Title: The War We Fight
Summary: This is the story of a war. A war between good and evil, light and dark. This is the war Harry will fight, fight until the last breath leaves his body. This is where he will learn the meanings of life and death, love and friendship, sorrow and betrayal, honour and hardship. This is the war where he will fulfil his destiny.
H/G with some R/H sixth year fic.
Disclaimer: Nothing here belongs to me, as anyone reading this probably knows. I'm only enjoying myself while waiting for HBP.
A/N: Just to let you know that I'm dedicating this chapter to Nimbirosa, because she's an amazing author and quite a helpful beta. If you haven't yet, go read her stories and don't forget to drop a review!
Chapter 1: Home isn't always where the heart lies.
A young man was lying on his back in the neat backyard of a suburban house in Surrey.
His eyes were closed but he could feel the warmth of the rising sun. He knew that in a few minutes his aunt would come down and shatter the peaceful atmosphere surrounding him. He decided it was better to be ready for her call, and slowly opened his dark green eyes, that didn't seem to fit in his young face, having seen horrors best left unknown. Slipping on his glasses, he slowly stood up, stretching and readying himself for another day.
The boy was relatively tall but slender. The last remains of boyhood had recently left him, leaving behind elegant cheekbones and startlingly green eyes. His dark hair, slightly long and endearingly messy framed his face and made for a very pleasant sight. However, dark circles under his eyes betrayed his exhaustion and lack of sleep.
His clothes were obviously too big for him, but didn't hide the proud, determined set of his shoulders that wasn't there a couple of days ago.
"Harry Potter! Get inside the house this instant! You'll make my grass uneven, lying there every morning!" the shrill voice rang clear in the morning silence, cutting through the young man's musings and shaking him out of his meditative state.
"Good morning aunt Petunia." said Harry as he entered the kitchen. His voice, as well as his face had changed; it was smooth, grave, and almost sombre - certainly not a child's voice. His greeting was met with a cold glare. Moody's warning had made life at Privet Drive bearable, but by no means pleasant.
"Quiet boy, and start making breakfast, your uncle will be down any minute now"
Ignoring the icy tone and even icier glare, Harry smiled slightly and did as he was told, knowing this would enrage his aunt more than anything else he might do or say. As he fried the bacon and the eggs and dropped several slices of bread in the toaster, his aunt rambled on and on about her roses and her garden and just exactly what would happen to him if he ever damaged any of her plants. He wondered what exactly she would do if he activated one of the twins' swamps in her back yard...
He gave a bark of laughter at the mental picture, successfully shutting her up, at least for a moment, as she built up for a more enthusiastic harangue on proper respect. It was a blessing, especially for his ears, thought Harry, that an owl suddenly came soaring in through the window, fluttered around the room a few times and came to rest lightly in Harry's outstretched arm. His aunt gasped loudly, but didn't speak; something that he was sure wouldn't last.
He untied the letter and slipped it in his pocket. The owl took off immediately, not waiting for a reply.
His aunt was glaring at him menacingly, and Harry wondered what would happen next, he wasn't really in the mood for a big row, and his aunt seemed to be itching for a fight. He didn't know how much longer his patience would last, especially when his uncle joined the mix.
"Aren't you going to open that?" she snapped.
"I don't think know would be the proper time or the proper place to read my mail, Aunt Petunia." He replied evenly.
In this moment, Vernon entered the kitchen. His greeting was just as warm as Petunia's had been.
"Boy! The toast is burning! You should at least do your work properly after all we've done for you!"
Just another morning in the Dursley household, thought Harry. It really never changed.
"Good morning to you too, uncle Vernon." He said lightly, serving his uncle's breakfast and watching him turn a deep purple. Deciding that now would be the perfect time to beet a hasty retreat, he grabbed a handful of toast and left the kitchen, heading upstairs to his room, intent on reading his letter.
He wondered who had sent him mail. He hadn't recognised any of his friends' handwriting: it wasn't Ron's messy scrawl, or Hermione's tidy small writing. It wasn't even Ginny's long elegant lettering, and consequently, Harry was slightly concerned. He wasn't used to receiving strange anonymous letters or packages and that left him slightly wary of what the envelope might contain.
Sitting comfortably in his desk, he examined the seal of the heavy envelope, and realised exactly who the letter was from: he had seen this crest a few times when crossing the threshold of the wizarding bank, Gringotts. But why would he be receiving letters from the Goblins was beyond him, and he would only discover it by going ahead and reading what was in there.
He broke the seal and opened heavy parchment and was surprised when he found another two letters inside the first envelope. He unfolded the letter from the bank, wanting to find out what the whole business was about. His surprise mounted with each passing sentence, and by the time he was finished he felt he had more questions than answers
Dear Mr. Potter,
Gringotts bank wishes by the present letter to express it's greatest sympathies for the passing of your godfather, Sirius Orion Black. We also wish to hereby inform you of your emancipation as per Goblin Law, by the express wishes of the previously mentioned Sirius Black, your legal guardian.
This decision concerns the Goblin High Council, and can only be applied in the wizarding world once it is followed and accepted by the Wizengamot. Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes falling under Goblin jurisdiction you are legally an adult, and will be treated as such.
This means that you can now take full and exclusive control of your entire estate, and will be able to make decisions concerning this estate and any other financial problems that may befall you.
Enclosed in this envelope are two letters: the first written by your parents, James Potter and Lily Potter, née Evans, nearly fifteen years ago, and deposited at our institution with clear instructions to be delivered to you at your majority, once you took control of the ancestral Potter estate. As your legal majority was attained at the death of your godfather, Gringotts has thought it best to pass this letter on to you now that your are in full control of your rightful estate.
The second enclosed letter was written by your late godfather a few weeks before his demise, and to be delivered should his death happen to be untimely. In his last will, Sirius Orion Black made you, Harry James Potter his exclusive Heir. Although you must sign several documents concerning both your estates, let it be noted that you are now one of Gringotts' Bank largest contributors, as head of both the Potter and the Black estate.
It must also be dully noted that, unless you so desire and in this case you must contact this institution immediately, all control over the Black and the Potter estate has been removed from one Albus Dumbledore. For reasons that are unclear at the present time, both estates were under the care of this wizard for the last fifteen years. This is no longer the case, and both accounts are now under your sole control, to do with as you please, under the boundaries of Goblin and Wizarding law alike.
Gringotts feels that it would be in your best interest to visit one of our institutions, in order to fill all the required documents and to meet with your assigned manager. It might also be in your best interest to bring with you legal advice, if you happen to be unfamiliar with any aspect of our legislation. A meeting of the sort may also bring you more specific information on the contents of the ancestral family's vaults and stocks and properties that you posses. We encourage you, should anything be unclear, to contact your bank manager, who is always there to fulfil your needs.
We wish to express once again our sympathies for your loss, and our desire that our transactions in the future be numerous and beneficial to both parties.
The Goblin Head Council.
Harry could barely make out the thirteen signatures hastily scrawled below the letter itself. His head was reeling from all the information that he had just discovered. As he assimilated all he had just read, his anger bubbled to the surface. He wanted to know why no one had ever bothered to inform him of any of this or why was Dumbledore making decisions in his name without his knowledge? Why didn't anyone tell him he had an ancestral vault? Malfoy bragged a lot about his, so Harry was familiar enough with them. He had had no idea that his family was old enough or even important enough to have such a thing.
Deciding that it was better to save his irritation until his next meeting with the headmaster, he turned his attention to the two other envelopes. A cold shiver of dread run through him. What had they written? Why now, when he had just about gotten his life halfway together, with a whole lot of help, let it be known? He continued to stare at the two envelopes.
The first, bright and white, was obviously quite new. The dark green seal, a capital B entwined in vines proved that it came from a Black heir. Harry put this one aside. He just wasn't ready to deal with the pain of losing Sirius, again. The wounds were too fresh. So he turned to the next one, a creamy thick parchment, with a musky sent he always associated with old books and the Hogwarts' library. It was the smell of ancient parchment.
This was written by his parents, to him. Or at least to the 'him' they knew, the one year old baby that they would never be able to see as a grown man. It was heartening, Harry thought, that faced with probable death, they had remembered him, realised that it might be good to know his true parents, even if it was simply in the form of a few written words. This he could deal with, he thought, focusing in the crest in the seal. He felt like he had already seen that symbol somewhere. The phoenix, the dragon and the Griffin, with the elegant P in the middle, he just couldn't remember where. They were his family's crest. His family, what a family it was, with its single member, he thought bitterly. A member, that knew exactly nothing of the family's past. How ironic. Gathering his courage as best he could, and preparing himself for an emotional blow, Harry began to read the second letter of the day.
If you are reading this, then our worst fears have come to pass.
That sounded dramatic, didn't it? Just for the record, Harry, that was your mother's sentence. She always had a flare for the dramatic, you know. A true marauder would never write such a thing, nothing so, tragic, if you know what I mean. We live for the day.
As Lily flower is urging me quite gently (I won't have a head soon, if she keeps hitting me, you have quite a violent mother, little Harry, I hope you don't inherit this trait of hers, must be the red hair) to move on, I'll explain the reason for this letter. You just turned one, and we must go into hiding, because you are in danger, caused by the existence of a prophecy that may or may not concern you and Voldemort. If you have no idea whatsoever of what I'm talking about, then Dumbledore is being his usual meddling self.
Go to Hogwarts and grill him, or just ask Sirius, who should have told you years ago. Show him this letter if you must, to get him talking. This is important, do everything in your power to find the contents of this prophecy. We would write it down here, but it just isn't safe.
I hope that at least one of the above mentioned people had the intelligence to tell you something that concerns you so exclusively and so completely. If none of them have, let them know that I'm disappointed. It's a pity that no house is completely safe, no fortress unbreachable. It doesn't matter how much we wish to see you grow up, it might just not be meant to be. In fact, if you are reading this, then we're gone, and you grew up with Sirius or Remus, without us. I can only hope that you are happy, although I don't have many doubts, with those two. You probably became their partner in crime by the time you could talk. Harry, you can trust Remus and Sirius with your life, they would never, ever betray you. Of this I can assure you.
It's sad, that isn't true for a great number of people. They are one of the few that I know of that will put your well-being before their own, and before any kind of greater good nonsense that Dumbledore might come up with. Don't always take Dumbledore word as truth, Harry. He means well, but he can be a manipulative bastard. Don't be afraid to confront him. He is certainly one of the most powerful wizards alive, but he isn't always right. Sometimes a swift kick in the (here you can insert the word that I'm sure you know, but your mother has forbidden me to write down) is the best solution to your problems than countless hours of debating, trying to find a compromise. Have faith in your abilities, and never few lessened by anyone.
The handwriting of the letter suddenly changed, and Harry was sure the next part had been written by his mother.
Well Harry dear, now that your father has gotten all of that out of the way, we can go on to the serious stuff, the real reason I wanted to write this letter (not, as James seems to think, to give you advice on how to deal with your headmaster, you must remember that your father beat the last record for most detentions in a single school year, so advice from him is shifty at best) I wanted you to know first hand exactly how much we loved you Harry. And not just I, James might seem like an insensitive git most of the time, but he loves you more than life itself. We have only known you, Harry, for a little more than a year, but you are the centre of our lives, the bright spot that has kept us going through the darkness that is becoming our world. It doesn't matter that we might not see you grow up, and become the wonderful person you're bound to be, we've loved you since the day we discovered you existed. The day you were born was without a doubt the happiest day of my life. You mean everything to us Harry. Remember that, my son. Now, there are some other issues your father needs to discuss with you, pay attention and never forget what I said.
His father continued the letter.
Well Harry, Lily flower has gotten all the mushy stuff out of the way and we can get down to business (don't get me wrong, all she said is the truth, I'm extremely proud of you Harry, only my son could already walk at one, and sow such a promising future as a seeker. Lily doesn't believe me, says a one year old can't show any talent for quidditch yet, it's scientifically impossible or something, but I know better. I can already see you flying for Gryffindor) as your mother kindly reminded me, I must get back on track. You are now of age, Harry, and will, consequently be taking control over the Potter estate, most particularly, the Potter ancestral vault. What I'm about to tell you, I learned from my father on my birthday, and he learned from his father, and so on, for as far as our line goes. I might not be there to tell you in person, but I want to make sure the information gets to you.
Our vault is locked by some of the most powerful blood magic known to wizard kind. That means that the vault will respond to you and to you only, because of your blood. You are the only one that can open the vault, you and your direct decedents. This old tradition has one huge advantage, no matter who controls the Potter estate, or even if the Potter estate no longer exists, this vault will always remain untouched, even by the Goblins who take care of Gringotts. It was a safety precaution because of all the goblin rebellions that took place over the course of history.
Inside the vault are several objects, artefacts really that will be useful to you, I believe, when the time comes for you to face the war you were destined to be a part of. Those are powerful ancient objects, Harry, and mustn't be used lightly. They can be extremely dangerous, not to you, but to all of those around you. Don't be afraid to use the things in the vault. They are all attuned to your blood, and will respond to your call. Everything in there is bound to serve you, so do not be afraid. One of the perks of coming from an old family is to have all those useful things at hand. And everything in there is useful somehow, Harry. Don't judge things by their appearance. You'll understand all of this better once you've visited the vault; something I advise you to do as soon as you get control of the estate, the trip is certainly worthwhile.
As for the estate itself, don't bother yourself with it. It will only cause huge and unnecessary headaches. Get someone qualified, who understands all the ancient laws in which the estate is based, to sort out all of the mess. I recommend to you John Hellington or one of his associates. Send him an owl; he isn't cheap, but worth every last Knut. Put everything in his hands, lie back, and enjoy the fruits of his labour.
That was certainly a long letter, but at least all the important stuff was said. Now I can give in to my heart's desire and launch a full description of all the disgusting things you did as a baby....
New change in handwriting.
You will do no such thing, James! You'll just embarrass him with your horrible stories! Harry, dear, this is the end of our letter. There aren't words to properly describe my love for you, just know that my heart will be forever full with my love for you, no matter what happens.
James was the one that finished the letter.
Enjoy life; prank a lot, wrack havoc in school and anywhere else you go. Laughter has its place everywhere, no matter the situation. While you can still laugh you can hope for a better end, a better place to be. I love you, little Harry, and I probably will forever and ever.
Your mother and father,
Lily and James
Harry's hands were shaking as he finished his letter. He hadn't realised how hard it would be to get a glimpse of his parents as they really were, so happy, so full of life. He had always wished for something of the kind, spark that would show him their true person. How right the person was who had said to be careful with what you wish for.
Blinking several times to try and dry the tears that were threatening to fall from his eyes, he carefully folded the long letter his parents had written him. He really didn't know how to react to most of the things his father told him. He would just trust him, and follow his advice. What hurt him the most was the way they talked about Sirius. For them it was such a certainty that he would be with him, if they were ever gone. They couldn't be wronger, Harry thought.
Thoughts were swirling in his head, but he couldn't focus on any of them. It was way too many shocks for a single morning. Looking at his table, he decided that he was in no condition to read whatever it was that Sirius had to say. Studying was also out of the question, he couldn't focus if his life depended on it right now.
He decided to follow Ginny's advice once more and go for a run, to clear his head. As he was tying his tattered tennis shoes, he remembered he hadn't received owls from his friends in more than a week. Surprisingly, it didn't bother him that much. He was quite happy having his one faithful correspondent: Ginny. She was the only one who had written regularly, every two days an owl would deliver a letter. He might have answered her previous one or not, she always found something to say, other than the usual apologies about not being allowed to tell him the news. Those letters only angered him, made him feel even more distant from the word he was prophesized to save. So much so that he simply stopped reading or replying to Ron's and Hermione's letters.
But not Ginny, and for that he would be eternally grateful to her. She seemed to realize that what he needed wasn't news of more tragedies and deaths, or lack of them. He needed someone to tell him that things could be good, and that everything would be okay in the end, no matter what happened, that he would always have a friend to talk to, to come back to, someone to trust. That was what Ginny had done, slowly bringing him to trust her unconditionally.
While he started a steady jog towards the park, smiling mischievously at the thought that someone from the Order was having to keep up with him, he remembered her first letter.
He didn't remember what it said exactly, only that it had been a light in his conscience when everything else was dark. He hadn't moved for more than three days, just lying in his bed starring at nothing, trying to find a reason to keep on going, when there was nothing else he wanted that was still in this world. His mind had been miles away from this world, as if all it needed to leave completely was for Harry to say so. Her letter had been like soft music, sometimes grave, sometimes sweet. She had somehow reminded him of his duty, a duty he could not walk away from. Reminded him that his actions affected others, and that what he was doing was incredibly selfish, leaving all those that depended on him, looked up to him, to fend for themselves. She made him remember his mother's sacrifice, and the heavy price she had paid, so he could live. It did the trick. A few hours later, he was out of bed, clean and fed, preparing for the battles ahead of him.
Spurred by a constant and reliable flow of letters, he had little by little regained a semblance of normalcy. Not that his routine was at all normal, just, more normal than what the first weeks of summer had been. He couldn't sleep without his subconscious mind playing dirty tricks on him, bringing him no respite and tones of nightmares. His solution was to exhaust himself thoroughly, physically and mentally, so much so that he would not so much go to sleep, but black out of sheer exhaustion, catching a few hours of deserved rest.
He had taken to running every morning, accepting all his aunt's chores without complaint, something that kept him busy for most of the day. Evenings and nights were spent working his magic. He couldn't practice spells and use his wand, but the theory and many other kinds of magic he practised. Not a minute was wasted in his new schedule. It would make Hermione proud.
Now, as he passed the gates and entered the park a few miles away from his aunt's house, he wondered how Ginny had known exactly what to write, when to write, to write at all.... How could she know what was going on with him when he didn't know himself? Her timing had been perfect, really. He had been so caught up in his efforts to get himself together that he hadn't realized how amazing she had been. Tired of thinking too much, and just wanting to clear his mind, Harry focused his whole attention on his breathing, and on putting one foot in front of the other, after all, what would come would come - and he would meet it when it did.
A/N: So here it is, my first chapter! I hope everyone enjoys it, at least as much as I enjoyed writting it. If you did, leave me a review saying so, and if you didn't, leave a review anyway, explaining why. Next chapter should be up soon, next week probably, look out for it!