Harry Potter and Salazar's Talisman
The Protégé Returns
Harry Potter entered the front door of Hogwarts and stopped in his tracks. It had been 7 years since he had been in this hall. The feelings which crept up on him varied. The most prominent feeling was relief. Harry's years after graduation, or rather after he had awoken from the magical coma he'd been in after killing Voldemort, had been trying.
The Death Eater trials had taken a lot of his time. Although Harry could not actually testify from first hand knowledge on many Death Eaters (Harry had only had to deal with Voldemort's elite) the Ministry seemed to want Harry ever present at the trials.
Then to Harry's dismay, they sent him abroad on a sort of good-will mission. Harry had considered the tour another nightmare as he had been inundated with the media and forced to suffer through public appearances. While Sirius and his ever-present love interest, Gwenn, were there to support him, Remus had been his savior. Harry had hired Remus as his Public Relations representative ("I'm Famous Harry Bloody Potter. I can damn well hire a werewolf if I want to.") and he took the role very seriously. Protector of Harry's sanity, Remus learned to judge when Harry was over-extended, exhausted or just fed up. So Harry had coped.
Harry's only frustration during these years was his love life or, rather, lack-there-of. Harry and Ginger's break-up (she didn't get over Harry's choice at the end of Harry's 7th year, when he had chosen to become the Balance of Power) had been the scandal of the decade. The media had gone berserk with it. Ginger put up with the public outcry and took the Howlers in stride and went on with her life.
Harry, not being able to take the pity as well as the following matchmaking (everyone now also considered him the world's most eligible bachelor), extended his time abroad to include a visit (finally) to his manor in Bulgaria. The estate Voldemort had given him his 7th year was not large by medieval standards but it was impressive. Harry had secured a caretaker/trustee to oversee care of the property and since it was co-deeded to Harry's alias, Jack Taylor, Harry was totally anonymous there.
Harry's attempts at dating though were sad. No one could see passed his fame. The few who did get to know 'Just Harry,' the sarcastic, cynical pessimist who had incidentally saved the world because he could make an evil dark lord laugh, couldn't take the media pressure.
It wasn't until Ron and Hermione's wedding that Harry realized that Ginger was the only one for him, the only one who had been able to deal with everything. She always knew 'Just Harry.' She was the one who always fixed him. Rowan, Harry's phoenix, of course, had been telling him that, via song, for years.
Harry had thought getting her back would be difficult. Although Harry regretted losing his temper in the middle of the wedding reception, it did achieve the desired results as well as providing entertainment for those attending.
Ginger had been dancing, to closely in Harry's opinion, with Seamus, who Harry knew had always had a thing for Ginger. Harry had marched directly out to the middle of the dance floor and pulled the couple apart. When the exchange got a little heated, the bottom line question had come out. Why had Harry left Ginger behind? It seemed to be the basis behind all of Ginger's anger. That Harry hadn't loved, trusted her enough to take her with him.
But Harry had known that she wouldn't have been able to deal with the fact that Harry had to sacrifice himself. No one expected Harry to live, especially Harry. The fact that he had lived, that he had been there at all arguing that point was almost comical.
Ginger still wouldn't accept it.
"It's more then that, Harry," Ginger had railed at him. "I know it is. Just tell me the truth."
And Harry couldn't help himself. As if forced out of him, the words came out.
"If you were there, I wouldn't have been able to do it," said Harry. "I had everything I could possible want at the time. Everyone with me was safe – protected. If you were there, I would have had no reason to do anything to stop him. I would have been completely happy."
Ginger had blinked at him. "What's wrong with being happy?"
"I couldn't be happy at the expense of others, Ging," Harry had told her, echoing the same words he told Voldemort. "But if you were with me, I would have." Harry had taken her hands then. "I saved the world because you were still in it. I did it for you."
They were married a little over a year later. Not soon enough for Harry but Mrs. Weasley, Sirius and Gwenn and even Remus insisted that Harry had to be married 'fittingly.' So Harry concentrated on building their new house on his land in Godric's Hollow and on finally going back to school.
School seemed to be more like a duty. While Harry didn't need any more formal training in magic, he did take an extensive amount of classes on teaching. If he was going to do it, he wanted to do it right.
So, married and degreed, Harry finally received notification that Hogwarts was in need of a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher if Harry wished to apply, which he did.
And there he was. Harry looked around. The foyer was dark and silent – it was the middle of the night. He had missed the opening feast but he hadn't wanted to leave Ginger, who was now pregnant with the first of their children. She hadn't been feeling well and Harry had refused to leave her.
Harry moved through the school until he came to face the gargoyle, which guarded Dumbledore's office. Harry raised a hand and the gargoyle jumped aside.
Since Harry was one of the most powerful wizards in the world, he could do that.
"Sorry," said Harry. "I have to see the Headmaster though."
Harry moved through the office and up the moving spiral staircase. He knocked on the door to Dumbledore's inner office.
"I'm assuming that is you, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Please come in."
Harry poked his head around the door. "I'm sorry, Professor," said Harry. "I couldn't leave Ginger."
"Hermione told me, Harry," said Dumbledore. "I understand but I was disappointed that I couldn't introduce the students to their new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor."
Harry looked at the floor. "I'm sorry, Professor."
Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix, noticed him and flew to him. Harry stroked him.
Dumbledore sighed. "Harry, after everything you've been through, why do you insist on apologizing all the time?"
"I'm sor-" Harry cut himself off and looked at Dumbledore with a grin. "Can't seem to break the habit of a lifetime," said Harry.
Dumbledore peered back at him through his half-moon glasses, his eyes shining with humor. "I suppose not."
"I just wanted to let you know I was here," said Harry. "Where should I go?"
"Your private room is just off your office, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Settle in and I'll send you're schedule up to you in the morning."
"Yes, sir," said Harry. "Thanks."
"Yes, Professor?" Harry turned to him.
"My name is Albus. You are permitted to use it now."
"That'll take getting used to," said Harry.
Dumbledore smiled. "Run along now. Busy day tomorrow."
Harry stood outside his classroom feeling so nervous he could have thrown up. Hermione was staring at him. Hermione was teaching Arithmancy, as she had planned and had been at Hogwarts since before she and Ron had married.
Harry could tell by Hermione's expression that she thought Harry was being stupid.
"Just be yourself, Harry," said Hermione. "You'll be fine."
"Easy for you to say," muttered Harry.
"Oh go on, Harry," said Hermione and she kissed Harry's cheek, which always made Harry feel better.
Harry nodded and strode into his classroom. His first class was waiting for him. Harry went to his desk at the front of the room and picked up the register. He turned to face the class. They all looked back.
In a quiet but clear voice, Harry took the roll, trying to match names with faces. When he put the list back down and turned back to the class, they stared back expectantly.
Just be yourself. Harry gave himself a mental shake and sat on top of his desk. "So you are 6 years?" said Harry
"Yes, Sir," said one student.
"You'll have to excuse me," said Harry. "I'm a little nervous."
"Yes," confessed Harry, looking to the red-headed boy. He glanced at the log. "Sean McIves, is it?"
The boy straightened in his seat. He appeared tall with an athletic build. "Yes, Professor," said Sean.
"Well," Harry told the class. "This is my first official class. I've never been any good at public speaking. I can face death without breaking a sweat but speaking in front of large crowds of people makes me nauseous."
A few students choked as they tried to suppress their laughter. Harry grinned at them and the rest of the class laughed softly and relaxed. The classes reaction had the effect Harry needed. He relaxed too and looked at the roll again.
"Miss Larsen," called on a student with glasses and thick brown hair who had a book open and was scribbling on parchment already. She reminded Harry of Hermione.
"What did you cover last year?"
"We learned a lot of counter curses," said Cindy Larsen, her blue eyes sharp behind the thick glasses. "Our last teacher was a bit of a fanatic about them."
"I don't know Professor Narra personally," said Harry. "But I'm sure the curses would come in handy. What else?"
"We touched briefly on You-Know-Who's first rise-"
"Whoa," said Harry, holding up his hands. "Back up. I will not hear that particular wizard called You-Know-Who, Him or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I for one can think of a lot of things to call him, and most of them aren't very nice, but in my classroom you will refer to him by name." Harry looked around the class to stress his point. "Now I want to hear you all say it."
As the class mumbled Voldemort's name, Harry had to smile.
"Wasn't so hard, was it?"
Most of the class grinned back at him.
"What was he like, Professor?"
Harry wasn't sure which student had thrown out that question but the rest of the class started murmuring as if they all had that question on their minds.
Harry had expected it to come up, but he had hoped it wouldn't be in his first class on his first day. The class looked back at him breathless and hopeful. He glanced down at the register. No wonder. Gryffindors.
"All right, then," said Harry. "Let's get it over with. What would you like to know?"
"Well what was he like?" said Cindy. "Personally?"
"Personally?" said Harry. He slid off the desk and began to pace thoughtfully. "Well, he was definitely brilliant. His mind worked so fast it was amazing. Whatever he did, he did with precision and detail. He always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else as if he had planned the outcome. Which he usually claimed he did." Harry glanced at the class. "He was very vain and liked to gloat."
"Was he really so powerful?"
"Oh yes," said Harry. "Voldemort was a megalomaniac and he did succeed in acquiring vast amounts of magical power as well as power over people."
"So he could control people?"
Harry considered the question. "Some people. Many were controlled through his Death Eaters who were of course controlled by Voldemort. His Death Eaters were totally devoted to him. He demanded loyalty. He was demanding period. You did what he said, when he said it and you had better had done it to his satisfaction."
"So, was he really so vicious?" said Cindy a little breathlessly.
Harry gave a short nod and hopped back on his desk. "His merciless cruelty is legendary. He enjoyed seeing people's pain." Harry gave a cynical little laugh. "Especially mine," muttered Harry. "But he seemed to have an honorable streak because he was fair dishing it out. And I've never known him to break a fairly agreed to contract.
"His manipulation of people and his flair for semantic games made him a genius of getting him whatever he wanted."
"He didn't manage to get the Sorcerer's Stone," said Sean.
"Right," said another student. "You stopped him."
"And he didn't get you," said Cindy. "I read about it. He couldn't kill you."
"Well, yes," admitted Harry. "And I must say, Voldemort wasn't pleased with me about any of it."
The class snickered.
"When I unfortunately saved Peter Pettigrew's life, Voldemort had a servant to help him get his body back."
"So it wasn't Sirius Black who killed all those people?"
"No, it wasn't" said Harry. "Sirius Black was my father's best friend and he's my godfather. Peter Pettigrew was the spy and the man who betrayed my parents."
They asked about the Triwizard Tournament and Harry gave them a brief, carefully edited account of it.
"That's when he murdered Cedric Diggory."
"Actually, it was Peter who killed him, but Voldemort ordered it. Technically, Cedric should have won that Tournament but we helped each other so much through it, he insisted that I should win. He was so stubborn about it and I could hardly stand. I just wanted to get out of the maze."
"Why couldn't you stand?"
"The spider," another student hissed impatiently. "Don't interrupt."
Harry hid a grin. "Anyway, if I had been more insistent, Cedric would have gone to the grave yard alone and died anyway but at least Voldemort wouldn't have gotten his body back at that time."
"That's why you felt you had to die with him," said Sean. "Because you felt it was your fault."
Harry stared at the boy and sighed. "The reasons I knew I had to die with Voldemort are many and complex," said Harry. "And maybe we'll get into them another time, but the fact is I should have died. I really don't know how I survived."
The bell rang and the class actually groaned as they collected their things.
Harry got off his desk and went around it to sit down behind it. "Next time we're going to go into the Unforgivable Curses. Be prepared."
"Yes, Professor," he heard many of them murmur.
Most of his classes were similar that day although none as bad as his first one. By dinner, Harry felt like he had never talked about himself so much in his life. His Gryffindor sixth years were the most curious and Voldemort had fascinated them. Harry remembered being that curious too so if telling them about his experiences helped inspire any of them, then he guessed he was doing his job.
Hermione marched into his office and slammed a book on his desk before him. Harry startled.
"Something wrong?" said Harry.
"Harry Potter, if you send another class of students into my Arithmancy room muttering what a great DADA class they had and how great Professor Potter is, I'm going to strangle you."
Harry hid his smile. "You told me to be myself. Did I know I was so captivating?"
Hermione smiled back at him and Harry knew the little performance was for his benefit. "You did," said Hermione. "Did you really order an entire class to say Voldemort?"
"Damn right I did," said Harry. "If I hear You-Know-Who again I might scream."
Hermione laughed. "Well I'm going to get something to eat and go to bed. I told you, you'd be fine."
"Thanks, Hermione," said Harry. "Good night."
She kissed his cheek. "Night Harry."
She left and Harry looked at his notes. Dumbledore had given him a free hand for his classes and Harry was thinking of doing the Unforgivable Curses the same way as Moody/Crouch had done them.
Pain exploded in Harry's head and his hand hit his scar.