A/N UPDATE Oct 2008: There is a programming problem with a few later chapters with the way I marked Parseltongue speech (ss,Parseltongue,ss) that cropped up with FF net's new formatting changes (apparently it doesn't like periods). It causes strange text gaps, and lost data, which is annoying and makes it difficult to read. I am now aware of this problem and I'm slowly going through chapters to change the way I marked parseltongue and re-uploading, but it's taking a little bit of time (there's over 40 chapters here you know…) so please excuse the problem, and my slowness in fixing it. Merci!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Talk to Rowling. Just borrowing them a while.
Summary: Days before his sixteenth birthday, Harry Potter disappears in a blaze of fire and explosive magics. Believed dead by most, and alive by a desperate few, the Wizarding world continues on without their prophesized savior. But Harry Potter isn't gone for good, and he isn't dead at all, but few recognize him as who he is until he lets them in on the secret…and his new name only helps him keep his secret…for a while.
Sidenote: This story takes place after Harry returns, rather than during the time that he is gone.
The Founders' Heir
A Prologue on Privet Drive
Harry eyed the ratty calendar hanging on the wall above his bed and slowly crossed out another day, marking the page with one more markered 'X'.
"Only three more." He whispered to himself as he drew yet another circle around the thirty-first. His birthday. He had little else but the end of the summer to look forward to, locked up as he was in his room. The Dursely's had wasted little time in locking their favorite nephew into his room and his belongings under the stairs. He consoled himself that they at least let him out a few times a day, if only to cook breakfast and clean up after lunch.
He looked over at Hedwig's empty cage and sighed. She was off delivering a letter to Hermione, and likely wouldn't return until his birthday, letters and presents in tow. He capped the marker and tossed it onto his desk as he flopped back onto his bed. He was bored.
His trunk was locked securely in the cupboard under the stairs, his homework and wand along with it. The only thing that hadn't been locked under the stairs was he broom, by some unknown miracle, which was stowed away in the wardrobe of his room. Moody would never approve of Harry not having access to his wand. And he could already see Snape's face when he saw that his assignment was obviously done last minute, and likely on the train into Hogwarts.
A loud crash from the floor below jolted him out of his thoughts. A piercing scream came a moment later and he was off his bed and at the door of his room in a heartbeat. He pressed his ear to the wood, trying to make out the noises coming up the stairs. The scream was most definitely Aunt Petunia, but he didn't know what could make such a crash.
Then he felt it; the presence of dark magic. Dark magic which could only mean one thing: Death Eaters.
Harry was shocked. Privet Drive was supposed to be a safe place. He had been told so countless times, and had returned to it without complaint because of that proposed safety. If the Death Eaters were able to get in than either they broke through the wards, or they weren't strong enough to keep them out. He could only hope that some kind of alarm was sent through to the Order. He may have faced Voldemort more times than any other, but he had little doubt that a group of fully trained dark wizards out for his blood would get anything but.
Harry scanned his room, looking for something useful to defend himself with. His wand was locked in his trunk below the stairs, so he had to rely on more Muggle means. He hoped that the few glances at Dudley's action films would give him a few ideas he could use against a Wizard.
His desk chair caught his eye. It would have to do. Picking up the rickety wooden object by two of its legs, he situated himself on the side of the door, with his back to the wall and the chair poised above his head, waiting for the muttered spells that would unlock his temporary prison. He didn't have long to wait.
The murmured Alohamora was strong enough to slam the door open on its hinges. A block robed figure took his first step into the room, wand raised before him. Movement in the hall beyond betrayed others. Harry held his breath, slightly surprised that they didn't see him.
The Death Eater didn't see it coming.
Harry crashed the chair over his head. The wood shattered as the figure crumbled without a sound. Harry smirked as he kicked the second figure in the groin. The man doubled over and Harry took advantage of his position to knee him hard in the face. The momentum caused the man to shoot backwards and hit his head on the door jam with a painful crack. Harry flinched. He knew how hard the frames of the house were.
A third figure was already stalking into the room and managed to get a hand on Harry's arm. The boy whirled in the man's grasp, throwing a punch towards the masked face. He had never been more happy that he was bored enough through the days to watch Dudley's half-hearted boxing practices in the yard from his window.
His fist connected with a crunch and the man grunted, dropping Harry's arm. Harry went to punch him again, but the Death Eater managed to block his fist with an arm.
"Potter! Stop this nonsense!" the man hissed.
Harry paused in his third swing, fist poised by his ear.
"Snape!" Harry eyed the cracked mask with surprise.
"Well, well," a honeyed voice came from the door, "Little Potter can't even fight with a proper wand."
Harry froze. He knew that voice. He would know it anywhere. He heard it in his nightmares every time he watched Sirius fall through the veil.
"Bellatrix." Harry hissed, turning to face the woman that had killed his Godfather. She was maskless, unlike the others, and the sight of her face did little to temper his anger.
"Give up on using magic at all, Little Potter? I'm not surprised. You can't even cast a proper Unforgivable. I would have given up on it too. How pathetic."
Harry bristled and glared at the woman.
"Ah well," she continued, leaning against the side of the door. "Makes my job easier I suspect." She eyed her companions on the floor. "Though you put up an admirable effort I must admit. Of course, they weren't much of a challenge."
Snape shifted next to him, and Harry glanced at him quickly. He couldn't see the man's face, but he suspected that he didn't much like being grouped with the two goons that Harry had downed on the floor.
Harry didn't take his eyes off Bellatrix. He trusted Snape, mostly, but Bellatrix Lestrange he wouldn't trust to carry a tea tray. She leaned against the shelf near the door with a casual dignity that transformed itself into vain snobbery as she watched her wand twirling between her fingers. Harry slowly slid his hand behind his back as her attention was distracted.
"Well," she said brightly, turning her gaze to Snape, "Lucius is not a patient man, Little Potter, so why don't we head on downstairs to meet your guests?"
"You are no guests of mine." Harry said coldly.
"And here I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be hospitable."
"It's not my house, I've no obligation to play host to a group of imbeciles."
"You should be more polite, Little Potter." She half snarled. She still wasn't looking at him. Harry smirked, curling his fingers around one of the small stones in his back pocket. He had gathered them in order to toss at the not-so-well-hidden Order members that occasionally snuck around the back garden.
He didn't let the conversation continue. Harry chucked the stone at the desk light sitting on the top of the shelf beside the door. His aim was good and the glass lamp shattered in a burst of light, raining glass over the woman's head. Bellatrix shrieked, clutching a hand to the side of her face.
Harry wasted little time, already pulling his broom out of the wardrobe. He had it level and was mounted in seconds. He laid low over the handle and shot towards the window. The quick speed of the Firebolt didn't fail him, whipping up a flurry of loose paper and dust in his wake.
Inches away from the closed window Harry ducked his head tight to his chest and hurled through. Glass shattered around him, slicing into his hands and arms, but he was out of the house. The angry lights of curses shot past him and Bellatrix's angry voice followed him out into the yard.
A Stupify sounded from below him.
He didn't have a chance to dodge it.
The red light of the curse struck him from beneath, tearing through the spells surrounding his broom and jerking him sharply in the air. Harry felt the effects of the curse spread, and his hands quickly went limp, losing his grip on the broom. He screamed as he felt himself fall, but he wasn't sure if it was aloud or just in his head. He saw alternating flashes of sky and earth, and then the world went black.
Harry blinked, trying to make the room around him stop spinning as he regained consciousness. His leg throbbed, likely broken, and the length of his arms stung. He quickly realized that his arms were held behind him, clutched in two large hands. He glanced over his shoulder, absently noticing the blood soaking his shirt on his shoulders, and the few spots of reflecting glass. A robed, beefy figure of a man had a hold of his wrists, easily restraining him. It had to be Crabbe senior, or perhaps Goyle. No wonder his hands were numb.
Harry looked around him. He was in the Dursely's living room, surrounded by black robed Death Eaters. Harry estimated that there were about a dozen. They all wore their masks, hiding their faces, but he already knew who he would see behind each skull-etched mask. He had encountered this group too many times not to know them.
The Dursleys were bound and seated on the couch, trembling. And under a silencing spell, if Vernon's hollering, purpled face was anything to go by. Harry gave the man points for his gall at still trying to holler the Death Eaters off of his property. Harry was rather surprised that they were still alive, and strangely relieved.
Two Death Eaters were off to the side nursing their heads. Harry smirked slightly, knowing that they were the two he managed to beat off earlier. He found Snape leaning against the cupboard door in the hall, his cracked mask dangling from his hand. His arms were crossed and he was scowling, as usual. A trace of blood was left on his chin, and his nose looked slightly more crooked than usual. Harry couldn't help but feel a certain satisfaction that he had managed to break the git's nose, spy or not.
"You are a continuous thorn in my side, Potter." A voice drawled from his left, pulling him out of his observations.
Harry turned his head to look at the Death Eater. The man's voice was as familiar as his sister-in-law's. And as his son's.
"Hello, Lucius. How's life in the manor after loosing your House Elf to a twelve year old?" Harry asked cheekily.
Lucius hissed menacingly, stalking forward to stand in front of the kneeling boy. He motioned to Crabbe, or Goyle, and Harry was hauled to his feet. He suppressed the grimace at the pain the motion caused in his shoulders.
Lucius removed his mask and leaned in close to his face. Harry stood his ground, meeting the silver eyes steadily. He had faced worse things than Lucius Malfoy.
"My Lord wishses to give you a chance." He drawled. "A rare gift, Potter, I suggest you make the best of it."
"I don't give a damn what your snake faced master has to say, and I certainly don't want any tainted gifts form him." Harry said.
Lucius pursed his lips.
"He wishes to offer you an invitation to join him. He will give you everything you could ever…"
"He's already taken away everything that I've ever wanted." Harry interrupted viciously.
"This is your last chance, boy."
Harry eyed him for a moment, then pulled back his head and spit in his face.
Lucius's eyes narrowed as he pulled a cloth from his pocket and wiped off the spittle.
The man pulled his arm back, and Harry leaned away, knowing what was coming. The hands around his wrists tightened and pulled upward, forcing him forward towards Lucius. The blow connected with the side of his face, and he felt the man's ring cut into his cheek.
Harry's head reeled from the force and he tasted blood. His cheek and jaw ached and tingled, and he thought he felt a trickle of blood slide down the side of his neck. He willed the pounding in his head to go away and faced the Death Eater again.
Lucius was standing his full height and looking down his nose at him. Harry met his eyes evenly and then spit out the blood pooling in his mouth.
It landed on Malfoy's shoes.
Apparently that was a bit too much for the arrogant man and he pulled his wand. Harry looked down the length of pale wood into silver eyes, momentarily curious about the wand's core.
"Crucio." The man hissed.
Harry doubled over as the pain ripped through his body. He clenched his teeth, determined not to give them all the satisfaction of hearing him scream, knowing that they would eventually get him to.
Harry didn't know how long it lasted. He didn't know at what point Crabbe, or Goyle, let go of his arms to allow him to crash to the floor. He didn't hear the assembled chuckles as he body convulsed under the Unforgivable and he didn't know when Lucius lifted the curse.
He didn't scream.
Harry let his body lay limp as he gasped for air. The right side of his face was pressed into the rough carpet, and by the sharp sting in his cheek there was glass imbedded there from the window. The sting was similar, yet different from the pain on his other cheek, the one from Lucius' blow.
"I'm mildly impressed." Lucius drawled from somewhere above him. "Few can last through that long without a sound."
Harry pulled himself to his knees, grimacing at the ache in his arms and shoulders. He studied the imprint of blood on the carpet before him, trying to soothe the pounding in his head and the trembles running down his spine.
"Of course, no one can last through a second round." Lucius said.
Harry wasn't prepared for the curse. He collapsed to the floor, curling into a fetal position. The pain lanced up and down his spine, and seemed to explode over and over inside his head. He tasted blood, but didn't realize that he was biting through his lip. His body twisted and convulsed, trying to lessen the pain. It didn't help, and the pain didn't stop.
It seemed like ages before the curse was lifted again. Harry gasped and felt a sharp pain in his side. He placed a trembling hand against his ribs, which he strongly suspected were broken. The Cruciatus Curse caused extreme pain without physical evidence, or physical release. The pain is directly linked to the mind, making the mind believe that the pain is real when there is in fact nothing that is truly causing it. Which is exactly why it was classified as an Unforgivable. But a strong enough caster can cause physical damage if the spell is left for too long or if the target is subjected to it enough.
Apparently, Lucius Malfoy was a rather strong Wizard.
Harry again made his way painfully to his knees, keeping one arm cradled around his chest. He couldn't stop the tremors in his body, no doubt a lovely side effect of too much exposure.
"Fascinating, really." Lucius said, "The effects of the Cruciatus."
"A rather weak one, I'd say." Harry gasped. "I know a Muggle-born who can make a stronger one."
"What?" Lucius said in a dangerous tone.
Harry had managed to somehow stand on his feet, with a lot of help from the wall. He steadied himself with one trembling hand and met the man's cold eyes.
"I know a Muggle-born who can cast a stronger Crucio than you." He said simply.
"Pray tell, who?"
The name had the desired effect. Lucius' face turned an interesting shade of scarlet while the Death Eaters around the room shifted on their feet. Harry risked a glance towards Snape, whose face was carefully blank. The man snarled at him, but he couldn't tell whether it was for show or if the man disapproved of the way Harry was handling himself.
Harry looked over to the Dursleys. Their faces were a mixture of terror and something he couldn't quite identify.
Lucius gestured sharply with his hand in the direction of Harry's gaze. To his horror, two Death Eaters immediately sent killing curses towards the last of his blood relatives. Harry staggered away from the wall and stumbled to his knees, unable to support himself. Petunia screamed unheard as Vernon and Dudley collapsed under the power of the spells.
"Do not insult me, boy." Lucius hissed.
Harry met his Aunt's eyes and saw her fear, pain and surprisingly, understanding. He suddenly realized that his mom had told Petunia more about the Wizarding world than he thought, and that she knew exactly what was going on, and why.
"Aunt Petunia." He mouthed.
"Avada Kedavra." Lucius hissed.
Harry didn't take his eyes off his Aunt as the curse crashed into her chest. She didn't try to speak or scream. She didn't even flinch. Harry bowed his head, keeping one shaking hand on his ribs. Horror and a deep sorrow filled him.
"Tom killed my parents." He whispered, barely audible. He saw Lucius' feet shift a bit closer, and he continued in the same soft voice. "Tom took away everything that I have ever wanted. He tried to kill me before I was even able to walk. He haunted my years at school, and my dreams at night." Harry's voice began to gain volume. "He tried to possess my mind. He tried to destroy my faith in myself. He tried to kill my friends. His minions killed my GODFATHER, AND NOW YOU'VE KILLED THE LAST BIT OF FAMILY THAT I HAVE LEFT!" he ended in a roar. Harry stood, his eyes flashing dangerously around the room, and landed on Lucius.
"What a pity." The man drawled. Harry staggered towards him, putting his face directly in front of the blonde's. Lucius didn't move.
"Yes." Harry hissed, "Pity for you."
Lucius was obviously caught completely off guard as he swung. Harry's fist shattered his nose and whipped the man's head back sharply in a very undignified manner. Malfoy staggered, clutching at his face while blood ran down onto the floor. Harry stalked after the blonde intent on hitting the man again.
Harry didn't even hear the curse being cast before it hit his side.
The spell tore through his skin, leaving a deep gash along his abdomen. Harry staggered sharply, clutching at his side. He could feel the warmth of his blood as it seeped through his fingers.
His pause gave Lucius enough time to collect himself and raise his wand.
Harry screamed as his knees hit the floor. The pain was intense as the spell lanced through a body already weakened. Harry knew nothing else.
Lucius lifted the curse, but Harry barely registered the fact. He kneeled on the floor gasping for breath. His eyesight was blurred, and he couldn't quite get his mind to focus. He was in pain, but he was unable to pinpoint any location on his body that it stemmed from.
He blinked furiously, and the room slowly stopped its tilting; and Harry was able to focus his eyes on what was before him. Lucius looked extremely smug. His relatives still sat slouched on the couch. Harry felt anger and sorrow course through him and he latched onto the feeling, feeding it with the half hazy memories of his life. He didn't notice the steady glow of green light surround him. He ignored the flicker of surprise in Lucius's eyes.
Suddenly a surge of power ripped through him and Harry threw his head back; his scream piercing in its intensity. The magical blast knocked everyone in the room back, shattering the windows of the entire house. Harry screamed again his magic manifesting itself in green laced lightning that crackled and shot out in wide arcs. His scream didn't stop. Instead it pulsed with his magic and the next wave of power surged outward in a dome of dark flames that consumed everything in its path.
Harry couldn't see. He couldn't hear anything. He only felt the emotions that beat in time with his heart. He was unaware of the chaos and destruction that surrounded him, or the power that he had gathered. He was only aware of the horror, anger and the sorrow that he felt.
And then he wasn't aware at all.
Harry collapsed, his screams lingering in the air around Privet Drive.
Albus Dumbledore was sitting in his office on a peaceful afternoon when the alarm for the wards around Privet Drive sounded. He sat stunned for a moment, staring at the whirring silver instrument on his desk, hardly able to comprehend that the wards were breeched. A moment later the alarm changed from a ring to steady screech, and was suddenly silenced.
The wards weren't just breeched, they were gone.
Albus was a flurry of action, alerting the Order of the Pheonix and disappearing through the floo to #12 Grimmauld Place. He swept out of the fireplace and was met with the arriving, concerned faces of the Order.
"The wards around Privet Drive have been destroyed."
The Order apparated onto the street of Privet Drive. What they saw stunned them.
The Dursley's house was gone but for a ghostly representation of the house's frame. Flames flickered amongst the ashes and remains. Many in the Order covered their noses as the scent of burned flesh drifted towards them.
"What happened?" whispered through the air.
Albus slowly moved forward, a shocked expression on his face.
"I wouldn't get too close, Headmaster." A voice spoke from the side of the yard. "Potter's magic is still lingering."
Albus whirled around to face the speaker and came face to face with a rather worse for wear Potions Master. The man was seated against a lone tree, his black robes covered with soot and a substance that looked suspiciously like blood. He looked a right mess. Albus knelt beside him, quickly inspecting him for serious injuries.
"Severus, what happened?"
Snape sniffed. "The Dark Lord sent Lucius and his crew to retrieve your Golden Boy." He began, "Potter was caught and Lucius decided to have his fun. He killed the muggles, and Potter lost control." Snape looked Albus straight in the eye, "Completely."
Gasps were heard from the gathered Order. To loose complete control of ones magic was a devastating occurrence, especially to anyone and anything in the vicinity. No wonder the house was destroyed.
"Where is Harry, Severus?" Albus insisted.
"I don't know." Snape snapped. "I was running for my life at the time. Next time I'll be sure to hang around with the after shocks to see what happens to your Boy Wonder. Of course you'd have to ask my ghost for the information, since I'd be dead just like those fourteen Death Eaters who were idiotic enough to stay within range of that brat's magic." Snape looked incredulously at the people around him. "What the hell took you so bloody long? The wards were disabled nearly an hour ago."
"The alarm sounded only moments ago." Albus said softly.
Snape glared at him.
"Are you hurt, my boy?" the Headmaster asked.
"Severus," a voice cut in. Snape looked up to glare at the speaker. Remus Lupin, however, either didn't notice or didn't care. "How come you weren't informed of this attack on Harry sooner?"
Snape scowled. "Because the Dark Lord is suspicious of me, that's why; and since I didn't return after this little fiasco no doubt my cover is completely blown. Then again, no one else returned to him either."
"Did you have a way to get Harry out?" Lupin asked.
Snape glared coldly at the werewolf. He could hear the accusation, and see it in the man's yellow eyes.
"Yes." He said shortly, "I had a portkey, which would have dumped the boy in Albus' office if the impertinent brat hadn't broken my nose before I could get a hold of him. There wasn't another chance to get close to him after he tried to escape out the window on that bloody broom of his. Lucius stunned him before he got out of the back yard."
Lupin looked a bit skeptical, but wisely didn't say anything. Snape shifted for the first time since he had propped his tired body against the tree. He hadn't managed to escape the house unscathed. One of that blasted boy's bursts of power had caught him in the shoulder, searing through layers of fabric and down to the bone. He was only glad that the magic had cauterized the edges of the wound; otherwise he rather suspected that he would have bled to death in minutes. He scowled at the thought of his nose. That blasted boy had actually broken it. He grudgingly accepted that Potter could hold his own; in a muggle fist fight at least.
"How many accompanied Malfoy?" Albus asked, attracting the spy's attention.
"Sixteen, including myself and Lucius."
"You said that there were fourteen dead in the house." Moody's voice broke in.
"Yes, Lucius apparated away."
Snape let that bit of information sink in for a moment. He looked over at the ruins of the house. Potter's magic still crackled amongst the charred timbers, giving the area an eerie green cast. Snape grimaced. The afternoon was not a pleasant one for him.
"Potter's body is not in the house." He said.
Albus looked at him in surprise. Most wizards who have completely lost control of their magic had died from the severe strain on their body. Anything within the reach of the released magic was usually destroyed, including the wizard. If Harry's body wasn't in the house, then he had somehow managed to survive where few others ever have. Yet another feat of the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Then where is he?" Albus whispered to himself, surveying what was left of Private Drive. No one answered him.