A/N – This is just a bit of a silly idea that I just got carried away with after reading too many 'suddenly powerful' and' suddenly super smart' Harry stories. At least I provided a mechanism for the change!
Harry desperately searched through the crowd leaving Dumbledore's funeral service. He was trying to find somebody - somebody who did not normally like to be searched for, and definitely did not like to found.
"Professor Moody!" he called, spotting the grizzled ex-Auror standing to the side of the long line of people winding their way down to Hogsmeade train station.
The Hogwarts Express was patiently waiting to take all of them back to their homes a full two weeks before the normal end of term.
"What is it, Potter?" asked Alastor Mad-eye Moody, dragging his wand from the folds of his cloak. "Is somebody under attack?"
His magical eye, which had been following certain people as they moved passed, started spinning in its socket.
People who heard the question looked around in a panic, ready to flee at the first sign of trouble.
"No, Professor," said Harry quickly. "Everything is fine," he added loudly, mainly for benefit of the crowd. "I just need to ask you for a favour."
Moody relaxed slightly, then snarled at a student who walked too close, causing the unfortunate boy to let out a startled scream before racing off. He grinned evilly as his eye tracked the retreating figure. "What is it lad?"
Harry looked around uncomfortably. "Er, can we go somewhere a bit more, um, private?"
Alastor looked around, and then motioned for Harry to follow him as he moved off the path a fair distance. Once they were out of sight of the flood of people, he turned and motioned for Harry to stop, holding his hand up to prevent any speaking until his eye zoomed around several times, making sure they were alone.
Harry patiently waited until the Auror finished his survey, and then drew his wand to cast the Prince's privacy spell. Before it got halfway out of his pocket, Moody grabbed his arm and placed his own wand at Harry's throat.
"Now what do you think you are going to be doing with that then, lad?" Mad-eye asked, tightening his already bruising grip.
"I just wanted to cast a privacy charm," explained Harry, painfully aware of the deadly point digging into his neck.
Moody concentrated on this for a second before nodding and releasing his grip. The wand came away from Harry's throat, but stayed pointing at him.
Harry slowly finished casting the spell that would prevent anybody from overhearing them, and then returned the wand back to his pocket. Moody's aim never wavered - steadily pointing at Harry's heart the whole time.
"Right then," said Moody, finally lowering his weapon once Harry's was safely away. "What do you need?"
Harry hesitated. What he was about to ask could easily land him into a heap of trouble, and not just with the formidable man standing in front of him.
"Come on, lad," said Moody impatiently. "You didn't drag me away from guard duty to get cold feet did you? Or is this a distraction?"
The magical eye suddenly started spinning faster and the old Auror stood up straighter, as if trying to see what was happening back on the path to the station.
"No, no," assured Harry. "It's just that I need your help with something, and, and it's rather difficult…"
Mad-eye suddenly grinned ferociously.
"You had better not be coming to me for girl advice," he said, "'cause I have to tell you that you got the wrong end of the wand if you have."
"No," said Harry, blushing for some inexplicable reason. "No, it's not that."
He stopped again, unsure of how to continue with his unusual request. For a second he considered not going through with it; just apologising and going back to the path.
"For Merlin's sake, lad. If you don't come out and tell me, we are going to be standing here all day. Just say it!" growled Moody.
"I want you to put me under the Imperius Curse," said Harry in a rush.
Moody's mouth actually opened in shock and his magical eye froze in place, looking at Harry. "You want what?"
"I want, no, I need you to put me under the Imperius Curse," Harry repeated nervously.
"What in the name of Morgan Le Fey's socks are you talking about?" Mad-eye almost screamed. "Have you gone mad?"
"No. Look, I have to learn how to beat Voldemort," started Harry. He was a bit surprised to see Mad-eye twitch at the name. "I need to learn enough magic and about duelling and all sorts of things, and I need it in a hurry."
"So ask me to train you then!" the ex-Auror said. "Tonks and Lupin will help, although you should learn be more cautious around him, you know?"
Harry shook his head.
"There is no way I can learn enough before Voldemort or one of his henchmen come after me, not at the rate I normally learn. I need you to cast the Imperius curse on me and make me do what's on this list," he said, holding out a small scroll of parchment.
Moody took the scroll and read it, frowning as he made his way through the messy scrawl. Harry had written it very quickly. The magical glass eye started spinning again as Mad-eye looked up
"Merlin boy, this is quite a list," he said. "But aren't you immune to the curse? I heard you-know-who-himself couldn't keep it on you."
"I was fighting it then," said Harry. "I can throw it off anytime I want, but I think I can leave it on, if I want to."
Moody frowned. "That's not a thing you should practice, staying under a curse. Might get to be habit, then you could end up not being able to fight it."
"I'll take the risk," said Harry. "I need the help."
"You know I could go to Azkaban for casting on you?" asked Moody. "One way ticket for putting on another human it is."
Harry nodded. "I know," he said.
Moody looked at him in silence for a minute. The Hogwarts expressed whistle sounded, letting everybody know the train would be leaving in mere minutes.
"Please?" pleaded Harry. "It might not work, but I have to try it."
"If I don't do it you will just ask somebody else, won't you?" asked Moody. "Maybe even that friend of yours who is far too smart for her own good, eh? Or maybe the werewolf - his type have an affinity for dark magic you know? Comes from having so much of it inside of them; never a good thing I can tell you."
Harry fought down the urge to defend Lupin and nodded, knowing neither Lupin nor Hermione would ever do what he was asking of Moody.
"All right, lad," grunted Mad-eye, raising his wand.
"Wait!" yelled Harry, taking a step backwards.
"What for?" asked Moody, clearly puzzled.
"I wasn't ready!"
"Ready? You don't get ready to have the Imperius Curse put on you!" snapped Moody, his voice rising in volume.
"Sorry," apologised Harry. "You just caught me by surprise."
"That's generally how it works best. Now if you are sufficiently ready?"
"You have the list, right?" asked Harry nervously.
Moody held it up impatiently.
"Right. Hang on. Ok go." He closed his eyes.
"I think this is possible the craziest idea I have ever heard of," said the man they called Mad-eye, "but here we go."
The most wonderful feeling descended on Harry. He again felt the floating sensation as every concern in his head was floated away, leaving only a vague, untraceable happiness. He felt immensely relaxed, and was only dimly aware of Mad-eye watching him.
Moody's voice, echoed in some distant chamber of his empty brain:
You will act normal, but you will not let any feelings overwhelm you or control your actions.
Why? asked the voice in the back of his brain
Because I want to, answered a second voice that sounded strangely like his own
You will study hard, concentrating and working as quickly as possible until you understand what you are reading, and will enjoy doing it more than anything you have ever enjoyed before.
Sounds boring, said the first voice. Do I really want to do that?
Yes, answered the second one.
You will read, learn and memorise everything in every book you have, to the exclusion of everything except what is needed to stay healthy, safe and unsuspected, and anything needed to follow any other orders I give you now.
How long is this going to go on for? asked the first voice
At least until the birthday, answered the second one
Then you will seek out and obtain more information until you have mastered magic in every form, including what needs to be learned to make you as skilled as Dumbledore in battle.
That's not possible, said the first voice.
True, but it is a target to aim for, said the second one.
You will not use magic until you are either seventeen, in danger, or not able to be caught by the Ministry for underage magic use.
Not use magic? How can I learn it if I can't use it?
Patience. There will be opportunities.
You will undertake some physical training for at least two hours everyday and learn how to fight with your hands, feet, and any weapon available while doing that.
That's going to hurt, objected the first voice
Yes, agreed the second
You will think before you act and consider all advice equally, without undue prejudice.
But that's silly.
So is jumping into situations head first.
You will do whatever it takes to be able to study and learn as much as possible, unless it conflicts with your other orders, in which case you will make up your own mind as to the best course of action to take at that time.
That is just so open to interpretation.
But it does mean you will keep making opportunities.
You will not tell anybody about this spell and you will forget who you asked to do this as soon as I tell you to start acting normally, and until I tell you to remember.
That wasn't on the list!
No it wasn't, but it is a good one.
You will remember everything that happens while you are under this spell.
Is that even possible?
No idea, but if it isn't this is all a waste of time.
You will start acting normally now.
"How are you?" asked Mad-eye
Great, except I think I am trapped in my own skull.
A very safe place to be.
"I'm fine," said Harry. He suddenly felt a need to get a book out of his trunk and start reading.
The Hogwarts whistle blew again. Moody was staring at him closely.
"Off you go then, lad," he said.
Harry turned to go, then hesitated and turned back.
"What's the matter?" asked Moody. "Has it not worked?"
Oh it was worked all right.
"Is there any reason why I have to go on the train? Can't I stay here in the castle and then side-along Apparate with somebody to Privet Drive, or maybe even just Floo to Mrs Figg's from Hogsmeade and walk home? That way I can spend a few more hours here studying in the library."
What? Where did that come from?
It is the new way of things – the way it has to be.
Moody chuckle. "Aye, lad. Though I think maybe you had better check with Minerva first, but I'll take you home myself, if she allows it."
Several hours later, a loud crack startled a cat from under a car outside of Number one Privet Drive. Nobody appeared and nothing moved for several minutes, then two figures slipped out from under invisibility cloaks some distance away from the source of the noise.
"Here you go, safe and sound at home," said Moody.
Harry grunted. "Not for much longer," he said sourly.
Looks like I still have a sense of humour at least.
Acting ordinary, that's all.
"Mad-eye, will you please come inside for a moment and, er, encourage my uncle and aunty to keep the hell off of my back and let me study? Something like you did at the station last time, but a little bit more personal, please. I really want to study and I won't have a chance if they keep bothering me and making me do chores and such."
Moody didn't look at all pleased, but nodded his head in agreement as they walked up path to number four and rang the door bell.
Uncle Vernon was not pleased to see Harry home early, and nearly started yelling at him before Moody cut him off by pressing his wand into the fat man's neck.
"List here, and listen well," Moody said, pushing Vernon backwards into the house.
Petunia came to see what the commotion was and screamed when she saw Mad-eye forcing Vernon into a chair.
"I warned you before, but you don't seem to have taken the lesson to heart, so I am going to tell you once more and once more only. You are going to treat young Harry here as an honoured guest while he is living under this roof. There'll be no more name calling, and no more disparaging comments about him, his friends, his family, or anybody else to do with him for that matter."
Sweat ran like a river off Vernon's face as Moody pressed his wand even deeper into the fat layered neck, and he stared unblinkingly at the terrified man with his good eye. His magical one was watching Petunia who was frozen in horror in the doorway with her hands covering her mouth.
"No chores, no arguing, no yelling or carrying on like a dragon in heat – nothing that will stop him from concentrating on his studying. You'll behave yourself and try to make up for all the years of your abuse by doing everything you can to help Harry this summer, and that includes feeding him properly and taking him anywhere he wants to go, or I am going to come back and do things to you that will make you beg for the sweet release of death. Understand, Dursley?"
Vernon was shaking uncontrollably, but nodded his head.
"That's goes double for your oaf of a son, that stick of a wife of yours, and anybody else you allow into your house. One single, solitary hint that you have done anything to displease Harry, and I'll come back to turn the lot of you into goldfish and leave you in an open bowl on the door step for the stray cats to find."
Vernon managed to gulp, and Harry thought the lump of lard might actually lose control of his bowel when the magical pupil spun around to concentrate on him.
"I'll be watching you, Dursley. Remember that."
This is not going to end well.
Can't be any worse than usual.
Harry felt slightly guilty at allowing Mad-eye to bully his uncle and aunty, but not enough to want to intervene, or to remove the smile from his face for that matter. Besides, if they kept out of the way he would get more time to study, so it was worth the effort.
Mad-eye released Vernon and stood up straight. The fat man dragged in ragged breaths as Petunia ran over and threw her arms around him. "Oh Vernon!" she sobbed. Then she turned her hate filled eyes on Harry.
"This is your fault!" she screeched, ignoring the warnings Moody had just given.
"Yes, it is," agreed Harry, amicably. "But you had better get your hearing checked, because I am sure you've just done something Mr Moody here specifically told you not to."
Petunia gasped in fear and looked at Moody, who sighed with exaggerated patience.
"I am a man of my word, madam, so it looks like I am going to have to punish you then," he said sadly.
Petunia's screams was cut off as Moody waved his wand and silenced her. Her panic was so great she fainted away into Vernon's arms.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" yelled Vernon, cradling his collapsed wife in his arms.
"You just don't learn, so you Dursley? Didn't I just tell you that you weren't allowed to yell at anyone this summer? Guess you need an object lesson too. Harry? Would like to do the honours?" asked Moody, surprising Harry.
Harry nodded and took out his wand. The Ministry would not know it was him and not Moody casting the spell.
"Petrificus Totalus!" he cast, freezing a shocked Vernon in place.
"Don't worry uncle," he said pleasantly. "It should wear off in about an hour."
Petunia came around just in time to hear Harry cast the curse, and promptly fainted away again.
"Right then, reckon you can handle them from here on?" asked Moody.
"Shouldn't be a problem," said Harry. "I'll just take my stuff upstairs and they'll ignore me. I should be able to get a bit done before it's time to eat."
"Don't forget to get enough sleep too lad. It's important to make sure to be well rested, but remember – CONSTANT VIGILANCE!"
The crack of Moody's departing Apparition echoed through the house.
Great, said the voice. I wonder if he realises that I am still under the Imperius Curse and he just gave an order?
Probably not, answered the second voice, but he likely would have done it anyway.
The first thing Harry did after that was to write a letter to Ron and Hermione asking them to stay away until his birthday.
Ron was upset that Harry wasn't going to go to Bill's wedding, but Harry explained how dangerous it would be for everyone if he was to attend (CONSTANT VIGILANCE) and how bad things could go if he was forced to face Ginny again so soon. The last part was a bit of an exaggeration, but Harry knew it would help convince Ron, and studying was far more important than attending the wedding of a couple he barely knew.
Then the days ran like water in a white-water river. Seemingly endless hours of reading, making notes and rereading passed in a euphoric haze. He barely saw the Dursleys except when he needed to leave his room and they didn't see him coming first.
Their terrified looks meant nothing to him as he helped himself to anything he wanted out of the fridge whenever he needed to eat. He even had Vernon begrudgingly take him to various libraries and bookstores without any sort of fight.
Dudley wasn't going to get to return home though. Petunia made arrangements for him to live with his Aunt Marge, for all of their safety. This left Harry with unrestricted access to the exercise equipment Dudley had accumulated in the garage as part of his boxing career.
Within a week, Harry had re-read and memorised all of his first year school books.
"Not fast enough," he said to himself. "I need to make myself smarter."
Another visit to the local bookstore provided him with a dozen different books and courses on self improvement. From speed reading, to memory enhancement, to time management, Harry spent his uncle's money like it was going out of fashion and ended up with a large trolley full.
Realising this was causing his uncle to get closer to breaking and disrupting his study, Harry sent Hedwig off with a letter and his vault key. The next day a knock on the door produced a very curious Remus Lupin carrying a bag full of galleons, a Muggle credit card, and a briefcase full of Muggle money.
After some pretty thorough checking to make sure it was actually Lupin, Harry explained why he needed the money, and then managed to get a slightly disgruntled Remus to leave not long after arriving, claiming the werewolf had to go for 'safety reasons'.
Vernon's attitude took a decided turn for the better when Harry presented him with a bundle of cash.
"I hope this covers all the expenses you have ever had in my upkeep," said Harry. There was at least twice as much as it could possibly have cost, especially considering how little they had ever actually ever bought him. "I am sorry for being a burden on you for so long, but I'll be going soon and you'll never have to do anything for me again."
Petunia looked on disapprovingly.
"In fact, why don't you go on a holiday," suggested Harry. "You have more than enough money, Dudley is at Aunt Marge's, and I can take care of myself."
Vernon opened his mouth to argue, then appeared to realise his usual refusal to leave Harry home on his own in case he destroyed the house was coming very close to breaking the rules laid down by Mad-eye.
Harry took out another equally large bundle of cash and pushed it across the table to Vernon.
"Insurance," he said, smiling. "Just in case anything happens to the house while you are away."
The Dursleys left that night without even saying goodbye.
At least something good has come out of it, said the negative voice
And it has really only just began, said the positive one.
Harry was well pleased, since this meant he could use the larger rooms and tables, saving him time because he no longer had to keep packing things away neatly to make better use of his little room's limited space.
He virtually consumed the speed-reading books and put his new knowledge instantly to use, racing through the time management and other self improvement books at a pace that left his already aching-from-exercise fingers burning.
"Right," he said to himself, glancing at the clock. "I need to sleep or I will loose time tomorrow when I have to reread things because my mind wasn't sharp."
Retiring to the largest and most comfortable bed in the house, he turned on Dudley's portable music player and loaded a subliminal learning tape. Going through the meditation techniques he mastered earlier, Harry managed to put himself into a light hypnotic trance, and then into a deep sleep.
Exactly eight hours later he woke up, alert and refreshed. He felt like he had spent much longer than that though, more like twelve hours of the most peaceful sleep ever.
The stack of learning tapes where piled neatly next to the bed, proving his hypnotic suggestion had worked, and he had changed the tapes as they ran out without waking up.
While pushing his body through his morning martial arts workout routines he had picked up from a few videos and several books, he catalogued the subjects the tapes taught him during the night.
It was a real pity that only Muggle subjects were available in that format, since he had absorbed a surprising amount of information, although nowhere near as much as he did when conscious and studying. Still, learning languages while his body was rejuvenating was a good use of time, and his meditation ensured his mind was actually resting too, even as it learned.
Probably going to go insane, said the first voice
Was likely going to anyway, countered the second
During the day, Harry started to understand he was not using his time effectively. Instead of studying a single subject for hours and then switching to another, he needed to split his sessions up in to smaller units and spread them out more, because many of them were interdependent.
Potions and Herbology were a fine example. It was a waste trying to learn everything there was about one plant in Herbology, then switching to potions where he had to use several together. Trying to learning everything about every plant before trying to use them in a potion would mean he would be finished Herbology long before potions.
The worst part was that knowing how an ingredient worked in a potion often explained something about its nature that would otherwise take him longer to comprehend if studied on its own.
Instead, he broke the subjects down into smaller pieces and switched from one to the next as the need arose.
First he would set a target, like how to brew a calming draft. He would read what a calming draft was and all the various ways it could be used. Then he would memorise the ingredients and study how to recognise each of them and their basic nature.
Next he would examine each step of the potion brewing process and make sure he understood the reason and methods behind them, often having to delve deeply into charm and transfiguration magical theories to find the cause of reactions. If the potion required an animal part, he made sure to learn a bit about the beast in question, just as if it was a plant.
Once the whole process was completed, he would go back over it and finish reading everything he had on each of the individual ingredients, pushing the Herbology and Care of Magical Creature books to their limits.
The downside of his method was that he could no longer differentiate between years for much of his learning. Magical theory in particular suffered, as many underlying reasons for the simplest reactions were not dealt with in-depth until the later years of school; the early years simply provided the framework for the later, more comprehensive study.
By the end of the second week, he had covered all of his first and second year potions using this new study method, and was discovering huge holes and missing knowledge in even his most advanced school textbooks.
His Latin skills had improved remarkably with the help of the subliminal learning tapes, and he now had a working knowledge of French, Spanish and Italian as an offshoot.
If he walked into a dojo, he would have discovered he had the knowledge to have passed as a brown belt in four different disciplines. He still lacked the physical conditioning such a task would require though, especially since his muscles ached every minute of the day, despite the potions he brewed and Muggle sports creams of Dudley's he rubbed in to make them more flexible.
He memorised all of the charms, jinx, hexes and spells up to sixth year, and understood their theory at least as well as any student at that level, except perhaps Hermione, but it wasn't enough, and it was still too slow.
Obtaining more advanced books was an issue. Going out to Muggle stores again was too much of a risk (CONSTANT VIGILANCE!), and although he had some owl order catalogues, the turnaround time for getting deliveries was too long. Getting anything by owl would be a huge security nightmare too, especially since he still could not perform any magic.
This limited what he could study. He couldn't even try to learn how Dumbledore was able to apparently see the magic in Voldemort's cave because he didn't have any idea how it was done and doubted there was anything in the books he currently had.
In desperation, he considered asking somebody for help, but that was a risky prospect too, since it meant somebody else would know what he was doing, even if they didn't know how he was achieving it.
Then the almost perfect solution occurred to him.
"Kreacher!" he called.
Mere seconds later, the despicable house-elf appeared.
"What does the filthy friend of Mudbloods want?" it asked.
"I want you never speak to me again except in a polite and proper manner, but I can't see you been able to achieve that very well. Still, you cannot disobey a direct order from your master, being me, so I do so order- You are never to speak in anything less than a civil manner to anybody ever again unless I tell you to do so, understand?"
Kreacher threw himself to the ground and started pounding his fists on the ground screaming incoherently.
"Kreacher, you are to stop doing anything that a normal, sane house-elf would not do, and that includes having tantrums or taking any action that you even think might displease me," Harry shouted over the din the house-elf was making.
Kreacher instantly stopped his tantrum and stood up. Harry could see the pain and rage in his eyes, but didn't really care.
"Yes, Master," it said.
"That's better," said Harry. "Now, the first thing you are to do is go register yourself at the Ministry of Magic or whatever it is you have to do to let them know that a House-elf will be staying here with me and performing magic. I do not want to be charged with underage magic use, so you are to properly and correctly fill out any paperwork or forms that need to be done, then bring them to me for approval. Make sure they are neat too. Do you understand me elf?"
"Yes, Master," answered Kreacher in a monotone voice.
"Also, you must not tell or give any indication who you work for. I wish you to do what you can to keep my identity secret without breaking any laws or any other order I have given you. Get this done as quickly as possible and return to me as soon as you can."
With a loud crack the elf disappeared and Harry began to write out a long list of instructions for Kreacher to follow. He checked and double checked to make sure the elf could not betray him in any way. It took time, but would not be a waste if it worked.
When the elf finally returned, some hours later, he carried a dozen forms, all neatly filled in and ready for Harry to sign, and Harry had several feet of legal-like orders for the elf.
"Read, memorise and make sure you understand this," Harry told him. "I am ordering you to comply with all of the orders, instructions, and restrictions I have written on that parchment."
Harry saw the elf's eyes bulge as he read the list, and by the end of it, it was sweating and shaking.
"Do you understand everything on there?" Harry asked.
"Yes, Master," it said.
"Good. Begin immediately."
Kreacher hesitated for the merest second before raising his hand to cast a spell.
"HOLD!" yelled Harry. "You may not do magic in this house while it will get me in trouble with the Ministry. Use the bathroom upstairs."
Kreacher stopped in shock, then trudged grudgingly up the stairs. Harry heard the water running a few seconds later and heard an involuntary yelp as the elf got into the shower.
"Oops, I forgot to make sure he knew about hot and cold water tapes," said Harry to himself.
While Kreacher washed and cleaned himself with Muggle soap, Harry read the forms and documents and filled in the bits he had to, frowning at the redundancy and obscure questions. By the time he had finished, Kreacher had returned, so clean he almost shone, and wearing a newly modified Dursley pillowcase.
"Kreacher is ready to be called by his new name, Master," the unrecognisable elf said.
"Good. You will from this day forward be called - Spot," said Harry.
He had considered a number of names, ranging from Slave, to Animal, to Muppet, and even Gollum, but had decided to honour the dog from the first book Harry had ever read – Spot goes to school – since the elf-formerly-known-as-Kreacher was now going to be a very obedient elf, just like the puppy after it had gone to school.
A single bead of sweat appeared on Spot's forehead - the only sign it was fighting its own magic to try and defy Harry.
"Now, Spot. Return these forms to the correct location at the Ministry of Magic, see that they are processed correctly, and then take this gold and buy everything on this shopping list," Harry said, handing over a large galleon filled money pouch and a long list. "Make sure to confirm that there will be no mistaken underage magic problems when you return here from the Ministry, because I need you to do a fair bit of work on your return."
Spot disappeared with a loud thunderclap.
Harry smiled and then went back to work.
He still can't be trusted, said the first voice
He is not being trusted, he is being controlled, replied the second one.
With the ability to perform limited magic, thanks to the cover of having a house-elf, and a huge collection of advanced books available, Harry not only threw himself into accelerating his learning, but took some extraordinary measures to enure his safety (CONSTANT VIGILANCE!), the Fidelus charm being the most obvious.
Three whole days where dedicated to learning how to build wards.
After writing letters to Lupin, Mad-eye, and his close friends, explaining that he was going into hiding, since it was technically true and would remove the possibility of one of them interrupting his study with mundane issues, he cast the spell and removed number Four Privet drive from collective consciousness of the world.
Once that was done, Harry knew he did not have to worry about the ministry detecting underage Magic anymore. Using Magic under the cover of the elf's presence had been a slight risk, since it was unlikely an elf would ever be asked to cast some of the charms Harry needed to practice. He figured once the Fidelus was done the lazy quill pushers of the Ministry would find it too hard to investigate and give up.
Muggle repelling charms came next, making sure nobody ever wondered why there was no number four, followed by – after a whole day dedicated to its study and development – an extremely powerful and selective ward.
It was roughly based on the one used by the Death Eaters when they had attacked Hogwarts, but instead of allowing only somebody with a Dark Mark in, it simply kept them out. He would have preferred to have the mark explode, taking the arm and as much of the torso as possible, but that was above his knowledge and skill level, for the moment.
With the likelihood of interruption reduced significantly, Harry turned his attention to the Magical equivalent of the self improvement section of his newly collected library.
Fairly quickly he discovered a number of frowned upon rituals and spells that could significantly improve his ability to learn.
Immediately sending Spot to collect the required ingredients, Harry added an extension to his uncle's house that he was sure they would one day appreciate; a cellar.
It was actually more of a multilevel bomb shelter, being situated several feet under the back garden and at the limit of the wards. Its walls were made of an incredibly strong stone created by the application of magical heat and pressure to ordinary dirt, along with a bit of transfiguration. There was no electricity or external noise, making it the perfect place for conducting the painful rituals he planned.
Ordering Spot to remain outside unless Harry called him or lost consciousness, Harry performed all of the rituals he could find that did not require him to become dark.
He had seriously considered crossing that line, but convinced himself it would actually reduce his ability to study if he went mad, or had irresistible urges to commit genocide.
His memory improved, reducing his need to reread things, his vision was corrected (fiddling with glasses took time and limited his vision to the width of his lenses, when he should have been able to read right to the edge of his sight), fixed the stunted growth his early malnutrition had caused (a better, healthier body meant more stamina which mean higher throughput for longer periods and more skill in the martial arts), and corrected many 'deficiencies' in his body's genetic design that meant he would no longer need as much sleep or food.
Cuts and bruises would now heal almost instantly, his bones simply could not be broken, and his aching muscles repaired damaged to themselves and stopped hurting within minutes of him ceasing working out, although that did use up a fair bit of magical energy.
So are you trying to become immortal?
No, just better. Immortal would take too much effort.
Each change improved his ability to learn, and by the end of that third week he had finished all of his school books including those for subjects he had never taken, like Arithmancy, up to and well beyond seventh year.
But it still wasn't fast enough.
The improvements gave him confidence to move onto the much more dangerous rituals – and ones he created or modified.
The first one was based on an experimental potion and spell Mervin the Mad had created in 103AD to try and give Muggles magic. It hadn't worked, killing his test subjects painfully, but the book Harry had obtained through a 'rare' book dealer in Knockturn Alley reasoned that was because Muggles didn't have any magic for it to work on. The author of the book was executed in 1119AD for performing the ritual on unsuspecting Squibs in an attempt to prove his theory.
Harry agreed with the theory, but made alterations to the ritual and potion based on other things he read in the much darker books.
At the end of his four hour long chanting, Harry drank the vile potion, and felt his magical begin to grow.
After five minutes, it had swelled noticeably, throbbing inside of him like a huge, magnificent heart of raw power.
At ten, it was half again as large as it had been before, pushing to the edge of his body as if seeking to escape its mortal confines.
At twenty five minutes, Harry was writhing in pain on the floor as his magic doubled in size, then doubled again. The last thing he saw before passing out was a random burst of accidental magic transfiguring a goblet into a rather annoyed orange duck.
Harry awoke a few hours later lying on the floor.
Without thinking, he reached out his hand to pick up a glass of water. Before he could touch it, it flew into his open hand.
"Well, that was unexpected," said Harry, marvelling at his new ability to use magic without a spell or wand.
With the massive boost in power, Harry was now able to practice more spells more often, increasing his ability to get into the more advanced areas of magic.
Voldemort was going to go all out for him as soon as he turned seventeen. He could probably attack sooner, but the newfound insight Harry's learning gave him suggested Riddle was not going to risk the protection from his mother somehow interfering yet again. That meant he had mere weeks to learn decades worth of magic.
It is an impossible task, you knew that when you started.
Most people think magic is impossible.
"Time," said Harry, smiling. "I need more time."
A brief read of several time related books, both magical and Muggle, convinced Harry making his own time turner or casting some sort of spell to affect the passage of time would be bordering on suicidal.
Instead, he sent Spot to rob the Department of Mysteries.
The cabinet containing the turners was knocked over during his battle just before Sirius was killed. Everybody appeared to think all the time turners had been lost because they were caught in the never ending cycle of the cabinet crashing to the floor and activating at least one of them, thus sending the cabinet back in time to smash again.
It was rather silly to think of it in that way after even his brief read, and he wondered why nobody had done anything about it.
Maybe they have tried and failed.
Only one way to find out.
Spot had strict instructions not to be seen, and wore Harry's invisibility cloak as well. Once in front of the cabinet, which should not have taken too long, considering how poorly protected the Ministry was, all he had to do was summon a turner before the cabinet smashed and went back in time.
Before Harry had finished magically adding several self contained apartment rooms to his lair (only taking up the space of a closet), Spot returned with not one, but two of the tiny hourglasses, one smaller than the other.
"The chains were linked, Master" squeaked the elf by way of apology.
Harry forgave him his mistake and gave him precise orders regarding supply food and other goods while he has jumping backwards and forwards in time.
The larger turner allowed him to go back one full day, while the smaller one only went back six hours. He juggled several different scenarios, taking into consideration the wear and tear on the rooms, the possibility of meeting himself and going insane, and just how much maintenance Spot could handle, and then build an extraordinarily complex schedule to maximise his time.
Spot is almost dead from exhaustion. He will die at this rate.
I can live without him, if need be.
Four weeks of real time passed, and more than three times that for him, before disaster stuck and the time turners exploded, apparently unable to handle the stress he had put on them.
Luckily, Harry made it a point to study the devices thoroughly enough to get a good understanding of time magic. He was able to cast an ancient time speeding spell over his magical training area that increased the passage of time inside the shelter to several times that of the outside world, although not in a smooth progression.
By now he had learned every spell currently in common use in the magic world for the last hundred years, including those of Hit Wizards and Aurors, and had moved into the more arcane magic, like Legilimency and Occlumency.
The damage Snape caused with his brutal attacks on Harry, while supposedly trying to teach him the very subtle art, were repaired with another series of painful rituals and lengthy potion treatments.
During it, Harry discovered the true nature of his scar link with his arch-enemy.
Voldemort intended to use baby Harry's murder to make his final Horcrux, substituting something of Gryffindor's with what was sure to be a seventh generation offshoot of the house of Gryffindor – Harry.
When the spell rebounded and tore Voldemort's soul from his body, part of his torn soul imprinted itself on Harry's mind, giving him Parsletongue, as well as a gift for Dark Arts that Harry had only just began to explore. It had also created a bond between the two of them that could act like a bridge for their thoughts.
Voldemort's strength rose as Harry's own mind matured and he grew into his power.
Dumbledore had known!
He purposely stunted Harry's growth and potential in order to keep Voldemort from developing too quickly. Had Harry been trained and brought into full awareness of his power earlier, Voldemort would have been even more terrible!
However, since Voldemort had begun practicing Occlumency against Harry, he unknowingly cut himself off from Harry's growth – a mistake he would never know of.
The instant knowledge transfer received when Voldemort was struck down the first time intrigued the knowledge hungry boy. He wondered if he could use Legilimency to penetrate Voldemort's mind and take the rest of his knowledge – since that would speed up the learning process considerably.
Harry studied the mind arts almost exclusively for a whole week of real time. Spot was now returning so often to the stores to buy more books and supplies, that Harry made him alter his appearance every visit so as not to attract the attention of suddenly busy store clerks.
After satisfying himself that he was ready, Harry went into a deep, hypnotic mediation, and then took the unprecedented step of casting Legilimency on himself using a mirror.
The strangest sensation of seeing his own memories passed quickly as Harry found and traced the link to Voldemort. Before he knew it, he was attacking the Dark Lord's impressive mental protections.
Since Harry was under a time spell, he was able to work much faster than Voldemort and battered relentlessly for hours of his time.
Voldemort bent, but did not break.
After the failed attempt, Harry took a break for the first time since leaving Hogwarts, recharging his 'mental batteries' by learning how to build racing brooms; a relaxing and stress relieving task.
Once he felt sufficiently recovered, he attacked again. Voldemort had only had a quarter as long as Harry to recover and was still smarting from the first battering when it started again.
To Harry's surprise, the evil man still managed to hold out long enough for Harry to tire first, but after another break in which Harry took the time to learn all about enchanting Quidditch balls, he went at it again, this time with a better plan.
Voldemort could not keep him out.
Harry saw through the Dark Lord's eyes and realised he was lying in bed attended by several Death Eaters, including Snape. Having read a bit about possession, Harry gave it a try and momentarily took control of Voldemort's body.
"Hey, Snivellus," he said, using the Dark Lords mouth. "Bet you didn't expect to hear from me again so soon, did you?"
Snape stood back, his mouth wide open in shock, so Harry used Voldemort to do the most satisfying thing he could think of, and kicked the former spy in the face.
People rushed forward to hold down the Dark Lord as Snape tumbled over backwards; his face a bloody ruin, and Harry managed to get a hold of a wand.
"Diffindo!" he cried, trying to jam the wand down the front of the Dark Lord's pants.
Unfortunately this gave Voldemort incentive enough to take control of his body back, and Harry was flung out.
Good try though.
With Voldemort concentrating on retaining control of his physical body, Harry renewed the assault on his mind, as per his plan, and finally managed to break through.
The older wizard's memories flooded into his mind. Harry felt his knowledge double, then double again, and then increase even more. It was an even greater rush than when he had boosted his magical power.
When he slumped down on the floor unconscious, he had a smile on his face.
It was many hours later that Harry awoke. The first sight that greeted him was the stubby toes of Spot, the mostly reformed house-elf.
"Urgh," said Harry.
Spot nodded and watched Harry silently as he struggled to climb back into the chair.
"Why didn't you help me?" asked Harry.
"Master did not instruct Spot to help him," answered the elf.
"That's because I was unconscious," Harry answered. "Did you just stand there and watch me the whole time?"
"Spot was enjoying waiting to see if the Master died."
Harry grunted. "Guess I am going to have to add to that list of orders. If I am ever incapacitated, I order you to tend to me to ensure my health and comfort to the extent of not allowing me to die or suffer any permanent damage."
Spot sighed sadly as the loophole was closed. "Yes, Master."
"Good. Now get a pain potion and then go make me some dinner."
The elf disappeared with a pop and Harry leaned his face onto his hands. Decades of Voldemort's life had just been forcibly jammed into his head, and it felt like it had been done with a crowbar by an angry troll.
With little effort, he could remember committing atrocities; see his hands casting the Dark spells, and feel the unholy joy of wielding immense power over others.
It was sickening.
For a second, Harry considered Obliviating them from his mind, but then his Moody implanted orders kicked in and he discarded the idea; Amongst the lifetime of craziness, there was some good magic in there.
Aside from much of it being Dark Arts that Harry would never use, there was a wealth of truly advanced magical theory and practice. He knew his hands would be able to perform the most complex of spells as if they had done it a hundred times before, because Voldemort could do it that way.
Surprisingly there were many areas where the no-longer-human man lacked true knowledge, like time manipulation and Animagus transformations.
Nobody can know everything about magic.
But there is a lot more that can be learned.
It took Harry two solid days of concentration to catalogue and file Voldemort's memories. By the end of it he had stored all of the knowledge in his excellent memory management system and was ready to hit the books to fill in other gaps, but a nagging worry kept him from immediately moving on.
Amongst the mad man's memories, Harry discovered innumerable plans and plots to take over and rule the world, and one of his top priorities was to find and kill Harry.
Such an interruption to Harry's studies was not to be tolerated.
Even though he felt confident that he could easily defeat any number of henchmen, or henchbeasts for that matter, the time lost to repelling any such attacks unsettled Harry.
It was logical, and truer to his motivation, to go on the offensive.
First, he needed to protect himself (Constant Vigilance!). His duelling skills were probably the best in the world, but sometimes spells could slip through even the fasted and toughest of shields, so this meant armour.
Rejecting the various hides of animals including all breeds of Dragons, Harry settled for an advanced powered suit he read about it in a military journal he bought to study Muggle weapons. The design was registered in a Muggle patent office, but had never been made due to the numerous technical difficulties that could not be overcome by the available technology.
Magic made it easy.
The suit was designed to fly using a jetpack. Harry cast the same spells used on brooms to make the suit work well beyond the speculated optimal performance.
The armour was made of a thin, highly advanced carbon fibre shell and lined with a sheer thickening liquid that turned solid on impact and dissipated the force of any blow over a large area. Harry thickened the armour and laminated it again and again until it was too heavy for even a strong man to hold up, then made it super-light.
Thick granite or stone like a grave's headstone could stop an AK once; Harry's armour could stop ten in the same spot.
Specially charmed gems carrying wards similar to a very strong Protego shield were mounted on various parts of the suit to provide addition protection from less damaging but still potentially dangerous spells; it just would not do to be caught by a Pertrificus spell in the back!
He added charms to every part of the suit to make it amplify his personal strength a thousand times, and then added a basic level of performance that meant he would be able to do superhuman feats of strength even if his actual body was too worn out or hurt to even raise his own arms.
The suit was originally designed to have radar and sonar with a display in the helmet showing every desired detail of the surrounding area. Harry replaced the electrical systems with purely magical ones that made Mad-eye Moody's eye look like a child's toy in its simplicity. The helmet didn't just show the surrounding area, it projected it into the mind of the wearer so that he could almost feel everything in an area hundreds of metres in circumference.
Walls, wards, and ambient light meant nothing to the helmet as it penetrated even the thickest stone and displayed everything in details down to the atomic level, if desired.
The weapons were the most fascinating part. Muggle guns could be easily stopped by a simple shield, but were highly effective when they did hit. Harry considered making many modifications, but decided to leave them almost intact, except to remove the need for ammunition by having magic conjure the bullets in place, put self-cleaning and maintenance spells on the barrel, and then silenced it. The simple chemical explosions still worked, but he had to magic up a firing mechanism because the electric mechanism did not work so close to the powerful magic of the suit.
Finally he did away with the camouflage paint and simply cast a permanent disillusionment charm on it, which was lucky, since the material it was made from was a hideous montage of reds. Short flight control wings protruded from the sides. With all of this, and the spiked gems on either side of the helmet used for the magical vision- it was no vision of beauty.
Purchasing the prototype took a great deal of Harry's available resources, so he decided to liberate some of Voldemort's stockpile for his own use. Removing the Malfoy wealth would also reduce the likelihood of attacks and be a fairly good test for the suit.
The location of the main Malfoy mansion was in Voldemort's memories, so it was now in Harry's. He donned his suit, and left the safe confines of Number four Privet drive's secret cellar, then Apparated directly into the house, outside of the hidden vault.
Not bothering to do anything about the wards protecting the vault, Harry simply walked through the wall next to the impenetrable door, and bypassed tens of thousands of galleons worth of security.
The short hallway leading down was also a veritable death trap, but Harry trusted his suit and flew through, barely noticing the spells, fire, acid, and other attacks that were launched at him.
His concentration was on the chamber at the end, his magical radar him finding the dangers that even his suit may have being pressed to resist. It took several minutes for him to decipher the wards and spells, learning how they were made even as he probed for a way around them.
Laughing at the simplicity of his solution, Harry burrowed under the vault and removed the floor, dropping the bulk of several generations of illegally accumulated Malfoy family wealth, and Voldemort's more recent substantial additions, into a messy pile at the bottom of a deep pit.
Harry dropped a Portkey into the pit and Apparated back to Number four, confident the money would be waiting for him. It was.
Spot made several dozen trips to Gringotts, loaded with shrunken chest filled to the brim with the wealth. The Goblins were so impressed, after the first vault was filled, that they offered a one-time only lease of a vanishing cabinet to make the process faster.
Harry agreed, but spent half of the time investigating the cabinet to learn its secrets. Spot made good use of it though, filling another two vaults before he was finally done.
Satisfied his suit was at least reasonably capable of protecting him, Harry went to collect the Horcruxes.
The knowledge of the location of the Hufflepuff's cup and Ravenclaw's crown had been in Voldemort's head, so there was no problem finding and replacing them with duplicates far superior to the one left behind by R.A.B.
Harry even returned to the locket cave and placed a perfect replica locket in place of the worthless fake, just to be thorough. After all, if Voldemort discovered Harry had gone after his Horcruxes, he might make another, and then it would take Harry longer to destroy him.
It took several powerful spells to destroy the soul fragments, but it was nothing Harry couldn't handle.
Getting overconfident aren't we?
With good reason.
Finding the real locket proved to be more difficult. In a fit of lateral thinking, Harry donned his suite and took one of his newly constructed brooms, then flew into the sky. He sat near the edge of space and watched the world turning under him.
"Accio locket Horcrux!" he cast, putting all of his newfound magical might into the spell.
A few minutes later a blinding streak of light shot towards him, the friction of its rapid ascent through the air making it blaze like a comet. Harry held out his armoured hand and easily caught the remains of Voldemort's second last Horcrux.
Only the snake remained, and then it was time to remove the last possible threat to his study schedule – Voldemort himself.
Without their leader, Harry didn't seriously consider the Death Eaters to be a worry, but removing the fanatical followers first could make dealing with Voldemort easier.
Since he didn't want to spend too much time away from his study, having already sacrificed more then he wanted to in destroying the Horcruxes, and not willing to put himself into any unnecessary danger (CONSTANT VIGILANCE), Harry came up with a simple and brilliant plan.
First he needed to find a Death Eater, or more than one in the same place if possible.
A quick visit to another of Malfoy's houses furnished him with the junior Malfoy, Draco.
"Imperio!" he cast at the quivering in terror heir.
It had not occurred to him the mere sight of the shimmering armour would make people think he was demon from the depths of hell come to steal their soul, but that was the effect it had, especially when the Disillusionment became slightly unstable and offered glimpses of his red, evilly winged and horned suit.
Harry found it gratifying to see his study of the Dark Arts and use of Voldemort's memories paying off. Draco suddenly went docile, smiling stupidly.
"Go find all the Death Eaters you can, and secretly place them under the Imperius curse," he instructed. "Give them all of these exact same instructions. If they cannot cast the Imperius curse, or their target is able to throw it off, incapacitate them immediately and deliver them to the authorities anonymously. You are to never mention this to anybody and must act as normal as possible while performing this task."
"In three day's time you are to kill the Snake Nagini, and then surrender to the authorities and admit all of your crimes, cooperating with them in any way possible."
Draco nodded, then wandered off into the mansion to find his comrades.
The next two real-time days found Harry studying Divination. By the end of his time, he had concluded, and proven, that the whole area of study was almost pure art, and he had absolutely no talent in it at all.
It was extremely frustrating.
As relaxation, he spent the third day building his "dam-buster" weapon. A massive boulder so protected with various layers of magic that it made his suit look like a thin coat of butter.
A quick experiment showed Voldemort had found a way to block the link they shared, so that limited his options in discovering the relative success of his gambit. He really had no choice except to confront the Dark Lord now, or risk him creating another Horcrux, if the snake had being destroyed.
Donning the red suit for what Harry hoped to be the last time, he Apparated to several hundred miles above the wards protecting Voldemort's fortress and dropped the dam-buster onto it. His trajectory calculations were perfect, as the hundred ton weapon, magically gaining speed every second, fell like the fist of god onto the magically fortified building.
The resulting explosion was extremely satisfying as it gave Harry an opportunity to study several fields of Muggle science, like physics and geology, in a very interesting manner.
The crust of the planet didn't actually crack, but a small volcano and surrounding Magma Island now stood on the site that had once held the island prison of Azkaban – lately the Dark Lord's secret stronghold base.
Harry probed the scar link and discovered the other end was gone. Voldemort was truly dead.
Happy at his progress, and satisfied there was not going to be any unexpected attacks by psychotic madmen ruining his study plan, Harry took the rare moment to give himself a break from mental and physical development to have an ice-cream. After all, all work and no play is not good for anybody's long term mental health.
He had just finished placing some cautionary wards, and seated himself at one of the many empty tables in Diagon Alley, when he was confronted by none other than Mad-eye Moody and Remus Lupin.
"Harry!" said Lupin pulling him into a rough hug. "We have all been so worried for you. Where have you been? What have you been doing? It is too dangerous for you to be just sitting out here. Look at how fast we found you."
Sighing, Harry realised he would have to explain, or they might try to delay him.
It took five minutes and a truly excellent banana split to give a condensed summary of how he had eliminated the threat of Lord Voldemort.
Lupin almost collapsed. His mouth moved wordlessly as his brain struggled to come to terms with the information Harry was supplying him.
"Now, if that is all, I need to get back to my study," said Harry, standing up.
"Just a moment, lad," said Moody. "I think it is time for you to remember the little spell I cast on you before you left the school."
The memory came back to Harry, stunning him momentarily. In that split second Moody struck.
"Finite Incantatem!" he shouted, tapping Harry on the head with his wand.
Instantly Harry felt the curse lifted. The desire, the incredibly overriding need to study at all costs, fell away, and he returned to 'normal'.
"Oh, Great Merlin's Crystal balls!" he said.
Then Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived and humble, secret slayer-of-you-know-who, fainted.
As the steam from the fire engine red train drifted over Platform Nine and Three Quarters, Harry Potter waited patiently, although he wasn't really sure why he was making the effort to return to school.
Whispering and pointing was at an all time high as other students and their parents moved passed, but he didn't care.
Nobody outside of a select few people knew the truth of what had happened to Voldemort, but that was not what they were whispering was about.
"Hey, Harry," called Neville Longbottom, walking up to join his friend. "How was your summer? Hey, you look taller, and where are your glasses, and, mate, have you been working out?"
Harry sighed again. This was going to come up again and again in the near future, and he still didn't have a satisfactory answer to give.
"It's a long story, Nev, a very long story."