Chapter Twelve: Fighting for Myself
Helen Granger was concerned. Little Harry Potter, the boy whom, almost overnight, had become the light in her little girl's eyes, had only picked at his dinner and absolutely refused to let go of the small mirror in his hand. Poor Hermione had tried several times to cheer him up but the normally happy, slightly shy little boy had turned her away every time. He was growing more and more upset as bedtime approached but he still hadn't received his promised call from his uncle.
She had managed to coax him into the tub and was forced to leave soon after as the child had just sat in the tub, shivering. James had mentioned to her that the Dursleys had made normal things like baths as unpleasant as possible. She silently hoped they were having a miserable time of it.
Little Harry was quietly sitting across from his friend finishing a mug of coco when the mirror vibrated in his hand.
"Papa? Papa James?" He held the mirror up to his face and peered inside. Slowly, an image came into focus from the swirling colors. "Papa!"
James' image smiled at the boy. "Hello little one. Are you being a good boy for the Grangers?"
"Yes Papa, I'm still sad that I can't be with you though."
"It's much, much too dangerous for you here. You're a lot better off staying with the Grangers for a little while."
"Is it dangerous for you too Papa?"
"Not overly much, no. I know how to deal with this guy. But that's not why I called. According to my watch, it's just about your bedtime. Since we're starting a new book tonight, I thought Hermione might want to listen." James heard an excited, "Oh please Sir!" chirped somewhere off to the side.
"You two get comfortable then. I'll wait."
He didn't have to wait long as soon the two children were snuggled down in their bunk bed. Hermione had cheerfully moved her collection of stuffed animals earlier in the day to make room for her friend. He read the story of a little boy named Eustace and a little girl named Pole that found their way into the magical world of Narnia and were sent off to rescue a prince from a terrible witch. The children were asleep before he finished the second chapter.
Sirius grinned at him from the couch. "Now that I've had my story read to me…"
"Oh stuff it you!"
"You get some sleep and let Remus and I take turns keeping watch tonight. It's you he's interested it anyway."
James looked over at Remus. "You sure about this?"
"Yeah don't worry about it. If our insane host comes for a visit we'll know. I'm a little worried about you anyway. Sirius grew up a black and thus had occumency drilled into him from a very young age, I'm a wolf once a month thus my mind isn't that easy to crack but you, you told us yourself that you never learned the art."
"Yeah but I've got this." He held up a small, very old looking Ivory pendent. "I got it off him back when I killed the ass. It protects the mind from invasion. I only wear it when I have to though, like when I met Albus for the first time in this time-line."
"Ah. Well, you just go on to sleep then. Something tells me you're gonna need your rest."
"Something tells me you're spot on. Goodnight you two and thanks."
Very soon, he was asleep. Remus looked over the sleeping young man worriedly.
"Do you think he'll be alright?"
"I hope so but you can tell he is not happy to be here again."
"Easily. What do you think happened?"
"I dunno, but it must have been bad, even for him."
He sat down with his newspaper and for a moment, watched that which he could not enjoy. Young lovers were having a picnic just a few yards away from him while romped around in the park behind him. A young woman with red hair and a pair of sunglasses sat down beside him.
"Ginny. How is everyone?"
"Mum's worried about you but we're all doing fine."
"You said you had some information for me? How did you get your message to me anyway? I'm not easy to find these days."
"I do. Harry, you never should have crossed Lord Ivan Hargraves; now you'll have to pay the price."
Harry blinked in confusion. "Wha, how do you know about him? I didn't even tell Mione about him!"
"Say goodbye Harry."
She whispered something and her glasses slipped off. She had no pupils.
"Ginny! He got to you! Stupi-"
"Too late boy, it's done."
He watched in horror as she and everyone within his sight, exploded.
James woke with a start and glared into the darkness. "Cross me this time, and I'll kill you… again."
He never noticed concerned brown eyes glimmering in the darkness.
The night passed quickly and it seemed they had only blinked when morning came. The slave girls served them a wonderful breakfast then led them, after the men had equipped themselves with 'supplies' from their bags, dragon hide vests, boots and a few other handy knick-knacks, to the main hall again.
Their host gave a little bow as the poor girl collapsed in a heap on her shelf. "Good morning honored guests. It would be my hope that you all slept well; I would be confident in this but the spells put on the rooms prevented me from knowing. I thought we were going to be friendly to each other." He pouted. "Friends don't ward against friends."
"Call me paranoid but I usually cast those spells before I go to sleep. It wasn't just because of you; I don't appreciate scrying very much either."
"Ah, well, I guess I can accept that as an explanation. I still don't like it though."
"That's very kind of you lord Hargraves."
"I know. Well then, let's get down to the negotiating. You mentioned you wanted a certain spell?" His eyes lit up with greed for a moment. "I'm afraid my prices are rather steep. You see, I have spells that have been forgotten by the wizarding world, old spells, powerful spells, spells that make today's wizards look like little children playing magician."
"I'm sure we can come to some sort of an agreement."
"Oh I think we can."
Lord Hargraves bowed politely to Sirius and Remus and led James to the other side of the room. "Yes, yes I'm sure we can. I could ask for anything you know, all your memories of fine summer days, or perhaps most the memories concerning tweedle dee and tweedle dum over there. Yes, that would be amusing. I could take years off your life or I could order you to serve me for… a time."
James tensed. "I'm very aware of the sort of prices you ask lord Hargraves and request only that I am able to guide young Harry Potter until he comes of age. Sirius and Remus, while not guardians, are very heavily involved in the child's life and it would be very inconvenient if I were to suddenly not remember them. I have an inkling that you know very well why the child needs such careful protection and the roll that he will most likely play in the future of the wizarding world."
Lord Hargraves chuckled, "I planned to ask for none of those things. To put it quite frankly, you intrigue me. The shields in your mind are not natural ones; there's a different… taste to them, a taint of magic other than your own. There are very few items in the world that can shield a human mind as effectively as decades of training can and I thought I knew the locations of them all. You, the only person I have ever seen in my long years of life that has managed to step out of fate's, hold appear to be weaving a new pattern. You also seem to be very powerful magically. You are without a doubt the most interesting person to ever wander across my doorstep. I want to know how powerful you are, just what your name really is and how you managed to step outside of fate's hold. You seem determined to keep your secrets so I am quite determined to know them."
"I'm afraid my secrets need to remain my own. This is quite cliché but… If I told you, I'd have to kill you."
Lord Hargraves grinned widely. "I'd like to see you try. What I propose is this, a wizard's duel between the two of us, no seconds. If you win I will give you the spell, allow you three hours alone in my private library to learn whatever spell you choose and you will answer my three questions, truthfully. If you lose, I will take two precious things from you. I will have the item you are using to guard your mind from me and I will to take over the rearing of young Mr. Potter. You are welcome, of course to assist me but he will be under my contro-."
"No! No dice; not happening! There is no way on this green earth I would allow you anywhere near a five year old child, much less, that one!"
"I'm afraid you don't have a choice. You are not leaving this castle without dueling me. If you lose to me, you are not strong enough to train such a boy. I have reasons of my own for wanting that self stylized dark lord of yours dead and rotting. I will not allow such a delicate procedure as training the one to defeat him to fall into the hands of anyone weaker than me. Even if you do not agree to it, I will rip the location of the boy out of your mind and send one of my servants for him. It will take you hours to climb down this mountain after all. Don't worry; I have no intention of harming the lad or turning him dark. There are, however, lesser control spells that will give me a strong influence over how he lives."
Shaking with rage and promising himself that he would go soul searching the first chance he got, James finally agreed. "Fine! If you win you can try and take him but I warn you, you won't like the consequences nor will you have him for long! This is a human life you are talking about, a little boy! You can't bargain with his fate like it's a poker chip! I'll play your little game, Hargraves, but you better give me a damn site more than three measly hours in your private library when I win!"
"My, my, aren't we in a tizzy. What do you request, Mr. Potter."
"In addition to what I asked for, I want a wizard's oath that you will never bother Harry Potter, you won't try to control him or influence his life or death in any way. You will allow me to take a book of my choosing with me and re-introduce it to the wizarding world. I also want an oath that you will release your slaves from now on before their bodies give out after three years!"
The man's eyes narrowed. "Now how did you know about that?"
"I know a lot more about you than you think."
"We shall see. The duel will commence tomorrow afternoon. If you or any of your little friends are seen attempting to leave, we will simply begin the duel where you stand, using my dolls."
"I'm not running away and you are not to use those poor women in our duel! You will swear an oath before we begin that Sirius Black and Remus Lupin will not be affected by the duel. They will watch and that is it."
"That is fine. A small study area has appeared in your rooms along with access to some of my books. I must go prepare for the morrow. You will be taken back to your rooms now."
James didn't say a word; he just turned away from the nobleman and allowed himself to be led back to his rooms.
Once there, he warded the quarters again and without saying a word to anyone, withdrew his mirror.
"Dobby! Dobby the house elf!"
"Master James! You has called your Dobby?"
"Yes. Listen to me. If anyone calls you tomorrow, myself, Sirius or Remus and says the word, sanctuary, you are to take Harry, Hermione and the Grangers straight to Hogwarts and ask Headmaster Dumbledore for protection. Do you understand?"
"Dobby will do as master wants, if masters James, Sirius or Remus calls Dobby and tells him sanctuary, Dobby is to take the little master, the young miss and the noble Grangers to the great headmaster Dumbledore and ask him to be protecting them he is."
"Very good. Do it quickly if we call Dobby because you'll only have a matter of minutes, if that to collect them."
"Dobby will be collecting them, master. Dobby is being honored for being asked to do such an important thing!"
"Just look after them my friend. Have you seen anyone suspicious around?"
"No master James, only muggles walking their dogs and those strange things you call automobiles. Dobby does keep scaring Ms. Grangies cat though."
"Good. Please continue to watch them then. Don't forget to eat and sleep though."
"Thank you master James!"
"You're a good elf, Dobby. I'll see you soon."
"Yes master, Dobby will be welcoming his master home very soon he will! And master will have gotten what the needs to keep the little master safe and sound!"
"That's right my friend, one way or another, I will."
Sirius waited until James had put away the mirror before he pounced. "Alright, what happened? What's got you set off like this?"
"Ivan, that's what! He wants Harry!"
"What!?And you didn't try and AK him!?"
"I would, believe me but right now he can't be killed. I'll be fixing that tonight."
"He's like Riddle, horcrux maker." He watched their reactions. "Hey, Itold you he taught me how to destroy the things! Of course he knew how to make them! As we young people like to say, duh!"
"Oi, I'm only a few years older."
"Yes… but I traveled back in time."
"He has a point, Padfoot. James, I saw you last night, you said if Ivan tried to mess with you again you'd kill him. What happened last time?"
James sighed. "Long story short, he asked for something I wasn't willing to give him so I found out about the horcrux and blackmailed him with it to get what I needed back. He… wasn't pleased. He used the controlling curse on Ginny and she blew herself sky high with one of his spells along with just about everyone else that happened to be in the muggle park at the time. I got a message that he would enjoy 'getting to know the rest of my friends'. He took priority over even Voldemort then, I killed him and I rather enjoyed it. That was the first time I didn't regret killing someone."
"Damn. What was it he wanted?"
"Part of my soul."
"He said it was for some purification ritual or something."
"EvenVoldemort doesn't play with souls other than his own!"
"Yeah. I couldn't… it was horrible. Even after he gave it back, I've never really felt right since then."
The day and night flew by before anyone was ready for it, it was time to duel.
"Are you sure you can beat him?"
"Even if I can't, I've got some insurance." He smirked and patted his pocket. "If I lose, make sure you contact Dobby."
James shook hands with his friends and entered the dueling chamber. He wasn't surprised by anything he saw there, it was, of course, just like the last time he was in there. The walls were black and coated with a substance that absorbed spells, no matter how powerful, the floor was white and had small springs underneath with just a bit of padding over it. The ceiling was two stories high and the room was about the size of a muggle gymnasium.
Ivan was standing in the center. "James, so good of you to show up."
"I told you I wasn't going anywhere."
"I trust you know the rules?"
"I've dueled enough times, yes, nothing lethal."
"I should warn you, this room has interesting capabilities."
"Then why are we in here?"
"I thought it would be fun!"
"Cut the crap and duel."
Lord Hargraves lost his grin. "As you wish, Mr. Potter." He waved his hand in the air and a lit counter appeared. "Begin when it reaches zero."
"What no pretty bows?"
"I'll bow when it's over."
"You won't be able to."
They both whirled on the spot and disappeared. They reappeared on opposite sides of the room. James noticed a slightly peeved look on the other man's face as they glared at each other. Knowing it was about the apparition, James grinned and shot the first spell of the day. Ivan popped away before the spell could hit.
It slammed into the wall and caused that whole section of the wall to ripple with the strength of the spell.
A voice came from behind him.
"That could have ripped my head off."
James spun away just in time as a bright yellow spell zinged into the space he had just occupied.
He reappeared. "I like to think big."
He turned and shot a spell behind him that caused Ivan to yelp and dive to the ground. James had correctly guessed where Ivan would pop up.
In an attempt to press his advantage, James sent a barrage of more than slightly nasty spells at his opponent. Ivan quickly rolled out of the way and shot a bone breaker curse at James.
It barely grazed his right side. James winced and clapped a hand to his ribs as he felt them crack.
Having used the distraction of pain as his cover, Ivan quickly rose to his feet and spun away emerging on the other side of the room. "That's first blood I do believe."
James soothed the pain of his injury with a healing spell. "I'm not bleeding."
"Ivan shot a cutting curse at his opponent. "Details, details, you will be soon."
James appeared directly behind Ivan and stabbed the man with a conjured knife. "You first."
Suddenly, the room began to melt and darken.
Both duelists leapt away while the change happened.
James cocked an eyebrow. "A maze hu, oh that's original."
Ivan enchanted a stone into a rock golem and used it to distract James.
James decided to bring out the big guns and used a spell that Ivan had taught him.
"What!? How… how did you know that spell?" Ivan was forced to retreat and take a hit from James as he escaped the explosions of his own creation."
"A little owl told me."
James pressed his advantage and through a series of spells, hexes, conjurations and transfigurations, slowly wore the older wizard down.
James stood with his wand aimed right at Lord Hargrave's jugular.
"Do you yield?"
Ivan grinned. "Of course not."
The man faded away into nothing as the dueling room changed yet again. This time it was a muggle battlefield.
James gasped in pain as he was hit with a stream of molten lava. He quickly erected an ice barrier around himself and dulled the pain. His back and left arm would be very stiff.
"Do be careful of the landmines, Potter. We wouldn't want you to blow your head off, would we?"
James was finished speaking. His eyes narrowed as he surveyed his prey. Slowly, his jaw began to elongate and his skin grew cold and scaly.
Stunned, Lord Hargraves could only stand and gape at the surprising transformation.
James rolled his neck as it lengthened and wiggled his rather dangerous looking right toe as his shoes and clothing dissolved.
Thunder had arrived.
Parseltongues always had some kind of reptile as their animagus form. James happened to have a dinosaur, a mega raptor, as his. He stood at thirteen feet tall, twenty-five feet long, his arms were short stubs but his feet were killing machines. Razor sharp claws, more than a foot long, took the place of his big toes. He was fast, could run faster than a horse and had knife-like teeth in his dangerous maw.
Here was the true killer of Voldemort. James hadn't killed him with a spell. He had eaten him.
Because of the difference in intelligence and temperament, James had a difficult time controlling the beast. He wondered idly if the count was on the menu for today.
Before Ivan could get over the shock he was feeling, he was attacked. The man screamed as the beast slashed his tender skin with his claws. He fell to the ground with Thunder on top of him.
Lord Hargraves could feel the prick of the monster's teeth on his neck as another claw punctured a rib. He gasped in pain and raised his wand, aiming at the creature's chest. A flash of light and it was over.
James sat panting on an unconscious Lord Hargraves' chest looking rather surprised. He shook himself and got off the man.
"Huh, must have changed me back."
He relieved the man of his wand and wasn't surprised when the room went back to normal.
Sirius and Remus rushed into the room, eyes wide.
"Sothat was Thunder, hu?"
James smirked. "Cool, hu?"
Remus just shook his head. "Try the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life!"
"Well, that too." James sighed. "As fun as spending several weeks going through this guys library looking for that spell would be, I'm gonna heal him so he can keep us his end of the bargain."
"Yah know, for a dinosaur, Thunder really isn't that big so why the name?"
James snorted. "Lightning bolt scar, ice mice for brains."
Remus just chuckled. "Promise me one thing James."
"You won't use Thunder in a prank on us."
A laugh. "If I could have, I already would have. Thunder is a killer. If I bring him out, I have to be planning to either kill or hurt someone very badly. Unless he has a clear target, it gets really hard to control him. Don't get me wrong, he has his uses but he isn't exactly something to entertain at parties."
"I wonder what snake-face thought of him."
"When I brought Thunder out he didn't have much time to think much of anything. I might have given him enough time for, oh crap, before it was over."
Sirius shuddered. "Bad way to go there."
James just smiled.
Ivan started to come around.
James stood and prodded the man in his newly mended side. "You lost. Get your slaves to heal you the rest of the way. Have one of them call us when you're well enough to finish with our agreement."
None of them gave the man enough time to answer before they were out of the room and on their way to their assigned quarters. Sirius wasn't a bad healer and James needed some help. All those years with Mooney's furry little problem paid off sometimes.
James was as right as rain by nightfall. He took great delight in telling Dobby most of the danger had passed and spoke about an hour with Harry. The little boy had been so excited to see his figurine standing alongside Merlin, he had insisted that Hermione get a figurine too and that it be placed beside him. He had giggled and said that it looked like he was an apprentice to the great wizard.
Once more, James read the two a chapter from the Narnia book and Mrs. Granger had deactivated the mirror once the children were asleep.
Harry had been delighted when James had told him most of what he had to do was over and that he should be home tomorrow or the next day at the latest.
It was late afternoon when they were finally called for.
Ivan still wasn't completely healed and was sitting swathed in blankets in the library.
"You cheated. It was supposed to be a wizard's duel, not a claws and teeth duel."
"Show me a muggle that can change into an animal under his own power and I will concede your point."
Ivan pouted. "What was that thing anyway?"
James smiled. "I'm not saying. Looking it up will give you something to do while you recover."
"I've been called worse. Do you want to ask your questions first or give me the spell and let me pick a book?"
"I want my answers."
"Fine." James sat down across from the man. "Ask away."
Ivan nodded and steepled his hands. "For my first question, who are you really? There is no record of a James Potter, aside from the boy's father, anywhere in England or Australia."
James shook his head and snorted. "I was hoping you wouldn't ask that one. Alright, fine. I'm Harry Potter." At Ivan's gob smacked look he continued. "In the original time-line I grew up weak and neglected by my relatives. Coming back in time wasn't planned but once I got here I decided I was going to do something to change fate."
"How did you come back?"
"Some of Voldemort's death eaters made a portal to try and kill me when I was five. I found out about it and decided to stop them. As I was fighting I was accidentally shoved in. The portal created another dimension which is why I am able to act freely."
"You knew me. How did you know me and how do you have my amulet?"
"Voldemort used horcrux. I had to kill him and eventually heard about you. We made a deal that was severely in your favor and you taught me how to destroy them. The question about the amulet is your fourth question and I am not bound to answer."
"You never liked me, I could tell. We have dueled before, I gather."
"Hargraves, I do not wish us to become enemies. However, I am sure you can guess how I got the amulet and exactly what happened between us."
"You found out about it! You killed me!"
Emerald eyes narrowed with hate. "You deserved it. Before you ask, I've already found it again and will be keeping it as insurance you stay away from both me and Harry. Piss me off after Voldemort is dead and I won't hesitate to kill you."
"Where is it!? Give it to me!" The old man had a wild look about him, an insane look.
"I don't even have it anymore. I've already hidden it. Now give me the spell. I already know what book I want, Merlin's journal. I couldn't make heads or tails of it back then but I could tell that the ideas in there could revolutionize the wizarding world. The lost spells and potions he wrote about in there will be useful too."
Hargraves fished around in his pocket and withdrew a folded piece of parchment. "There is the protection spell you wanted but you cannot take Merlin's book from me. It is the crown of my collection. I will offer you memoirs from the founders of Hogwarts instead."
"No. I've picked my book. Accio Merlin's journal!"
James caught the book and tucked it away in his robes. "Remember, you swore an oath to release your slaves before they die." He smiled, winked and darted out of the library and into the hall where Sirius and Remus were waiting with all their things. James had been pretty sure they would need a quick getaway.
"Let's book it. Remember the spell I taught you."
The other two nodded and began to sprint for the door.
It wasn't long before the first thralls appeared and began shooting spells and pursuing them.
All three men whipped around and brandished their wands bellowing the spell they needed loudly. With a flash of light and a crack, the puppet strings were cut for the final time and the girls dropped to floor coughing and spasming as their brains tried to take back over the general life support systems of their bodies.
James threw a sleeping spell over all five girls and levitated them. "We're taking them with us."
He could just barely hear Lord Hargraves' scream of rage as they walked out of the castle, uncontested. They only had to fight a few golems as they raced down the trail, five lovely girls bobbing behind them.
AN: My that was a long one! I almost hit 5000 words in this chapter. Ah well, I had lots to cover.
I'm a little dissapointed that no one figured out who Lord Hargraves was. It was a nod to the Manga Godchild, also known as the Cain Saga. The name was perfect because that family is wacky and then some. Sooo kudos to... no one! lol
I don't normally do this but I want your openion on a few things. First, I really like Ivan Hargraves. I've made up a whole convoluted back story about when him and James (who was then Harry) met. It's good and I'd really like to write it for you. However, I'll give you a choice. I'm planning on taking a break after I finish this story anyway. I'm going to get all the chapters perfect, do a few slight re-writes. I'm thinking I could probaly tell that tale in five chapters. I will not be posting Watching Over Myself until I have quite a few chapters. That way, I can post once a month.
The second thing and I'm really struggling with this one, do you want the Dursleys to be sorta redeemed? I had written something... but, after reading DH I'm not sure if they would do that. Sorry I can't tell you more but please vote!
In other news, I HAVE A JOB!!!!!!!!!!!! Soooooo happy! I'm starting soon so wish me luck. I don't know if I will be able to write while there or not.
Please forgive the lateness... the action scene gave me fits.
By my calculations, there will be four more chapters in this story. However, I only have to write less than three. I have the entire last chapter on paper, 1,500 words of chapter thirteen, 1,000 of fourteen and 1,500 of fifteen. As you know, I will not post a chapter until it is 4,000 words and I try not to go too much over that in the actual body of the story.
You got questions? I got answers!
Haphazard1: You will note they left him alive. They may end up regretting that...
Kalen Darkmoon: Tom Riddle and Hargraves do not get along. Details will be in the Hargraves story... if you let me write it. lol Hargraves isn't the conqure the world kind of villian. He's the kind of guy that sits in his castle and plays with his pretty dolls. (ew) He doesn't care about the outside world. The only thing he gets really attatched to are his books.
MaGpie Quill: Wow, best OC ever. Thanks! I do admit I like him quite a bit and yes, he will be appearing again... at some point. XD Though I have read better OCs than mine. It flatters me that you think so. Don't worry, James is not uber powerful... or at least, if he is I'll give him some challenges. Ha! I got the G!
Ms. Iuyasha: Concerning Snape... Well, he's certainly not going to be a father figure to Harry. innocent look Meeby he will, meeby he won't!
JDZ: Yes, I do have someone in mind for James. Remus will end up with Tonks and Sirius... I have no clue. I hope you will excuse me for putting an OC with James. She will be appearing soon.
General Question: Harry's Hogwart friends will be showing up soon, VERY soon.
HOLY CRUMPETS, BATMAN!!! 400 reviews! You guys are the best, really. Thank you for all your kind words. Your encouragement has helped keep me going through a difficult time in my life.
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Roses and Chocolat by cloudscape - This is one of those really good, really origional fics that everyone has overlooked thus far. Give it a read, you won't be sorry.
The Light by JazzygGeorgie - Lovely, just lovely.
A Friend Indeed by kb0 - See? I do read H/G fics... when Ginny is written well and she is in this one, VERY well.
(and for giggles, literally...) The Chamber Strike by evansentranced - Warning, do not attempt to read while trying to be quiet. It just won't work.