/ This is my first attempt at writing a fan fiction in the Harry Potter world, and is also my first attempt at writing something roughly longer than a thousand words. Please don't hate me; Rome wasn't built in a day. I will attempt to place this fanfic into a category that can be regarded as 'realistic' in terms of human psychology. Don't expect a 'Super Power Harry' kind of fic. I will try to keep the number of scenes which would be regarded as embarrassing to a minimum and I shall fail completely. Tough luck.
As such... let us begin.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, except the plot. Well, maybe that's a whole bit. Like everything: D. did anyone notice that if I'd change just one letter of the Characters', Locations' and Spell names, I could market this fic? hmmmmmm
- The Warrior's Path
"Without constant practice, the officers will be nervous and undecided when mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand." - Sun Tzu
The coldest day of the summer, if not the year, was drawing to a close. Although no weather phenomena such as rain or snow were present, there was a full-time eerie mist that seemed to loom inside every alleyway, on every corner and on every tree. Also, a horrible, fearful mood made itself present. People were more paranoid than normal, animals seemed jumpy and overall, everything seemed to break down, whether it is people's moods or machinery (mostly electronic of course).
It was as if some Evil made itself present. Indeed, the only three places that seemed totally unaffected were those that had most to do with the aforementioned Evil. One was the greatest bastion of Light in the British Isles, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The second was, unbeknownst to most, the Headquarters of the evil Dark Lord Voldemort. The third, and the most remarkable, was the house of one Harry James Potter, resident of Number Four Privet Drive, living in the quiet little village called Little Whinging. It was most remarkable because it was the last place where one would normally expect to find something odd, such as strong magical protections, famous saviours of the wizarding world and other such rubbish.
Harry Potter was sitting on his bed, assuming a position that looked like what the Muggles would call the 'Lotus' and attempting to free his mind. He was trying to strengthen his Occlumency. During the days since he had come from Hogwarts, at the end of his sixth year, he had been spending five to six hours each day on this exercise, making his relatives worry, not because they cared at all about their nephew, but because their nephew hardly seemed to be alive if you ignored the food he ate once a day.
Indeed he made his presence scarce, not troubling anyone. They were torn between happiness that they wouldn't see him and the desire to boss him around, but they had decided that this Harry Potter was different than the one they had known for fifteen years, and would be wiser to leave him alone.
Harry was meditating, something he had known about but hadn't really understood before. He had found a book, a muggle book, about meditation in a little bookshop while going with his relatives to a supermarket, the last day before the great change in his demeanour occurred. He had mastered the first principle, the Asana, quite quickly. The ability to become comfortable with one's body and no longer let it disturb the mind was one many people found impossible, but the Asana was only the first on a long road, leading to self-perfection. Indeed there had seemed to be some Muggles which understood that one must struggle to become better and had also managed to prevail upon that path themselves.
Pratyahara, the ability to focus one's train of thought and recognize where this train of thought was heading, was giving Harry some trouble, but he realized he was handling it fairly well. Indeed, soon enough, he would be able to control each train of thought, cutting off those that were inefficient and dangerous. Emotions, like hate, were carefully controlled. He realized that wizarding Occlumency was fundamentally flawed, for its principle was based on the wrong premise.
He had realized that most especially when he remembered Snape's face in that night of betrayal. A master Occlumens, an expert at the shielding of thought, but that mastery came at the expense of his sanity, Harry realized. Occlumency in the whole does only that: bottle it up.
"Hiding your thoughts isn't enough" Harry realized. "Those thoughts resurface later, eat at you, and tear at you. One must be able to realize where all thought comes from, understand it, and then decide the best course of action".
Indeed Snape, who had kept hate and remorse ever since his school days could not begin to comprehend that, and ultimately lost himself in that which in the end offers justification to most of us: The search for power.
Harry was no fool, although there were many who may have thought otherwise. He realized that in order to survive, and better yet, win; he needed to possess not only power, but control. A well trained warrior with a stick may very well defeat dozens of muscle-head morons.
A well trained, aware, and fast-thinking wizard would be able to defeat many other wizards, through a combination of skill, a quick mind and fast reflexes. He had been stupid, he realized. At the end of his fifth year, sobbing, he had told Dumbledore that he would not stand a chance against Voldemort, that he couldn't fight like him, kill like him. He had been stupid. "Poor Dumbledore", thought the young man. "Betrayed by the one he probably trusted more than most".
He realized that Dumbledore, too, had fallen into the trap Snape had fallen, but in another way. Where as Snape's thoughts seeked justification in revenge and power, Dumbledore, poor Dumbledore sought to make everything right for everyone, forgetting that emotions, undoubtedly needed, were foolish in such cases as survival. "If only he had been just a bit suspicious, just a bit"
Harry realized he was losing his control on his train of thought again; it was so much harder to exercise when in solitude. He absently drew another dash on the notebook he kept nearby and began again. During the three weeks since he had started meditating, the number of dashes, signifying his failure to concentrate, had decreased dramatically. He was now able to stem the flow of nearly every thought, and in three to four hours of meditation he rarely made the mistake to slip off anymore. He was now capable of following a single thread of thought at one time, something that, although it may sound stupid, he realized, allowed him to process a very long train of thought in a split second.
Indeed, answers to questions seemed to pop instantly in his head. His memory had improved dramatically. It was sufficient to read a book twice to be forever able to remember most of the what it contained. He had sent an order to Flourish and Blotts, requesting a number of books he felt he would greatly need, amongst which were titles such as "Conjuring for the Gods" by Conjurus Rex and "Transfigure your own house" by Matilda Modificus. Indeed the latter title took to the transfiguration of the house as a whole, and that was amongst the simpler things in the book.
"Not something for the weak" Harry mused. He realized he was also beginning to read much faster, although mostly because he was no longer faced with the problem of falling asleep during 'boring' lectures. Indeed, with his ability to process information faster and more accurately than before, he was able to pick up links between various magical theories which had, before, made no sense whatsoever to him. And the most important result, Harry realized, was that magic was directly linked to thought. Harry was finally able to realize what made the difference between wizards like Snape, McGonagall, Moody, or even his father, Dumbledore and Voldemort. Moody was an excellent Auror, yes. Fast thinking, resolute, and excellent at what he did best, but in no way a match to Dumbledore or Voldemort.
At their battle in the Ministry of Magic, Harry realized, they were on a whole different level. A level reached by a stunningly low number of wizards. Harry realized that what set Dumbledore and Voldemort apart from ordinary wizards was that, not only did they become exceedingly good at what they did; they became exceedingly good at everything. The two had researched far more forms and theories of magic than any other wizard of the day, had understood them, and had taken each and every single advantage to make them stronger.
"That's why Dumbledore lost. When faced with someone of at least equal intelligence, he whom imposes upon himself less borders will have the greater advantage. Voldemort holds nothing back, while Dumbledore was too noble or too scared to delve into the Arts which may have given himself the ability to win". Mentally slapping himself, Harry drew another line on the notebook and proceeded to empty his mind, again.
During his meditation, he was distracted by the sound of tapping on his window. Harry looked up.
"Hedwig. You're back!" He quickly got up and let the owl in, quickly turning back to his bed afterwards. He checked the notebook. He had asked Ron to charm it for him, since he had come of age before Harry, and as such could perform magic outside of school. After this, he had received a detailed note from Hermione, which, to Harry's amusement, also contained the letter Ron had sent to her asking for advice.
Apparently Ron had found charming the notebook quite troublesome. The charms were designed to show the time interval between writings. To his extreme satisfaction, Harry noted that the time interval between today's two distractions was larger than four hours. He then moved towards Hedwig and took the letters she had been carrying, noticing there were quite a few of them. The longest was from Hermione. There were also letters from Ginny, Ron, the Weasley twins, and, surprisingly enough, Nymphadora Tonks. Harry had a pretty good idea what Tonks' letter may contain, and he decided to save it for last. Wanting to get the pile done with, he opened Hermione's letter first.
How have you been? Is Meditation working for you? I have to admit that I've been curious to try it as well, but I can't even get my body to stop squirming long enough to even analyze my thoughts. It seems so stupid, just standing there. But if you think it's good for you, I won't say a single bad word about it.
Ron's been quite stressing lately. He keeps brooding, each and every day. It's only now I realize that Professor Dumbledore's loss has been a little too much for him.
Perhaps you may be able to do something to calm him down, I'm too nervous as it is. Ginny is a big help, keeping him in line. I swear, someday she may become scarier than her mother. But don't tell her I said that.
Harry, are you serious about not coming to Hogwarts for our seventh year? I know we've argued about this before but I can't help thinking you're making a big mistake. Please reconsider.
We don't know yet what the Order is going to do about Headquarters, nor do we have any idea about its future leadership, come to think of it. For the moment, the Order is using The Burrow as a temporary headquarters, but they're adamant about either recasting the Fidelius on Grimmauld Place or finding a new Headquarters as fast as possible. As far as I could understand, they're not sure if they should use Grimmauld Place anymore, because of Professor Dumbledore's death.
Since Snape was a spy all along, approaching Grimmauld Place without its protection may be a very stupid thing to do. If Voldemort has lookouts, or even worse, wards there, any approach would be quite stupid. I've heard Tonks saying something about writing you, but I have no idea what she might want. Anyway Harry, I hope we see you soon. Even Ginny has been depressed lately. Make sure you comfort her well when you're here, okay?
Harry put down Hermione's letter with a frown. It was true, Grimmauld Place was useless now. They needed another safe house. Which location was big enough, protected enough, and the most useful? What were they looking for now? A place in which to effectively plan a war. Was it supposed to be hidden? If so, why? Because Voldemort would come after them? Right...
Voldemort didn't give a damn about the Order now that Dumbledore was gone. His biggest opponent now wasn't the Order, but the Ministry. Voldemort was overdue for his army, Harry thought. True, the last two years had been efficient for Voldemort. Dumbledore was dead, the Death Eaters were freed, Azkaban was emptied of Dementors, which were now in his service; the party sent to see to the Giants had most likely succeeded, especially since Dumbledore was no longer here to make sure they might have some support, the Werewolves had more than likely joined him, and even the Goblins had seemed, last time Harry checked, to be less interested in what the Ministry said, and more in the promises Voldemort offered.
In basic terms, they were screwed. The wizarding world desperately needed a figurehead. Someone well-known. Someone recognized as powerful and righteous. Someone who had history with fighting against Voldemort. "Well I'll be damned" thought Harry grimly. "Three out of three. Now what do we do about this"
He also thought about Hermione's request to go back to Hogwarts. Already an idea was beginning to form in his head. A desperate idea, a possibly stupid idea, but one which, according to his new and improved train of deductive thought, was probably one of the best ideas for the future to come.
He put down Hermione's letter and reached for Ron's. His was moderately long.
How've you been holding up? I mean, what're we going to do?
I suppose McGonagall is going to lead Hogwarts now, she IS deputy Headmistress. If so, who's going to be Head of House? Or even Professor of Transfiguration?
Forget that, who's going to beat Voldemort and his Death Eaters? I know the prophecy and all, but let's face it. Without Dumbledore, the worse outcome of the prophecy suddenly seems far more plausible. Anyway, I hope you'll be coming here soon, Ginny's been drilling my head for days. Can't a guy be worried around here?
He put down Ron's letter. He had to admit there was a definite truth to Ron's letter. Without Dumbledore there would be hell to pay.
Not mentioning the Death Eaters, someone had to get rid of the Horcruxes before any attempt at Voldemort's life could be made. It seemed to Harry as if, one by one, the pillars around the world were shattering. In order to destroy Horcruxes , especially ones as powerful as those made by Voldemort , Harry would need great knowledge about how they were created , how they worked , not to mention an extensive knowledge of magic in general. Harry could picture Dumbledore's shrivelled black hand clearly. He was acutely aware that, where Dumbledore only lost an arm, another would have lost his life. Harry was also acutely aware that he would have to seek out the wizard with the initials of R.A.B.
He picked up Ginny's letter. Shortest of the bunch.
I missed you. When are you coming here? Everyone in the Order says it's up to you, so why haven't you come already? Hermione says you're determined about not coming back for your seventh year, but for the love of God, Harry, why?
Please answer, and please come.
- All my love, Ginny
He reached out for Tonks' letter. Not much longer than Ginny's was.
Mad-Eye says you'll contact us yourself when you want out, but I can't rightly understand why you would want to spend more time in that house, for lack of a better polite word. Are you alright, Harry? Your friends won't admit and they won't put it in writing, put they've been worried sick about you for some time now. Also, when you're ready to come out of that hole, we'll need to have a nice long chat about your desire of not going back to school.
- Your all-around friend
Oh, what the heck? He had been inside the place for three and a half weeks. It's not like it mattered anymore whether he was here until his coming of age or not. The protection would only last until then anyway, which only meant about another 3 weeks. Yes. It was time to leave.
He picked up a piece of parchment and started scribbling a note to Tonks.
Ready to go now. Pick me up at your closest leisure.
He gave the letter to Hedwig, muttering a "Have a nice flight, girl", grabbed a book from his collection and started reading. He kept reading well into the night, falling asleep at 4 in the morning, then woke up at 7 o'clock sharp and started on his meditation...
Harry was sitting on his bed happily, having just had a revelation as to how he would be able to transfigure something with strong magical properties, for example, raw dragon skin, into simple robes, while retaining their defensive capabilities. Indeed, if he managed to retain even half the power of such objects, he could create robes that would be near-impenetrable to ordinary spells. It probably wouldn't help much against Unforgivables, but he could make a defence that might be hard even for Voldemort to penetrate with normal spells. While he enjoying this thought, the doorbell rang, followed closely by the sound of hurried footsteps and loud bellowing.
Indeed Uncle Vernon had no trouble breaking even the most enjoyable of moods. Hazarding a guess as to what the cause of the disruption might be, Harry hastily drew his wand, threw his Invisibility Cloak over himself and Apparated downstairs. The four wizards could no doubt hear the bang but were hard put detecting the source of the noise, all except one Mad-Eye Moody, which quickly aimed his wand at the young boy only to hear a crack and feel a wand touch his neck. He stopped completely.
The others were busy looking in the direction to which Mad-Eye had been pointing his wand.Moody, to his comrades' surprise, dropped his wand, raised his hands, and said, apparently greatly amused "Alright already boy, alright. I yield. Good show of vigilance. You can take off that cloak now. You may have license to Apparate, but you're definitely not going to cast any spells until you come of age, so you might just as well reveal yourself"
At this point, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin and Kingsley Shacklebolt could see one Harry Potter emerge from behind the retired Auror with what seemed like a very cheerful smile. "Hello all!" he said happily and lowered his wand. Before Moody could ask how Harry was sure they weren't Death Eaters in disguise, Harry had already produced a Sneakoskope from his pocket and placed it in his Professor's hands.
"Next time send an owl first. You know my relatives can be rather ... cautious ... of wizards."
Remus Lupin was in a state of extreme shock. Last time he had seen Harry, at Dumbledore's funeral, he had expected something even worse than when Sirius had died. Since Harry had been with Dumbledore, and as the Headmaster had been unable to defend himself because of his rush to cover for Harry, he had expected the youth to be at least badly shaken. Yet here he was, vigilant, alert, and for all he could see, radiating with cheerfulness.
Kingsley was no less shocked, although because of different reasons. It felt at least a bit weird to be outdone by a student, even a formidable student, when they had come prepared to face Death Eaters. That he could have crushed them all had he been a Death Eater worried Shacklebolt greatly. He would have to be far more careful in the future.
Tonks spoke up.
"Wotcher, Harry. Are you packed yet?" asked the witch.
"Yes, I'm all set. But before we leave I would like us to have a bit of a talk with my relatives. I'm sure you understand"
"Of course!" answered the witch brightly. She turned towards the family that seemed positively shocked at seeing their nephew appear from thin air. "Let's talk"
They all entered the Dursley's living room.
"Well, sit down, sit down, we haven't got all day!" growled Moody towards the Dursleys. Dudley fearfully did just so. Aunt Petunia tried to look defying, but failed and simple stood down. Vernon was nearly pink with rage and stood near to burst. "Who do you thin-"
"I've told you to sit down, Dursley. Now be a good boy and do that before I curse you!"
Vernon was about to protest, but he suddenly remembered who he was talking to and decided on a better and much healthier course of action. He sat down.
"Good! Now that we're all here, you had something to say, Potter?" Moody was wearing an enormous grin.
"Yes. It is time for me to leave. I thank you for allowing me housing for the past sixteen years. It has been enlightening"
Vernon seemed as if Christmas had come early. "Leave? You mean, for good? Really?"The members of the Order seemed visibly alerted at this approach. Tonks spoke first." But Harry, you can't simply leave-"
"Yes I can, and I leave. There is nothing of importance for me here anymore"
"What do you mean, Potter?" barked the ex-Auror.
"I have been placed in this house because of an exceptionally powerful blood protection. A protection which appeared because of my mother's sacrifice for me as a baby, later strengthened by Professor Dumbledore's magic. The enchantment only lasts until my coming of age. There is no point in my staying here anymore. I shall leave now, and it is doubtful we'll ever see each other again"
Tonks tried to intervene. "But Harry, have you thought this through? Where will you live?"
"I think I have an answer to that, but we must first go to the Borrow. This is not a place for talking."
Harry got up, and led the way to his room. Inside, mostly everything was packed. Only Hedwig's cage wasn't clean. A quick Evanesco from Tonks and a request for Hedwig to meet him at the Burrow did the job.
"Are we Apparating there?" he asked Tonks.
"Well ... no. We've all done our best to put some security there, so there are anti-apparition wards surrounding The Borrow. We'll be using a portkey". With that, she pulled out a small rubber duck.
"Everyone ready? In 3, 2, 1 "
Harry felt a tug at the navel, and they were gone. A few seconds later, they were inside the kitchen of The Borrow.He had barely had time to look around when several people cried "Harry !" and two masses of hair , one from each side , one red and curly , one brown and bushy , slammed into him. They hugged him for a second after which Hermione pulled away, and allowed Ron to come and pat his best friend on the back. Ginny didn't let go.
"Harry, you've come, mate. We were wondering when you were going to show up". Ron was grinning widely. Hermione regarded him happily, if a bit guarded. He suspected it had a little to do with Dumbledore's death. He would have to talk to his friends about it sooner or later but now was not the time. He looked around the Weasley kitchen. Bill and Charley were there, along with Mrs. Weasley and Mr. Weasley and Fleur Delacour. They were all smiling and waving at him. Food was already on the table, with five plates which Harry automatically assumed were for him and the Order members.
Mrs. quickly got up and beckoned towards the table. "Come on, come on, we mustn't keep dinner waiting. I assume there were no problems then, Alastor"
"Problems? Well, I suppose there were no problems, although if any Death Eater attacked we would have had a great deal of problems, as the boy ruddy well proved!" grunted Moody.
"What do you mean?" asked a surprised Bill.
"We didn't even get three feet into the house when the boy Apparated down in that cloak of his, distracting us. Before I even had a chance to point my wand at him, he had his trained on my neck. Fastest Apparition I've ever seen". The Weasleys seemed at least a bit surprised at this bit of information, while Fleur just regarded him in awe; end Hermione looked a bit disbelieving. "Well, I know Harry's good-"
"It wasn't just good, it was brilliant!" Tonks was already at the table and helping herself. She made an effort to swallow and continued.
"Moody had his hands up and surrendered before we even realized what was going on. Good food by the way, Molly"
"My pleasure, dear"
Ginny had finally let go of Harry and was dragging him towards his seat at the table. "Come on Harry. Eat"
As they started eating, Remus rounded on Harry with a worried expression on his face. "What's this I hear about you not going to finish your seventh year, Harry?" Everyone except Hermione, Tonks and Moody choked on their meal. "WHAT?" came from half the table. Harry seemed half apprehensive, half amused. "We are not discussing this while eating. Besides, I need to speak with McGonagall before I say anything." He resumed eating.
"But Harry, if you don't finish your education, it's the end of yo-" started Remus.
"I don't rightly care much about becoming an Auror anymore. I've told you. I'll explain after I have a word with McGonagall"
Everyone looked like they wanted to say something, but decided against it. Fleur turned towards Harry and asked:
"So, Harrry. What have you been zooing zis summer"
Half the table rolled their eyes, and they started bantering.
Minerva McGonagall stood in her new office inside Hogwarts, utterly miserable. She realized how much she missed her friend and mentor and wondered what chance the wizarding world stood without him. Before she had a chance to slip into too much depression, a warm, grandfatherly voice belonging to the one now known as the late Albus Dumbledore asked:
"Why Minerva. why the long face? Surely the world goes on, even without me." Her head spun so fast her neck cricked. In a portrait right next to that of Armando Dippet, stood what looked like a tall old wizard, with twinkling blue eyes. "Besides. I will always be here should you need to share a word. I look forward to seeing how you run Hogwarts from now on."
The old professor leaned back, eyes closed. "You are right, of course, Albus, but let's be truthful. What will we DO without you? Nobody here has the remotest chance of standing up to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. We are lost. Who shall lead the Order? Who is wise and strong enough to replace YOU?"
"You are forgetting, Minerva, that hope may be found even in the darkest of times. Besides, I feel you are underestimating some. For now, let us observe and remember, and seek he who shall become our new hope. Although I really doubt we have to look far.' twinkled the old man."What do you mean-" attempted the old Professor, right when a figure emerged from the fireplace.
Inside the fire was the face of one Harry Potter.
Only slightly shocked, Minerva regarded the young boy. "Yes, Mister Potter? To what do I owe this unexpected call"
"Professor, I was wandering if I could meet with you for a half-hour today? Let's say, the Three Broomsticks"
"Why Mister Potter. Why would you want to do that?" The professor was getting into her strict teacher mode. Harry was mildly amused.
"Please, indulge me. The Three Broomsticks in half an hour then." he said, before his head vanished. The new Headmistress had no time to react.
"Told you Minerva, told you." said Dumbledore, with a warm smile, before sitting back in his chair and reading a paper.
Inside the Three Broomsticks there was not much clientele. The Headmistress looked around but couldn't see Harry Potter anywhere. Well ... there was this one table that seemed to have an extra pair of legs, but..."Good day professor." said Harry as she drew nearer."Yes Mister Potter? What have you to talk about that are so urgent to require the Headmistress of Hogwarts? And I also trust you have good explanations for the rumours I've heard concerning your dropping out of school one year early"
"Well, yes. Professor McGonagall ... would you happen to need a new Transfiguration Teacher?"
/ so, my first attempt at a HP fan fiction. Did you like it? Did you love it? Did it suck?
Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.
I'm writing this as a sort of 'Harry goes back in time' fic, I think, however the time lapse won't be until further chapters develop.
If you don't like the post HBP setting ... well, too bad. This is how I started it, and this is how it's going :-)