Cult of Personality
Disclaimer: I don't Harry Potter. Never have.
Summary: Gilderoy Lockhart had one, as did Grindelwald, and Voldemort. Now Harry Potter has one as well. Harry/Padma. Post-HBP.
A/n: Coming out of retirement for this one fic which just jumped into my head one day.
The term that many called it was "Cult of Personality." That is when a person, usually a leader of some sort, builds oneself up to the point that they seem God-like in the eyes of the public. It barely ever works, unless the public wants to see that person as the Cult of Personality suggests. It's especially prominent among wizards, where the public is known to be a gullible sort due to wizards finding almost nothing odd due to the very nature of the world they live in. Toss in a bit of mind control, and a little bit of flair and you have Gilderoy Lockhart. Or Grindelwald. Or Voldemort. Or Harry Potter.
When I first got to know just a little bit about the true Harry Potter in a meeting at the Hog's Head in my fifth year, I learned that Harry Potter despised being Harry Potter. He didn't quite state it outright, but I could tell just by the way he acted and carried himself that he yearned to be normal above all else. I'm perceptive. I'm in Ravenclaw. Deal with it.
That's why after getting to know Harry little by little (but never one on one) over the course of a year, I thought his turn after defeating Voldemort in the summer separating our sixth and seventh years was odd. The Harry that emerged victorious from what was a sneak attack against him was vastly different from the Harry that I met that day in fifth year at the Hog's Head. This Harry relished in his fame, he let the stories about his 'greatness' be told without objection, he started to be seen more and more often in public, often with a different girl (or two) on his arm. He even fanned the flames about the stories being told about him a little bit (I noticed that he had a talent for being subtle very quickly) every time he gave an interview, which was quite often.
But he never told how he defeated Voldemort. In the building of his Cult of Personality, the wizarding world missed that little detail, and the way Harry could manipulate an interview (like I said: I'm perceptive. I'm in Ravenclaw. Deal with it) insured that the little piece of information was quickly forgotten.
When Harry accepted his Order of Merlin, First Class, it was a grand event that just confirmed in my eyes that it was Harry himself that was actively behind the growth of his legend. Showing up to the event wearing clothing that was tailored to fit to his body almost like it had been sewn onto him, clothing that looked so expensive that it made the clothing that the aristocracy of the wizarding world look like rags immediately drew every eye in the room to him. The fact that he arrived in a Muggle limo with a female on his arm, and two bodyguards certainly also had a bit to do with it.
The minute he stepped out of the limo, and how it got it into Hogsmead I will never know, he was beseiged with reporters. The Harry that I knew from that day back in fifth year would have shied away and hid behind the bodyguards. This Harry embraced the media, answering all their questions, and even volunteering some of his own back towards the media, all with a huge smile on his face. Whenever he said something even remotely witty, he would say with a smirk to a reporter that was standing next to him, "write that down." The press eagerly hung on every word of their new darling.
When he actually got the award, it was no less grand of an occasion. He managed to look both charmingly awkward and totally arrogant at the same time. This charismatic Harry Potter quickly enamored himself to the crowd, once again answering all of their questions while at the same time very subtly steering the conversation. Where did this Harry come from? He even showed off a grand array of spells that he knew drawing a lot of celebration from the audience that liked what I knew were mainly flashy parlor tricks at best.
He even had the audacity to disappear in a cloud of smoke, only to appear at the back of the entire crowd, where he stepped into the limo once again and drove away before a crowd that was to stunned to give chase.
In short, Harry Potter was the darling of the wizarding world, and was loving every second of it.
Oh so it seemed. I knew that this Harry Potter wasn't the real one. I may not have spent much time with the guy, but I'm perceptive. I'm in Ravenclaw. Deal with it.
It only seemed to get worse once we returned to school. He wasn't on the final train ride to school, but of course I should have realized that, as Harry Potter didn't simply ride a train to school. Which is why it didn't completely surprise me to find a crowd of students pooling around a central point at Hogsmead Station. Of course, it was Harry Potter, just standing there, as if waiting for someone. Of course he was smiling dashingly, wearing what were obviously not school robes, but were a lot like the ones he had constantly been spotted in since his defeat of Voldemort. The fact that he also had two of his bodyguards standing behind him only seemed to increase his presence. Suddenly he purposely walked into the crowd and with a loud exclamation of greeting put his arms around Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and all but strutted that way to one of the carriages.
And strut is how he walked around. Not the way that the ponce Malfoy strutted, but a ponce that absolutely seemed to cause, "Hi, I'm Harry Potter, your personal hero," to waft off of it. He didn't wear the school uniform, eschewing those for his personally tailored collection. This just seemed to add to his image as he walked around the school with his robes billowing majestically behind him.
Once again, the way he had enamored the wizarding world didn't cause anybody to question where the shy, inaccessible boy that was Harry had gone, and the strutting, charismatic wizard that was Harry Potter had come from. Even the Gryffindors seemed oblivious to the changes. Either that or they just didn't care. Besides, to that house a Harry Potter with quite a bit more than pep in his step was just a bit better than a brooding Harry Potter.
Before I forget to mention, his exploits at Quidditch also started to become that of 'legend.' In the first game of the year against Slytherin, Harry managed to score 15 goals in 20 minutes, before changing over to Seeker (from what appeared to be a slightly bemused Ginny Weasley) and capturing the Snitch exactly 15 seconds after play had restarted. Even to someone that wasn't any more than a casual fan of the game, like I am, has to admit that is an impressive feat.
So his Cult of Personality continued to grow. His exploits in class were starting to slowly ingrain themselves into that which most people refer to as, "Legend." The only class that I had with Harry Potter was our NEWT-level Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the totally flippant attitude that he displayed drove everybody crazy, mostly due to the fact that he was light years better than everyone else, in just about all of his subjects. I fact, that became a point of discussion for a few Ravenclaws. Harry had always been an average to above average student, and while every so often he had flashes of brilliance (mostly relating to Defense), he had never been thought of as a truly 'stellar' student. What exactly caused this shift in Harry Potter?
I found this out for myself on a lonely December night while walking the halls on my prefect patrol. Now, one might be surprised to find out that on my prefect patrols, I had a tendency to sneak out to a secluded spot in the castle that offered a great view of the Great Lake to study in peace for the length of the three hours that was my patrol.
It was right at the last second that I noticed that the spot I usually went to was occupied. I immediately went to turn around (as this area was outside those that Prefects were supposed to patrol, and I didn't want my ritual discovered), when I noticed that the person was crying. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was Harry.
This just made me want to turn around and give the boy his privacy, but I also hesitated because I was curious. Harry Potter didn't cry, so why was Harry? My decision for what to do was made for me, however.
"I know you're there Padma," came Harry's voice, muffled slightly by his sleeve. I stepped into the alcove properly, wondering how Harry knew it was me when his back was to me and he was looking out the window.
"How?" I asked, standing about two feet behind him.
"I have the patrol schedule memorized, and the route as well," Harry replied, turning to face me, "Makes it easier to hide out from them."
He sighed, wiping his eyes on his tailored sleeve. We just looked at each other for a moment, before I decided to speak.
"Why then are you here if you have the routes that we use memorized?" I ask bluntly. Harry laughed.
"Perceptive aren't you?" he asked with a slight smile, starting to sound a bit more like Harry Potter.
"I'm perceptive. I'm in Ravenclaw," I drew in a slight breath while Harry looked slightly amused, "Deal with it."
"Indeed," Harry said with a slight grin, before he looked serious once more, "To answer your question: a couple of reasons."
Harry waved his had and a chair appeared behind me. Taking the hint, I sat down as he continued to speak without missing a beat.
"Over the past couple of months everything that has happened has been bottling up in me," he said, leaning against the wall next to the window so that his body was bathed in the slight moonlight, "It's not healthy, as I'm sure you can guess, and I've been searching for someone that I could talk to."
"And you choose me?" I ask. He continues on as if I hadn't said anything.
"The problem is that everyone that I know only sees Harry Potter now," he states, raking a hand through his hair that fell to just below his ears, "So I kept going, keeping everything inside of me while I looked for someone that didn't only see Harry Potter."
He stopped for a moment, as if carefully considering his next words, "I noticed that you weren't giving me the same looks as everyone else were. You seemed to notice that there was more to me than Harry Potter."
"I wouldn't necessarily say that I know there is more to you than what everyone else sees," I begin, but he cuts me off.
"You're Padma Patil. You're perceptive. You're in Ravenclaw," he says with a slight smirk, as I look down and blush slightly.
"Okay, yes I knew that there had to be more to you than what you projected off," I respond, looking up at him, "I've always found you interesting Harry, so when Harry Potter showed up, it threw me a little. No one could make a transformation that fast, so I knew it had to be an act."
"Go on," he said, gesturing with his hand.
"When I first met you, truly, at the Hog's Head fifth year you were shy, and hated attention," I continued, standing up and starting to pace, "You were slightly brash as I realized over the next couple years, but you were never attention seeking. Even after Dumbledore died."
I saw a faint look pass across his face, but it quickly settles back to what it was before. I don't make a comment that I noticed, he already knows that I am perceptive, no need to re-enforce it.
"Then barely three weeks after we go on holiday, Voldemort is defeated, and suddenly Harry Potter emerges from the battle the darling of the wizarding world," I said, looking at him. He takes my clue that this is where he starts talking.
"I realized that the best way to keep myself sane from what was going to happen in the fallout was to give the public exactly what they wanted," Harry said, pacing as I sat down, "The public wanted this super hero, this larger than life character. I decided to give them it, for if I was going to have any sort of private life I would need to make it appear as if I wasn't a private person."
"One thing I noticed Harry," I started, "Was that suddenly you had great control over your magic, and you still do. It's almost as if you're toying with everyone and everything."
He smiled here, "Dumbledore left behind something for me that helped click a couple things into place at exactly the right moment. If you can ever guess what that is the I'll tell you."
I had an idea, but I only nodded, this time gesturing for him to continue.
"The public wanted this person that was larger than life, like I said," he continued, "So I went about constructing this person for them. It wasn't that hard. My parents left me a nice pile of money, certainly not a huge fortune, it was a nice bit of money that continued to amass in it's worth from years of little to no use. Then when my Godfather died at the end of fifth year, my monetary worth increased exponentially. With this money I was able to buy all the tailored robes and suits that I started to wear, along with the limo."
"And all the girls?" I said raising my eyebrow. To my great surprise he laughed.
"It would actually accurately be, 'girl,'" he said, "One of the few people that I had to help me, and who knows my secret is a complete metamorphmagus named Nymphadora Tonks. She was the girl that was on my arm at every public function."
I just stared at him in a form of mild shock, before saying, "So if she knows your secret why couldn't you talk to her about what has been bothering you?"
He sighed, "Because her heart is currently wrapped up with one of the other two people that know my secret, Remus Lupin."
I nod, understanding, "And the third?"
"Bill Weasley is also currently tied up in the heart department with the other girl that was constantly on my arm, Fleur Delacour," he responded.
"And those two men were your bodyguards?" I ask, and he nods.
"What about Ginny Weasley," I ask, and he stops his pacing for a second as a slightly ill look appears on his face.
"I wanted to let her in on my secret, let her be the one," Harry said, standing in place, looking out the window, "We had broken up right at the end of school, I wanted to limit her connection to me by Voldemort. After I had finally brought that bastard down, I wanted to immediately get back together with her. Unfortunately circumstance prevented that, and I had begun already building up my public persona by the time we got the chance to have a one on one discussion."
Here he sighed, still standing in place looking out the window, "Ginny didn't want to hear anything about how I was just building a persona in public that wasn't me. She was already convinced that I was this total playboy. Five weeks apart, and she's convinced that it's even POSSIBLE for something like that to happen! I guess she didn't know me as well as I thought she did."
Harry resumed his pacing as I asked him another question, "So I take it that along with what happened between yourself and Weasley, defeating Voldemort so short after the death of Dumbledore's death as well as the myriad other things that have happened to you over the years is what's been eating you up inside?"
"Right in one," he replied, "For the entire summer I just put all my effort into building up my persona-"
"It's called a 'cult of personality,'" I interrupted, he just smiled and continued on as if he hadn't heard me, but I could now tell that he did in fact hear me when these little things happened. I sort of liked it, no unnecessary talk.
"I built up my cult of personality hard, I put everything into it," he said, stopping for a second to gaze out the window, before spinning on his heel to face me, "I had to otherwise I would have started to drown in my own emotions, not to mention possibly being bulldozed by the wizarding press. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and in fact was a great idea. If I hadn't done that I likely would have done something drastic."
"And becoming 'Playboy' Harry Potter isn't?" I asked, causing him to grin.
"Something drastic that I would completely regret," he clarified, leaning against the wall once again.
"What about the other Weasley and Granger?" I asked, wondering why he didn't go to them.
"I tried, but they reacted much like Ginny did," he replied, pacing once more, "Well, not as bad, or as violently, but they did believe that I had in fact changed that much. They were still willing to be my friends, but even Hermione couldn't quite grasp that there was more to me than the cult of personality that I was building for myself."
"That's the reason that Ravenclaw house has agreed upon why Hermione Granger isn't a member of our house," I stated, "She might be a great mind, but she lacks a decent amount of common sense at times, which hurts her perceptiveness at times. Now, as you have proven the great majority of the wizard world isn't perceptive, but Granger isn't as perceptive as most Ravenclaws."
"Agreed," Harry said, "That's why I couldn't go to her."
"And why you decided to open up to me," I stated, "I was more perceptive than just about everyone else that you know and I could see past the facade you had built up around you. Answer me this question Harry: why trust me with this? Plenty of people that would want to ruin you are probably just as perceptive as me if you had given them just a few more clues."
"Simple," Harry said, staring right at me, "Anyone else once they knew that there was much more to me than Harry Potter would have immediately tried to dig into me, try to find out more about me. You didn't. Plus I knew you could be trusted from all the time that I've known you. You didn't turn in Dumbledore's Army did you?"
"Then I knew you were trustworthy."
"How did you know that I came up here on all my Prefect patrols?" I asked, generally curious to how he came to this conclusion.
"Ah, Padma dear, that will have to remain one of my secrets," he said, allowing Harry Potter to make a slight appearance again. I shook my head slightly.
"Alright wise guy, but answer this question," I said, and he looked generally interested into what I was going to ask, "That Nymphadora Tonks person was the one who got into that limo the day when you got your Order of Merlin, wasn't she?"
"Very perceptive," he responded. I couldn't resist.
"I'm perceptive. I'm in Ravenclaw," I started.
"Deal with it," we both finished, causing us both to laugh.
"Thank you for allowing me to share my secret with you Padma," Harry stated, still leaning against the wall, "And also thank you for not asking why I was crying when you came into the room."
"No problem Harry," I stated as he got up from leaning on the wall, checking a pocket watch as he did so.
"Well I don't want to detain you from your studies much longer, so I will be leaving you now," he said, starting to walk out. I didn't want him to leave so suddenly, so I stalled.
"Where do we go from here Harry?" I asked, causing him to stop right next to me, my face level with his midsection.
"Where do you want to go from here?" he asked back. I stood up and placed my hands on his shoulders.
"You don't have to leave Harry."
"Then I won't."