"Reality continues to ruin my life." - Calvin and Hobbes
It was fair to say that on the first of September of Harry's sixth year, he was fairly pissed at Dumbledore. This was not highly unusual since, as of being dragged to Hogwarts on his sixteenth birthday, rarely a day passed when Harry wasn't ranting about something the old man had done. This isn't to say he though Voldemort was a friendly guy who loved bunny rabbits though, he still had his beliefs, he just wasn't pleased with certain aspects of the light side.
Of course it was not like anyone else accepted his anger. Harry Potter could never be angry with Albus Dumbledore, he would never think of doubting the man's great wisdom. He was Albus Dumbledore! Ready to leap from building to building, able to pour cups of tea to thousands of acne suffering teens, capable of reflecting your spells back at you faster than a speeding bludger, able to avoid more than one thousand eight hundred and sixty two questions a minute with the assistance of only a bowl of lemon drops! His one weakness? He cannot build monorails. How could anyone question his genius? Let alone his self made pawn.
Harry had been peacefully enjoying a peaceful birthday afternoon when several Order members had burst into his room at the Dursley's claiming they were here to rescue him. That had been trying. Honestly it wasn't like his family had been mistreating him, forced imprisonment in ones room can be quite a relaxing experience if one only takes the time to view it as such. After the intruders had brushed off his reluctance to go as simple self sacrificing Harryness, they had transported him back to Hogwarts where he was informed he would be spending the remainder of his summer. The four youngest Weasley children were already there with Hermione Granger to keep him company, never mind the fact that Harry protested vehemently to having to share his room with three other boys when summer was his Harry time as he put it, but of course the Boy-Who-Lived couldn't be a socially retarded loner as he had now made a habit of referring to himself as. The twins were there, having been "encouraged" by their mother to come back and finish their schooling. In other words, she cut off dessert (shock horror).
It could have been a worse summer though. As it was he spent it researching his plans in the library with five tagalongs, three of whom wanted him to constantly play quidditch, one who kept trying to take over his research and direct him to places he didn't want to go, and one who actually proved to be quite useful, in an exasperating kind of way.
Ginny Weasley had an annoying habit of understanding exactly what he was trying to do. This was bothersome as at this moment Harry's plans were supposed to have "if I told you I'd have to kill you" status. As it was, she chose not to share them with anyone, but simply flaunted the information in front of Harry by marking out the exact sections of books he wanted before he got to them, thus forcing him to accept her help lest she decide to scream out his plans loud enough to be heard in New Zealand.
And what were Harry's plans you say? Well…
Harry had grown tired of being manipulated. It had lost him his godfather and would probably lose him many others if he allowed it to continue. And so, he planned, and plotted, and schemed, and designed, and so on and so forth. By the time he was "liberated" on his birthday, he had his master plan all figured out.
Stage one; eliminate weaknesses. This consisted of severing his personal connections to those who could be considered manipulators. This had gone fairly well as he soon discovered that most of his associates were actually rather aggravating individuals. He had quickly managed to lose most care for their well being and thus severing the majority of the care they felt in return. This had worked for all except Ginny as she had an annoying habit of predicting his moves but for now she had been rather useful as she was.
Stage two; build a support basis. This can be interpreted as Harry's need for troops. He began this by convincing Dumbledore to allow him to travel to Kings Cross and catch the train along with everyone else to "get a sense of normality" as Harry claimed. The headmaster had agreed but sent all four Weasleys and Granger along with him. He had lost them all fairly easily since they only seemed to follow him nowadays out of habit and boredom anyway. Well, except Ginny who followed him silently without passing judgment or giving opinions, but with a rather knowing smirk on her face that said "Ha ha, I know everything about you and there's nothing you can do about it".
Both of these stages were simple preparation for stages three: infiltration, stage four: separation, and finally stage five: hostile takeover. While it should be fairly obvious what the remaining three stages were, they will not be discussed for fear of ruining the surprise for those too lazy to figure it out.
So as it is, back to Stage 2!
Harry and his faithful and adorable but very much unappreciated sidekick made their way along the corridor down the side of the train. They both knew their destination, one because he'd selected it, the other because she apparently had psychic powers, and thus both held themselves with an air of purpose. And their destination you ask? Why the compartments containing the ickle firsties of course!
Harry had recently realized that no matter how innocent children were, (depending on their house) either Dumbledore would have their sympathies and loyalty, or Voldemort would have their beliefs and dedication, within their first few months or even weeks at Hogwarts. Thus by the time they left Hogwarts they would have been recruited and brainwashed by one of the organizations. It was inescapable. But Harry had a plan. He had many plans, but this was one of his most devious plans.
It was so devious that he occasionally felt the need to pause in his tracks and give a preemptive evil laugh that, had it been heard, would have made the Bloody Baron insane with jealousy. His plan was to do all that Dumbledore and Voldemort planned, from winning trust, all the way on to recruiting; before the ickle firsties even bought their first pumpkin pastry off the serving trolley. Now can you honestly say that is not devious?
And thus it was that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley stepped into two separate compartments on the Hogwarts Express, containing first year students. Naturally when trying to recruit first years, this was the place to start.
As the door slid shut behind Harry the five eleven year olds turned to face him. Harry in turn took a moment to examine all those before him. There were four boys and a girl, and by the looks of it, he'd gotten future Hufflepuffs. It was amazing how these young people managed to categorize themselves before they even stepped in the front door of Hogwarts. This, he ascertained, was a good thing as Hufflepuffs were very gullible but also loyal thus putting them high up on any recruiters list. It would also be one of the easier groups to address and would probably give him a little more confidence for the others that Ginny wasn't doing. Despite his reluctance to accept the red heads assistance, he knew that she would do a good job on her tasks. This unfortunately however meant he would have to discuss it with her to find out what exactly she had promised those she talked to, which in turn meant actually sitting down and having a serious conversation with the girl. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.
"Hi there," He said smiling. When he so chose, Harry could be very charming and eloquent. "I'm Harry Potter. Remembering my first year, I figured you lot could use some reassurances right now. Firstly, you will not be fighting a mountain troll to be sorted into your houses." This comment was met with a chorus of relieved sighs from every first year "As a matter of fact, your sorting will be done by a hat so don't worry too much if you disagree with something it says. It's getting a bit senile anyway. So what are all your names?"
The students all smiled shyly at him, liking this strait forward but amusing young man. They had already met several older students, all of whom had tried to scare them with stories of their own horrific sorting. A young, slightly chubby boy with large dimples and a mop of mousy brown hair answered first.
"I'm Hamish Thomas." He said and Harry could see slight likenesses to his older brother instantly surfacing from amidst the rather plain features.
"Hi Hamish," He replied "Your brother is really cool, though I suppose you don't appreciate being compared to him. Most of the younger siblings I know spend their whole time trying to out do the preset requisites their elders have supplied for them. Don't let that occupy all of your time; it ruins many a good person."
"O-okay, I'll remember that."
"I'm Leonia Blankov." The girl said. She had a thin but friendly face with small blue eyes that took in everything around her without missing a single detail. Harry remembered hearing somewhere that the Blankov's were a Northern European pure blood family with connections to many underground and mercenary organizations. He made a not to himself to talk to this girl in more detail to find out more about her family and gain a decent reputation with them through her correspondence. He nodded politely to the girl before looking to the boy on her left.
"M'names Joseph Tumwater-Crescent. Are you really crazy? My Dad says that's just the ministry's babble." The child was absolutely adorable. He was small for his age with coffee coloured skin, big, saddened, brown eyes and a pouty mouth, all partially hidden by shoulder length strait black hair that gave him a definitely girly look that would make all the senior students want to protect him from the world.
"Hello Mister Tumwater-Crescent. I have to agree with your Dad's opinion. I'm not crazy though I do have some severe issues to work through I'd imagine. May I enquire as to your back ground?" Harry asked having never heard his last name mentioned in any context.
"My parents are both wizards. I was adopted by them through an orphanage in Peru. My birth father was killed in an earthquake and my mother could not afford to raise me. I know they had magical talent but had not trained."
"I'm sorry." Harry murmured sincerely.
"Don't be. I love my fathers and could not be happier with how my life has turned out. So if your not crazy then why do the ministry-"
"I'm Patrick Granger." An impatient boy with no tact finally burst out. He'd been bouncing on his seat since he had heard Harry's name. The older Gryffindor immediately recognized his last name but found it hard to believe this exuberant untamable mass of energy could be related to the prude he had foolishly relied on for grades for the past five years. His coming questions were answered with the lad's next statement. "Your friends with my big sister Hermione and she always used to talk about your adventures but she didn't this year. She always said you didn't think before you did anything but that soon you would do some really huge thing but I don't know what it was. Do you know Mister Harry? She went to see you these holidays so I didn't see her after July but I didn't care. She doesn't like me much anyway. She says I'm uncontrollable and that I'm 'The last bastion of human stupidity in its purest form' but I don't know what that means either. What's a bastion Mister Harry? I like you. You're really nice and I don't like my sister because she's boring but you like her so maybe she's better with you and-"
"And I'll have to cut you off there Patrick. I like you too. Your sister can be very boring and I used to like her but now I think she's a bit too bossy. Do you always talk that fast? Don't answer that." He added as the energetic child drew in a breath to continue "What's your name?" He enquired of a boy sitting in the corner.
The child shook his head and inched back in his seat, curing his legs around him. Harry frowned and started towards the boy but was stopped by Joseph Tumwater-Crescent who shook his head gently.
"That's Andrew Forester." He said quietly and Harry's eyes instantly widened.
This child had had a life as hard as he had. He had originally been a Zabini but had been disowned early last year. The poor child had been taken away from his family by the werewolf Fenrir Grayback. Upon finding out, his family had publicly stated that should he die, he would be mourned and buried in their plot, but should he live through it, he would no longer be listed as a Zabini for they would not be associated with half breeds. The child had lived though this in itself was a miracle for the boy returned having been bitten, as well as suffering from head trauma, internal bleeding, a broken arm, and obvious signs of sexual assault. Grayback was known for having a taste for young boys.
He had not been adopted for most wizarding families would not take a werewolf, werewolves themselves couldn't adopt, and a muggle family was out of the question for they simply were not equipped to deal with lycanthropy. He could not go to an orphanage for he would apparently traumatize other children so upon being healed, he was sent to live in the lower levels to St. Mungos amongst the storage equipment. He was given a cot bed and told to make his way to the kitchens for his meals. When the full moon arrived he would be transported bodily to a secure room and there locked in a tiny cage for its duration for wolfsbane could not be used before puberty.
The shocking thing was that this was regular treatment for young people in cases such as these. Any muggle child would have received intense therapy and counseling and given tender love and affection.
There were rumors of further problems though, some saying that the Zabini's had been ordered by Voldemort to give the boy to the werewolf as a peace offering for his kind. That any parent would agree to this was astounding to Harry.
The Daily Profit had run a small story on the boy offering their sympathies for his dilemma though acknowledging the Zabini's disowning him as a solid course of action. The Quibbler however had been outraged and the lad had been the cover story several times as he struggled to recover.
Harry crouched down in front of the boy and smiled sorrowfully.
"You know," He murmured so quietly only Andrew could hear him "I think your life has been even worse than mine. While people's opinions of me can be fickle, there are always those who let me know they care about me." Andrew raised his head to look at the older teenager cautiously "I'm not going to fear you, or let you fear me." Harry continued "I would like you to be able to trust me and come to me if you have any issues. I have a friend who is a werewolf. Well, he's kind of like my godfather now since my original one died. If you like, I could arrange it so that you can talk to him. Would you like that?" Here the fearful child nodded a glimmer of hope lighting in his eyes.
Harry stood up and looked at the five young faces in front of him. War had touched on too many he decided. However, he could not let that deter him here or else Dumbledore would draw these young ones in anyway. And that was unacceptable.
"Now then, short people!" He cried, stealing some of Patrick Granger's exuberance "It is now necessary for you to know my plan. It is as follows. Albus Dumbledore, while being a very powerful wizard, is also the Queen of Manipulators. This is bad bad if you are a Hogwarts student. Thus, I plan on staging an ultimate rebellion. Now, as our one and only Queen will doubtlessly try to approach you, I decided to do so first and give you my honest opinion of what he is like. As it is, I would love for you all to join me in my plan as junior agents. Basically meaning, you do the fun stuff, but without the danger. Any questions?" He finished with a slightly goofy grin.
"You rock!" Yelled Patrick who apparently had already made his decision. The others, while trusting, did have a few questions.
"Um, just wondering what if my brother decides to side with Dumbledore? Will you make me go against him, or can I stay away from him and his friends if that happens?" Hamish asked first, his family loyalty showing through.
"I think your brother will remain fairly neutral or pick his battles on a case by case basis but if he does side with the Queen, I'll keep you away from those operations."
"My Dad is a reporter, if this goes large scale, what are your policies on freedom of press." Joseph spoke up obviously quoting something he'd heard his parents say.
"I believe in honest freedom of speech. I'd love to meet your parents some time by the way." Harry replied, as yet another crafty scheme formed in his mind. As has been previously mentioned, there were a lot of them.
Harry and his three new followers all turned to look at the other two students. Andrew shrunk back in the corner so they focused on Leonia who simply shrugged.
"My family respects power. You have power and while I'm still in school, my decisions don't mean enough for them to interfere with them so for now, I'll follow you completely."
"If you meant what you said about your friend, I'll stick with you." Andrew spoke up quietly.
Harry grinned at them all. This was why he loved Hufflepuffs; it was so damn easy to gain their trust just so long as you kept your promises. Now, for the minor details.
"Alrighty then shorties," Harry launched into his spiel once more "Once you have been sorted, I would like you to just appear to accept what Dumbledore tells you, along with what your head of house say's. Then you relay any important information to me. From there I will assign you a portion of the castle to explore in detail because no one is going to think anything of several first years traipsing about taking in details. As it is, I will provide you with directions and a vague map so you needn't spend as much time wandering about on your own. Also, if you ever have any issues with assignments or other students or anything like that, just approach me or Ginny Weasley. There will probably be other senior students whom you can talk to about it as well, but remember that we are always an option for you, especially if you feel that one of these problems may be linked to something our darling headmaster is working on. On that topic, do not tell anyone about what I am planning here, even other first years unless I have personally told you they are safe and you are certain you are not being overheard. Okallydokally fellas! I'll see you within your first few days to give you those maps. Come find me if you need to see me sooner. Bye then."
The future puffers all waved goodbye as Harry made a rather flamboyant exit with several flourishes and extravagant bows. As he left he ran into his favorite red haired annoyance who smirked at him as she watched his antics.
"You got Hufflepuffs" She stated
"NO. You could tell? Wow you must be the most observant person alive." Harry said sarcastically.
"Be nice darling." Ginny placated, "I got a mix that included one second year so I had to be cautious. As it was, I think that they were mostly Ravenclaws with one or two Slytherins thrown in so they all got the subtle ideas I was giving them without having any proof to go to Dumbledore with. I think the confirmed Slytherin is going to keep what you said in mind, though she may go in any direction, the one I'm not sure about seems to think you sound amusing and will probably help you out. The Ravenclaws know I was being honest and are in agreement about your opinions on manipulators so they'll be with you. The second year was a Slytherin but I'm guessing they are not from a prominent family because I don't think Voldemort has her yet. She will probably approach me in the next few weeks or even days to discuss options and may bring some second, third and even fourth year students along with her. Eleanor Greengrass I think her name was."
"Yes, I know of her family, her elder sister Daphne is a senior student I believe if memory serves. Either way, the family chose to allow a Muggle in a while back when they got worried about inbreeding so I'm guessing they are not as strongly connected with Voldemort as some others." Harry said "Now, since you are proving to be slightly useful, would you like to do some of the other compartments?"
"Certainly, I was slightly quicker then you (I'm assuming you were gaining a complete allegiance) so I've had a glance at each compartment. The one to your left has seven girls in it who I think are going to be Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors, the one next to that has all the future Slytherins apart from the one or two I mentioned earlier. These ones are the complete purebloods though so we may have a hard time with them. The compartment to my right has only three occupants and I'm thinking they'll be main force of the Gryffindor boys so probably they'll end up with Dumbledore for certain, and lastly, the compartment in the corner has a mix of students, none of whom I could rightly identify at first glance, although going on the subject of their discussion, I'm going to guess there will be at least one Ravenclaw." Ginny informed Harry
"Okay, we'll leave the Slytherins for now as I'd imagine their parents and older siblings haven't given them much reason to trust me. You can do the girls group as I'd imagine you'll be able to relate a tad easier. I'll just say hello to the Gryffindor boys and offer myself as a support network just in case, and then I'll go to the mixed group and drop a few hints they'll all remember when they hear either a Dumbledore or Voldemort message and hopefully will come talk to me at that stage."
The devious duo both departed to visit those particular compartments. After they'd finished they reconvened in an empty compartment to exchange notes. Ginny was fairly certain they had the Hufflepuff and possibly the Gryffindor girls and Harry felt the three boys would come to him if they were worried about anything simply because he was easier to access then Dumbledore. This would hopefully cause them to have some doubts about Dumbledore when Harry showed the world his ultimate plan and make it a bit harder for the man to gain young support.
The mixed compartment, while they did not seem to have any house prejudices as of yet, looked as though they would be ready to gain them at a drop of a hat. The smarter ones though would probably remember Harry's cryptic message when they heard some of their older students talk about the war or Dumbledore. As far as Harry was concerned though, he had the definite support of the Hufflepuffs and he felt that was a fairly good start.
"By the way, did Hermione ever mention to you that she had a younger brother?" Harry asked Ginny who looked startled.
"No she didn't. You'd think it would come up in conversation but it never has. I wonder why?"
"Probably because he's a Hufflepuff in its purest form and she was hoping he wouldn't have magic."
"Riiiight. What are you doing about my brothers by the way?"
"What, you mean there is a portion of my plan you haven't already figured out? Hallelujah! Praise be to Merlin! And all that jazz." Ginny gave Harry her patented drop dead look so he decided to share this portion of his ideas. "Ron's out since he only befriended me to beat the rest of your red headed village," Yes it was impossible for him to not put a dig in every now and then "Bill and Charlie are out as they are order members and you have to be fairly brainwashed to be allowed in Dumbledore's personal cult, Percy is a Fudgesicle so he's out as well, but the twins are pretty much open since Dumbledore's not all that fond of them and I don't see the ministry or Voldemort wanting two pranksters on board their teams. We'll let them stay light/neutral for now and make use of their resources when it's appropriate. Your parents don't have enough skills or resources in the areas I'm interested in for me to bother for now so we'll leave them be until they become a nuisance."
"Charming." Ginny muttered
"No one is forcing you to hang out with me. If I wish to plan for your parent's eventual expiration I'll do just that." Harry said petulantly.
"... This is rather stupid Harry."
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What do you think? Should I continue or should I drop it and just work on Replay? Just so you know, while there is no pairing at the moment, I'd just like to confirm that it will never be HarryGinny. I will be posting the next chapter of Replay within the next 36 hours.