Harry Potter and the Temptations of Independence
Author's Note: Please read bottom AN; this is a deviation from my other fic, using my ideas for that previous story for this one which I think is a lot better. Review please also, would really appreciate it...
Chapter One: Intervention of the Aged
Evening was fast approaching Surrey, England. For Harry Potter, the teenage wizard, every day remained the same. Without Sirius Harry felt his life falling apart at the seams and slowly, he was learning not to care. On top of that, he had the prophecy that was dictating his destiny weighing heavily upon his clouded mind.
For a week without venturing outside, Harry had locked himself in his room on Privet Drive and fell into a numb state of mind. The only things to spark his passion were his anger and bitterness directed at Dumbledore, Voldemort, Snape, Bellatrix and the wizarding world in general. In their own ways, they had all contributed to his crap life and he was so angry he would cry himself to sleep with furiously helpless tears.
During his week of solitude, Harry had neither written to the Order as he was instructed or opened the pile of letters brought by Hedwig from his friends. As he expected, no Order members brandishing wands had stormed the house to ensure his safety; he was protected from Voldemort on Privet Drive, his happiness came secondary.
With a weary sigh, Harry pulled himself up from his dilapidated cot and made his way to his bedroom door. His stomach was making sounds painful to the ear and he decided it was time he ate. Making his way over to the door, his eyes were assaulted by a stray beam of excruciatingly bright light from a gap in his curtains; another summer of hot, dry weather it seemed.
When he arrived in the kitchen, he was greeted by three pairs of accusing glares; his relatives were eating dinner in a shameless manner. Harry, head bowed, walked slowly over to the cupboard and retrieved a red apple to sate his hunger.
"And just what, exactly, are you up to Boy?" asked his Uncle, his moustache quivering slightly as an unhealthy red tainted his swollen cheeks.
"Nothing," he replied meekly, his eyes not lifting from the tiled floor of the kitchen.
"Well then, since your doing nothing, the garden needs tending to and the pathway needs hosing down whilst your at it too Boy."
Vernon carried on muttering about 'trouble' and 'that Boy' as he returned to his plate. That was, until he heard Harry's soft spoken refusal.
"What did you say Boy?" he asked, his voice low and dangerous.
"I said, I am not doing any of your work, do it yourself if you want it done… you could use the exercise," he finished, in a tone only slightly quieter as his rebellious nature sparked to ignition.
"Why, you… get out! Don't come back until you are prepared to work for our generosity!" he bellowed, his chest rising and falling rapidly.
"Gladly," Harry muttered before leaving the kitchen and slamming the front door behind him. In truth, Harry wasn't sure why he had refused his Uncle. It seemed that Harry's spirit wasn't yet entirely depleted.
Harry's feet led him subconsciously to the park where his cousin Dudley often terrorised the local children. He found the swings that were surrounded by longish parched grass and enjoyed the rocking motion of the swing whilst his mind wandered over the prophecy and his deceased godfather. His thoughts turned to the Order members that he was sure Dumbledore had watching over him during his moments of solitude and how uncomfortable he was with it, but his mind quickly dismissed them; he wasn't in any mood for company and they were low to reveal themselves, though it seemed that his wish was not to come to fruition.
Harry startled as the swing beside him creaked under the pressure of an occupant. Looking up with fearful attentiveness, Harry found himself staring into two clear blue eyes. His mind allowed him to determine the man was definitely a wizard as he was clad in a light blue robe and his auburn hair which fell about his shoulders in a distinguished manner was obscured slightly by a full blown wizard's hat. The man looked to be in his late fifties and was rather well built in an average fashion, and his face held the kindness of age. His eyes though, his eyes were what threw Harry off as they showed age far beyond the man's appearance.
"Who are you?" Harry asked briskly, his hand cautiously resting on the wand hilt tucked under his belt.
"Ah, Harry. I am sure you know of me, my name is Nicholas Flammel," countered the stranger in slow tones that were soothing to the ear.
"What..?" Harry asked, his voice unsure as he stared incredulously at the man claiming to be the Great Nicholas Flammel.
"I assure you Harry, it is I." And his manner was so reassuring that Harry was compelled to believe him.
"But… the stone; Dumbledore said that…" his voice trailing off uncertainly.
"Ah… Albus; how so many things lead back to him these days, eh? Yes, he may have alluded to my death after you destroyed my stone, though I have some life left in me yet."
"I'm sorry about that…"
"Don't trouble yourself about it Harry, immortality was but my fear of the unknown. I am glad to say that I am ready for my death, whenever it may come."
"What about the Order members watching me, and the muggles, you're not exactly in disguise?"
"Ah, that. It seems that your guard has fallen asleep on the job, thus not enabling him to bear witness to our meeting." His eyes twinkled in a Dumbledore-ish manner as he said this. "As for the muggles, they only notice what they are prepared to notice, and fortunately for us, that's not much." Here Harry detected some Old-magical pride in his voice, though he was prepared to dismiss the man's tone as he was born many hundreds of years ago after all, and attitudes borne that long change hard.
"So then, why are you here?" asked Harry, voicing the question he had been itching to ask.
"Yes, that. Well young Harry, I am here to offer you a future. For many years I have followed your adventures through Hogwarts and your encounters with the Dark Lord. I want you to have a chance at a future of your own choosing Harry and I have put off death to offer you an apprenticeship."
Harry was stunned beyond belief; one of the most influential and powerful wizards since the Hogwarts' Founders was offering to teach Harry personally.
"What do you mean, put off death?" he asked, his mind registering Flammel's cryptic comment.
"Well Harry, my wife has, since the stone's demise, refused elixir and subsequently, she passed away a few weeks ago. I have chosen to stay here to give you a chance at a future, a last act of compassion for this world if you will. I may not know the contents of the prophecy that concerns you and the Dark Lord, but I have enough wisdom in these bones to know you will have to face him some day, and by Merlin, I want you to come out of it alive."
"But, what about having to stay here and the Order and Dumbledore; and Hogwarts?"
"That can all be taken care of Harry; if you come with me I will train you in the magical arts. You will leave here and reside at my home and we will ensure that Dumbledore does not know of my assistance in your future or your location. Hogwarts remains your decision as it depends on whether or not you want to return. Do you want to become my apprentice Harry?" giving Harry a few moments thoughts as he rocked on the swing pensively.
"Yeah I do, I guess this is just so sudden though," he responded, arriving at his decision.
"Don't worry Harry, if you want to learn how to fight to ensure you have a future worth living then I acknowledge that Dumbledore will only smother you. You need to learn and learn without prejudice; I can help you in this endeavour."
"Yeah, I want to be able to avenge my parents, Sirius, Cedric and I want to be able to have a life of my own…"
"That is good Harry. I have admired your spirit for many years and I am looking forward to our apprenticeship… and our friendship?"
"I can't wait," he said with a friendly hint of sarcasm to which Flammel chuckled lightly.
Managing to keep his footing, Harry recovered from the disorientation of portkey travel and took the time to look around him. He had taken a giant leap in trust by accepting Nicholas' offer and taking the unknown portkey from the man. He was now in Nicholas' estates that he was assured were under many powerful warding charms.
As far as the eye could see, fields stretched all around providing a beautiful landscape. Small wooden fences could be distinguished as they divided the land into segments though no sign of a settlement could be found. From what Nicholas had briefly told him, these lands were protected with some of the most powerful and effective wards known to wizard kind (applied over the years by Flammel and his wife) and they were near impossible to trace.
"Nicholas Flammel resides in Willow-Wight Cottage," sounded Nicholas' smooth voice with perfect diction.
Harry turned around to face Nicholas with a small amount of confusion before following his new tutor's gaze and finding a small cottage had appeared complete with a well kept garden.
"Fidelius?" he asked, not needing confirmation.
"Well, shall we move on…?"
As the approached the cottage, Flammel continued to gesture widely with his arms as he provided Harry with a fraction of the land's history.
"You see Harry; this land was once the property of my grandfather many of hundreds of years ago, before it was taken by a faction of wizarding warlords. My Grandfather was of the aristocracy in the wizarding world and was in power as a Lord. His lands were seized by a warlord named McCrath through much fighting and bloodshed; in fact there is a forest to the east of here towards the border of the estate where a particularly bloody battle once raged, a forest founded in blood you might say. It was not until near 427 years ago that I reclaimed these hills, though I did it through political procedures and the exchange of monies rather than forceful conquest.," his lip curling slightly at this as Harry listened in rapture to Flammel's ramblings. "As you will notice, the weather here is rather forcibly pleasant? Well, that is due to the spell-work on this estate because I control the weather we experience here though it is a dangerous business, yet rewarding in many ways. When you learn about wards, you will understand the connection established between the ward and the caster and through this connection, I must ensure balance in the weather in my lands. It is a notoriously confusing business, yet beneficial when the land is needed and oh so helpful when the weather complies with the wish. That is just to let you know, your days here will not always be sunshine and heat," to which Harry nodded, fascinated and wanting to learn more about this humble control Flammel admitted to having over the weather! He was already learning more from Flammel in a short few hours than Dumbledore ever really cared to teach him.
Harry was taken inside the cosy looking cottage and given a tour. Harry was surprised that the humble looking cottage was a façade to a larger home within; magically expanded to fit Nicholas' needs. There was a moderate kitchen to the end of the property and a comfortable living room to the left. To the right was a plain pine doorway which led into a huge room. The room was nearly as big as the Great Hall at Hogwarts though not nearly as spacious. Shelves lined the walls of the Flammel library and bookcases created a maze within the walkway of the room; Harry had never seen so many books, not even in the Hogwarts library.
"This Harry is my greatest joy. Century's worth of knowledge that I have collected and stored here to be called upon by myself and the next generations. As my apprentice, this shall all be yours one day and I hope that you bequeath it onto an equally worthy pupil." This threw Harry off a little, but he accepted it and felt himself warm up to the grandfatherly figure Nicholas was shaping up to be.
Upstairs, even though from outside appearance the property had no upper floor, Harry was shown the master bedroom (Nicholas', though he was given no inside tour), a bathroom and the guest bedroom which was to be his new lodgings. Nicholas granted him freedom to decorate the room as his own and to personalise in any way he liked which was a new frontier for Harry.
Since evening had now fully descended, the two wizards seated themselves in the living room in worn yet comfortable chairs whilst a merry fire crackled in the hearth.
"So, Harry, I assume you are bursting with questions? Ask away…"
"Well, how is this all going to work? I mean, I have come here for an apprenticeship which aside from teaching me, I really don't know what it entails. I want to know what rules there are and what we are going to tell Dumbledore."
Nicholas gave a hearty laugh at Harry's inquisitive mind and then began his explanations.
"Well Harry, the apprenticeship that we have entered is not yet finalised. There are certain bonding rituals that although originate from the archaic times, could prove beneficial. I am not decided upon whether or not we should adhere to these rituals though it is a possibility if we are both willing."
Harry gave a thoughtful nod at this and continued to stare at his new-found mentor.
"As for the other elements of our arrangement, I will instruct you in the magical arts and will not hamper your magical development or knowledge in any of the arts I will teach you. You will also be educated in the history of our world and your heritage. I will expect from you, dedication and the will to learn as I will impart upon you things I have kept to myself for many Centuries. Independent study in many common and obscure branches of magic is available to you through the use of the library and of course, if you require help, I will be there for you."
"Okay, I'm liking this so far," he responded to which Nicholas twitched a smile.
"There are no rules per say that you must obey here, only that you must not practise powerful magic without my supervision or permission as it can be very dangerous. As for your freedom, you can leave here whenever you want though I would advise firstly that you are trained a little first as it would be inadvisable to travel alone without means of defence and escape from attack or capture."
"Yeah, I agree. It's weird being able to go where I want without restriction, though I promise not to misuse it."
"Good, good. I will inform you that because you now know the grounds of my estate and I have given you permission, you will be able to return here at your will. Just for reference, we are now residing in an unplottable location in the Outer Hebrides. Now, as for Dumbledore, we will draft a letter informing him of your safety and also of your summer absence. I don't think it wise to mention my name or any clue as to our location as Dumbledore is a resourceful and relentless man and he can do things to alter our apprenticeship simply through wizarding law."
"Okay, I think that will work."
Within the hour, Nicholas talked Harry through the plans for the first two weeks of his apprenticeship. He was to review all his Hogwarts years so far in Charms, Transfiguration and Defence. Potions were grudgingly left out and it was settled that Harry would pursue that subject independently. Over the two weeks, Harry was also to be subject to Occlumency and after that, Nicholas said he would continue in his studies as well as learn apparating so as to make his travel easier.
The letter they were to send to Dumbledore was also drafted and Nicholas agreed to take it to an owl post office the next day and have it delivered with no magical traces leading back to them. The letter was simple and plain, yet they thought that it effectively conveyed their message and both were interested in Dumbledore's reaction.
Dumbledore was tired. The strain of Voldemort's mysterious movements, Minister Fudge's blind dependence and incompetent nature, the Order's unease with certain decisions and the role of managing Hogwarts activity were all piling up on him. He was seated behind his large oak desk, hunched with his eyes squeezed tightly against the pressure of being a leading figure in the wizarding world. He couldn't really blame other people entirely though, he admitted to himself that he encouraged the wizarding world's general dependency upon him as he didn't trust his world governing independent of his views.
Reaching into the elaborate folds of his purple robe, Dumbledore withdrew a small glass sphere. It was fashioned in such a delicate way that it looked as fragile as a water bubble, yet was so magically potent that it was as durable as diamond. Inside this small sphere, about the size of a tennis ball, swirled a cloud of some illusive magical substance. The mist inside the sphere was currently a light pink, deviating from the normal sky blue. Harry was wondering close to the boundaries of the neighbourhood wards around Privet Drive, no doubt thinking about his escape from his relatives'.
Dumbledore had found himself gazing at his self-crafted sphere more and more frequently since Harry had left Hogwarts. It was always a secret habit of his, but since his recent quarrel with his favourite student, Dumbledore found it was quick becoming an obsession. The sphere he was holding so lightly in his aged hands was made nearly fifteen years ago when he had personally left Harry on the doorstep of his relative's household. How he wished he could change things… so many things.
As his eyes unfocused in the pinkish mist, the cloud turned a violent red and flared angrily inside its containment, shattering the incredibly durable glass prison. The sphere, which shattered aggressively in Dumbledore's palm, startled him to attention as the implications of this magical occurrence descended upon him.
"Oh no…" he breathed, his eyes sunken as he registered the gravity of the situation.
Harry had somehow renounced the protection of Privet Drive.
Author's Note: Let me know what you think of this first chapter. I will here and now PROMISE to update at least every two weeks and hopefully have a minimum of 2,500 words per chapter. This is the re-thought story from my other fic (Druid Pathway) and will contain many of my original plans for that fic. Please review, it means a lot to me…