Summary: (AU branching off CoS) Hurt beyond recognition, our hero tries to start anew, but some ties can't be severed, and some powers can't be acquired without a price. There will be violence and death, animagus and metamorphmagus abilities, mental health and memory troubles, and books.

Action/Adventure and some Romance, with Spiritual insights as well.

Rated M (mature teens) for adult situations (not a euphemism for sex, here) and violence.

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to its owners. This story is written only for enjoyment. See my profile.

Warnings: Some spoilers for the official books: facts and characters are taken from them, even if they appear earlier in my timeline. Additionally, some characters won't act according to canon.

Chapter 1 – Confronting the Enemy

On the grounds around the Scottish hamlet named Hogsmeade, a large castle was standing. This castle and the people living there just finished a very troubled year. This was no ordinary castle, because most of its inhabitants were students. That was a school, named Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The troubled year had started with the realization that one of the students could speak with snakes, a feat generally imputable to evil wizards. The fact that Harry Potter was inherently good at heart and brave as a Gryffindor did not even enter some of his peers' mind, even from his own House. You see, the student body was split from their first year into four houses, depending on each student's inner self. And the Houses were normally very loyal towards their own members, thus also very prejudiced towards the others. If you were sorted into Gryffindor, you were generally thought as brave. Most members of Hufflepuff were known for their loyalty. The students of Ravenclaw devoted their energy to studies most of the time, achieving generally higher marks in academic topics, but losing to more outdoors activities. And if you were sorted in Slytherin, you were thought to be ambitious and cunning. Those were the attributes searched by the Sorting Hat on your first day of school. However, the fact that some really evil wizards and witches came from Slytherin tended to make other houses, especially Gryffindor, wary of its students. And these prejudices, sometimes turning into student fights, were returned by Slytherin towards the allegedly stupid Gryffindors. Prejudices were running high this year, and Harry Potter was targeted by most Slytherins for being Gryffindor, and by other Houses for being a Parseltongue. But this gift saved the otherwise doomed school.

It was the end of the school year, the end of May to be exact, and Harry just ended a whole year's worth of trouble. This was done by the not-so-simple action of killing a bothersome basilisk, a frighteningly large and venomous snake that could petrify the people that looked in its eyes. Harry also exorcised the possession that the memory of the evil wizard Tom Riddle had on Ginny Weasley, his best friend's sister.

If you asked Harry, he'd answer that it had been the most difficult fight to get oneself into, as he almost died from a poisonous bite. If you asked Ginny, a big part of the school year has been lived on the passenger seat of her own mind, with a madman in control; quite the nightmare. If you asked Fawkes, Headmaster Dumbledore's phoenix, he would sing you a trill. What did you expect? Him telling you it was a heavy load to haul four persons out of a hell hole? And if you asked Albus Dumbledore, or any elite wizard living or dead, how it was possible for a twelve years old to survive a basilisk bite long enough to destroy a memory living through an accursed diary, they would think for a bit and say it's impossible. Well... if you really ask the Headmaster, he perhaps won't say that exactly, because the man knows something about life and destiny in general, and particularly about Harry. But nobody took the time to think about things when the teenagers got out of the Chamber.

Harry had just seen Ginny getting tucked in the hospital wing, where he discussed of the recent events with his Headmaster. Walking in the corridors towards his dorm, he reflected about Lucius Malfoy. It was well-known to Harry and his friends that Lucius did put the infamous diary in Ginny's school cauldron, nine months before. It was also Malfoys' house elf Dobby that caused some of the problems he had before and during school year, undoubtedly under Lucius' orders. But Harry and his friends took pity of Dobby. You see, house-elves are a diminutive branch of the ancient race of elves, and they have special abilities that are not kept in check by human magic. But they also have to obey the humans they belong to, to the last order. That is, until their master give them some clothes, thus marking their freedom.

Having the now inactive diary in a hand, Harry started to make a plan. His plan required that Lucius and Dobby be present, and having heard from Dumbledore that the man and his elf were in the castle for a hearing, he started to search for them towards the main entrance halls.

And they were there. Harry, seeing Lucius on the threshold, called after him and started running to him.

"Mr Malfoy! Mr Malfoy!"

If the man heard his name called, he didn't acknowledge it, and disappeared into thin air. Due to his two years of learning, Harry estimated that he was using a wizarding mean of transportation called 'portkey', a charmed object transporting you instantaneously to a fixed location. Besides, as his friend Hermione often said, "You couldn't Apparate on Hogwarts grounds," so it ought to be a portkey. Lucius Malfoy left Dobby behind, obviously to follow thereafter, using the elf's own magic. Seeing the elf about to disappear, Harry sprints to him, and grabs his leg, trying to stop him. Unbeknownst to him, house-elves can use their method of travelling with luggage, even live ones – even if that is really painful to them. So that was how Harry Potter landed on his knees, panting, in the very home of Lucius Malfoy.

"What are you doing here?" The disgust from the man's voice was unmistakeable.

"I... had... to... give you... something... back..." panted Harry, handing the diary to the man. Lucius shot a curious look at Harry but dismissed the behaviour to the unsafe trip and the Gryffindor stupidity. So, he took the book and, without even looking at it, threw it to Dobby. He then smirked towards the still crumpled form of Harry.

"You know, my son Draco, who you are not quite friend with, told me some interesting things. You obviously were very lucky to have survived three encounters with my master."

At this point, Harry's head shot up. "Your master? Is Voldemort you..."

"DON'T YOU DARE SAY HIS NAME!" Lucius yelled, interrupting. "Seeing you here, you obviously lost your proverbial luck. Nobody will find you here, and I'll be able to..." he drew his wand "...make you pay for..."

At this moment, they are interrupted by a gasp from Dobby. "Master Lucius freed Dobby?"

"Don't say stupid things, you dimwit dwarf!"

"But Master gave Dobby a sock!" Dobby exclaimed, taking a black sock from the open diary. Lucius' eyes went as wide as saucers, and looked to Harry and back to Dobby, twice. If Harry had only been looking at the scene from afar, he would have been deliriously laughing at this point. Unfortunately that was not the case, and the display of emotions on Lucius Malfoy was turning into red fury. He turned to Harry and snarled "You'll pay for this too! Without your precious Dumbledore, you are nothing! Avada Kedavra!"

Harry had started to crawl backwards since Lucius had turned back towards him, and he jumped in fright at the incantation, barely saving his life. He started to run full-speed in the unknown corridors and stairways, followed by a very angry and cursing Lucius, then by a frightened Dobby.

Running like this, followed by an armed and furious wizard was not a healthful thing to do, and Harry got his right side and back hurt by a two Cutting curses, and started to bleed. He also got hit by debris from a Reducto hitting the wall next to him.

After some minutes of running, seeing an open door on his right, Harry jumped inside, avoiding the most of a Bone Shattering curse, even if his left shoulder got hit. Still running, he barely noticed that the room looks like a maze, with shelves acting as walls, and walls themselves as high as Hogwarts' Great Hall. He had just entered Malfoys' library. And it was packed with books. Holding his injured left arm, he ducked behind the third wall of shelves, just as Lucius entered the library and advanced along the aisles, turning around to catch a glimpse of him.

The man was not used to run at all. As most pureblood families, he despised all form of physical training. Even not as hurt as Harry, he was panting and his vision was strained. Hearing Dobby's rushed entrance in the room, thinking it was Harry moving, he whirled and cast his favourite spell over and over.

"Reducto! Reducto! Reducto! Reducto!"

Unfortunately, the goal of the spell is to make things explode. It's quite useful in the open air, but in the cramped library, the result is obvious... and painful. The shelves he did hit, where he thought Harry was, began to tilt and to fall. Startled to feel a book falling on him, he looked up to see the closest shelves falling on him. Were he a little less startled and panting, he may have had the reflex to cast a physical shield. As it was, he got buried in books and wood splinters. The falling shelf being the one with some of the evilest books on it, Lucius also got his wand arm mangled by a gnawing tome, making him scream, while another book tried to turn him to stone by showing the living head of a basilisk. Then the shelf itself fell on him, and he fell as well. The shelf was so heavy that it broke his legs and, resting on surrounding books, began to press on his jugular, effectively and efficiently strangling him. Not any stronger than before, Lucius started to gasp for breath, and realized that, without outside help, he wasn't to survive for long. That would be the longest seconds of a man's life.

And he was not the only one having problems: though some shelves fell towards him, some other fell outwards, and Harry got showered too. One particular wood splinter tore at his leg, making him scream also, and the heavy books caused some ribs to break, stopping his scream shortly and making him gasp for breath instead. At this point, both wizards were pretty bad, freely bleeding on the previously immaculate floor.

The scene settled a little, some dust rising in the air, and some still-standing shelves damaged to the point of falling soon. Dobby had stopped on his tracks when Lucius started to cast explosions. Seeing the now desolated place, he noticed Harry's lolling head in a mountain of books, with a shelf going to fall on it.

At the same moment, on the verge of unconsciousness, Harry noticed a book that did fall beside him, and on which he was bleeding from the Cutting curses. That book glowed red and gold. Not understanding the repercussion of this, he grabbed it just when Dobby took hold of his head and repeated the previous feat of transporting a wizard with him.

At the same time, in Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

Albus Dumbledore was holding a meeting with his senior staff in a secluded room of the hospital wing. After having discussed the events of the night with Harry, he wanted to talk about the physical healing of the petrified students, as well as the mental healing of Ginny Weasley.

" that's why they need to know to resist possession since this early, Severus."

"I disagree, Headmaster. Occlumency is a very advanced and tough subject. Not all seventh years may qualify to learn it. So I doubt that at first year..."

"We are obviously not pushing all that into their schedule, of course, of course. Still, you could animate tutoring sessions where they can learn how to meditate and prepare them for the basics in Occlumency, right?"

Severus looked at his superior, aghast. Not only was he suggesting teaching these brats the fineries of Occlumency, but he was asking him to do so? And as a tutor as well, not as a full-fledged Professor? What a disgrace...

"There is no way I can do that, Headmaster, and you know I have other fishes to fry. Many of them and some are dangerous as well. Minerva, I'm sure you would..."

"I'm not as qualified as you, Severus." The usually severe Professor Minerva McGonagall answered. She was somewhat dishevelled as this point, after the events of the day. "And you know that, as Deputy Headmistress and teacher, I have almost the same workload as our Headmaster. Besides, we are quite straying off topic, Albus."

"I know, I know." Albus Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard of the time, holding more titles than any other living person, seemed suddenly very old to his staff. He sighed. "Well, I think young Ginevra would be most secure at home with her parents. But as you suggested, I'll ask for a friend to check on her regularly. And about young Harry ..."

Severus Snape interrupted him, scowling. "What about him? He doesn't need anything else now? I swear, if this attention-seeking brat tries one more stunt like this..."

Professor McGonagall, although severe and fair to everyone, herself included, always had a soft spot for Harry. She could not let her colleague continue, but before she or anyone can cut the Potion Master, they heard a bang in the hospital main room, followed by the sound of furniture crashing, and a scream. However, as soon as they jumped to their feet, the scream stopped and they could only make out a frantic small voice behind the door. Severus, being the closest to the door, and the one with the quickest reflexes because of his "extracurricular" activities, was the first through the door, his wand in hand, and a curse in mouth. The little he saw in the dimly lit room made him scowl, though, and he half-turned to address his peers.

"What did I just say? Here he is, destroying school property and wreaking havoc again." He turned back again, and started to walk towards the unruly hair he noticed behind an upturned bed, punishment and detention in head. When he arrived, though, he stopped dead in his tracks, so abruptly that his colleagues ran into him.


"Watch out!"

"What is it?"

Peering around, all teachers got their jaw dropping to the floor. Here was Harry Potter, for sure. Nobody could mistake his particular hair style for another. But that was all of Harry that was recognizable. His side was cut and bleeding profusely on the floor, his other arm bent at an impossible angle, one leg was visibly fractured, and he was covered with debris of plaster, wood, and paper. His glasses were broken, hanging loosely from one ear.

Harry wasn't not the only one newly arrived in the room, though. There was an agitated house-elf jumping madly around him.

"Harry Potter sir! Dobby is sorry, Dobby was not knowing sir was so bad! Dobby will..." and Dobby, in his mad jumping, turned towards the open-mouthed teachers. In one microsecond, they saw relief replacing worry in his oversized eyes.

"Professors! Professors! Harry Potter sir is hurt! Old master shoot all colours to Harry Potter sir and Dobby follow, and books, and..." everyone in the room could see that the elf was getting very agitated. Well, everyone conscious, which did not include Harry at this point. Being the first to recover, Dumbledore decided to steer the situation.

"Severus, do you have a Calming Draught for this distressed house-elf, so that he could explain us calmly the story. Minerva, if you can fetch Poppy, I'll put Harry in a non-destroyed bed."

Because Dobby was so in a hurry to leave with Harry from the dangerous place they were in, he had transported them both in the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts all right, but some 10 feet in the air. Harry had crashed in the side of a bed, turning it upside down; Dobby had collided on top of Harry; and the book that Harry was holding got thrown under the nearest bed table, and stopped glowing.

Albus Dumbledore just did what he said, and Severus gave the potion to Dobby, but Minerva didn't reach Poppy Pomfrey's apartment door in time, because Madam Pomfrey came out of the conveniently placed flat.

"What is this noise? Albus, I gave you the adjoining room, not this one, and..." the rest of her tirade was lost as she took in the crumpled form of Harry Potter being levitated from the floor onto a fresh bed. She ran to the bed, drawing her wand, always the professional, and started to mutter diagnostic spells, each one more urgently than the previous. When she stopped, panting, she turned towards the Potion Master.

"Severus, quick, a full vial of Blood Replenishing potion, and a Skele-gro dose. And a mild Peppering, err... no! That will be all. Move!" The authority here was not held by Albus Dumbledore anymore, and Severus made a beeline to the hospital potion stocks, which he knew very well, being the one refilling them. While he departed, Madam Pomfrey turned to Minerva McGonagall, and continued talking, also in a rush. "Minerva, the red leather satchel in my apartment in the cupboard on the left. Quick!"

She then turned to Harry and started incanting other spells, mostly closing his wounds so that he wouldn't bleed anymore. After that, she stopped and looked at Dumbledore.

"Albus, he almost died there. It seems his magic is holding him but he won't last long. Can you cast the Life Slower spell on him? I know it's demanding, but I don't ask for more than 5 minutes." Not hearing the end of her request, Albus had already started the spell. Poppy then turned towards Minerva who was bringing the red satchel back. She took it and opened it in one go, and Minerva gasped at the sight of the dozen shining steel needles. The wizards rarely see such Muggle tools, but Healers like Madam Pomfrey have to be prepared to everything and worse; and there are some circumstances when the injured person cannot drink a potion and it has to be injected.

Poppy Pomfrey took one dose of a green-looking fluid, the dose looking like a capped glass tube, and put it in a special syringe. Looking at Minerva, she said with a wry smile "It's not because we don't generally use Muggle stuff that we cannot improve on them."

She then turned back to Harry, and cast a spell on him so that she, and everyone else now, could see his heart. Minerva gasped. "It's not beating. Is he dead?" Her attention went to still-chanting Dumbledore, his concentration still maintaining the spell effect although small sweat beads could be seen on his forehead.

With no time to waste, Poppy Pomfrey pushed the needle directly into Harry's heart, and sent the precious fluid there, before dragging the syringe out. At the same time, Albus dropped his arms and sat down on a bed, slightly panting.

Just before the illusion showing Harry's heart dissipated, everyone saw the fluid going through the veins, and Harry becoming agitated on the bed. Madam Pomfrey rushed to his side, her hand asking the potions from Severus.

"Harry, Harry, you hear me, Harry? Good, good. You definitely should have a customized bed around here, no? Good boy, now wake up a little, and drink this." She handed the Blood Replenishing potion to his lips, while being careful not holding him by any of his hurt spots, even if there were not much places left. Harry drank it unknowingly, and did the same with the Skele-gro. Knowing him, you could have discerned a flicker of recognition in his eyes, about the foul taste of the potion, but everyone was focused on his wounds.

As soon as Harry was taken care of and sleeping soundly, the three teachers and one healer turned towards the anxious-looking Dobby, and three strings of different questions were launched at the diminutive creature. Albus merely waited for a few seconds before interrupting with a tired smile.

"I believe our little friend can't answer you three at the same time. If I may start?"

They reluctantly turned back to him and nodded, even the Potion Master. Severus Snape had never been fond of Harry, but he'd be damned if the condition he saw him in was attention-seeking. And he was intellectually curious about how the boy had been able to get himself into such a mess inside a protected school.

Dumbledore turned to Dobby. "So, I gather you are Dobby, Lucius Malfoy's house elf? What are..."

"Oh no, great Dumbelydoor sir, Harry Potter sir made it so that Dobby be freed! Harry Potter is a great sir!"

"How could he do so?"

"Harry Potter sir give book to Mast... Lucius, and he give it to me and there's a sock."

Everybody was aghast. So, this boy did that to Lucius Malfoy?

"And what happened next?"

The house-elf was as agitated as always, and his uneasy voice was very high. "Mast... Dobby means, Lucius, bad man, bad bad man, draw his stick and scream. And green light goes. Harry Potter great sir jump around and run. Bad Lucius run behind and Dobby follow. Bad Lucius should not hurt great Harry Potter sir. The stick throws red and green and orange lights, and Harry Potter is hurt bad, but Harry Potter jump and run again. Bad Lucius run also and aim bad and destroy the tapestry of his mother. And Harry Potter run in the library, and..."

"Waitaminute!" Snape exclaimed. "What tapestry of Lucius mother? We don't hang Malfoy's family tapestries around here! Where were you?"

"Bad Lucius and Dobby going back to Malfoy's Manor but Harry Potter sir grabs Dobby before trip and fall there. Tripping with us is no good for a wizard. But Dobby didn't do it on purpose! Bad Dobby!" and he tried to ram his head into the bedpost, just before Albus prevented him and put him back in the tale.

"You were not at fault. But tell us what happened in the library?"

"Dobby not there first, but when in, Dobby see books falling everywhere, and the old shelves falling too. Dobby see Harry Potter sir in the books and a shelf is falling on good sir, so Dobby tries to help Harry Potter sir by Tripping here but Dobby arrived too high and Harry Potter sir fell on the bed. When Dobby be punished?"

The people around him were speechless. That elf has been visibly abused by the Malfoys, for asking for punishment when he just saved Harry from a certain death. After shaking his head, Albus Dumbledore spoke again. "You see, Dobby, there is no need to punish you. You returned Harry Potter to us, and we are grateful for that. I understand you don't have an owner anymore, and for your magic not to diminish, I invite you to work for us at Hogwarts."

"Really, good sir?" Dobby's eyes were wider than usual and he looked amazed. "But Dobby not good enough to work for good sirs. Dobby saw kitchens. Kitchens are heaven here. Dobby rather be a good elf and stay with Harry Potter sir."

Albus smirked "Let's make a deal, then, because you won't be able to follow Harry into classes. You can work here, and go with Harry as he leaves school in some years. What do you think?"

Dobby's eyes went right, and left, and right, and left... and he finally smiled widely and agreed.

"Very well then." Albus rose, the interview quite finished. "One last question though: what happened to Mr Malfoy?"

Dobby turned his overly large eyes to Dumbledore and answered, shaking his head. "I not knowing, good sir. I not knowing."

To be continued in next chapter: Recovery and Friends...

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