harry only knew of a handful of people whose work he couldn't quite figure out, dead or alive.
In the wake of the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry had done a lot of work with the aurors, to the point where he'd somehow become internationally responsible for dealing with Dark Lords who were causing a fuss.
He hadn't minded that terribly. It'd been unpleasant, and he hadn't exactly enjoyed it, but it'd been rather satisfying to know that another Voldemort wouldn't be able to pop up on his watch.
That'd continued until he'd nearly lost an eye in one of the fights, and Ginny had very pointedly reminded him of the fact that he wasn't immortal. And that the bad guys only needed to get lucky once.
Considering that Harry and Andromeda were the only family that Teddy still had, Harry had been very easily persuaded into finding a different career.
However, after a very unpleasant stint as Defense Professor at Hogwarts – during which he nearly killed himself from the stress of being responsible for a whole bunch of blissfully unaware children how to survive – Harry had to give it up.
He'd seen the world at its worst, and he'd come to expect things to try and murder him on a regular basis. The idea that a child could believe that they'd spend their entire life perfectly safe from monsters was so mindboggling to Harry that he'd nearly had a nervous breakdown.
He'd been expecting the adoration, he'd been expecting the constant badgering for stories about his many famous exploits, he'd even kind of been expecting the celebrity-crushes. He hadn't been prepared for a complete disinterest in their own survival.
He'd barely lasted to the end of the year.
He'd been twenty-three when Bill had invited him to a dig, because he'd needed an extra wand in case some of the locals decided to ignore their government's authorization of giving Gringotts access to the dig.
It wasn't exactly common, but it also wasn't unheard of. And some areas of the world were more prone to those kinds of disagreements than others.
It'd turned out pretty calm however, and Harry had spent most of it just looking over Bill's shoulder and being generally fascinated by Curse Breaking in action. And of course, that fascination convinced him to get himself invited along to any other dig he could get access to.
Needless to say, when a famous Dark Lord defeating wizard with a lot of money, decides that he wants to be part of a dangerous expedition? A lot of people were perfectly happy to have him.
He'd never really been employed by Gringotts, but Gringotts didn't really care how its employees decided to divide their salaries, and so had been perfectly willing to let Harry come along for the ride. As long as Gringotts' cut of the earnings wasn't affected, at least.
His constant fascination with the subject had also caused him to start investigating various dead languages, which had finally frustrated him to the point of digging up a certain Stone that he'd dropped nearly a full decade earlier.
He'd been twenty-eight when he'd finally gone completely blind in his right eye, and at that point he'd been trying to find a good hiding-place for the Stone for the better part of a year.
Harry was never going to admit to anyone that he'd gone looking for the Stone, because his friends were all very well aware of how the ghosts of the dead lured the living to join them. Whether through actual malice or through the longing of dead loved ones, the end result was the same.
So, with nobody even being aware of the Stone, Harry had no choice but to figure out how to transfigure the Stone into a functional eye all on his lonesome. Let alone doing the surgery by himself, just to make sure that nobody thought there was anything suspicious with his new eye.
It'd worked like a charm, for all that it'd taken Harry well over a week to get used to how different the world looked when seen through one of the Deathly Hallows.
Still, with the Stone at his side, he'd managed to find out a lot of how various bits of magic worked. To the point where he'd ended up being forced to write it down, just to keep it straight.
And alright, so the Ministry hadn't been very happy with him when he'd started writing out horrific rituals that resulted in thousands of dead, but considering that the book he ended up publishing had also included the way to counter those rituals – oftentimes very easily, and usually not taking much longer than a couple of hours, in comparison to the years it took to set up – they'd been willing to let it slide.
He'd been thirty by the time he'd published that book. And after that, a lot of governments had been willing to pay him to look into certain digs by himself, without going to Gringotts. And that was where things had started to come to a head.
Yharnam had been discovered in 2011, six months after Harry published his book. And it'd started to kill Curse Breakers, a lot of them.
Gringotts had been furious with Harry for basically stealing their monopoly on international Curse Breaking, and had decided that Harry was no longer allowed on their digs. Even if he wouldn't be making any money.
And so, when Yharnam happened and their Curse Breakers died by the hundreds, Gringotts had stubbornly dug in its heels, and refused to let one of the most famously competent and survival-prone Curse Breaker in the world help.
In the end, more than undercutting Gringotts prices for Curse Breaking, more than Harry cheaply selling back artifacts from the digs to the people they belonged to rather than to the highest bidder, that was the true end to Gringotts' monopoly on Curse Breaking.
Once the Curse Breakers realized that Gringotts was treating them more like disposable pawns than competent personnel, they started to look elsewhere. And so did the governments that'd been employing Gringotts with the assurance that they were the most competent in the world.
It'd been a scandal all around, for all that Harry had mainly just thought of it as a miserable waste of human life.
However, that was nearly twenty years from now, and Harry shouldn't be dwelling on it.
Right now, he needed to break into Gringotts for money. But he wouldn't necessarily need a lot of money, and if he ought to rob anyone, then it ought to be someone who deserved it. And who would deserve it more than someone foolish enough to store a horcrux in their vault?
However, that brought up the interesting question about what he was supposed to do about Voldemort. He probably shouldn't just ignore the horcruxes completely, but Harry didn't really want to try breaking into Grimmauld Place and confront Kreacher over the Amulet, and if he wasn't willing to go that far, then was there any point in going after the horcruxes at all?
He'd still deal with the Cup, because it was in between him and a bunch of galleons, which he'd need to pay for a wand and some clothes and whatever else he might need. And he'd still deal with the Ring, because the Stone was his, and he'd be damned if he let it slip through his fingers.
But beyond that, Harry didn't particularly want to break into Hogwarts to take care of the Diadem, let alone try figuring out who to steal the Diary from, or how to set up a very complicated cleansing-ritual on the scar of the Boy-Who-Lived when he was a functional unknown and would likely need to kidnap him.
No, he'd deal with the Cup and the Ring. Everything else could damn well wait until he had some time to sort out what the hell he was supposed to be doing now.
He could set up an official identity as a muggleborn with Gringotts in exchange for a handful of galleons. He wouldn't be able to claim relationships with any purebloods, unless he could prove it without a doubt, and that'd require the Ministry to get entangled, but a muggleborn identity was fine.
It shouldn't take them more than five minutes or so, as long as Harry could think of a consistent name and age for his new body. His new, female, prepubescent body.
Actually, there was no way in hell that Harry would be willing to set up an identity that would classify him as anything but an adult. He'd suffered through being treated as a child too much to be willing to go back to that time. And that meant he needed to be convincingly at least a few years older than he currently looked.
So he was going to need some kind of aging-potion as well. Preferably a permanent one.
Life sure was complicated when you woke up naked in a different body, buried in a graveyard, in an alternate time-line.
The first thing a person needed to do in order to rob Gringotts was to gain entry into the bank itself, then from there, to move into the tunnels underneath the bank. After that, it mostly came down to navigating your way to the correct vault, without running afoul the various traps and complications that the goblins had scattered around the place.
Harry honestly kind of missed his Cloak, but then there were a number of equally effective ways to hide something away. Not wanting to make it any more complicated than it needed to be, and not having access to dragon-blood or equally awkward-to-find ingredients, Harry settled for a much older variation of the Disillusioning charm.
It wasn't anywhere near as convenient as the more modern and popularized version of it, but it also didn't have any specific counter-spells that anyone sane would've bothered to try implementing in an automatic defense.
After that, it was mostly just a matter of avoiding having people walking into him, and that was also fairly easy to fix with a very weak 'wizard-repellant'-charm to convince everyone to give him a bit of space, without being powerful enough to be noticeable. Which left Harry to try and find his way to the Lestrange's vault. A task that would've been momentously difficult, if Harry hadn't known that they had a horcrux in their vault.
Whilst tracking down a horcrux over a large distance, or one that belonged to a specific individual wasn't really something that was possible without an active horcrux to resonate the tracking-spells with, there were limits to the things you could hide away without very specific wards to cloak the magical wavelength surrounding it.
Harry couldn't exactly detect horcruxes from a distance, so much as he could wander around aimlessly until he stumbled across a ward with the telltale signs of having had a horcrux pushing up against them for a long enough time.
A perfect hiding spot a vault might be, but only for a year and some change, after that horcruxes and the like tended to start leaving impressions in the magic that surrounded it. Not that most people had really seen that happen, let alone knew what caused it, or what to do about it.
It still took him the better part of a day, wandering around the tunnels, before he came across the vault in question, but it was a hell of a lot better than trying to coerce a goblin to take him there. And actually breaking through the wards on the vault was-...
There were a few personal additions to the inside of the vault, and the general Gringotts-wards weren't exactly harmless in their own right. But the wards kind of relied on various triggers to allow for a safe passage, and all Harry really needed to do was convince them that they'd already granted him safe passage.
A bit like a very narrowly applied Confundus spell. Though describing it like that would've probably caused Filius to pull his hair out in outrage. Mainly because he didn't like Harry explaining complicated magical phenomena as if a twelve-year-old could manage it with the right tools.
An attitude which had left Hermione writing the man a very pointed letter about academic elitism and its harmful effects on their surroundings. Which Filius had responded to with an exasperated letter on how it was very easy for her to complain about his opinions on the matter, when she wasn't the Head of House for Ravenclaw, meaning that she wasn't responsible for every single curious twelve-year-old who of course should be able to bypass complicated and lethal wards, because the books said it was easy.
Hermione had responded by sending Filius a bottle of high-quality whiskey, and her most sincere apologies.
Regardless, tricking his way through the wards wasn't overly complicated. Finding the cup was also fairly simple, what with actually knowing what he was looking for this time around. Unwrapping the dangerous traps surrounding that thing – which very much weren't designed to give anyone 'safe passage' – was a bit more difficult, but again, hardly rocket-science.
The fact that Harry still didn't have a wand didn't matter much in light of that, considering that ritualistic magic generally didn't need one. In fact, when dealing with the kind of nasty magic that Voldemort had left behind on his horcruxes, being predictable with your counter-spells was basically a death-sentence, and Voldemort had very much expected wands.
If Voldemort had waited to travel the world and discover lost magics, until after Harry had spent a decade rediscovering them, perhaps he would've been suspicious enough of Harry's somewhat famous grasp of strange pre-wand magics that he'd set up defenses against it. But he didn't, and so he hadn't.
There were different ways of unraveling a horcrux that didn't necessitate the use of things like basilisk-venom or Fiendfyre. Most of the other things were about equally as pleasant to mess with, but there was a kind of exorcism that did a pretty good job at it. As long as you made sure that no magic was lingering around to wreak havoc on it.
Honestly though, it was only really useful if you desperately wanted to preserve what the horcrux was attached to. And for all that Harry appreciated history, he didn't actually care if the Founder's ancient artifacts somehow remained pristine.
Well, alright, so he cared a little bit. But he certainly didn't care enough to risk a greater demon landing in his lap. Especially considering that any charms on the artifacts would disappear along with the horcrux anyway.
There was a reason for it having been outlawed by the Aztecs. A good reason, even.
Harry preferred a more direct approach of disintegrating the whole damn thing with a very controlled cascade-failure.
He'd have to wait to do that until he was far away from Gringotts, unless he wanted to risk having the cascade-failure spreading across every single vault and likely wipe all of London off the map as a result.
There was a reason that cascade-failures were generally considered a bad idea to play around with.
Despite what the purebloods would have you believe, nobody really cared about proper lineages. As long as you didn't claim to be a member of an 'Ancient and Noble House', you could pretty much call yourself whatever the hell you wanted.
Oh, without a 'proper pureblood'-name, a person's employment-opportunities dropped like a rock, but that was just a mixture of classicism and racism. Nobody actually cared how far removed you might be from the 'main line' of a family, and if you weren't even in an important family they couldn't care less who your parents or your grandparents were.
Unless they were planning on getting into your pants, anyway. Purebloods intermarried often enough that it was kind of really important that nobody was 'too related' to each other.
That said, establishing an identity was really quite easy – as long as you didn't mind being a non-pureblood. You gave a few galleons to a goblin, and if you were too old to be a new-to-the-magical-world-muggleborn, simply told them that you'd been home-schooled – which was obviously bullshit, but would absolutely hold up in court unless they could track you down to a different identity – gave them your name, and opened a vault with another few galleons.
The Wizarding World couldn't really afford to make the process of establishing an identity any more complicated than that, due to their constant influx of fresh blood into the system in the form of muggleborns wanting to attend Hogwarts.
There was enough of an influx of them every year that they would've ended up causing horrific queues at Gringotts, since the treaty that'd established the bank technically didn't allow for people to trade their currency unless they owned a vault. And since they needed an identity in order to open a vault, any process that would've made that more difficult had been frowned heavily upon even by the most isolationistic purebloods.
After all, if there were queues all over Gringotts of muggleborns trying to get the money they needed to buy school-supplies, then the purebloods would have to spend time in queues with muggleborns and even muggles.
It was kind of racist, but it made it easier for everyone, so nobody minded it too much.
Harry had still needed to kind-of-swindle a permanent aging-potion off of a place in Knockturn Alley, but he'd paid well, and the man hadn't really seen his face. So the odds of anyone tracking that down to himself were slim to none.
Then he chugged the damn thing in a well-hidden corner, muffling his screams as his skeleton was rearranged. He would've loved to use some kind of pain-numbing spell, but that could interfere with the aging-potion, and he really didn't want to 'grow up' into being a walrus or something. Stranger things had happened.
After that, he'd redone his makeshift robe to fit better, and stumbled a bit drunkenly into the closest place that sold clothes that wasn't Madam Malkin's. She was the kind of woman to remember a face, not to mention that she focused more on fancy clothes than clothes that would survive having an inferi clawing at them.
Considering that Harry's next stop after leaving the country would probably be-... Actually, wait.
He'd originally been planning on just finding a simple dig to poke at whilst he got his head together and figured out what the hell he was supposed to do with his life. But most digs out there required some kind of agreement with the local government to participate in the dig. That's why Curse Breakers who wanted to go international all flocked to Gringotts.
There were a few exceptions, where the dig was technically a separate country from whatever nation it was located in. Hidden away so thoroughly that no nation had really been able to lay claim to who was the 'rightful owner' of it.
Or places like Atlantis, where the city had simply sunk into the sea, leaving nobody able to claim much of anything at all.
But digs like that weren't exactly common, and even then they tended to be hotly disputed between nations, to the point where Gringotts usually worked as a neutral party for handling it.
There was really only one place that Harry knew of that'd been hidden enough and separated enough from the rest of the world that nobody had managed to locate it accurately enough that anyone could claim that it existed in their country, and that'd been indisputably self-governed enough that nobody would dare kick up too much of a fuss if someone went there without permission.
Yharnam was probably not a good option as a place to get his head screwed on straight, because it was more likely to tear it off. But it was the only one that fit his criteria as a British non-Gringotts-associated Curse Breaker.
But yes, if he was going to be personally visiting Yharnam for the first time in his life, he wasn't going to be doing so in clothes that weren't very practical.
Then, once that was over and done with, Harry went back to thinking about what the hell he was supposed to do about his name. Her name, now, he supposed. Harry didn't really feel like bothering with a potion-regimen that spanned over the course of about two years, and which was pretty darn expensive outside of a school-environment.
Not only would it be an expensive hassle, considering Harry's dark hair and green eyes, the odds were pretty good that he'd end up looking an awful lot like Harry Potter. Combine that with the Potters likely discovering someone unearthing their daughter's body sooner or later? Harry really didn't want to deal with the Potter-family, even if they might've kind of been his family.
He'd lived his life as an orphan, and he'd been pretty happy about how his life had turned out. Trying to replace that with a sort-of-biological family that would probably end up either hating him or walking on eggshells around him? Harry would rather kiss Dumbledore straight on the mouth, than deal with that shit. At least Dumbledore would make a really funny face.
Harry had never really wanted to turn into a girl, but then he wasn't all that shook up about suddenly becoming one either, and certainly not to the point where he really wanted to bother with doing something complicated and expensive to fix things. He might reconsider that in a few years, but he'd burn that bridge when he got to it.
No, the only thing left to do was think of a decent name. And that took him about an hour of second-guessing himself, until he finally settled on being 'Harriet Azalea'.
That way, he could excuse reacting to 'Harry', and there was still a distant kind of connection to his mother, what with the flower-name. It was an easy enough name to remember, and it didn't step on any toes that Harry-... Harriet, didn't want to step on.
After that, all she needed to do before fetching her Stone was picking a wand. Which turned out to be both easier and more awkward than last time Harry had been at Ollivander's. On the one hand, there was less grand-standing about Voldemort and the mystical properties of wand-craft; on the other hand, there was a lot of staring and doubtful hemming about where her wand might've disappeared to.
Ollivander wasn't a stupid man, and though he didn't really bother with asking questions that he no doubt already knew wouldn't be answered, there was a thoughtful curiosity in his eyes that left Harriet rather wary.
She didn't introduce herself, and he didn't ask for a name. She asked for a wand, and he peered at her whilst making annoyed noises about what she might've been up to that her entire wand had disappeared.
Now, if Magical Britain was more worried about crimes, Harriet showing up without a wand to track would've been ringing alarm-bells everywhere. But the purebloods hadn't wanted to let the Ministry regulate wands too harshly, because that might've made it more difficult for them to dodge the law whenever they decided to do a bit of illegal muggle-baiting for sport.
If Harriet showed up and asked for a wand, regardless of her name or nationality, or even if she was a Dark Lord, Ollivander was still expected to sell her a wand. As long as she paid, of course.
And so, despite the suspicious faces the man made at her, he provided her with a wand.
Harriet supposed that she ought to be more upset at how corrupt and pointlessly stupid many pieces of their legal-system was, but it was what it was. And this time it played into her hands, so she really oughtn't complain.
After that, there was a brief jump and a skip to get to a certain ramshackle house, and reclaim something that'd belonged to Harry for a long time.
Both of Harriet's eyes were perfectly fine, to the point that she didn't even need glasses – which was weird – but she felt kind of naked without the silent chill of the Stone in her eye-socket. Mad-Eye would probably have understood perfectly, if Harriet had talked to him. There was just something for being able to see things in a slightly different way than they ought to be seen that left a kind of longing for its return.
Ripping out her own – perfectly functional – eye in order to redo the whole operation was probably beyond stupid. But nobody had ever exactly called her clever, either, so that was probably fine.
She might give up her gender without a fight, she might not bother with permanently aging herself beyond sixteen when she'd already reached thirty-five, she might have left her faithful old wand behind, but the Stone was hers.
Perhaps it could be interpreted as some lingering curse of greed from the Hallows, but it was more that it was one of the few things that Harriet could look at and say that it undoubtedly belonged to herself. A rock to cling to in an ever-changing world, that kind of thing.
Permanently transfiguring the Stone into an eye that matched her other one, without using any of Mad-Eye's old motion-detection charms to ruin the charade by causing it to spin wildly, Harriet breathed a sigh of relief as shapes and colors snapped into place in a way that she couldn't ever quite explain.
The Stone was... always surprisingly enthusiastic about becoming an eye, and regardless of how Harriet charmed it, there was always a certain feeling of content curiosity tinting the world in ways that made it sometimes disturbingly easy to see through things that people would rather hide away.
Since she didn't need glasses, she didn't even really need to transfigure and charm them to match the different capability of her different eyes, this time. Though whether that weird side-benefit was because the male genes of the Potter family were defect in the eye-area in comparison to the female side, or if it was a matter of her strange summon-reincarnation, was anyone's guess.
And with that, and cleaning up after the controlled cascade-failure that'd returned the Stone to her, Harriet was finished with Britain. And, rather than spend a lot of money making herself noticeable to the wizards who were understandably monitoring international travel, Harriet simply covered herself in a weak Confundus and took the muggle-route to Italy.
After all, that was where Yharnam was, geographically. However, even if the Italian Ministry of Magic had been told about it, they would've still refused to acknowledge any claim to the city.
This was because Yharnam had once been the near-failure-point for the Statute of Secrecy, and even if nobody had dared to outright ostracize the city and its Church of Blood-Healing, that'd been purely down to the miracles it'd performed with magical medicine.
Those methods were long since lost to time, and also generally distrusted to the point of it being seriously illegal to experiment with their methods. After all, the city had abruptly disappeared in a manner that made it obvious to everyone involved that blood-magic was definitely bad news and would inevitably do horrible things to entire countries.
In other words, if Italy admitted that Yharnam was a part of Italy, most every country in Europe would start to give Italy some suspicious looks. Not to mention the fact that a large portion of Italy simply wanted nothing to do with a place so steeped with superstition and rumors of monstrosities as Yharnam had been.
No, even if Harriet were to somehow miraculously clear out everything that made Yharnam such a dangerous place to be, no country in the world would dare to declare that she should've made a deal with them beforehand.
As far as Harriet knew from what she'd read about reports and rumors about the place. Once upon a time, someone had been doing experiments with lycanthropy. Whether it'd been to cure it, or to worsen it, or to do something else entirely, was anyone's guess.
There'd never been any signs of anything Other lingering in Yharnam, despite their supposed worship of things that sounded an awful lot like something that might exist outside of reality.
Generally, it was assumed that that worship was more related to how the magical population kept the muggles in line, whispering more about 'miracles' than of 'magic'. But that assumption had been well-established even when Yharnam had still been around, so how much of it was politics and how much of it was truthful was hard to say with any true certainty.
Especially since most of the city's libraries had been consumed with Fiendfyre during the Curse Breaker's attempts to clear the city of the 'beasts' that roamed it. 'Beasts' that in many cases clearly appeared to have been human once, and which had been preserved by time well enough that it was hard to classify their state as 'undead', so much as 'hibernating'.
It was undoubtedly true that something had gone terribly wrong in Yharnam, beyond the beasts that roamed its streets, but if whatever that was had been anything other than an experiment gone wrong, they'd never managed to find any real trace of it.
Normally when a city was sealed away like Yharnam had been, it was either because someone had just turned the population into inferi – and nobody wanted to go in and clear up the several thousand citizens – or a plague had struck which nobody trusted to not spread to their own cities, or it was to hide away some horrific sin that a few important people had committed.
Yharnam was... all three combined, basically. Except, unlike in most of those cases, Yharnam was sealed away from the inside, and instead of a few inferi half-disintegrated from centuries of exposure, it was packed full with feral wild animals.
Nobody knew exactly why the people had turned into beasts, but the best theory they had was that they'd used blood-magic to simulate a werewolf's ability to heal during a full moon, and that whatever method they'd used for it had resulted in some version of the lycanthropy-disease spreading to those who'd been healed by it.
Beyond that, the founding of the Church of Blood-Healing, and Yharnam's incredible and explosive rise to fame and fortune were both reasonably well-documented.
Some more digging had proven that their self-inflicted plague had been something that'd been developing over time, with more and more of the citizens being infected. The church's actions in response to the plague however, had come as something of a shock to the Curse Breakers who'd discovered it.
The church had created a division in its clergy specifically for 'hunting beasts'. As in, people whose only job was to hunt down and kill those infected.
Unfortunately, with most of the beasts being resistant to magic, wands didn't really do much. And so they'd resorted to axes and swords and spears and various other specially modified weapons.
Which in turn led to the unpleasant discovery that these 'hunters' were often wounded in the line of duty, and so needed ever more of the 'blood-healing', until they themselves turned into the beasts that they'd been hunting.
Their best guess for why Yharnam had been sealed away when it had been, was that the non-violent divisions of the clergy had themselves finally started to turn, and that'd been the final straw. Though the exact details had been long since lost to both time and the desperate fire-magic that many Curse Breakers had resorted to before they'd died.
A/n: It's taken me six months, but this thing is finally finished. Clocking in at 85k words, it's very close to being literally twice as long as anything I've ever written before.
I'll be publishing the chapters as I do the final edits. Which... probably shouldn't take too many weeks... but there's a lot of text, so don't quote me on that.
Don't worry about the Bloodborne-references too much, they're only really there because I needed a ruin for Harry to explore, and I refused to think up an original one when I didn't have to. If you know the game, great, but it shouldn't effect your reading-experience too much if you don't.