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The Second Survivor
It was slow going. The routine that they had settled into was one of the most grueling and varied schedules Harry had ever followed.
They woke up sometime between six and seven before starting with some morning sparing, sometimes unarmed, sometimes with blades. Breakfast was always a quick and informal meal. After tidying up, they would hit the town, practice blending in, and being aware, all the while searching for some new empty place to practice magic. Harry was becoming much quicker on the draw, and was getting better and better at being alert without sticking out like a sore thumb in consequence.
Harry was first introduced to practicing in large crowds during the inevitable muggle shopping trips. It was imperative that early on they replace Harry's muggle wardrobe, and he now had clothes that fit.
Lunch was always taken out in some small café or restaurant nearby wherever they happened to be.
The afternoon was filled with a variety of activities. Sometimes they would practice more magic drills, or perhaps they would study some of the books out of the trunk they had brought along, or they would quiz each other on wizarding politics or magical theory. Harry was devouring the dark arts texts, for after merely a glance in 'When friends become enemies' he realized that it would be much easier to defend against a spell if you knew what it was. The first page he had flipped open to held a description of a spell very similar to the one Hermione had been hit with in the Department of Mysteries. The book said the spell could be easily removed within several minutes by a seemingly unrelated obscure charm. Such knowledge then would have saved Hermione a great deal of pain.
Some of the other texts were a little more tedious. He struggled a bit with transfiguration, as it had never been his best subject. But several books on using transfiguration in duel situations kept him motivated.
Potions surprised him. He and Inez had started their potions study with a simple potions theory book. They had barely begun when Harry realized the root of his problem in potions was that he had no background in basic theory. The stuff Snape never taught because most purebloods pick it p at home. Things like the difference between mincing and chopping, and why stirring often had to be completely accurate, and basic magical properties of common ingredients. This new knowledge seemed to make all the difference in his brewing.
His first year, potions had been one of the subjects Harry was most excited to learn because he was so good at cooking. It seemed only logical that his skill would transfer over. He quickly learned just how wrong he was. Not only did the potions master hate him for reasons the eleven-year-old couldn't fathom, but his cooking experience seemed to do no good at all.
Now with a couple of basic facts under his belt everything seemed to fall into place. He was by no means potions master material, but he could follow instructions competently enough now. Enough to stock himself up on dreamless sleep, blood replenisher, skelegrow, burn salve, general healing potion, and pepper up. He was even able to successfully brew veritaserum after ruining half a dozen cauldrons of expensive and rare ingredients.
Potions brewing always took place in the afternoon when they found a place to train where the smoke and fumes wouldn't be noticed.
They often had dinner on the way back to the apartment, or they would whip something up after stopping for groceries.
The evening was spent working on occlumency together. Once Harry had explained what he knew on the subject Inez decided that she would attempt to learn the art too.
Harry had progressed very far in a short amount of time. It helped that he understood what the art entailed besides 'clear your mind'. In fact, Harry thought that 'clear your mind' was not only inadequate, but inaccurate. Unless Snape meant 'clear your mind of the things you don't want others to see.'
Harry quickly learned that it was pretty much impossible for anyone to think about nothing, except perhaps for Inez. Occlumency actually involved the shielding of secrets by other trivial thoughts and memories.
The idea was to fill the part of your mind that was first accessed by a legilimens with inconsequential things, requiring the attacking wizard to sort through a wall of useless information such as quidditch practices, history of magic classes, and endless chores before reaching the prophesy, Harry's plans for the future, or Snape's position as a spy. Through practice an occlumens can choose which memories a legilimens will see no matter where the invader is pushing. Such a method is known as passive occlumency.
An accomplished occlumens also has the option of pushing the attacker out of their mind forcibly. This action is not necessarily a push on the mental probe, but a wandless physical push on the attacker's body, or more accurately, the attacker's brain, breaking their concentration, and usually causing a headache instead of displacing the attacker physically.
Harry wouldn't really know how good he was at either technique until he could be tested by a legilimens, but he had plenty to do sorting out his secrets from his inconsequential thoughts. It surprised him how many little moments or short sentences spoken in the middle of an irrelevant conversation that he had to store behind his wall.
He even had to go back and resort after talking to Inez about time gaps and telling behavior: pulling out certain actions and adding in bits of events to eliminate long, obvious gaps.
Harry's largest stumbling block was his tendency to let his emotions color his thoughts. Emotion is a legilimencer's greatest tool. The organic and natural nature of the mind and more specifically, the memories contained there, does not lend itself to any type of simple organizational method. Because emotion is so deeply embedded in all of the important memories of one's life a mind reader can more easily ride an emotion to a memory than to search individually for a specific situation.
An occlumens must block the mind reader from the channels of emotion that connect the memories in his mind. If these emotions are allowed to float on the surface, as Harry's were wont to do, they provide the legilimens easy access through the barrier of trivial thoughts.
Harry did not realize until later, when he could find it in himself to view the man more objectively, that Snape's instructions had been more accurate than he had originally assumed, as the Potion's Master was referring to the clearing of the mind of emotion when suffering a mind attack.
Inez felt that her progress in the subject was almost nonexistent. She had very few memories that she wanted seen, and even after sorting through to find what few mundane memories she had, she knew that her natural tendency for mental protection was to retreat so far into herself that she would either end up drowning the attacker in nothing, or give them an empty path to her memories.
Harry had also begun to study legilimency in an attempt to understand it better. He practiced by attempting to glean the surface thoughts of passing muggles on the street. The legilimency was coming slower than the occlumency.
They went to bed when they started to fall asleep in their memories; Harry on the made up futon, and Inez on the bed across the apartment.
The flat itself had slowly begun to transform into something no longer resembling an exploded file cabinet. Every spare minute it seemed Inez was at work filing away whatever it was that littered her apartment. When Harry had asked she explained that her kind of work included a lot of paperwork – "governments like to kill trees" was the phrase - and she hadn't taken any time off between jobs to organize it all for several years. They went on a field trip one day to the store in search of a new file cabinet and several packages of hanging folders, not to mention a paper shredder to get rid of all the papers she didn't need.
Harry, after some thought, was surprised that she had lived in the same place for so long. In her line of work she made a lot of enemies who would love to kill her in her sleep. In response to this inquiry, Inez replied after a moment of consideration, "Wizards do not hold the Monopoly on magic, neither is all magic performed with a stick."
She then led him over to the book case across form the bathroom and pulled a round pale polished stone. It was about the size of a snitch, one side was flattened so that it wouldn't roll when placed on a flat surface, and when Harry looked close he could see a faint glow that originated from the very center of the rock.
"This is called a dolemen'ondo, which basically means 'place hiding stone' in elfish. This is one of the many bits of elfish magic I managed to escape with."
"Is that why the Order hasn't found us yet? Could it hide us here indefinitely?"
"Perhaps. The device obscures this location, it doesn't erase it. If someone was determined enough, and had enough resources, time, and determination, they might find this place."
"So what we will do when the Order finally finds me?"
"You have that much faith in their abilities?" Inez probed, remembering the ease in which they had lost Harry's 'guards' the day he left the Dursley's.
Harry considered that for a moment before answering, "I have that much faith in their persistence. I am their only weapon, you know. And I don't have the ability or the knowledge to hide us from them completely. We've been lucky so far."
"If we cannot stop them, then we must prepare for them," she concluded easily, placing the dolemen'ondo back in its place behind "The Lord of the Rings" on the bookshelf.
"I don't want them to find me," Harry protested, feeling that Inez was getting the wrong impression of his feelings on the matter.
"Then we won't let them."
Planning with Inez seemed so much simpler than planning with anyone else. Ron seldom contributed to such things, besides stating the stupidity, the craziness, or the awesomeness of it all before insisting that he play a part in the event. Hermione would spend the whole discussion arguing about either the morality of their ideas, or the danger of them, before trying to convince Harry to appeal to a higher authority. All of those so called 'higher authorities' seemed to think that anyone other than Dumbledore was supremely dimwitted when it came to deciding the best course of action. And Dumbledore simply did things for "the greater good", whose greater good, Harry didn't know.
Inez simply let him make his own decision, unless she saw that the effectiveness of that decision was in some way inhibited by his ignorance. At which point she clearly and bluntly pointed it out. She really only would input suggestions when specifically asked, otherwise simply asking him questions in a way that forced Harry to consider every detail of his plan from every angle, and to not only spot potential problems, but also to prepare for them. She also made teaching him how to deal with unexpected problems through improvisation a part of their already rigorous training schedule; because, "plans often only go right when you don't want them to."
There seemed ample time for much discussion between them during or after training, sometimes predicated upon an event, sometimes upon a question. One such discussion that significantly affected Harry was one that began with "What do you want, Harry? Why are you doing all this?"
"What do you mean?"
"Every potential martyr has a cause."
Harry just stared at her. So Inez repeated her original question, "What do you want?"
"I…" Harry began, casting around, "I want Voldemort dead," he said. That seemed like a reasonable thing for a guy in his position to want.
"Death in and of itself is not a goal, Harry," Inez answered earnestly, "It is merely a side effect, or perhaps a means to an end."
Having no response to that, Harry fell silent.
It wasn't until two full days later that Harry was able to really answer the brunette's question: What Harry wanted was a world where everyone could have the chance to grow up happy; a world where people could make their own decisions about how to live their lives and not be limited by some power-hungry maniac. Nor did he want innocents to be limited by things outside of their control. Things like lycanthropy and so called pure bloodedness. He wanted people to get the respect they deserved in the law, be they goblin, house-elf, centaur, half giant, mermaid, werewolf, vampire, muggle, squib, or wizard.
Inez was right when she said that death was a means to an end, for these goals were impossible to accomplish with Tom Riddle on the loose, and with no cell able to hold him, death seemed the only option.
Harry thought that he would perhaps feel weighed down by more goals, more responsibilities as he was creating his list, but instead he felt liberated by it. His life's purpose suddenly became constructive instead of destructive. He wasn't working to kill Voldemort with saving the wizarding world as a happy side effect to the killing. He was working to save the wizarding world from itself, with Voldemort's defeat being the side effect.
With this new reordering of priorities, the prophesy suddenly became insignificant. And to think, all this sprouted from a single, simple question. Harry wished that someone would have had the presence of mind to ask him what he wanted before this. But, he realized – if he was honest with himself – it wouldn't have had the same effect that it did right now. Heck, it wouldn't have had the same effect if anyone besides Inez had asked the question.
Inez never posed a question she didn't expect you to answer in an intelligent way, even if you only answered it for yourself.
Now that Harry had straightened out his priorities, planning for the future suddenly came a lot easier. He was now planning for a future he wanted to live in, not just to stick Voldemort in a grave before he could fill too many others. His votes in the Wizengamot became more important and he worked harder to learn the system.