TITLE: The Seven Wonders of the World
RATING: PG-13 now, will most probably be R later.
WARNING: This is SLASH. That means two boys getting it on. Don't like it? Don't read it! Or if you do feel compelled to read it, save me the flames, cos where I come from, we're used to those down there. *grins*
SUMMARY: A Harry balancing between misery and all-consuming rage, and an (for now) unsympathetic Draco go looking for a mysterious artefact for Dumbledore, hidden somewhere in one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World. But they're not the only ones looking for it.
DISCLAIMER: It's not mine! It's not mine! I swear, please, don't sue me…I don't even *have* any money, why would I risk my possessions?
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Claud! I'm finally writing a H/D one. Thanks for betaing it. To all others, this will have more chapters. Sorry for any OC-ness.
REVIEW: You people inspire me. It's appreciated. But if you don't…there's not much I can do, eh?
Chapter One: The Trouble with Harry
Albus Dumbledore gazed around the Great Hall. It had been two years since Voldemort had risen again, one since he had made his presence known to the Wizarding World. It was noticeable. Empty spaces at the four tables stood out prominently, students conspicuous in their absences. Children suffer for mistakes the grown make, thought the old man, closing his eyes briefly in sadness. What a way to start the year.
At the Gryffindor table sat Harry Potter. The Saviour of the Wizarding World, a title that had once been used reverently was now applied as mockery. The boy, or young man actually, seemed not to care. Everything simply slid from his shoulders. His head was bent low over his food, mimicking the actions of those around him, but to the sharp eye it was painstakingly clear that eating he was most definitely not.
Ron bit his lip as he watched his best friend pretend to eat. It was appalling the way Harry had deteriorated. People such as that git Malfoy would probably say the Dark Lord had bested Harry one to many times. They were right, but not in the way they thought.
Harry would never let Voldemort get the best of him, and it wasn't around him that his thoughts were revolving. Ron knew that for the past few months, the same thing had gone through Harry's head, over and over again. The Death of Sirius Black. When his Godfather had been ripped away so suddenly by Bellatrix, it had taken weeks for it to get through to Harry. Whenever he heard a dog bark his head would lift briefly before his eyes clouded over with remembrance. But finally, it had sunk in. Sirius was not coming back.
Sirius was not coming back and it seemed Harry was intent on following him wherever he had gone. Not eating, not sleeping, for fear of nightmares, Harry had lived like a ghost, and consequently, begun to look like one. All the nourishing and pampering Mrs. Weasely attempted to do had been in vain. Wraithlike, Harry had come into their lives two weeks into the summer, and wraithlike he had disappeared again at the start of the term. He spoke little, only to Ron and Hermione, and to others barely, only if they initiated it. To taunts and mockery he responded not, not even to ones about Sirius.
The Slytherins, led by Malfoy, had somehow obtained the information of the events in the Ministery of Magic, and in the beginning had sought out Harry again and again to throw callous barbs at him. At his lack of response, most of the Slytherins had subsided, but it only angered Malfoy more. Harry had asked Hermione and especially Ron, in one of the rare conversations they actually had too not to respond to anything Malfoy said. He was tired, Harry indicated, and he didn't want to have to separate them and Malfoy. A pointed look had been thrown Ron's way. So Ron had flanked Harry and remained quiet, even when he wanted nothing better than to pound Malfoy's immaculate face into the ground. Out of respect for Harry, he didn't.
Malfoy seemed incensed by this lack of reaction on Harry's part, and grew more vindictive and spiteful. Harry always turned away, and Hermione and Ron closed the gap behind him, like a shield.
Then, three weeks into the first term, Harry had been walking back from the library and bumped into Malfoy. Ron hadn't been there to protect him.
"Why if it isn't poor, parentless Potter. All alone without your trusty sidekicks I see."
Malfoy's eyes gleamed in the candlelight. Harry only stopped and waited. It never did any good to try and stop Malfoy…you had to wait till he'd finished.
"Are you going to waste away, Potter? No one would miss you I'm sure. You look as if one breath of air would sweep you off your feet. Certainly got everybody's attentions now, haven't you, Saint Potter?"
Harry remained mute, and Draco's ire rose.
"Can't you look at people when they speak to you? Oh, but then I guess you haven't got any parents to teach you manners. But…"
Draco looked around if anybody was listening. Harry prepared for the worst.
"…but there must've been someone. Your parents surely wouldn't let you into this bleak cruel world without help. Could it have been…Sirius Black?!"
If he expected any reaction from this statement he got none.
"Was Black your Godfather, Potter? I heard the rumours, but is it the truth? Was he brutally murdered when fighting the good fight against the Dark Lord, trying to save Puppies and Christmas?"
He was on a roll, and stupid Potter wasn't responding. It annoyed him to no end that Harry had the willpower to remain completely silent in the face of so much verbal abuse.
"It must have hurt, mustn't it Harry."
The use of his given name made Harry flinch, something that did not go unnoticed by Malfoy and he almost squealed with glee.
"Poor Harry, all abandoned. Left all alone, no parents, no Godfather. I hope it hurt him, Harry. I hope that when that spell hit Sirius Black, he cried out and screamed and screamed and screamed, and stumbled and bled. I hope it hurt him beyond any tolerable level. And you know why, Harry? Because then it would hurt you too…and that's an even better form of torture than my words can ever give you…"
Satisfied, Draco leaned back and waited. And waited. Harry had his head down, and was completely still. After a few minutes when nothing had happened, Draco became annoyed again. That had been a first class insult, and Potter was just going to let him get away with it? Footsteps came down the hall, and Ron's voice followed them.
Draco glanced at the still silent Potter, and thought that maybe he'd died in mid breath. Just to make sure, so he wouldn't be blamed, he reached out his hand to lift up Harry's chin.
Ron arrived around the corner and saw it happening, but said nothing, choosing instead to watch.
Turning Harry's face towards his own, Draco commanded in his most authoritative voice,
"Potter, look at me."
Anticipating streaming tears, Draco could hardly hide his glee. So when Harry finally turned his eyes towards him, Draco was too caught up in his own internal victory dance to notice. Then he noticed.
As his misty grey eyes caught Harry's green ones, he stumbled back. Staring in appalled horror at the boy he once knew as Harry Potter, he swirled around to Ron and spluttered incoherently.
Harry's eyes were empty. There was no life behind them, no flicker of the tiniest emotion. Only deep pools of bottomless green, haunted eyes that had seen too much. And now saw nothing at all.
"Is he…is he blind?" Asked Draco catching his breath.
Ron strode forward and tapped Harry on the shoulder. Harry turned towards him and nodded his assent to go. As they made their way towards the Gryffindor common rooms, Ron looked back.
"No Malfoy," he spat, "he isn't blind. He is heart broken. Of course, since you've never loved anything in your whole miserable life, I wouldn't expect you to understand. He is sick with pain, and drowning in it. Nothing you say matters in the least, because the misery he himself is caught up in, is, as you said, far worse than anything you, or anybody else could ever say to him."
They left, and Draco closed his eyes, the image of Harry's vacant ones burned into his mind. Then he too turned and left.
Albus Dumbledore stepped out of the shadows, and silently shed a few tears for Harry Potter. Something had to be done.
Harry lay in his bed, where Hermione had tucked him in, and kissed him tenderly upon the brow.
It was like Ron had said, he was caught up in his own misery so deeply, that everything else seemed trivial. Malfoy pestering him was of no importance. A homicidal Dark Lord on the rampage did not matter. All that mattered was Sirius, and Harry's inability to save him. And Bellatrix. She mattered.
Ron had not been completely right. There was still one emotion whirling inside Harry besides loss, self-loathing and apathy. Revenge. Revenge to find Bellatrix and rip her apart, shred by shred by shred. With his bare hands. Harry's face contorted into an ugly mask. Never before had the desire to hurt someone else been so strong. He knew that rage was consuming him, eating him up. He knew he needed an outlet before he erupted, like some uncontrolled volcano. He also knew he couldn't, he was too sick, too tired, too weary. But he knew he wasn't the only one who had noticed. Any day now he expected to hear Professor Dumbledore call him into his office.
A rustling by the fireplace startled him out of his reverie, and glancing up, he saw it was Fawkes. Berating himself for his prophesising thoughts, he tiptoed out of bed, and walked up to the phoenix.
For what he did not know.
In Professor Dumbledore's office, Harry was bundled in warm blankets by Professor Lupin. McGonagall and Snape had also convened for this impromptu secret meeting.
"Harry." The Headmaster said, and regarded him with a sad look. There was no pity in his lined face, but sympathy and understanding, something Harry wasn't sure he liked better.
"I have called you here because…I know you have been expecting it. Both of us are aware, that something must be done about your…situation. My dear boy, here, inside this castle, which you have called home so often, you are wasting away."
Fear gripped Harry. He opened his mouth, and his voice, raspy and brittle with disuse said
"You're not sending me away, are you? Please, I…I have no where to go."
McGonagall bit her lip and turned away to hide her moist eyes. Lupin rocked Harry gently.
"You are not being expelled, or sent away, Mr. Potter, quite the opposite. I think a change of scenery will do you good. I am giving you an…shall we say…extracurricular assignment."
Harry's brow drew together and he glanced at Snape, who for one of the first times in his life had no expression whatsoever.
"Where am I going?"
The Headmaster smiled and the twinkle in his eye flickered briefly.
"Not where, exactly, but when. There is something that the Order of the Phoenix is seeking desperately, an artefact that would aid us, bring us a step closer to harming Voldemort."
Harry shrugged his shoulders. He cared not. Dumbledore glanced at the other teachers in the room, as if to say 'I told you so', before turning back to Harry.
"Naturally, Voldemort is seeking it as well. Searching for it, with all his might. He has sent his most loyal member out for it."
With this, he gave Harry a piercing look but Harry had already figured it out.
"Bellatrix." He breathed and looked wildly around him. Eyes finally resting on Dumbledore, he gave the Headmaster an accusing look.
"You knew I'd…that's why you called me. You know I'll go." The Headmaster nodded and gestured to Snape, who disappeared.
"Indeed, I knew the mention of Bellatrix would add a conclusive factor in your going…but I do think you should go anyway. You are not well Harry, and staying here to reminisce is not going to make you better. Wouldn't you feel better taking action?"
Harry scowled. As did Remus.
"I don't appreciate the manipulation Albus. Harry is in no state to pursue anybody."
"Harry needs to leave, now. Before his rage consumes him." Albus said grimly.
"Rage? The boy is apathetic towards everything. Sorry, Mr. Potter." Harry nodded dumbly.
The Headmaster shook his head.
"I believe Harry knows of what I speak." Again, Harry nodded and opened his mouth, but was interrupted by Snape returning. With Draco Malfoy.
Draco scowled as he saw those present in Dumbledore's office. Yanking his arm out of his Head of House's grasp, he sneered at those present, except for the Headmaster, whom he nodded to.
"Mr. Malfoy. How would you feel about going on a trip with Mr. Potter."
Draco gave Harry an impersonal once over and then spoke.
"With all due respect sir, I don't think Potter is going anywhere in that condition."
Harry blushed slightly, but remained still.
Albus Dumbledore nodded.
"If I assure you Harry is going, and will be fit enough to travel, will you go?"
Draco considered briefly before nodding. The Headmaster clapped his hands.
"Splendid. Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, if you could step over here please."
The two boys warily approached the desk. Dumbledore pulled out a time-turner from his desk, threw it over the two boys and started turning the hourglass.
Waving merrily, his parting words were:
"I'm not sure which one of the Seven Wonders you'll need, so I suggest you visit all of them. Good Luck."
And amidst shocked cries of outrage from the other teachers, Harry and Draco swallowed nervously as the Headmaster's office faded from sight.