Posted: August 25, 2004
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Harry Potter and am not using this story for financial gain.

The Bonded

Chapter One

A nine year old Harry pulled the last weed from his Aunt Petunia's front flowerbed. He brushed his hands clean of dirt and drudgingly rose to his feet, stretching his back which was sore from spending so much time hunched over. Dirt fell from his overly large trousers plopping to the ground in little bursts of dust.

Harry wiped his forehead with the back of his hand as he looked at the noon sun. It was just the start of August and the days were long and sweltering hot. It hadn't rained for two weeks, a strange occurrence in London, and the air was heavy and humid. Harry really hoped this heat wave would go away soon. He didn't mind too much the slave labor that the Dursley's put him through but for one sadistic reason or the other, they felt it was best for him to do all the outside chores at the hottest time of the day.

Harry smirked slightly to himself. All the years of working outside in the sun did pay off in a few ways. It had been several years since he had needed to wear sunscreen and even working outside for several hours failed to scorch his skin, leaving him with instead, a pleasant looking tan.

Packing up the gardening tools, Harry went to the back of the house and put them away in the yard shed. Trying to remember what was next on his list of things to do, he suddenly remembered that he was to start painting the fence today. He picked up the paint cans and brushes and headed for the front.

A loud bird cawed several times from across the street and it drew Harry's eyes to several children playing underneath a large apple tree. There were three boys playing what looked like hide and go seek, laughing a squealing when someone got caught and was the new 'it.' Sometimes Harry still wished that he had friends to play with like that but his Aunt and Uncle scared off all the other children and their parents by telling them that Harry was a deranged boy and could be harmful to others.

He was old enough to understand that his relatives lied about him for some reason or another but he didn't know why. They had even convinced his teachers at school that he was a rowdy boy that was not much smarter than a turnip. Truth was, Harry was very intelligent and he loved learning new things. The only person that seemed to understand was the local librarian.

Sighing as he began to brush the fresh white paint up and down the waist high fence, Harry's mind mused over the kindly man that ran their library. It had been a summer day like this a couple of years ago when Harry had come across the library. He had finished his chores but the Dursleys refused him any food so he decided to take a walk instead of sitting around in his cupboard.

He walked into the library deciding on seeing if he could borrow any of the books as they would help pass those long hours he spent locked away. He walked up to the desk and saw an old man, probably not much younger than 60, sitting at the front desk repairing a copy of Moby Dick. Harry stood in front of him for a moment before speaking up, "Excuse me, Sir?"

The old man looked up from his task and smiled kindly at Harry, "What can I do for you, Lad?"

"Well, Sir," Harry replied. "I was wondering if I could borrow some books?"

The old man laughed, it wasn't a mocking laugh but a warm laugh that Harry found soothing. The old man's eyes twinkled as he looked at Harry, "Well this is a library, isn't it? Do you have a card?"

Harry shook his head.

"Well then let's see if we can get you settled here. Let me see…" The old man's head disappeared behind the desk and Harry heard him rummaging around some papers looking for something. A moment later, the old man's head popped back up and he said, "Here we are."

Harry looked at the piece of paper the man set on the desk. It was a form for a new library card. "I can get my own card, Sir?" Harry asked surprised.

"Of course you can, Lad," the librarian replied. "We just need some of your information and we'll have you set in no time at all. Okay now…name?"

"Harry Potter," Harry said promptly.

The old man's eyebrow rose up a bit, "Harry Potter you say?" Harry could have sworn he saw the old man's eyes flicker to his forehead. "Well isn't that interesting?"

"What is interesting, Sir?"

"Oh nothing of import, let's continue hmm? Birth date?"

"July 31, 1980." The old man continued to ask him a few more questions about his address and such and soon Harry was the proud owner of his very own library card. This was the first thing he had ever owned by himself that wasn't a cast away from Dudley. It even had his signature on it written in his small print.

"Now remember, Lad, you can check out any of these books but you have to bring them back before the due date otherwise you get charged a fine. If you need more time just bring it back and we can renew it for you so you don't get charged okay?" The old man made sure Harry understood before going on. "How about I give a quick tour and the like so you can get yourself acquainted with where everything is?"

And from then on a friendship formed between the old Librarian and the young Harry Potter. Harry would check out some books and read them and when he came back to return them, he and the old man would discuss some of the points in the book or parts that they liked. Often the old man would have another book ready for Harry to read when he arrived. These books were strange though. In fact, the one he had checked out right now was called Achievements in Charming. It read almost like a textbook but the information was obviously fictional. Who had ever heard of something as ridiculous as a spell called, Wingardium Leviosa?

Harry looked at the cracked face of Dudley's old watch and saw that it was almost time for him to cook dinner. He sealed up the can of paint and washed the paintbrush clean with the garden hose before heading to his cupboard to change from his dirty yard clothes. Changing quickly, Harry rushed into the kitchen and started on dinner. Looking through the contents of the fridge, Harry noticed that he would have to ask his Aunt Petunia to go shopping for him again; they were running low on a few items.

He pulled out some chicken breasts and vegetables, deciding that they would have to do for tonight with what little he had to work with. He placed a pan on the stove to heat up before he set about cleaning the vegetables.

About halfway into dinner, Harry heard his cousin trample down the stairs and head into the dining room. "Where's the food?' he shouted.

"Hold on Dudley," Harry said back. "I'm almost done. It will be about another five minutes."

"I want to eat now!" Dudley cried out, beating his pudgy hands on the table causing the plates and silverware to rattle. Harry just pulled the food off the stove when his Uncle barged into the dining room.

"What's making all this racket?" he bellowed.

"Harry's refusing to feed us Dad. He's in there eating it all by himself." Dudley said almost joyfully. Harry winced, he knew what was coming next and he had no more chance of avoiding it than avoiding the apocalypse.

"What?" his Uncle raged. "Why that ungrateful…Boy come here."

Harry dropped his shoulders and resigned himself to his fate. "Yes Uncle?" he asked as he walked into the dining room.

"What's this I hear about you hogging all the food to yourself?" Vernon's face was turning a fine shade of purple and he began to clinch and unclench his fists repeatedly.

"It's not true Uncle I-"

"Lair!" and Harry's Uncle backhanded him across the face sending Harry crashing into the wall, his glasses knocked askew and blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth. Harry groaned and struggled to clear his vision of the blackness that was threatening to overtake him. It had been a while since the last time his uncle had hit him and Harry was unprepared for it.

"Get out of my house you worthless brat!" Vernon shouted. "No dinner for you tonight and I don't want to see your face for the rest of the night. Do I make myself clear?"

Harry nodded painfully, "Perfectly." He trudged out of the dining room and into his cupboard, falling down to rest on his cot. It took a moment before he realized that there was a sharp object pointing into his back. He reached around behind him and pulled the offending object out. It was Achievements in Charming. "Crap," Harry muttered. Today was the due date for the book and he didn't have any money to pay for the fines. He would have to return the book now. Harry pulled on some sneakers and peaked out of his cupboard. He could hear his Aunt, Uncle, and cousin eating in the dining room. Now was his chance. Creeping slowly out of the cupboard Harry made his way out the front door.

Once outside, Harry made a beeline for the library, hoping he would make it on time. The sky was still bright outside but it wasn't near as hot as it had been earlier. He made it to the library with half an hour to spare. Huffing from his lack of breath, Harry made his way up to the front counter.

"Lad!" someone called out behind him. "I didn't think you were going to make it today. How are you, Lad?"

Harry turned around with a smile on his face and greeted the old Librarian, "I'm doing fine, Sir. Yourself?"

"Oh these old bones still have life in them yet. How'd you like that book I gave you…did you find it interesting? What did you think of…?" The old man trailed off as he got a good look at Harry's face. Harry cursed his carelessness. In his haste to return the book he had forgotten about the damage to his face. "Goodness," the old man said. "What happened to you, Lad?"

"It's nothing, Sir. I just tripped on the stairs this morning, that's all." Harry fidgeted under the old man's gaze hoping that he bought the excuse.

"Come with me, Harry," Harry looked up in surprise. To his knowledge this was the first time that the old man had ever called him by his name. The old man led him into a back room of the library that was full of many other books that Harry had never seen on the bookshelves. There were books such as Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts. One book called The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why Muggles Prefer Not to Know seemed to catch his eye. He had heard the word Muggle before but was not sure from where.

The old Librarian sat down in a chair and motioned for Harry to do the same. "Now Harry," he began. "We've been friends for a long time now. I've never pressed you for information before and I'm not about to start now, Lad. But I know the marks of a fist and I know you didn't trip."

Harry looked down at his feet. He didn't want his friend to look down on him just because he couldn't defend himself from his Uncle or his cousin and his friends. Most of the time he could run from them but many times he ended up as the local punching back and the bruises would stay for weeks.

"Lad," the Librarian said. "How would you like to learn to defend yourself?"

Harry looked up with hope in his eyes. He was tired of getting hit, tired of being in pain and now his friend was offering him a chance to stop it. "Do you mean it? Would you teach me how to protect myself?"

"Yes, Lad." The old man nodded and smiled at the look of eagerness in Harry's eyes. "I warn you though, it's going to be hard work and it will take some time but it will be worth it and you'll be a better person because of it. Are you willing to work hard?"

Harry didn't even hesitate, "Yes."

"Okay then, Lad, your training begins tomorrow."

Six months later…

"Again!" the old man shouted.

Harry grumbled as he preformed the exercise again. The old Librarian was as much of a slave driver as the Dursleys but he acted like that for a purpose. It had been six months since he had started training under the old man and he had learned quite a bit. Harry had practiced diligently and worked extremely hard to get to this level of combat. The Librarian had said that he was positive that Harry could hold his own with some of his future students now.

The exercise he had Harry working on right now was fighting with swords. Earlier that week, Harry had been introduced to several types of eastern and western swords. After careful deliberation, Harry decided on learning how to wield a tai-chi style blade. The blade itself was about three long with the handle being about eight inches long. It was a light one-handed weapon that was perfect for lightning fast strikes and allowed a fighter to combine martial arts with sword fighting.

It was however, difficult to the meld the two and Harry was having some trouble mastering the techniques that the old man had shown him. A fact that was painfully present by the number of bruises that Harry now sported. He felt a rap on his head and saw the Librarian standing near him holding his staff like a sword.

"Keep your mind in the present, Lad. If it was to go a wandering during a fight, the consequences could turn out bad indeed. Now, do it again."

Harry sighed and started the exercise one more time.

Another six months pass by…

Harry cautiously padded into the back room of the library. As always it appeared empty. He carefully inspected the known niches large enough to conceal a crouching adult, repeated experience allowing him to quickly identify the known trouble spots. Despite this, the only warning he had of the attack was the whisper of air as a weighted garrote snaked from above seeking to encircle his neck in a choking grip. Harry's natural lightning reflexes were all that saved him from being strung up, but even so the silken cord closed dangerously close.

Jumping across the room in a leap that was at least logically too large for someone to accomplish, the young child landed lightly on his toes, and spun into a defensive crouch, hands at the ready to defend from a possible critical strike. He stared with unnatural intensity as the attacker revealed herself. Wait a moment; the old man isn't a she. Harry's eyes widened in realization of the trick, but his reactions were too late as a pair of fingers jabbed forcefully from behind and struck at the joint in his shoulder - a numbing but not particularly dangerous strike.

However, for the purposes of the training, it was clear that he had already lost. His attacker could just have easily put a knife in his back, as would have been the case in a 'real' fight. Harry dropped his head in defeat. The battle had lasted all of 3 seconds. Wincing at his error, he was unsurprised when a voice from behind almost casually commented, "As I recall, Lad, you learned yesterday to always be cautious of a dual headed attack. The way you responded to Jill's advance there was just crying out for me to attack from your blindside, yes?" Smiling inwardly at Harry's self-berating expression, the old man turned to his accomplice. "Thank you for your time Jill that will be all."

Ten months later…

Training had definitely been raised a notch by the old man, the last few weeks. The techniques and forms that Harry had started training in were grueling exercises pushing his mind and body to the limits. And just when he though he couldn't go any farther, the old man would somehow find the right button to push to make him go that extra inch.

"Know thy limits and strive to go further," Was something Harry had read in one of his books. He looked at his hand, opening and closing his fist. My limits... How far can I go? He wondered as he felt the constant pulsing of the energy that lay dormant inside of him.

A fair time ago, the Librarian had started training Harry in manipulating his body's energies. "Magic, chi, life-force, whatever you want to call it Harry it's all just a form of the body's inner power. With proper training, one can gain control of these powers and do many things with them."

"Like what, Sir?" Harry asked the curiosity of a ten year old written all over his face.

The old man smirked at the young boy, "Remember some of the more ah…esoteric books I had you read?" Harry nodded. "Remember Wingardium Leviosa?"

Harry looked at the old man in shock. That stuff couldn't be real could it? Harry pondered that for a moment, but if it was…oh the things that could be done. Lives could be saved and damages undone. Harry frowned as he remembered some of the other spells and charms he had read about. Lives could also be taken, and damage made.

Harry had started taking to calling the internal energy his magic. Most of the textbooks he had read had continuously said that some of the various charms, hexes, and spells could only be done by people with strong magical energies. Harry had attempted some of these and succeeded so he supposed that he could be considered a magical person.

Now, Harry was much more skilled with energy manipulation than before. He could forge a sword from a lump of metal without touching it, make the earth open up under someone and swallow them, and any number of other things. Even float in mid-air. The old man insisted that it would go no further than that, but he was determined to learn to fly. But control of water eluded him, his skill being only rudimentary. The Librarian had told Harry when he began the training that if he learned to control the waters well enough that he would be able to heal people of minor wounds and Harry wanted to be able to do that very much indeed.

Harry shook his mind of these thoughts and focused on his practice. It was the start of the summer and school had just finished the week before. In two more months, Harry would be eleven years old and Dudley would be going to Smeltings for school. Harry didn't yet know where he would be attending school but he was certain that it wouldn't be Smeltings or any other prestigious school like it.

"Boy!" Harry was startled from his jumping snap kick by his Uncle's rumbling voice. He put his foot down and turned towards the house to see his Uncle looking at him, anger clearly written all over his face.

What did I do this time? Harry wondered. As far as he could remember, he had finished doing all the chores for the day, including weeding both gardens. What ever could his Uncle be angry about?

"Boy," his Uncle repeated. "Miss. Fig is visiting her relatives today and we need to go into London. I am not about to leave you in this house alone." Vernon seemed to struggle to get the next words out. "Go change, you're coming with us." With that, Uncle Vernon turned on his heel and walked back into the house, grumbling under his breath the whole time.

Harry's heart leapt. It wasn't often he got to go anywhere outside of Surrey. Even if he didn't have the money to buy anything it would still be fun to look around. He dashed to his cupboard and changed into some of the nicer hand me downs that he had. Bursting out of the cupboard he headed for the front room and waited until the rest of the family was ready.

The trip into London was uneventful and Harry was glad to get out of the backseat when they arrived. Driving with Dudley sitting next to you was never pleasant. They walked down the streets and shopped at some of the stores. Dudley saw a toy store and refused to go anywhere until his parents had bought him a new toy. Harry was looking at a display of comics when it happened.

As he stood there, two men appeared out of no where and started towards Harry. They were dressed rather strangely. Both wore robes of the deepest black with the hood up and had white skull like masks that covered their faces. As they walked towards Harry, they pulled out two sticks and pointed them directly at his heart. From some reason Harry know that these sticks where dangerous and he decided to take the two men down…hard.

"Just come with us, Boy," said one of the men. "And you won't be hurt."

Harry stood still for only a moment before leaping into action. He jumped up with a roundhouse kick and took out the man on the right. Rolling into a tuck he dodged the blast of energy that came from the other man before creating a rope of air behind the man's feet and tripping him with it.

The man fell violently while Harry landed safely on his feet. Turning to the recently downed man he jammed his first and middle finger into the side of the man's neck knocking him unconscious. The first man hadn't yet awoken from Harry's initial attack and was still sprawled on the ground. Harry began to search them for any type of identification but the only thing they had were those two long sticks. Harry pocketed both of them for study later.

People who had been shopping in the store came to see what the entire ruckus was about. The store manager followed and began to question Harry about what had happened. Harry answered as best as he could and told the man all he knew. He left out the parts about the man shooting energy at him and the rope of air he had created. The manager would not believe anything like that.

It had been lucky for Harry that the Dursleys had not found anything out about that encounter as it would have certainly resulted in a harsh punishment for him. As it was, it seemed that the Dursleys thought that it had been some rowdy teenager making a ruckus and causing general havoc. Harry didn't feel the need to enlighten them about the truth. Still Harry had enjoyed his trip into London and hoped that next time there wouldn't be anybody there to interrupt it.

Later on that night, Harry walked to the library for his training session. Standing in the back room Harry took out the two devices that the men had used and studied them. They were made of wood and fairly light. Harry supposed they were hollow. There was no trigger of any sort so the firing of energy must have come from some vocal command. What Harry didn't understand was the energy these two things were giving off. They were of separate signatures but there was a definite similarity between their energy and the same type he used.

Suddenly it hit Harry. These were wands! He had read about them in some of his books but since he had never needed one he just totally ignored them. But if wands were real than that meant someone had to produce them, and if someone was making them then people were buying them. There was probably a whole lot more of those black robed people out there.

Harry felt a tap on his shoulder that made him jump. "What you got there, Lad?"

Damn, the old man had snuck up on him again. Harry really needed to figure out how the guy did that. It couldn't really hurt to show him the things; it wasn't like they were going to blow up or anything. Harry held the two pieces of wood out for the Librarian to see and was rewarded with a look of such utter astonishment on the man's face that it would have been comical if Harry wasn't so worried about what could actually surprise the librarian so much. He'd barely raised an eyebrow when Harry had told him about the time he had transported himself to the school roof somehow.

"Where did you get those?" he demanded in a fierce whisper.

"Two men attacked me today and they shot some weird type of energy at me with them. I had to put them down. When I searched them for identification this was all they had." Harry replied.

"What were they wearing?" the old man looked really angry now.

"They had on deep black robes and some sort of skull white mask." Harry answered cautiously. The old man was extremely angry and it was starting to frighten him a little. What was so dangerous about some wands? Harry managed to take those two down easily enough. "Why? What's so important about what they were wearing?"

But the Librarian wouldn't answer. He simply stared at the wands muttering to himself about things like, "…the proper course of action…" or, "…beat Dumbledore to a senseless pulp…"

Harry didn't know who this Dumbledore person was but he was glad that he hadn't attracted the old man's anger over this. When he was training the old man caused enough damage as it was. He would hate to see what would happen to someone that the Librarian was fighting for real. As amusing as it was to watch his mentor sit there and babble on like a brain sick fool, Harry lost his patience and asked, "What are you going on about?"

This seemed to snap the Librarian out of his daze. He looked up and said, "Follow me, Harry."

Harry followed the old man upstairs by way of an old rickety staircase that was hidden in a dark corner of the back room. At the top there was an old wooden door covered in strange symbols, some of them looked like ones he had read in those books. The old man placed his palm on a small panel to the side of the door and it opened silently, revealing a room that was easily the size of the entire library.

Harry's eyes widened, "H-How?" This was impossible…well not quite impossible but pretty close to it.

"I'll explain it all to you later, Lad," the old man waved off the question and hurried inside the room. He led Harry down a haphazard path, between stacks of books; tables piled high with unusual devices, and around roped off areas where cauldrons full of foul smelling substances bubbled. The old man stopped in one corner of the room and pulled out a sock. It looked like it hadn't been washed in several years. "Grab a hold of that Lad and we'll be off then."

Harry looked at the sock with unhidden disgust but did as he was told and took up one end of the foul-smelling cloth. "Are you going to explain everything to me now?" Harry asked exasperatedly. He trusted the old man but he didn't like being led around by the nose.

"Just be patient, Lad." He waved a hand over the sock muttering "Portus" under his breath."By the way Harry," the old man said suddenly. "My name is Dazna, Dazna Sylvan." Harry felt the Librarian channel some energy into the sock and both Harry and the old man popped out of existence in England.

As Harry saw the room around materialize, he immediately discovered the source to the 'wrongness' he had been feeling around Dazna. He looked to where the old man should be and was confronted by a well built man in his late twenties with dirty-blonde hair and deep black eyes. Standing around Harry were another half dozen men and women in a half circle, their weapons trained on him. The sock dropped to the ground, forgotten. Unaware of how he had gotten there or what was going on, Harry brought up some rudimentary defenses. Harry dropped into a low defensive combat stance and prepared to ward off any physical blows. With a quick thought, he brought up a thin web of energy around him and spun the cords around the room.

In a matter of seconds Harry was fed information through his magic that listed where everyone was and how much power they had at their command. He gulped quietly to himself as he realized the combined power of the people in this room could do away with him rather easily. Eyes darting around, Harry quickly took stock of the situation near him.

The room that they had appeared in was close enough in size to the one they had left so that Harry couldn't see a difference. It was surprisingly bare though. There were no boiling cauldrons or stacks of books but many paintings lined the wall, interspaced among the room. Young looking Dazna, as Harry decided to dub him, was looking at Harry with a little amusement in his eyes and fighting to keep a grin off of his face. He was the only one though. The rest all looked grimly prepared for battle and had their eyes centered on Harry.

"What is going on?" Harry shouted as he saw all the soldiers. He abandoned his earlier defenses and brought his magic power to bear. He let lose with a pure white aura that flowed around him like fire, turning to mist along its blurred edges. He held it in check remembering some of his lessons with the old man. If you can outsmart your opponents into underestimating you Harry, than do so. Especially when you are in tight situations. Harry didn't show his full power level and hoped that he could keep from doing so before this was all over.

"Calm down, Lad," the man said after Harry settled himself down. "It's me Dazna."

"Old ma –, Dazna, you have about ten seconds to explain things before I start hurting people." Much to Harry's vexation the other people in the room began to laugh. This only served to push Harry all the further. He knew that this was a fight he could not win but if it was to be his last then he would take down as many of them as he could before falling. "You think this is a joke?" he demanded. Harry brought his hands together and cupped his arms and focused his magical energies. The white aura around him began to drain into a ball the size of a basketball in front of his cupped hands but it rapidly decreased in size even as more energy was poured into it. When he was done, it had attained the size of a small coin. Energy crackled around it and it was almost blinding to look it. The light from the ball lit up the entire area in an iridescent glow. They shut up.

"This is the place where we will continue the rest of your training," Dazna said softly, trying to sooth Harry. "Those men attacking you today showed that you are no longer safe on your own until you learn the rest of what I have to teach you. Others will help supplement your training as well."

"Why the charade of an old man, then?" Harry demanded. "Where are we? Who are all these people? You had better start answering my questions right now!"

One of the soldiers to Harry's near right had enough. "Show some respect, boy!" he shouted. Leveling his plain wooden staff at Harry and several bolts of lightning erupted from its end.

Harry was moving in an instant. He dispelled the ball of energy in his hand and ducked under the bolt. There hadn't been enough energy in the lightning to actually harm Harry but he didn't take any chances. He quickly dived forward into a roll and kicked the legs out from the other man who fell to the ground in an undignified heap. Glowing with energy, Harry shot off a smaller sphere of energy at the man's head knocking him instantly unconscious. In the blink of an eye Harry was on his feet looking warily at the others.

"For the Goddess' sake people!" Dazna yelled. "Hold your fire! You are here to be the guard, not to give judgment." His eye's swept the room, locking gazes with each guard to make sure they would know their place before turning back to Harry. "Sorry about that, Lad. I probably should have warned you about this but I was a bit frazzled by what you had shown me."

"I trusted you, Dazna," Harry said cautiously. "I thought we were friends."

"Indeed we are. If you still trust me, please come here and I'll explain what I can."

Harry dropped out of his combat stance but he kept a small defensive field of energy up as he walked towards the old, now young, man before him. The rest of the guards formed up in two straight files on either side of Harry and Dazna looking very formidable. Harry was glad that he didn't end up fighting them "Where are we?"

Dazna started walking towards the only visible exit in the room. Pushing open the two oaken doors they stepped into a dimly lit hallway that was sheathed with white marble. Harry walked along Dazna's side and viewed the various paintings as he walked by. There were some portraits but most were scenic paintings of a marble city that was situated on a small island. One particular painting showed a magnificent tower rising into the heavens in the middle of the marble city and the tower seemed almost aglow with energy.

"We are currently several hundred miles northeast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. This city, Phoenix Isle, sits on an island that is about the size of Crete. Mind you, we have many charms preventing just anyone coming here so it's quite secret," Dazna said evenly. He waved towards the portrait that Harry was looking at. "That is Phoenix Isle as it once looked. Long ago when magic was well known throughout the world and mages were strong in number. The tower you see there was destroyed in a war many, many years ago." He walked forward a few more feet to the portrait of a severe looking man in a straight cut black uniform. "It was at that time that we hid Phoenix Isle from the rest of the world. We had not won the war but we had not lost either, there were still many mages alive. Fredrick McGrooger here managed to perform a very advanced bit of magic with the aid of fifty other mages to hide our Island. Since then, we have rebuilt the Island…not to the splendor that it once was mind you. It had been one of the causes of that war; we flaunted our riches and in our arrogance believed that we were right for doing so. Now, though we have more money than we could spend in many, many lifetimes, we live in a fairly humble existence. This building was the only one left standing after that war and we us it as our council hall and a remembrance to what our arrogance once cost us….What's your next question?"

Harry didn't know who was crazier; Dazna for expecting him to believe the story or himself for actually believing it. "How old are you? I recognized you by your energy but you look so different now."

Dazna smiled at Harry for no reason that he could fathom. "Oh, I'm about two hundred and twenty-three." No that had surprised Harry. Unless he was mistaken, there was no longer an illusion around Dazna. But he looked no older than forty…how could someone be so old yet still young without the aid of an illusion?

Unable to process that information, Harry moved onto his next question. "What are we doing here?"

Dazna paused in their walk. It was a few moments before any answer was forthcoming. "Harry," he said gently, a hint of the old man in his voice once again. "For the last two years I have been teaching you how to defend yourself and fight martial combat. I have also been teaching you magic." He stopped Harry's question. "Yes, I know that I told you that all energy was the same and that is true. What I left out was that not everybody can actively utilize this energy the way we do. We are here to formally recognize you as one of the people that can use energy such. Also, I will need to meet with my counterparts to see about these…men that attacked you today."

The group reached a room with two huge doors at one end. They were made of glass, about ten feet tall and each one five feet wide, supported by a silver looking metal that ran around the edges in delicately wrought patterns. Two of the honor guard broke forward and placed themselves at the handle of each of the doors. The rest lined themselves up in two columns on either side of the door and Dazna stopped walking just in front of the doors.

Turning towards Harry, Dazna became suddenly serious. "Now Harry," he said. "You are about to go through a ceremony to be inducted into our group. They may ask you some questions and if they do, answer them truthfully and concisely. Don't be afraid to say, 'I don't know.' Nobody will think any less of you for that. Are you ready?"

Harry drew in a deep breath and nodded. He didn't know what was really going on or what was going to happen but he would meet it when it came and not before. Dazna gave a curt nod to the guards at the door and they pulled open the massive things. Striding purposefully into the room with Harry right behind, Dazna gave no indication that he had even noticed the other people in the room. Harry had though, and was taking a close look at everything around him.

They had stepped into a large circular room that had benches surrounding the center on the northern hemisphere. The roof was a large glass dome and the sun shined brightly into the room giving it a warm feeling. In the center, there was a pedestal with a large oak table perched on top of it. The plush benches were full of various people whom, from the look of them, had come from all around the globe. As Harry surveyed the people around the benches, his eyes quickly caught on a young red-headed woman in the front row. Most of the people around the room appeared to be Dazna's age; or at least looked like a rough comparison of Dazna's visual age not the supposed centuries that he claimed to be. But this girl was young, close to his age if a bit younger. She had copper read hair with light highlights that cascaded off her head and over her shoulder to the middle of her back. Her skin was fair, though not overly so and a light dusting of freckles could be seen on her cheeks. His emerald green eyes studied her warm brown ones for a moment and he returned the soft smile that she gave him with one of his own. Harry was not an expert in such manners, but to his eyes the girl was quite beautiful, despite her young age.

Returning his attention to the matter at hand with a small mental note to seek out the girl once this was all done, Harry looked towards the center of the room and the large oak table. Around the table there were eight people sitting in high backed chairs with a ninth chair at one end that was empty. That was quickly remedied as Dazna quickly jumped into the empty seat. The man in the middle looked the most aged out of everyone here and basing his estimation off of what Dazna told him, this man had to be very old indeed. Most of the people sitting at the table also looked older than the rest, though not to the same degree as the man in the middle. The lone exceptions were Dazna and the woman sitting next to him. She had red hair like the girl he had spotted before but it was of a brighter shade. She leaned over to Dazna and whispered something in his ear. It must have been a question of some sort because Dazna nodded in reply and gave her a warm smile. The whisper of conversation that ran across the room died down as all eyes turned towards Harry and the nine that sat before him.

The eldest looking of the group before him stood up and cleared his throat. He spoke out in a voice that was deep and rich, "Ladies and Gentleman, today we have the honor of inducting a new member to our order. It has been a year and a half since the last and I am sure that we all find this a welcome opportunity to reunite and accept this new member. I am sure that everyone here is eager for the ceremony but first I think some introductions are in order." He turned towards Harry and spoke, still in that deep voice. "We have before us, Harry Potter, a name that I am sure many of you recognize. Elder Dazna has trained Harry for the last two years real-time and is confident in Harry's abilities. Ladies and Gentlemen, Harry Potter!" A loud cheer went up from the crowd and Harry couldn't help but blush slightly at all the attention. There couldn't have been more than four hundred people in that room but they all had a set of lungs to back them up.

"Harry," the man was speaking to him now. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Head Elder Kyle, leader of this council. To my right," He gestured with his hand, "are Elders: Davis, Jasmine, Edwards, and Somah. To my left are Elders: Samantha, Ali' Biha, Cynthia, and as you know, Dazna. Together we make up the Council of Mages more often than not referred to as just the 'Council' or more in jest, 'The Nine.'" There were light snickers around the hall at that.

Harry took in each council member in turn, studying the red-headed woman a bit longer than most. Comparing their facial features, Harry decided that she must be related to the girl in the front. There were just too many similarities to ignore. Maybe they were mother and daughter. It was a moment yet, before he gave his attention back to Elder Kyle. "Now that we have all been properly acquainted with, let us commence the ceremony." The council stood up and the chairs and table vanished. A wave of his hand, and Kyle caused the platform the stood on to lower to ground level. Standing around Harry in a circle, The Nine joined hands and started chanting a low, lethargic canto. Harry felt the energy build around him and marveled at the power that this council wielded together.

As the chanting continued, a glowing, silver design began to weave itself in the cold marble floor. Lines ran crossing in intricate patterns all focusing on Harry in the middle. He thought they were quite beautiful and wondered at their meaning. Finally, after about five minutes, all the lines meet in the exact spot that Harry stood and the power washed trough him like a tsunami. It cleansed him, filled him, and smothered him in every aspect. He felt love and hate, he felt happy and sad, he felt everything and he felt nothing. And it was wonderful.

The chanting stopped yet Harry didn't notice. He was aglow with energy, his arms thrown out and his head tilted back as if he was basking in the very nature of it. All too soon for his liking though, the energy left leaving him feeling better than he ever had before. Harry opened his eyes and looked around the room. The people on the benches were cheering madly and… 'The Nine' gave him warm smiles. Looking down, Harry saw that his shirt had ripped and there was now a silver and black phoenix etched across his chest.

Beginning at the lower left-hand side of his abdomen, the plumed length lay on the flesh of his body in exquisite detail. The tail feathers curled slightly inwards towards his navel, and then the phoenix arched along the edge of his ribcage and passed along slightly to the right of his sternum before the head finished an inch short of his collarbone, beak clamped closed, silver feathers flowing down between the widespread, majestic wings.

He tentatively touched the fierce looking animal as if it might jump off and bite him. The color darkened slightly as he pressed on it but lightened again when he removed the pressure. It seemed as if the color of his skin had merely changed and produced this exquisite design. All things considered, Harry rather liked it. Even as he moved his body to take in the design it moved across his skin like a living object.

Elder Davis chuckled a bit at the look on Harry's face. "It does that for all of us," he explained. He rolled back his sleeve to show a fierce tiger almost prowling across his forearm as he flexed the muscles there. "It is not a tattoo in a literal sense but the physical manifestation of the connection between your body and its energy. It takes on the design of the animal we associate most with, in your case…a phoenix."

"A comforting omen if I ever saw one," Elder Somah broke in. "We are fortunate to now have two such people in our midst that carry the namesake of our Isle." Harry was about to ask who else had the Phoenix tattoo but Dazna interrupted him.

"Try a little bit of energy manipulation, Lad. I think you might be surprised at the results." Harry nodded and tried to see if the design would react to his magic. He quickly summoned his internal energy to him.

And the first wave hit him like a giant's fist.

He staggered back and nearly dropped to his knees, the force of it exploding through his very being, searing edges of pain that carved out blazing paths through neurons and senses that made his heart beat and his blood burn. The phoenix writhed upon his body, twisting like a pennant in a strong breeze, feathers flashing in the light.

He opened his mouth and screamed silently. He felt as if his eyes were going to burn themselves out of his head and his skin scorch itself beyond recognition. In the areas of his mind that did not scream out in pain he recognized this and realized it for what it was. It was his power. And it was killing him.

Suddenly, Dazna was by his side chanting under his breath and the pain left him. Harry blinked many times to clear his eyes of spots and croaked out in a hoarse voice. "What happened?"

A woman to his left with bright red hair answered him, in his have he recognized her as Cynthia, one of the ones on the council. "You almost burned yourself out young man. The ritual you went through brings your body, mind, and energy into harmony with one another. The tattoo acts as a focus for your entire body and allows you to concentrate your energies and access their full extent." The woman let out a small sigh, "Normally this isn't a problem as with training you get used to the higher energy levels but in your case, the levels are just too high." She shook her head softly. "Never before would I have imagined that so much power could exist in one so young. You will live an interesting life, young one."

Harry struggled to sort through what he had been told but his head was still pounding and his skin tingled all over. Dazna helped him stand and handed him a vial full of a bright blue liquid. "Here, Lad," he said. "Drink this up and you feel better." Harry gulped the blue stuff down and felt coolness rush through him and he immediately felt better. After about a minute he felt as good as new and was able to stand and walk on his own.

He heard a collective sigh of relief rush through the crowd and suddenly noticed that the benches were now empty and everybody had gathered around him, many were sporting worried looks. He blushed at the attention was getting and looked down at his feet. He felt Dazna give him a friendly squeeze of the shoulder before the crowd quieted again.

"He has gone through the ritual and has been recognized by the council. I give you your new peer and mage, Harry Potter!" Dazna roared out in a commanding voice and the crowd broke into applause once more, dieing down after a minute or so. "Would someone please escort Harry to the armory, the council must continue its meeting at this time."

From the streams of people leaving through various exits the girl Harry noticed before wearing what he now recognized as an emerald green robe, broke away. She took Harry's arm and began leading him towards an unopened doorway. The girl seemed friendly enough and Harry felt more than anything else that this girl could be a good friend. She spoke in a soft, lifting voice, "Hi, I'm Ginny."

"I guess you already know my name," Harry said.

She laughed. It sounded like tinkling bells. "Everybody knows your name. You're the first to be inducted in a year and a half when I was inducted. Before that it was two years before someone new was initiated. Every time someone new is found we send a teacher to them and they make various reports so we get to know them before we ever actually meet."

Harry asked, "So does that mean Dazna was sent as my teacher?"

"Yes," Ginny replied. "It caused quite a stir too. Not just anybody gets trained by an Elder on the council."

"But isn't your mother on the council? You two look almost identical."

Ginny shook her head causing her soft locks of copper red hair to bounce around her face. "That's my Grandmother and she's much too busy to train me right now."

"Then what about your mother?" Harry was perplexed. There had not been that many people in the council room and he wondered where everyone was. According to Ginny the ceremony seemed like something that nobody wanted to miss.

Ginny's face scrunched up cutely, "She's not one of us. I mean it's not like it follows the blood line anyway and there aren't too many of us in the first place. There never has been."

What do you mean us?" Harry frowned.

Ginny looked at Harry with genuine surprise, "Why mages of course. Didn't you know that?"

"No, I had never even heard the term before Dazna said it in the council hall."

"Oh then," Ginny paused, looking deep in thought before she continued on. "There are four types of people in this world, the muggles, wizards, sorcerers, and mages. Each group tends to access energy in different ways and use different methods to achieve the same thing. Well…except for muggles of course, they have no access to energy so they can't do the same things you and I can. Your aunt and uncle are muggles."

"Okay," Harry nodded in understanding. Not even bothering to ask about how she knew his relatives…it seemed Dazna had been thorough in his reports. "What about the other three?"

"Well we can all use energy, just different types of it." As she was explaining, Harry noticed that Ginny continually made gestures with her hands as if it would help explain things to him. He thought it was rather cute. "Sorcerers use the energy and magic around them to there purpose. The energy in the air, in the earth, just about anywhere. None of the magical energies are actually regulated by anything other than their will so a sorcerer is capable of producing and channeling immense amounts of energies. Now, we mages go about it in a different way. We use our own internal energies to do what we want. Everything is regulated and controlled through our own bodies and it is up to us to increase the amount of energy and power we can control. Do you follow?"

"So we are limited by how much energy we have exercised our bodies to produce and use, right?" Dazna had spoken of things like this but not in as much detail. Usually it was just in a passing sentence or two.

Ginny nodded happily, "Exactly! Now wizards compose the bulk of energy users in the world, there are only about 500 mages around the world right now and the sorcerers have several thousands, enough to form several different communities. There are many more witches and wizards than that I'm not sure about there exact numbers though. Their use of energy is like a combination between a mage and a sorcerer in that they use both internal and external energy.

"But regardless of how we all use our energy we can perform most of the same basic feats. For instance, say we wanted to make a lightning storm around us. A sorcerer would call upon the sky and ask for the storm, a mage would ionize her body and the area around her to attract the lightning, and a wizard would simply conjure lightning around them."

Harry took in all this information and sorted through it in his mind. It all made a strange sort of sense and from what he had read; he could tell that she was spot on with her explanation. So," he said, not wanting their conversation to die out. He was enjoying his time with Ginny and was glad to be making a friend, something he never really had. "Is there any other big differences between the groups? I mean are we all segregated and stuff or do we mingle?"

"Well," Ginny said. "We mages tend to have more combat training than any of the other groups. Wizards and sorcerers tend to rely on their magic a bit too much for our tastes; I mean there will always be something that cannot be solved by energy alone. In fact we act more like a combat group than anything else. We're trained in all sorts of methods of subterfuge, strategy, and personal combat so that if anything ever does happen will be ready. We even have a military chain of command."

"Seems to be sound thinking to me," Harry intoned. "If we were to end up fighting someone, we would have a definite advantage with everybody being able to spy or fight or what not." He chuckled slightly, "It does seem that we might be a bit on the umm…shall we say, paranoid side?"

Ginny laughed brightly, "It does seem that way doesn't it? My father has a friend whose favorite saying is 'constant vigilance!' He goes around shouting that to anyone who will listen and even those that don't."

"Sounds a lot like Dazna," Harry was smiling broadly. "He was always badgering me about being in constant awareness of anything and everything around me."

"Sage advice," Ginny nodded. "My teacher said that too and more often than not it prevented me from getting caught in a prank by my older brothers."

"Pranksters huh?"

Ginny rolled her eyes heavenward, "You wouldn't believe how big of pranksters they are. They are continuously driving my mother crazy with their tricks." The reached the main doors of the tower now and Harry felt the warm sunlight wash over him as they stepped outside. "She always complains how they are going to drive her to baldness one day."

"They sound like fun," Harry smiled. "I'll have to meet them one day."

"You'll regret it for the rest of your waking life."

A little later, the young pair came to a plain looking building with a glass door that had two guards standing vigil on either side. As they approached, one of the guards turned and placed his hand on a small plate that was next to the door. The door swung open silently and admitted Harry and Ginny into the room. Harry turned to ask Ginny where they were but she stopped him by pointing around the room and saying, "Suit yourself up. You need to be properly equipped if your going to be a part of the order."

The room was fairly large, perhaps a hundred meters in length and twenty wide but the walls were lined with swords, staffs, knives, and any type of imaginable weapon. There were also racks of armor and cases of jewelry running up and down the center of the room. There were suits of full plate armor like that worn by ancient knights, as well as full samurai gear.

"What am I here for?" Harry questioned Ginny.

"Well," she replied. "You need a weapon of choice first, like my daggers." She reached behind the small of her back and pulled out two beautifully crafted daggers that were about twenty-seven centimeters in length each. She twirled them around the back of her hand a couple of times before sheathing them and turning back to Harry.

"Nice," Harry proclaimed, impressed by Ginny's skill with the weapons. He figured that if things were actually like Ginny had been talking about, than weapons and armor were probably a symbol of a mage as much as anything else.

"Everybody fights a bit differently so make sure you pick something out that fits your style," Ginny said. Harry nodded and set out to find a weapon and set of armor that would work for him.

He wasn't looking for anything that was constricting and would hinder his movements even slightly so he quickly walked past the full suits of armor. About three-quarters of the way down the armor was of the lighter variety but still had shoulder and hip guards which would get in they way of some of his movements. Finally near the very end of the rack, he found what he was looking for.

It was simply designed, but very impressive looking black metal inlaid with silver. There was a pair of arm bracers, greaves to protect his shins, and a breastplate that formed to the front and back of his body leaving his upper arms bare. The front of the breastplate was a plain black without any designs etched into it. It looked plain but it was exactly what Harry was looking for.

"It's very nice. I'm glad that you found something you liked." Ginny said from behind him.

"It is what I was looking for, but doesn't it seem a little thin to you?" Harry asked while he strapped the arm bracers on. He was pleased to see that the inside of the armor was padded leather and fit comfortably over his arms. They were a tad large but after a moment the bracers shrunk to form a perfect fit over his arms.

"This isn't normal, everyday combat armor, Harry. Everything in this room is made up of strong titanium alloys with several charms laced on them. That stuff is some of the strongest material on the face of the planet."

Harry's breastplate fit easily over his shirt but the overly large shirt hung out of the bottom and sides. Harry immediately decided to get some proper clothing so he would look his part. It wouldn't do for the newest mage to look shabby all the time. "Okay, that should do it. I don't look goofy or stupid, do I?" Harry asked, turning in a little circle so that Ginny could get a better view of him.

Ginny smiled, "You look very dashing Harry, now let's get you a weapon." The search for a weapon took longer but Harry finally found a tai-chi sword that he liked. It matched the motif of his armor and both the sheath and the blade of the sword was lacquered a deep black with silver etching in them. Harry tied the sword to his back and did a couple of warm-ups with it to test its balance and handling. He was surprised to find that it handled perfectly and found himself glad that Ginny had made him choose a weapon.

As the pair walked back to the door, Harry took notice of several portraits that were hanging on the walls that he had ignored before. Each portrait was of one person and Harry could see the passage of time in the clothes that they wore. All of the figures wore armor and held themselves in a prestigious manner; Harry assumed that they must have been people of important standing. He found it interesting that each person had a phoenix etched into the armor and upon closer inspection, he saw that the design was the exact same on each of the people. Turning to Ginny, he asked her about it.

"Well…the phoenix design shows their position among mages. These people have all held the title of Lord Phoenix, leader of the mages and only they can actually bear that symbol. Blacksmiths have tried to etch the same symbol but never succeed; something in the magic prevents it I would assume. The only way the next Lord Phoenix can get the symbol is in the test." Ginny looked back to Harry, "You'll learn all about it later."

Harry shrugged his shoulders and decided to ask Dazna about it later. "Shall we go, milady?" he asked with an exaggerated bow and a sweep of his hand.

Ginny giggled softly, "Of course my steady knight." She took his offered arm and they walked out of the armory laughing and enjoying each others company. The two guards watched them leave and noticed the way the two seemed to lean into each other.

Harry and Ginny reached her grandmother's house still linked arm in arm. They found her Grandmother, Harry learned that her name was Cynthia, and Dazna chatting peacefully in the living room. After introductions were made Harry showed them his choice of armor and weapon, Dazna immediately approved.

"Good choice there, Lad. Flexible and easy to move around in, we're going to have to get you some proper clothes though if your going to be running around though."

Harry nodded in agreement, "Shouldn't we be getting back now, Dazna. We've been gone for a long while now and my aunt and uncle will be worried. Well…maybe."

Dazna shook his head, "Time moves differently here than the outside world Harry, for every hour you spend here only about a minute passes by in their world. Anyways, you'll be staying here for another month and a half on the outside world so we can finish your training."

Harry did some quick calculations, "So I'll be here for…"

"About another seven years, yes."

"Won't I be all old then? The Dursley's will notice the difference."

"Mages age differently than other humans, Lad. It comes from our mastery of our bodies internal energies. Do I look two hundred years old to you?" Dazna said with an amused smile on his face.

Harry blushed slightly, "I guess not."

"Besides," Dazna continued. "I'll be teaching you how to disguise yourself so you can stay looking young. The ageless look doesn't really set in until you are about eighteen years old."

Harry turned towards Ginny, "Will you be here too?" Harry didn't want to live the next seven years of his life without a friend.

Ginny nodded, "My mother knows that I'm staying with grandma even if she doesn't know that we're here. I'll be doing some of my training with you even, right Grandma?"

Cynthia nodded, "Yes dear. You two are only a couple months apart in age and the council thought it would be good for you to train up as partners."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief; it was good to know that he wouldn't be alone in this. As he stood there, he couldn't help but wonder if anything in his life would ever be the same again. He watched as Ginny adamantly talked to her Grandma with Dazna watching on and he couldn't help but smile. He hoped it wouldn't and for some reason he knew that Ginny would be with him every step of the way.