Darkness pervaded the small dank cell where a young skeletal man lay hunkered on a filthy decrepit mattress while a storm raged outside. Brilliant flashes of lightening bathed the rotten cell in an eerie light that caused shadows to take on a life all their own. However, the loud claps of thunder and flashes of light had no effect on the young man that stared blankly at the slime covered stone wall. He was lost somewhere else and even the Dementors that roamed the prison of Azkaban could no longer feed off him.
This was no ordinary prisoner slowly slipping away from reality; this was the former hero of the wizarding world, the famous Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter. No one would recognize him now; no one even knew what he looked like since no one had visited him in the last year since the day he was sentenced to 3 consecutive life terms by the Wizengamot. His body was wasting away from the lack of food and exercise. The only life the inmate showed was at meal times twice a day to eat the sorry excuse of soup the prison provided, then to use the not so private privy in a corner of his cell. His once brilliant emerald green eyes were now bland and void as he repeated his daily ritual, unconcerned with anything else surrounding him. Back to the center of the cell he would move and seat himself on the grimy floor and loose himself in a trance reliving every minute of his unhappy life. Inevitably his thoughts would drift back to that one moment in time when he had lost everything.
It was an open and shut case for everyone that was involved, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic for Great Britain, made sure of that. The Dursley's were dead by his own hands it seems, as young Harry was found with their blood all over him, Mrs. Figg and Percy Weasley were also found dead at the scene, killed by the Avada Kedavra curse which after investigation was found to be cast by Harry's wand. The boy was unconscious and sporting several broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a severe concussion when they found him but he only received cursory healing, begrudgingly by his school healer Madame Pomfrey, to get him to trial as soon as possible. No one cared what had actually happened. No one questioned how he had come by his injuries or the pain he was under during the trial. They mocked his pain, thought he deserved worse. No one ever questioned how Mrs. Figg or Percy Weasley happened to be there that night.
Minister Fudge was beyond ecstatic that he was finally able to prove to the wizarding public that he had been right about the awful boy, such a trouble maker. Gleeful to the point of insanity that he would be getting rid of this thorn in his side, the boy that caused so many problems for him, the boy who by his very existence threatened his role as minister. Fudge gloated to everyone who would listen, mainly the press, about how he had known all along the boy was evil, constantly lying and trying to cover his tracks blaming his heinous deeds on others. Even Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the age couldn't stand against the overwhelming evidence of Harry's crime, he was so distraught over his charge seeming to have taken the dark path that his mind became befuddled and he couldn't think beyond the present. He was severely disappointed in the boy and made it known to Harry more than once. Even when he looked at the boy it was with such anger that Harry couldn't face the man. His fury however, was nothing compared to that of the Weasely's. Harry had thought he was part of the family, loved and supported by them, how many times had they assured him he was one of their own, surely they would believe him, but when it came to one of their own blood, Percy, it was no comparison. They scorned him and shouted insults about him and his betrayal; they thirsted for revenge for the death of their true son. Coupled with this and Dumbledore's lack of support, Harry's heart broke, he was doomed and lost all hope, the last nail was hammered into Harry's coffin when he learned that Mrs. Figg, although a squib, was a relative of Madame Bones, the head of the Department of magical law Enforcement. So many against him, everyone he thought who had ever loved him or cared about him. They were the only ones that he trusted in his life, he considered them more family than his own blood relatives and now they were turning their backs on him. Left alone, must be fate for me to be alone and unloved the rest of my life, Harry thought, why does everyone hate me so? What did I ever do? I tried to keep everyone safe, I tried to be what they wanted but it never seems to work, WHY CAN'T I JUST BE NORMAL! He screamed in his head through the pain. He tried over and over to make them see his innocence through the burning pain in his heart, but they were blind by their hatred and grief. He felt like his broken heart was being torn out of his chest and he longed for death, anything that would make the pain cease.
All his friends, except Lupin of course testified against Harry. They said such awful things! 'We always new there was something strange about him,' 'He was never a normal child, always getting into trouble and dragging everyone along with him', 'He was given too much leeway due to his fame,' 'Always took advantage of his fame flaunting it and his money around whenever he had the chance,' Harry couldn't believe it! He never did anything like they were saying, but it didn't matter to those around, they were all fickle people. The same type that condemned him one minute then praised him the next in all his previous years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he was so used to it now with everything he had gone through, but he never expected his family to be that way. The Weasley's, Dumbledore and Granger had always stood by him, always backed him up, now they cast themselves in with the hate-sayers. He wondered why Lupin was no where around, was it time for the full moon, he had lost all track of time since the Department of Mysteries incident and Sirius' death, did Lupin think the same of him, he could only hope that he believed that Harry was innocent, this now became his lifeline. If Remus Lupin believed in him he could hold on. With his help maybe the truth about what happened at Privet Drive would finally come out.
For the short week he was at home with the Dursley's he was in severe depression over Sirius' death and didn't leave his room. Aunt Petunia would fix him a sandwich and put it through the cat flap in the door once a day, but he hadn't felt like eating.
Then that fateful night happened, Percy showed up trying to force him out of the house, supposedly on ministry business. Harry was suspicious of this, 'Why would Percy Weasley show up at his house?' There was no incident of underage magic and even if there was, Percy was not part of that department, he couldn't think of any reason why the ministry would just show up at his house. After asking Percy why he had come, Percy wouldn't say stating it was none of his business. Pretty iron considering this was his house and Percy was asking him to leave it. This made Harry even more suspicious and he tried to go back up to his room refusing to leave the house. Before he could register what was happening, his Uncle Vernon grabbed him roughly by the back of his shirt and threw him out the front door. To his horror he looked up to find 10 Death Eaters approaching the house with their wands pointed directly at his head.
Harry watched in terror as Percy joined the ranks of Death Eaters and laughed when one of their numbers cast "Crucio" on Harry. Harry curled himself into a tight ball trying to protect against the pain ripping through him, he tried to resist screaming but eventually the intense pain won out and he writhed on the ground screaming as millions of white hot pokers seemed to burn him inside out. It continued for what seemed forever, and then finally the curse was lifted. The pain left him exhausted and immobile. He watched helplessly as Death Eaters dragged the Dursley's from the house kicking and screaming, then tortured them cruelly. They were taunting Harry and trying to get information from him for their Dark Lord. His relatives grew quiet and Harry was feared they were dead. He tried desperately to figure a way out of this for all of them but his mind was not working. From his position in front of the bushes he could see the still forms of his battered and bloody relatives and a whimper of despair escaped his throat at the thought of them dying because the Dark Lord chose him as his nemesis. Crawling weakly across the lawn he was able to lie besides his relatives and check for pulses. When he felt a weak pulse in all of them he breathed a sigh of relief and started trying to plan again, but he could see no way out. He didn't know how long since this had all started but was sure that by now the Ministry or the Order would have realized what was going on and shown up to help. Didn't the precious wards Dumbledore put so much faith in have some type of alarm to alert the Order? Couldn't the Ministry detect the use of the unforgiveables? Looking around the deserted street he felt a lump grow in the pit of his stomach. No one was there except the Death Eaters, no one would come to save him.
Growing tired of their 'game' Lucious Malfoy smirked at The-Boy-Who-Lived then walked forward with Harry's wand in hand and maliciously cast the killing curse at his relatives, in the blink of an eye they were gone from this world. The lifeless bodies lie still on the ground beside him, eyes staring blankly up at the heavens. Harry cried out in grief. He had never felt any love for the Dursley's but he didn't want them to die like this. Before Harry could think upon this anymore, intense pain shot through his body again and he was vaguely aware of many kicks and punches that he received in between bouts of magical torture, the pain became unbearable and Harry prayed for death until he finally succumbed to blackness.
Mrs. Figg had heard noises coming from down the street as she was out walking and went to investigate them. She came to an abrupt stop at the end of the block when she saw at least a dozen Black Robed Death Eaters surrounding No. 4 Privet Drive. She knew she had to get help; there was certainly no way she could do this on her own. Frantically she turned to run back to her home to notify the Order when she was caught. The only mercy she received was a quick death.
Although Percy had joined the Death Eaters, he didn't realize he was only a pawn in their ultimate game. He learned this only too late. Voldemort smugly related to Percy how he needed Harry out of the way and discredited, and how Percy played right into his hands. What better way to discredit the boy than to have the hero of the wizarding world fall in the eyes of his admirers. It would be easy to manipulate. Hadn't the wizarding world already proven how fickle it was when it came to the boy. The Daily Prophet had set the ground work over the last 5 years, and after tonight they would all turn on Harry Potter, breaking the little resistance that had built since Potter started at Hogwarts.
Percy was horrified at how easily he had been tricked and wished he had listened to his family. His guilt and sorrow overwhelmed him at choosing so poorly. Now all he could wish for was forgiveness from the family that loved him so and grief that he would never see them again. He hoped against all hope that what he had set in motion today would right itself soon and silently asked for forgiveness from the boy that lay battered on the ground, the boy he had betrayed. So it was that Percy died knowing he had betrayed his family and the world for nothing, his ambition his own downfall.
Voldemort laughed cruelly at his own genius, his plan was working brilliantly. Percy had joined, then lured Harry out of the house, killed the boys relatives and Mrs. Figg with Harry's wand and now there would be no-one to prove otherwise. He trusted the Death Eaters that accompanied him. The others would never know, and that insolent boy would not interfere with his plans anymore. He only regretted not getting the prophecy out of the boy, if he knew of it in the first place. That didn't matter now though. He would get the prophecy later and have the boy join him. He would be more than eager to join his side after spending time in Azkaban and being betrayed by all those he loved and cared for. Snapping out of his thoughts he realized his time here was short and the ministry would be coming soon to investigate the magic that was used here tonight. He would bide his time. Once Potter was sentenced and in Azkaban he would have plenty of time to find out the contents of the Prophecy. He gave his orders to his Death Eaters than disapparated.
Lucious smugly used the boy's wand to cast the dark mark above number 4 Privet Drive while Harry lay unconscious. Gathering the bodies of the Dursley's and Harry, they laid them out in the house and smeared the Dursley's blood over Harry. Then he carelessly placed the wand back in the boy's left hand. They left Mrs. Figg and Percy outside the front door, cleaned up any signs that they had been in the area and left just as they heard someone apparating nearby. Harry of course had no idea of everything happening; only a foggy pain filled memory.
During the trial Harry tried to plead with the court and his former adopted family to listen to him, to let him take Veritaserum so the truth would be known. When they shouted that down he asked that they view his memories in a pensieve, but was met with death glares. Everyone in the court room seemed hell bent on denying him any say in his own defense. He of course had a court appointed defense wizard but the unenthusiastic man asked few questions and quickly took his seat after asking only a few vague questions to each of the so called witness. Harry knew the man was more worried about his career after this trial than really defending him. For some reason they wouldn't even allow Harry on the stand to testify for himself, he argued again begging them to give him veritaserum but with so much overwhelming evidence they told him to sit down and accept judgment for his crime. Harry shouted and pleaded, tears running down his face unbidden, he was too overrun by the betrayal he felt to care that he was showing any weakness in front of these people. He fought against the two aurors that were dragging him out of the courtroom to his 'new home' trying to yell some sense into his former friends and mentors.
"Shut up you bastard, you killed my brother!" Ron shouted at him breaking Harry's wand over his knees. Sparks emitted from the broken wood and fizzled out dying into nothingness. Harry felt another part of him die with his wand; he had owned that wand since he entered the wizarding world. Even though it was a twin to Voldemorts, it had gotten him through every scrape superbly, now it was no longer. Harry lifted his tear streaked face pleading with them to understand, to realize that he didn't do this, it wasn't him. He couldn't believe that Ron, his first and best friend could ever do that to him. Ron knew what he went through every summer! He knew about his nightmares! How could he not understand? The hate that gleamed in his friends eyes told Harry enough.
"Harry how could you? I wish I had never met you, you foul some, evil cockroach! " Hermione shot from across the room. A book flew at him and as it landed in front of his feet it burst into flames. His eyes fell on the familiar photo album that Hagrid had given him after his first year at Hogwarts. Smoke billowed up causing him to cough at the foul smell of burnt pages and the only memories he had of his parents and family. Photos curled in upon themselves dissolving to ash, he couldn't tear his eyes away. His mother and father waived at him happily from the photograph unknowing that this was the last time he would see them. His knees gave out and he threw his head back in a primal scream of agony. Harry felt a coldness fill him and the world went black, nightmares began over and over repeating and warping into ever gruesome details.
It seemed that everyone in the court room had gone silent as the boy before them screamed in pain, as if his heart had just exploded. If they had known better, they would realize that they had just broken the boy who lived, the boy they had sworn they loved and would protect at all costs, their savior. The boy they now condemned and spit on as he was dragged out of the courtroom unconscious once again.
Harry remembered the scene of his trial not only in his nightmares but in his waking life as well. It tortured him over and over, every feeling of love then betrayal repeating itself in a never ending cycle. He didn't know how long he had been in his new home as he called it, as time really had no meaning here. Life was just a long drawn out torture session, nightmares of all who had died cursed him at night, and those that lived cursed him during the day. The pain numbing him, pulling him from life, he longed for death. Dementors were a non-entity now. He could hear the mournful screams of others when the Dementors were around but they didn't affect him anymore, he was forever drowning in his memories, he had no more happy memories for them to feed off. He couldn't distinguish between his dreams and the real world. A condemned man he was and he accepted it, thought he deserved it, he wished his death would come soon. The courts of the wizarding world must be debating it, why were they taking so long? Even being kissed by a Dementor would be a welcomed relief from the soul shredding he endured.
Curled in his 'bed' trying to steal warmth where there was none, he heard voices. At first he thought the wizarding world had finally decided to end his life and he welcomed it. Waiting anxiously for the sound of footsteps he was disappointed when none came. He listened harder, forcing his mind to push aside the visions so he could better hear the sounds of the dungeon, but after what he thought was several minutes no sound came and no-one opened his cell door. He cursed himself for the fool he was for even hoping for something like that, the pain of betrayal and longing instantly engulfed him, it was worse than it had been that first fateful day. However the voices came again and didn't leave, they became stronger and stronger, clearer within his mind, explaining, nurturing, caring, and giving. He welcomed the voices with open arms fully understanding that this was the last straw, he would now officially be considered insane, but the voices were comforting, how he longed for comfort. The voices became his life-line. Succumbing to them he took greedily from them, not really understanding who or what they were, they filled the darkness within him relieving him of the constant pain.
"It is time young one."
Darkness surrounded him and he couldn't see who was talking to him, he felt himself being lifted up, then the pain left and he was free. Free of the pain and of the visions, a bright light engulfed him, warming his soul. It was so bright he was afraid to open his eyes.
"You are safe Harry Potter. There is none here that will cause you pain." A gentle musical voice whispered.
"Who are you?" Harry asked without opening his eyes.
"We are who we are. We are here to assist you young one, as the world has been led astray from its path."
"Where am I and how are you going to assist me?" Surprised at the strength in his voice after not using it so long he continued, "How can I talk, why don't I feel…"
"All will be explained, have patience."
Harry's ire started to grow; this was exactly the type of conversation that got him into trouble before. No one told him anything that he needed to know, just expected him to blindly follow everyone else's council.
"Do not get angry Harry Potter, for we have a long journey and you require the little strength you now possess. Trust us for now."
"What journey? Where are we going? What…." Harry was prevented from saying anything else as he felt himself being pulled quickly through the air. Not quite the same feeling as a portkey, this was more like whipping down a slide, smooth and streamlined not swirling around making him sick. After what felt like a lifetime, Harry finally felt himself stop softly. 'Definitely not like a portkey' he thought remembering the jarring he experienced upon arriving from them.
"We are here, rest easy young one."
A plush bed appeared from nowhere and Harry was lifted onto it. Soft warm blankets surrounded him and his mind was at peace. Right now he didn't much care where he was, as long as it wasn't his cold hard cell in Azkaban. Relieved at finally being away from the terror and pain, he drifted off into a dreamless sleep before he could say a word.
"It is time to wake Harry."
That voice sounded familiar but his sleep fogged mind could not place it. All he wanted to do was fall back to the peaceful sleep he had been awakened from.
"Harry, wake up now. I am sure there are many questions you have and it is time to explain."
"Wha….?" Harry yawned. Rolling onto his side he pushed himself up to a sitting position trying to rub the sleep from his eyes. He reached for his glasses but felt something being slipped onto his face. Instinctively he recoiled from the touch, but then realized it was only his glasses. Blinking a few times he was able to finally focus on the figures standing around his bed and was so shocked he felt feint.
"Mum! Dad! Sirius?" He gasped out and started to hyperventilate at the very alive people standing before him.
"It's okay Harry, calm down and breath. Yes it's us." A beautiful red haired woman spoke as she sat down on the bed next to Harry and placed her arm around him. Harry looked at her askance not really sure what to believe. It could very well be another attempt by Voldemort to trick his mind. However, he didn't believe Voldemort knew how to be comforting or loving or actually make someone feel it. He made up his mind not to worry about it. Sirius knelt down in front of Harry causing him to turn his attention to him.
"It's real Harry." Sirius said placing a hand on the bed.
"It's good to see you Harry, but I would have liked to see you under other circumstances." James sadly stated with his eyes downcast.
"Am I finally dead?" Harry whispered looking at each one of the people he knew to be dead.
"No Harry, this is the ethereal plane. The Fates have brought you here in order to save you and the rest of the world."
"What's the ethereal plane? And why would I want to save the world after all they did to me." He stated hotly. Looking up again he saw the sad expressions on the faces of those he loved and knew loved him.
"You have been given a great burden Harry, not one easily discarded. We are here to help you." His mother stated as she ran her hand up and down his back in a soothing manner. Harry was pleasantly surprised by the gesture. He had never had someone willingly touch him like that and it felt extremely good and he leaned into it wanting more. His mother chuckled softly and then pulled him into a loving hug.
"Oh Harry, I have missed you! I have longed to hold you for so long!"
Recovering from his momentary shock he hugged his mother back fervently and was soon joined in the hug by his father and Sirius. Long withheld emotions broke over the damn he had built up and came flooding in. He didn't try to fight it, he was with people who loved and cared about him, not just the weapon, but him. He cried for what seemed like ages with his mother, father and godfather holding him trying to ease his discomfort.
"It will be all right son. You will see, just give it time."
Sirius, ever the one to try to relieve such serious situations was the first to pull back from the embrace. Wiping his eyes he looked upon his godson and smiled. "We have a lot to teach you Harry and I'm sure going to enjoy it."
Harry felt his mother and father pull from the embrace and looked up to see them trying to hold back their chuckles.
"What's going on?" Harry asked bewildered by this change.
"Well Harry, the Fates are none to happy with old moldy right now. They think he's cheated them out of their due too many times and have decided to collect. This is where you come in." His father tried to explain.
"Yeah, now their just pissed and are going to prepare you to go kick his arse."
"Language Sirius, I will not have you speaking in front of my child that way!" Lily scolded.
Harry looked from his godfather to Lily and busted out laughing.
"What's so funny young man?"
"Well….um…." Harry tried to get his laughter under control seeing the stern gaze of his mother now directed at him. "Well you see, um…."
"Lily leave the boy alone. We have a lot of work to do and I'm sure he'll be hearing worse once he meets everyone."
Harry's head perked up at this. "What do you mean 'meet everyone'? Who else am I going to see? It's not just you guys?"
Sirius and James started chuckling again even though Lily was now directing her hard stare at them again. "Oh for Merlins' sake!"
"Did someone call me?"
Harry literally jumped as another figure appeared out of no where and walked towards them.
"No Merlin, Lily was just…..well since you are here maybe we should get all the introductions done then let Harry digest it all."
So more people appeared out of nowhere and Harry was flabbergasted to say the least. All these ancient and great wizards were going to help him train. "Now Harry for a special surprise." Merlin chuckled, as a bright light flashed.
"I would like to introduce you to the Fates." Harry was speechless. His father tried to prod him but nothing happened. Sirius waved his hand in front of Harry's eyes, still nothing. Sirius chuckled at the dumbstruck look on Harry's face then became worried as Harry feinted.
When Harry woke up next he found himself in a grand bedroom. It reminded him of his dorm room in Gryffindor but looked like this was all for him. He found he was laying in a king size four poster bed with red and gold hangings and silky cream colored sheets. It was luxurious. He had never felt so comfortable in his life. Deciding he was awake and not dreaming, did it really matter if he was, he cautiously looked over the side of the bed before stepping out. Hitting solid ground he breathed a sigh of relief, but jumped at the sound of a voice behind him.
"Thought you would fall out of the sky?" Came the slightly amused voice of his mother. She came fully into the room bearing a tray filled with all sorts of food.
"Come sit at the table and we will have lunch and discuss some more details you should know."
Harry obeyed without question. He was still getting used to the idea that he was able to converse with his dead parents, but who was he to argue. He approached the table that was set up in a corner of his room near a large window. As he sat his mother pulled the hangings aside so that sunlight streamed into the room lighting it up spectacularly. Now that he could see more he looked around and saw that the room was much larger than he originally thought. His bed sat in the middle of the room against the far wall. Plush red carpeting lined the floor and he found he enjoyed scrunching his toes into it. On the other side of the bed was a large ornate wooden dresser with a mirror. Various toiletries sat on top of it and he could only hope that the drawers were filled with clothing he could wear. Two doors adorned the far wall and he was curious as to what was behind them. Across from his bed was a large comfortable squishy couch in front of a large fireplace. Beside the fireplace was a bookshelf filled with books and other nick-nacks and on the other side a door that he imagined led to the rest of the house he was supposedly in. Beside the door in the corner of the room across from where he was sitting was a large oak desk with a leather chair behind it. The walls were done in a modest cream colored paint with a wooden border.
"Do you like your room Harry?" His mother interrupted his gazing.
"It's wonderful! I've never…." He gulped, not wanting to reveal any part of his life that might upset his mother.
She sat down next to him and lifted his chin so that their eyes met. "Harry, we know all about the kind of life that you have lived. That is one of the many reasons you are here now. Your Father and I were furious with Albus but there was nothing we could do. We are so sorry for what you have gone through, but never for one instance believe that we are ashamed of you. We could not love you any more than we already do and we are so proud of you Harry for the man you are becoming. You have lived through a tough life and have weathered it admirably."
Harry met his mother's loving gaze and fought back the tears threatening his eyes. "You know…..how…..I…"
"Never be ashamed of who you are Harry. We have watched you from the time we were taken away from you and we have seen it all. I am beyond angry at my sister for what she has done and allowed that boorish pig and piglet do to you. It is not a weakness Harry." She said as she saw the shame in his features. "You have ever strived to do your best believing that that would make them love you. I am sorry to say that the Dursley's held no love for you or even each other."
"What?...They always gave Dudley whatever he wanted. He was never locked in a cupboard or beaten or…."
"Yes that is true Harry, but true love is not being given everything your heart desires. No true love is much more complicated. I know for a fact that if any of the Dursley's were put into a life or death situation, they would not give up their own life for the other. That is not true love. They are currently being given the chance to find it."
"Are they….they….alive?" he asked fearing the answer either way.
"No Harry they are not, but they will not be allowed to enter this plane until they truly understand what they did in life and learn to truly love."
"Um, they……are they…"
"Harry, don't be afraid to ask the questions running around in that head of yours. I know the Dursley's indirectly taught you to be self reliant, but you need to learn to trust others. Everyone is not inherently good or bad. We are a mixture of both. Our emotions and choices are what makes us who we are. Never be ashamed of showing your emotions even when they sometimes seem to overwhelm you. You are only human Harry, and we all have instances like that. Sometimes it is a very good thing to cry or get angry and especially to love."
"It's so hard.." Harry choked out.
"I know son, but we are here to help you now."
"What's going to happen?"
"Well Harry, we are going to train you to use the powers that have been bestowed upon you."
"What powers? I barely can keep up in classes and…."
"SSShh, let me explain, this may take a while, so why don't we eat while we're talking hmmm?"
"Okay….mum." he said shyly.
"I like the sound of that! You know your first word was Paddy, we knew then that we were in for it." She said chuckling.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, when you were born we couldn't get Remus or Sirius to leave you alone. They were constantly competing for your attention, hell bent upon you saying their names before 'mum' or 'dad'. Sirius won out and we knew then that no matter what we did he would be corrupting you for the rest of your life. It was funny at the time. Remus then kept trying to get you to play tricks on Sirius and James and there were quite a lot of good ones. Of course being a marauder James would not be shown up in front of his son by his best mates so he secretly taught you how to hold a wand and use it. When I found out it was a little late and Sirius was floating all over the house. We knew you were powerful then and tried to make sure your power was controlled. James and I sought out the help of Albus to put a block on your powers until we were sure you could control them. I regret that we ever made that decision. Albus did not lift the block when he was suppose to." She sighed
"When was it supposed to be lifted?"
"Oh.." startled back from her reverie she continued, "It was to be lifted the day of your 11th birthday when you would be going to Hogwarts. There Albus was to assist in teaching you to control your powers, but failed us and you. I should have seen it coming, he always has been manipulative. Always wanting to control things in his own way, not realizing how much he was tampering. You see Albus Dumbledore has been around for quite along time and I believe his mind is failing him. He fails to remember people as individuals with individual dreams and feelings. His fight with Grindewald must have affected him more than we thought and then Voldemort's rise. In his own way he truly believes he is saving the world, but he doesn't realize the cost. Well, anyway…I'm getting off topic. I'm sure you understand what I'm talking about." She smiled wanly at him.
"Yeah, I understand now, just wish I saw it before all this happened."
"So where were we. Ah yes, well seeing as how you didn't have access to your full powers as well as other things that should have been turned over to you, Voldemort was able to rise to power again and spread evil throughout the world. Now we are at a turning point. Either Voldemort falls or evil reins the earth and it will be destroyed."
"What?" Harry spat choking on his bite of bangers.
"Yes Harry, you see there is much more at stake than anyone realizes. We, that is, those that dwell in the land of the dead, are privy to this information but those that are living have no idea. That's just how Fate works." She shrugged and took a couple bites.
"So I have no choice if the world is to survive? I have to go back and finish him?"
"Yes Harry, but that is not all. You see if Voldemort gains control, not only will the earth cease to exist, but so will the afterlife and anyone in it, for all realms of the earth will disappear. In a sense we are also saving Voldemort for he doesn't realize what is at stake."
"Sorry Mum, but that's a little much to take in! How in…sorry…am I supposed to stop this?" Placing his fork back down on the table he slumped in his seat having lost his appetite. He ran his hands through his hair trying to grasp what he had just been told.
"It isn't all bad Harry. That's why you're here."
"You know, everyone keeps saying that! What am I suppose to do, there isn't much time!"
"Well first thing Harry is that time here does not act in the same manner as the living world. For each month in the living world a year goes by here. From what we have gathered that gives us four years to train you up."
"Be careful son, don't want to swallow any flies." She chuckled.
"Um…why do I only have four years here? What's going to happen?" he said. His brain was now functioning and he was curious as to what would be going on in four months that was so important that he had to get back.
"Well Harry, the Fates gave us a rare glimpse into the future. Voldemort plans to attack Azkaban and take you. We have to stop that before it happens."
"Okkkkaaayyy. So when do we start and what am I going to be learning?"
"Finish eating Harry, you're going to need your strength." She watched her son out of the corner of her eye as he slowly began to eat again. Love swelled in her heart as she thought about him and how he continually overcame the trials that were thrown his way. Noticing how much he looked like James she stifled a chuckle at what the rest of his life would bring him. She desperately wanted him to fall in love and live a long happy life. Sighing she pushed those thoughts from her head and concentrated on what the next four years of their lives together would be like. She would finally get a chance to be with her son instead of watching from a distance and swore it anything she would instill some confidence in the young man. He had a lot to offer the world and some lucky lady and could only hope that they would realize it.
Harry realizing he would get nothing more out of his mother began eating again wondering what would happen next. After lunch Lily led Harry outside where he was told he was going to begin training. He was glad that no one had told him what to expect, for if he had known he was sure he would've turned around and never looked back. At least that's what he would have tried to do.
His days were packed with training in physical fitness, potions, transfiguration, charms, defense, ancient magic long lost to the wizarding world, animagus training, metamorphmagus training, physical combat, sword fighting, magical creatures, occlumency, legilimency, wandless/wordless magic, strategy, politics and muggle studies. Lily would not let her son disregard the advantages of modern technology and science. During his training his soul was allowed to live life in the ethereal plain, while his physical body remained at Azkaban. The Fates had taken care to mask Harry's body so that it could survive without it's soul. Acting very much like a Dementer kissed individual, the physical Harry continued on in the way that all the guards at the prison had come to expect. No one would be able to tell that Harry was being trained and receiving what he really needed.
Although most of the individuals Harry was in contact with in the ethereal plane were adults, he found that he was the happiest he had ever been. James and Sirius took it upon themselves to make sure he carried on the legacy of the marauders and taught him everything they knew about pranking. Harry believed when he returned he could easily rival the Weasley twins. He found he had quite the creative and eerily scary mind when it came to planning pranks.
Every meal was spent with his family and at night he was able to sit and relax with them discussing whatever came to mind. In time Harry realized that he was healing, and was able to open up with his parents and Sirius about his life. They helped him see that he was not at fault for the deaths that Voldemort caused. Each and every person was responsible for their own choices and actions. He also realized that with every choice there were resulting actions that would have to be dealt with, whether good or bad. He was only responsible for the ramifications of his own actions and as he reviewed his life came to understand this. The guilt he had felt for the deaths of others at the hands of Tom Riddle was gone to be replaced by righteous anger. He knew he wasn't infallible but he now had more resources and knowledge to make decisions.
Lying by the lake near his home on the ethereal plane he was lost in thought when Sirius snuck up on him and banished him into the water.
"You're going to pay for that Padfoot!" he shouted upon surfacing. His godfather was oblivious rolling in the grass holding his stomach laughing. As Harry swam to the shore and exited his mind was working evilly. Sirius missed the look in Harry's eyes and continued to laugh at the drenched form walking towards him.
Harry stalked over to his godfather and levitated him into the air, then made him glow bright neon pink. Sirius struggled to escape the magic that bound him before anyone could see, but then a loud squawking erupted through the valley as birds flocked towards him. His arms were forced to stick straight out to his sides and the birds landed on them making him into a living pink flashing scarecrow. The sound of the birds attracted the attention of everyone in the house. Again he tried in vain to break free of the magic holding him. The sounds of laughter filled the lawn and he sighed. He was stuck and he knew defeat.
"Alright Harry, you won. Now let me down."
"I don't think so Paddy. A little lesson in humility may do you a bit o' good." Harry said as he walked off towards the house.
Sirius moaned as the more people were drawn to the site and the sound of laughing increased tenfold. Although he admitted defeat, that didn't mean that payback wasn't around the corner. He had taught his godson well, but there were still a few things that Harry had yet to learn. With that thought in mind he chuckled to himself and appreciated the fine spell work Harry had accomplished.
James put his arm around his sons' shoulders proudly. "Nice work son. How long are you going to keep him there?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe until dinner. You think that's long enough?" he said quirking an eyebrow up as he looked back to Sirius.
"Probably not, but you know he'll retaliate. Pride and all that, can't have the younger generation of marauders outdoing him you know."
"Harry, we have to talk later tonight. I really think Sirius should be a part of it." Lily stated trying to control her laughter.
"What do we have to talk about?"
"Well Harry it's almost time for you to go back and we need to discuss what's going to happen."
"Oh" was all he said, starting to become depressed at leaving his home.
"I know what you're thinking Harry. It won't be bad in the long run." James said hugging Harry to him.
"Well time to break this up! Harry you have sword fighting, let's get going!" Godric Gryffindor stated cheerily patting Harry on the back. He had grown to love sword fighting with the young man. He had become a master at it, almost a natural and looked forward to every sparring match. "I can't wait to see the shock on everyone's faces when they see how good you are my boy!"
"That's an understatement if I ever heard one Godric. I think my Harry here will shock them with whatever he does!"
"You're right about that James!"
"Come on let's get going." Harry said shying away from the praise. 'That's one thing I'll never get use to.' He thought.
After dinner that night James, Lily, Harry and finally Sirius sat down in front of the fireplace in the sitting room to talk. Harry wasn't looking forward to this but his mood was lightened by the disgruntled look on Sirius' face.
"You still mad at me Padfoot?" he asked innocently, trying to put on his best puppy dog eye look.
"Harry, don't think that look will get you anywhere, I know you too well. I'm not mad at you, just trying to figure out how to get you back."
"No fair, I was retaliating for dumping me in the lake." He spoke up indignantly.
"Yeah, but that was payback for charming the whole house to hear my singing in the shower."
"But that was…."
"Enough boys, your prank war will have to wait, we have some serious issues to discuss."
"Oh I didn't realize this conversation was to be about me."
"Sirius, that's old!"
"You always thought it was funny before Prongs."
"I said enough! Now Harry we need to discuss what will happen when you return. The Fates have kept your body from falling completely apart but it will be difficult for you when you return."
"Yeah, I remember talking about that. Since this is really only my soul and mind that is on the ethereal plane my body won't have kept up with my physical developments."
"Right son, now when you return to your body your metamorphmagus skills will come in handy at first. You need to escape and take care of only immediate problems. I know that Dumbledore has not told you about our will or Sirius' for that matter, and there are a few things along those lines that you will have to find out by yourself. We cannot directly interfere with the living world and cannot tell you what's been going on."
"Yeah I know, you've said that before. All you can help me with is in training me because the Fates allowed it." He said in rote memory of what they had told him before.
"I know this is hard for you son, but remember what we have taught you."
"I will mum."
"Also remember that we will always be with you son. I want you to have a happy life when this is all done. I want to see grandchildren inhabiting the world!"
"Dad, don't you think that's a little ways off? I mean I don't even have a girlfriend! Let alone been kissed." He mumbled as an afterthought.
"Didn't I hear something about that Chang girl?"
"Shut it Padfoot." Harry warned.
"Harry, don't be embarrassed! You'll have plenty of time to find a girl that loves you and sees in you what we all see. In fact I think there is already someone out there ready to catch your eye."
"If I'm not mistaken, Prongs didn't you say that all Potters go for redheads?" Sirius said wriggling his eyebrows suggestively.
James laughed at Harry's indignation.
"I don't even know any red haired girls. In fact the only red heads I know are the Weasleys, and even if I did swing that way they would be the last ones on earth I would ever….."
"Harry, I don't think you're in the right frame of mind." Lily chuckled at the shocked indignant look on Harry's face, but then sobered up. "Harry you know you will have to face them eventually. In time I hope you will be able to forgive them. Remember our talk about the Dursley's?"
Harry's head shot up at that and then nodded reluctantly. "Yeah, yeah. I know I will have to deal with them. I can understand some of it but not all of it. I still believe it's going to be harder to see them face to face."
"It will be son. I know that when and if Peter ever makes it up here, it will be hard on all of us but we have to move on. We can't let them or what they have done rule our lives. Now what about this red head?"
Harry sighed. It didn't seem as if he was going to get them off this subject. "I told you I don't know any red headed girls, the only ones I know are the Weasleys and Mrs. Weasley is just way too old for me." He smiled at their shocked expressions.
"Can't you think of anyone else? I think if you let that train of thought on the Weasley's continue…"
"I like girls Sirius!"
"Son, you've got it all wrong!" James started laughing again. Lily and Sirius soon joined in.
"What are you all laughing at!"
"Sometimes you amaze me Harry! Can you not see it?"
"Mum, this is getting bloody annoying! Out with it!"
"No…no…I think this is one of those things you have to find out on your own. Besides we need to get back to the topic at hand."
"Right! Enough about my love life. I have to get a life first."
"Well Harry, keep working on your animagus forms and they should help you out."
"No I think Harry needs to get out of that place faster than that Padfoot."
"I agree Harry; you'll have to go through the wards of Azkaban immediately. Your body should be able to handle that. You'll have to really focus your mind to account for you lack of physical strength, but you should be good for a couple of days living off your magic. Don't forget to find a safe place to hide out for several days while your body adjusts to everything. It's going to be quite painful while that happens, and you won't be able to take anything to dull the pain."
"I know. I'm just glad that my body will adjust to what I've become accustomed to here instead of having to start from scratch again."
"Right, now do you have a disguise selected until you clear your name?"
"Yes dad. I'm going to use the name James Roper and use my metamorphmagus skills to alter my eye and hair color and hide the scar."
"That should be enough." Sirius thought out loud. "You've come up with a cover story?"
"Well not yet, but I'm sure something will hit me."
"See that you come up with something quickly Harry. I don't want you in any more danger than you have to be."
"It's going to be hard to avoid it mum."
"I know Harry, but humor me?"
Harry smiled at her in answer.
"Go easy on Remus Harry, until you hear his story?" his dad pleaded.
"I will, but I won't promise anything."
"That's all I can ask son."
"Remember that you are going to have to interact with the Weasley's at some point. I know we've talked about this but how are you really with it?" Sirius asked quietly.
"Well that's another issue isn't it? I know we've talked about it, and I know I can't hate them forever, but I'm just going to have to deal with it as I go. And before you ask about Dumbledore, I really have no idea. To me he's done worse than the Weasley's have."
"Remember love forgives all things Harry. It is your greatest gift." Lily offered.
"Okay, I think we've covered everything. Let's go to bed, shall we, we have a long day tomorrow as we will be celebrating your birthday early this year." James clapped his hands together in anticipation and stood up.
"Kind of a birthday, coming of age and going away party all in one." Sirius said imitating James gestures. Harry hung his head.
"Don't be sad Harry. We have had four wonderful years together that under normal circumstances we would have never had. You need to remember the good times until you join us again, and that better not be for a very long time Harry James Potter." Lily finished in a mock scolding tone.
"I believe Merlin has something special for you!" Sirius interrupted.
"Do I even want to know? He's worse than you and dad combined!"
"I believe you'll like this Harry!" James said.
"Okay okay, let's just go up then."