Disclaimer: Don't Own
Soon to Join the Insanity; Where's my Brownbag Lunch?
"Dear Lost One,
Build a bridge, and get over it!
The Act: Heroes Nowhere to be Found but Around –
"And so begins the twelfth year of my idiotic war."
It's a shame Hogwarts moves, Harry grumbled glumly. It's most unfair, actually, he slipped out of a second-year class on Charms, having shielded himself in the back, and darted down the hallway. Hermione will kill me, he continued his inner tirade, dashing down secret passages and occasionally huddling in small alcoves. Can't even attend the proper classes.
He checked a double-look in the DADA room, searching for the Professor's presence, before sighing tiredly. Should be a fourth year class, Ravenclaw and Slytherins, but it didn't matter. Attending classes, no matter the Year, had become the safest maneuver as of late. Though attending seventh year wasn't an option.
He grouchily stashed himself in the back corner, leveraged between two cabinets, while carefully making sure no part of his body was visible. And we thought Umbridge was the worse of it all…
Dropping his head backwards, evening out his breathing – never minding the crushed feeling of his lungs – he idly untwined and entwined his fingers. Is this worth it? I should leave. I need to leave. Staying here is stupidity.
He drifted off, muddled, as the door opened, welcoming Professor Dantes, who was talking amiably with two students. Checking through a crevice, intrigued, he found one to be a Slytherin and the other a Ravenclaw. Of course, Inner-House Unity begins with the one decent Professor of DADA ever held in Hogwarts – aside from Remus, of course – and I can't even attend his classes. Or, rather, my real class with him.
Fate was a buggar.
Their voices were too muffled however, because of the enclosing of strained wood on either side of him, leaving him awkwardly isolated, so any use the class would've been disappeared. Happens when you're always hiding. He'd long since discovered the advantages and disadvantages of hiding.
He wished, awfully so, that he didn't have to discover the pros and cons though.
Instead of brooding, however, he restlessly closed his eyes – careful to not sleep – and waited out the double-lesson. The bangs and cracks of spells, along with the awry effects that seemed to come awfully close to his hiding spot, weren't fun to say in the least.
Ah, to be in fourth year again…well, sort of, he wasn't very fond of that damned tournament, but…to be able to laugh at flubbed spells. Too bad it wasn't that way in seventh year. Professors, or at least the older students, should've warned them that if they thought O.W.Ls were killjoys, they should wait until they got to N.E.W.Ts – the word 'joy' wasn't allowed, even in 'kill-joy.'
A strangely resolute silence had fallen, something Harry hadn't acknowledged before then, and he sighed. Time to move on. He only moved to keep himself busy. Reasonably, he could've stayed in one classroom, but whoever said a Gryffindor wasn't a Gryffindor at all times, hmm?
"…come on out, Mr. Potter," Professor Dante's drawling voice called out. Grimacing, Harry carefully rose up with a meek expression.
"Was it my hair?" he asked, grumpily smothering it down. But he'd thought the bookshelf was high enough…
"Shoelace," the man chuckled, albeit it had a grave edge. "You've gotten better, I must admit," his brown eyes shined slightly, as if proud of Harry's improvement, before they sobered up swiftly. "Ministry's down the hall," he informed, voice lowered. "Best stash yourself up in my office for a spell."
You like your puns, don't you Professor? "Thanks, sir," Harry turned, to trudge up the stairs.
"Mr. Potter," the man's voice, inquiringly gruff, halted him. "What do you hope to achieve? Staying here? You should leave, hide—I'm sure the Order can supply you."
"You?" Harry repeated, roughly. "You? The Boy-Who-Lives-To-Knock-Off-Voldemort? The Chosen One?" he sneered the titled snidely. "You, The hero? Or, You, just Harry?"
Dantes' eyes wrinkled. "I have a feeling you know what I mean, Mr. Potter, and it's not any of the formers, now is it? What with the Ministry crying 'Wolf' on you."
"I imagine not then," he said, unreadable. "Then again, aren't I the Hero?"
An eyebrow lifted, gracefully. "It has been proclaimed," he conceded, softly. "It's been proven too," he checked the boy's appearance sharply, as if expecting to see a cape fly out, or a billboard pronouncing him a title: I am Hero, Hear Me Save.
"And maybe that's why I don't leave," Harry whispered, sounding broken. A good wound up toy, a mechanical hero – having gone through the motions – that, while still needed, is beginning to rust.
"Or you're proving something," Professor Dantes had already adverted his eyes though, to a quill on his desk, for it more fascinating.
Harry shrugged, unable to respond, and silently finished his track to the man's office. It was positively dull looking, not to mention utterly boring to stay in, but it was safe. Or, safe enough, with Ministry Aurors unthreading and re-sewing the castle in their pursuit to find him.
". . . the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain."
The Auror has a rather offensive looking nose, Ron mulled as he sourly stared at the man. His stalker, he called him. Every since the Ministry came calling and Harry ran, he'd been tagged. Hermione had too.
Hell, they've got Malfoy tagged – they're really desperate. But of course they were. They wanted their Hero. Wanted to train him, their own way, and throw him off, to fight You-Know-Who. They wanted the War over with. And Harry did something – he fought against it.
Surprisingly enough Hogwarts hadn't scorned him. A few spit his name, true, but they only do so softly and often in special company. Everyone else, well, everyone else was glad he'd run. Showed he was human after all.
Sighing inwardly, eyes downcast from the Auror's nose, Ron gazed unseeingly at his DADA text. It's awfully unfair that the year we get a good Prof. for Defense, Harry had to scurry off for his…
The Auror blinked, confused. Ron could see he clearly didn't remember ever addressing the redhead. Stupider than Crabbe and Goyle, this one. "Huh?" he finally ground out, eloquently.
"Nothing," Ron said dismissively. "Just addressing the text," Harry or Hermione would've never bought it.
"Oh, OK." Hook, line, and sinker.
Still didn't solve his sudden dilemma though. What was Harry saving? He was saving something, even the Slytherins knew that. Apparently, seeing how they were some of the first to rise in helping Harry escape. Slytherins! Ha! Wonders never cease!
The night was still vivid on his mind too. Everyone's probably. The Ministry swarming into the Great Hall, the ex-Minister of Magic Fudge in the lead, and silence descended like dusk does the horizon. He was just Fudge.
Then he made his proclamation: "Harry Potter, arise! You are hereby bestowed the honor of the Ministry to be trained by the top Aurors. You will be our champion, Harry Potter, like you were of the Triwizard Tournament."
Shock had fallen straight through the masses, earning a strangling, absolute silence, when, after a while, Harry rose to his feet. The students scowled or grinned. The Hero. Fudge was beaming, positively beaming, and offered his hand forward, like a Father does to a child whose just been declared Nobility.
Then, well, Harry did the unthinkable. But it wasn't really the unthinkable, was it? It was the right thing to do. Probably the only time running away was a good thing. Heroic even. He turned, away from Fudge, and bolted.
Fled the Great Hall like the devil himself was on his heels. And maybe, in a way, he was. Fudge didn't stay gobsmacked for long and declared that Potter was to be found, no matter what, and the Aurors that accompanied him gave pursuit.
Three Slytherins, Seven Gryffindors, Five Ravenclaws, Four Hufflepuffs leapt up, wands at the reading, shouting spells. Chaos ensued, Fudge went 'mad-hatter,' but Harry Potter escaped.
But what? Ron longed for Hermione. He yearned for Hermione. But they had silently, and mutually, decided to keep apart. Because they knew Harry hadn't left the School Grounds yet. And if he wanted to get into contact with them, then it was easier with one Auror to dupe than two.
What're you saving Harry? Absently, mind jumbled in his thoughts, he rose to his feet and walked off, uncaring of the fumbling scrambling of his Auror to keep up. He needed to fly. Flying always cleared his mind.
Rushing through the halls, in a vain attempt to escape his Auror, Ron reached the grounds in record time. Breathing in the fresh, crisp air, he blatantly ignored his Auror, who was panting by time he reached the redhead's side, and set a swift pace to the Quidditch Pitch.
It wasn't unoccupied.
Giving no thought to the other flyer, just glad that his Auror was too heavy to fly properly or easily, he just fetched his broom from its locker while his stalker trooped into the stands. Foolish that, could easily fly away...But Harry was remaining on the grounds, for some unfathomable reason, and so would he.
Launching off into the sky, the wind whipping at him lavishly, he looped the pitch as quickly as he could manage. Finally, drawing to a halt, he stared out over the Forbidden Forest without seeing it. Dumbledore could've gotten rid of them.
More out of luck, having been angled properly, he caught sight of the flying Quaffle more than he instinctually realized he was going to be pounded. Flipping around, with an agility trained into his system over the years, he snatched the maroon ball deftly.
"Your Auror has a miserable nose," the drawling tone of Malfoy declared, pulling Ron's attention from the ball to him. The thrower.
"I'd noticed," he replied scathingly. The murder of Albus Dumbledore, involving Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape, had been cleared up. Explained. At a cost to the Order, no less, with the loss of one inner spy and another potential one, but things were required. "Is there a reason you're out here?" he threw the Quaffle back, hard.
"It's school property, Weasley, I can fly here if I want," Malfoy sneered, steering his broom to the side, so he was directly before the three posts. "Though, I'm surprised you're not on restriction, what with your family being so poor—mustn't have a chance to break something," he threw the Quaffle, sharply. "Hogwarts would be put-out briefly."
Swooping forward, in anger, spite, and instinct, Ron knocked the ball off course. "Knock it off, Malfoy," he growled. "I'm not in the mood of cutting downs," he positioned himself as a Keeper out of habit.
"Is this Potter episode bothering you that much?" Malfoy asked, arrogantly. "Poor, poor Weasel, hasn't got his—"
He swirled around, avoiding the crushing blow of the spelled Quaffle, and straightened up with much dignity as the once Quaffle, now Bludger, boomeranged below him. "Feisty, I see," he retrieved his wand, calmly, and waved it causally, eyes never leaving Ron. "But as you can see, Weasel, I'm being put-out just as much as you," he jerked his head to the stands.
Ron didn't need to look to know he was indicating his Auror. "I know, Ferret, though why they think he'll come to you is beyond me," he readied himself for the Slytherin's throw.
"I've pondered such myself," he sighed, dramatically. "It's a shame Potter just won't leave the grounds though. Why doesn't he? He's putting us all in inconvenience."
Growling, but deciding to take his anger out in saving the goal, Ron didn't respond for a good five minutes. Not until he returned the Quaffle. "Because, Ferret-face, this is his home, always has and always will be. He won't just leave it." But that wasn't all.
And Ron knew Malfoy knew it. "It's good though," he commented instead, swaying side to side, attempting to find a tricky shot. "Potter not wanting to be the Hero."
"He's never wanted to be," Ron said, offhandedly, eyes tracking the ball.
"He played it well – never gave a chance to other people to be heroes," he sneakily juggled the maroon ball.
"He would've gladly stepped aside, but no one ever stepped forward," Ron's eyes played tennis with the Quaffle, daring it to betray him to the Slytherin.
"Maybe that's what he's waiting for," Malfoy cut sharply to the right before flipping to the left impulsively. Caught in the ruse, Ron had to bodily launch backwards. His fingers barely grazed the ball, sending it tittering, but not enough to miss the loop. "For someone else to own up to being the hero."
Ron, ignoring the fact he was to fetch the ball back up, turned to stare at the blond boy. That was it. What Harry was running for. He was running for himself. "Something he's never done before," he said softly. Which was why I didn't realize…
"What was that Weasley?"
"Nothing," Ron tipped his broom in a dive to fetch the Quaffle.
"I cannot tell what the dickens his name is . . . "
Hermione was pointedly ignoring her Auror as she stalked down the corridors, infuriated that the woman was never lost, and nearly collided with Professor Snape as consequence. Stumbling a bit, her books dropping, Hermione gasped out her apology and hurriedly scrambled to pick them up.
"Miss Granger," the weary Potions Master sounded exasperated. "I've…" his eyes drifted onto the Auror, who was studying a Portrait. "I've been looking for you," he scowled, as if disgusted with the idea. "To discuss your Final Project," he flipped around, robes billowing. "Come along."
Hermione didn't protest. She's take Professor Snape any day over her Auror. Hurrying after the man, mind working overtime about her potion and its qualities of avarice studies between Newt Eyes and Mistakes (it was Neville Longbottom inspired), she didn't note that they were in the dungeons. Not until her arms crawled with goosebumps that is.
Honestly, after seven years, you'd think I'd have learned to cover my arms up in Fall. The wisest idea, when there was always a possibility of going into the dungeons. Yet, her thoughts of the chill were quenched as she struggled to keep up with the man's long stride.
Finally, reaching his office, embarrassingly breathless, she cut a look back at her Auror, who was also flushed. "In, Miss Granger," Snape's voice intoned, tiredly. It no longer took on that dangerous edge, not in public at least. First years still cried in fright in front of him, because of Headmaster Dumbledore. "And no, you may not come in."
He pushed Hermione in, sharply, and slammed the door closed on the Auror's face. The Head Girl barely even caught sight of him spelling the door silent and eavesdropper proof. This isn't about the Project then.
"Miss Granger," Professor Snape walked around his desk, taking a seat. "This can't – well, take a seat! – avoided anymore." Hermione sat down, promptly, with a furrowed brow.
"The Potter situation," he pinched the bridge of his nose, strands of hair filtering in front of his face. "Headmistress McGonagall can't handle the Ministry anymore. The Minister has gotten involved." He raised his onyx eyes. "He needs to leave Hogwarts."
Struggling with her indignation, Hermione managed to gasp out "how?" He steepled his fingers in response. "I honestly don't know, Professor." He smirked. Git. "I haven't seen him. Ron hasn't either. There've only been ghost-sightings. Haven't you more luck in finding him than I?"
"I am also…stalked," he said softly. "Not so obviously, mind."
Hermione worried her bottom lip. He was right, regrettably – she didn't want Harry to leave the one place he considered a home – but Harry had to leave. The Ministry was bogging them down, being disruptive, and getting in the way. And it was easier to get Harry to leave than them. Even Dumbledore couldn't get them out now.
"How?" she finally repeated, eyes lifting up to the Professor. His eyes were so dark though. So unreadable. The perfection of enigma. And the fact he was an innocent murderer (yes, she meant that way) only made it harder to look at him. Understand him. No one wanted to look at what they didn't understand.
She finally looked up, at the jars of unidentifiable things, defeated. "Find a way, Miss Granger, get him a message. Tell him to leave. His name is what the Ministry wants. It's the Hero."
Hermione tore her eyes from a questionable substance, in surprise. "What?"
"Surely you're not that simple, Miss Granger? Not that book-learned?" his voice was a silky drawl again, like from the old years. "Harry Potter is the name of a Hero. It's what the Ministry wants. The actual boy is of no significance anymore."
"Then why do they hunt him?" she demanded, harshly.
"Because he bears the name," he dismissed it all with a shrug, though he seemed to enjoy her confusion. "I expect him gone, Miss Granger. Prove your intelligence to be useful for once, outside the classroom."
Her face burned, but with all the dignity she could muster, she rose up. "I will try Professor, but you should know," she looked at him, hard. "Harry is stubborn." Not Harry Potter, but Harry.
He lifted an eyebrow, seemingly entertained, before turning away. She had the feeling he was studying his nails as she opened the door. Her Auror was waiting, hot in the face.
Hermione ignored her. Her mind was churning, roughly, but it was churning and churning out ideas.
"In the Beginning was Word."
The Great Hall was engulfed with students, as was usual for the dinner hour of the school, and each table seemed to be attempting to outdo the other in boisterousness. Which, all the Professors suspected, was a way of rejecting the presence of the Ministry officials.
The students had truly united against them. It would've made Albus proud. Though McGonagall's pride was a sufficient enough replacement. She even kept the Professors, few as they were, on fonder terms with the Ministry from acting. Not that they could. No Professor that wasn't a Head of House really held sharp authority of the student body – outside of the classroom that is.
Reclining back in her chair, watching the students chatter and eat, she vaguely wondered which House Table was sheltering the infamous Mr. Potter that night. She knew, where no other Professor did, that the boy took to resting under House Tables during Dinner.
The students knew. And all the untrustworthy, 'cry-wolf,' students had already been threatened into silence. She didn't outright condone that but she wasn't going to step in at that very moment.
She suspected it was Hufflepuff. They were strangely awkward that night. Gryffindor table, or rather Ron and Hermione, were dangerously preoccupied, not that it kept them from shouting loudly to their neighbors, while Slytherin was thriving in the ability to break rules. Ravenclaw, it seemed, didn't want to be left out…
"If you'll give me your attention," Fudge's voice suddenly boomed out, bringing an annoyed ring of buzzing to the Great Hall. The Students had discovered ignoring him was more tedious than not. "Thank you," he didn't seem to mean it. "Now, as usual to every night before this one, I would like anyone to stand who has information on Harry Potter."
No one stood. It wasn't worth the time. At first, students stood and gave out false information, sometimes subtly so, other times blatantly so. McGonagall was rather fond of a Ravenclaw's declaration of him out tangoing with You-Know-Who in the pale moonlight.
The Ministry hadn't been.
"Now see here," Fudge carried on, pompously. "This is getting ridiculous. Harry Potter is the Chosen One! He needs to come and be trained. He is our Savior. A Hero. He's been a hero since he was one! You cannot hide him from us! Tell us where he is! Harry Potter is Hero!"
A ringing echoed around the Hall, though no one spoke, and the man, flustered from his speech, hurriedly wiped his chin where a bit of spittle had landed. McGonagall clenched the chair, harshly. She wanted to scream that 'Harry Potter was a human being!'
But she couldn't. Because THE Harry Potter wasn't a human, he was a name. A hero. But Harry Potter, or Harry, the boy that bore the name…well, he was human. Harry Potter was just an essence.
Fudge, nor the Ministry, would ever understand that. Harry Potter would always just be a tool. A fighting tool. A political tool. A tool.
A movement at the Ravenclaw table caught her attention, as it did the rest of the Hall, and all eyes swiveled to see Luna Lovegood standing up, radishes swinging dancingly from her ears. "Yes?" Fudge demanded eagerly. So eager he might as well have been frothing.
"I just wanted to say," she said, dreamily. "That you're right. Harry Potter is Hero. And, so you know, because that is so it means, and I do quite mean this, I am Harry Potter."
Fudge sputtered, as did several others (not only Ministry members), but before he could speak, Hermione Granger leapt to her feet. "No, I'm Harry Potter!" More sputtering and lurching, especially on Fudge's part.
"No, I'm Harry Potter," Ron declared soundly, rising to his gangling height.
"Cease this nonsense!" Fudge managed to gasp out.
"No, I'm Harry Potter," a Hufflepuff.
"I'm Harry Potter," a Slytherin.
"I'm Harry Potter," both Creevy brothers.
"No, I am!" Cho Chang.
"I'm Harry Potter!" the Slytherin Blaise Zabaini.
"I'm Harry Potter," Ginny Weasley, who'd been struggling to get her voice in, finally called out.
"I'm Harry Potter," it was Draco Malfoy. Eyes locked onto him, registering with surprise the speaker and his relationship to Harry, and for a moment silence fell, almost giving Fudge time to speak up.
Then chaos ensued. Students, in giant waves, rose up, shouting that they were "Harry Potter" and Professors joined in. One or two Aurors even did so. Fudge was sputtering and gasping, eyes bulging, and wholly incapable of speech.
And soon enough, the whole Hall had risen, including Professor Snape and the grimiest of students. Rising herself, eyes shining in pure delight, Headmistress McGonagall cast Soronas on herself before saying "I'm actually Harry Potter."
Several students laughed. "Now, Mr. Fudge, you can clearly see you've found your Harry Potter. I suggest you find transportation large enough to hold us all, for we're going to need training to be Heroes."
"Inconceivable!" Fudge shouted. "Absolutely in—"
"Harry Potter," some unnamable screamed from the crowd. "Is a name! An ideal! You cannot expect to train one ideal when everyone has that ideal in them! We are all Harry Potter! Train us all!"
A chorus of agreement ran up, flustering the man even more so. "I suggest you leave Fudge. You and the Ministry. You have no place here. And you have no place taking away Harry Potter. It is a name. And the boy that belongs to the name is not a thing, a tool, so you've not place here. Not now, not ever."
"Leave, leave, leave, leave, leave, leave," the students began chanting, voices rising and dropping, and several of the Professors took up the action too. Finally, gaping like fish out of water, the Ministry fled the Great Hall.
As soon as the doors boomed shut, cheers rang out triumphantly. A banner of "Run, Ministry, Run, or the Harry Potters will get you!" was charmed up between the house flags. The House had become nostalgic in triumphant (power, even), and not even McGonagall could calm them down.
And when Harry Potter crawled out from beneath the Slytherin table, flushed in relief and final blissfulness, no one paid him any heed. He was just Harry.
They were Harry Potter.
A/N: First Line, "idiotic war" is from Grendel.
Second Line, "childhood" is from Frankenstein.
Third Line, "dickens…name" is from The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Four Line, "Word" is from John 1:1
And if anyone can guess a ploy with Dantes, an aspect I might develop in a sidepiece, I'll dedicate that piece to you. Hint: Think Count of Monte Cristo.