Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Not my disclaimer either. In simple words, YOU CAN'T SUE ME.
Spoilers: PS/SS, CoS, PoA, GoF, OotP, HBP, QTTA, FB.
Rating: M – For MATURE language and themes.
1) To my Reviewers: I know I don't reply to all the people who review, but know that I read each and every one of them. That said, I do and will answer any questions you may have about the story if I think it won't reveal a future plot. All the reviews are precious to me, so keep reviewing. Reviews are the fuel that keeps the story going strong. Special thanks to F.J.A.Campbell for a truly magnificent review. Hope you get most of your answers in the end.
2) Regarding NGA: I pride myself for being one of the authors who dare to keep off the beaten path and so bring much needed creativity. And from your wonderful reviews, I think I am achieving it.
3) Apologies: I would like to say I'm extremely sorry for the long wait. I had fractured my right hand when my bike skid off the road and so was in a cast for the last three weeks or so. I hope this update will quench your thirst a little.
4) Important: I have once again gained an Internet connection. I would like to thank my friend, Jason who did the uploading work for NGA till now. Those of you who want to contact me can now do so freely.
My e-mail ID is: crypticscripture (at) gmail (dot) com
My LJ: cryptic-scripts (dot) livejournal (dot) com
I aspire to be an MBA and the test is in the fourth week of November, so most of my time will be spent studying. As a result, the updates would not come as fast as they should. Please bear with me. I promise to keep writing in whatever time I get.
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Anyway, on with the show! Please Read and Review. Constructive Criticism is always welcome.
Chapter 6 – A New Day, A New Life
The man gave another grin and Harry saw how helpless the situation would be without his wand for protection. The man now extended his hand in front of him and Harry was amazed, and equally afraid, to see a small sphere of bright orange light enclosing his fist.
'Uh-oh! This is not good. This is definitely not good.' Harry thought as he saw the man throw the sphere of light towards him.
Harry reacted instinctively and forced his parents down on the ground and crouched down himself, thereby managing to avoid the orange sphere by mere inches. But as the sphere went past him, he could literally feel the power that radiated off it as it caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand and crackle.
He had just managed to stand up when he felt the sphere approaching him once again and learnt that it was similar to a lock on missile and unfortunately the blasted thing was locked on him. It would keep coming on to him forever and eventually catch him if it wasn't stopped. And Harry had no intentions of getting caught.
He sprinted away from his parents glancing back for a fraction of a second and was happy to see that the sphere was indeed following him and would not hurt his parents. He saw that his parents were still crouched down and were a completely shaken with the turn of events.
He once again managed to outmanoeuvre the sphere by jumping to his left and throwing himself on the ground. Just as he managed to roll over, he was shocked to see that the sphere had come to a complete standstill just above him instead of overshooting past him and was beginning to vibrate as if getting ready to explode.
Before he could move another inch, a number of tendrils of orange light shot out from the centre of the sphere in all directions with amazing speed and were buried in the ground surrounding him. Harry just managed to get to his knees, but was denied any further attempt of escape as the tendrils managed to form a hemispherical cage around him. The tendril cage looked remarkably similar to the cells he saw in the Ministry Detention Centre and were equally strong.
Not again, he thought glumly, trying to break free from his sudden confinement. His sudden movements caused another flare in the orange sphere as it pulsed violently and immediately the gap between the tendrils was covered by a filament, making it impenetrable.
He looked around to see pseudo Fudge, as he had decided to call the pompous man, come to a halt just a few feet near the tendril cage. The man had a smug look on his face, almost like the cat who had managed to eat the canary. Ironically, that's not far from the truth, Harry thought.
His thoughts suddenly changed to murderous when he saw the effect his current predicament was having on his parents. His father had managed to hold his composure, but his mother was crying with worry. She suddenly ran forward from his father's embrace and managed to make her way to stand between the cage and pseudo Fudge.
"Please let him go," she cried, "Please, not Harry!"
"Stand aside, Mrs. Potter… stand aside now…," pseudo Fudge said condescendingly.
And suddenly, Harry felt something stir inside his chest. It was so unexpected and so strong that for a moment he thought his heart was going to explode. It was a feeling he had before, a feeling of power, so strong, so overwhelming, that he was sure it would consume him completely.
His mother's pleadings had let loose something inside him, an untameable monster, who would crush everything in its path. It was as if a dam was broken, and the force of the water could surely not be held by anything else. He had heard his mother pleading for him once before when Voldemort had come to kill him on that fateful Halloween night. It was now that he realised how much he hated that she had to plead for his life.
He remembered he had felt this way once before, when he was casting the Cruciatus on Voldemort. Then, he wanted to cause the bastard pain beyond imagination. But this was different. The feeling of power was there, but its primary cause wasn't to hurt someone. Instead it was to break free from the cage that was causing emotional grief to his parents. And then, the residual power would be used to seriously hurt pseudo Fudge.
He extended his hands and touched the orange sphere. It was as if the power inside was guiding him, helping him achieve what he wanted to achieve. The sphere started vibrating again as small beads of light started moving slowly through the tendrils from the ground and in to the sphere. Slowly, the filament dissipated leaving only the tendrils. The beads were now moving at an increased pace and a few seconds later, the tendril cage too dissolved, leaving the orange sphere humming in his hands.
Harry slowly got to his feet, the sphere clutched in his hands. He removed his left hand from the sphere and wiped away the sweat that was flowing down his forehead. He glared at pseudo Fudge, who was looking very much panicked now that the circumstances had been altered and stepped back a couple of steps to get away from him.
The remaining Council members, Harry observed, were looking at the proceedings with a small smile on their faces, as if they had expected this to happen from the beginning. His father, on the other hand, was looking at him in awe and his mother, who had managed to move back in his father's arms, was teary eyed, but smiling nonetheless.
Any further altercations were abruptly called off, when a woman appeared directly between Harry and pseudo Fudge. She was wearing majestic robes similar to the council, but which were instead dark blue in colour. She turned to face him and Harry noticed that she was not someone to be trifled with.
"Harry," she called out softly, yet firmly, "Let it go." She said indicating the sphere.
He looked in her eyes and then thought back to what she had said. He could let go off the sphere, but there was no guarantee, the Council or this woman wouldn't attack him again. And he wasn't certain he could pull off this stunt once again. It was time to play safe, he thought.
"Who are you?" He asked.
He was surprised to hear his voice so strong and confident, but managed to quash it successfully.
"Harry, I promise I am not going to hurt you or your parents." She replied. "I also won't force you to return. I just want to talk to you. But first, you must calm down and let it go."
"You are not going to hurt my parents?" Harry asked slowly.
"And you won't force me to return?" He asked again.
"I swear it."
"Well then, I have a question for you."
"Yes, ask away."
"Er… how do I turn this thing off?" He asked pointing to the pulsating orange sphere as if it were a light bulb.
He was slightly embarrassed to see the woman and the Council, except pseudo Fudge, smile at his sincere question. It was true, that he held the sphere in his hand and he was almost overflowing with barely restrained power. But it was also true that he didn't know how at all he had managed to get out of the cage and hold it in the first place.
"Let me," she said and enveloped her hands around the sphere in his hand.
Harry was amazed to see the sphere slowly dissolving as her hands moved inwards. At the same time, he could feel the tension and the excess power he had managed to accumulate subside. He heaved a sigh of relief as the sphere dissipated completely, which caused the woman to smile once again.
She turned around to the Council, who just nodded and disappeared from the house. Suddenly it felt as if they never were present in the house and the confrontation they had had never taken place.
Harry was suddenly engulfed in a bear hug by his mother as more tears found their way down her cheeks. He wrapped his arms around her and tried to console her as best as he could. He was never good with crying women and he looked at his father for help, who just chuckled but managed to remove him from her surprisingly strong grip.
He then turned to the woman in the dark blue robes silently waiting for her to begin.
"My name is Aurora. I wish to speak with you." She said, answering his earlier question.
"Who are you? And what do you want to talk about?" Harry asked, genuinely puzzled, by her statement, as well as her sudden appearance.
"You will know soon enough."
"What about mum and dad?"
"They would be told later."
"Why can't we talk here?" He asked, once again on the defensive.
"Remember my promise." She replied seeing his reaction.
She waved her wand and a door magically appeared alongside her within a frame. She opened it and Harry saw the same scenery where he was woken up by the falling apple. She glanced in his direction and then stepped through the door. A gateway… cool, Harry thought.
He gave his parents a reassuring smile and followed Aurora through the door. Once he was through, she waved her hand once again and the door disappeared in the same way it had appeared earlier.
She moved towards the lake and sat on its edge, while Harry followed suit and sat beside her.
"So what's this about?" He asked.
"Tell me Harry, what do you think about magic?" She asked while looking at the lake.
Harry was confused by the question. He couldn't figure out why this woman wanted to know what he thought about magic. He had thought she would want to convince him to return back to life. He also wasn't sure that he could stand against her if she decided to overpower him.
"Er… magic is… um… magical. I mean, magic is magic. It just is."
Wow, great answer Mr. Obvious, he said internally, but was surprised to see Aurora smile.
"Can you be more specific, Harry?"
"Er… I think doing magic is an ability a person has by which he can do things, cause certain thing to happen, you know, like levitating, summoning, etc."
"That's a very good answer Harry, but only if the question would have been 'what can a person do with magic'. What I want to know is what you think about magic, specifically your ability to do magic. In other words, what does magic mean to you?"
Harry pondered this over for a few seconds and thought back to the time Hagrid had first told him that he was a wizard. That memory, in itself, was patronus worthy.
"When I first learnt that I was a wizard, that magic was real, and I had the ability to do it, it was an exhilarating feeling. It was as if all my dreams had suddenly come true. At that moment in my life, I felt like there was someone above watching over me. And that someone had given me a gift, a very special gift. It was my birthday, so I guess it was natural. But even now, when I think about it, I feel the same way. For me, magic would always be a gift, something that I have been given, something that made me a freak, and yet, at the same time, made me infinitely special. And then there are times when I feel that it is magic who is special and I am someone very ordinary. Does that make any sense?"
"On the contrary, Harry, that makes perfect sense."
"How does that make any sense? I thought I was rambling."
"It is when you ramble that the truth hidden deep in your heart comes to the surface. Magic has existed for eons now. There is no definite way to truly explain what magic is, for nothing can be accomplished as it is also true that magic cannot be completely understood. And as you said earlier, magic just is."
"So what is this really about?"
"I am here to explain some things to you Harry, which are related to your ability to cast magic. Every magical being has a bit of magic in them, even squibs for that matter – some less, some more. The magnitude may differ, but if you are magical, then you have magic inside you that you can utilise to a certain degree. The situation becomes different when the magic becomes so in tune with the magical being, that it becomes sentient."
"What? Magic becomes sentient, as in alive or something?" Harry asked, getting more confused.
"You can say that. Not alive exactly, but magic gains the ability to feel. It sees what you see, it feels what you feel, and hence in a way it is alive."
"So how's this related to me?" He asked already dreading the answer.
"Your magic is sentient, Harry, but I guess you already figured that out. Its sentience is partially due to your own feelings and abilities, and partially due to the efforts of your mother."
"My mother… how does that work out? You mean the protection she offered me?"
"That is correct. Your mother's love, her sacrifice, is the catalyst in making you who you are today, as well as the sentience of your magic."
"What exactly does sentient magic imply? And what do you mean by feeling and abilities?"
"You must understand that magic is inherently sentient to a small extent. It means that you gain the ability to do something just by wishing it to happen. Often this happens under extreme conditions. You can call it accidental magic."
"Oh!" Harry said, thinking about the time he had blown up Aunt Marge.
"The extent of sentience of magic depends on the magical beings feelings, its emotions so to speak. The more emotional a person, the more sentient its magic would be. The abilities of a person also make magic more alive, for then it has that many different avenues to expand. Take for example your ability of parseltongue. When you gain some ability, it makes your magic more harmonious to yourself instead of being a general entity. The sentience of magic is also influenced by your feelings, more precisely what you think about magic itself. Often it is the people that feel they are above everything else have lesser magical sentience than those that think they are ordinary. People always believe that being magical gives you a power over others. They fail to see that it is indeed a gift, as you aptly think. I believe you can call it a feeling of gratitude, that magic bestows on a person, for making it feel special."
"Okay. So tell me why you are telling me all this. I can't believe you won't try to make me go back."
"I don't deny that, in the end, it is indeed what I wish to accomplish. But it is my faith that you would do so under your own free will, and not just because I tell you to."
"You are free to try."
"The main reason why I am explaining the sentience of magic is because the degree of sentience your magic has attained. You have seen what Aberforth can do. His magic is more sentient than most others. Even Albus would find it difficult to overcome him in a duel. Even your metamorphmagus friend Nymphadora Tonks has a gift that makes her magic sentient. Even Veela for that matter have high level of magical sentience. The difference is that while they do have sentient magic, it is limited to a particular ability. True sentient magic, on the other hand, can be performed as one may wish. Essentially, sentient magic allows itself to be manipulated as a person wishes."
"You already explained that."
"Hmm… so now that you understand what sentient magic truly is, you can try to understand why it is that you must return."
"And why is that exactly?" Harry asked in a somewhat harsh tone.
"The reason is that due to the sentience of your magic, you are not actually dead."
"What? How's that possible? I mean, I was hit with a Killing Curse, wasn't I?"
"Let me make things a little clearer Harry. What you term as life and death are all relative terms. In effect, you are neither alive nor dead. You actually exist, in one form or the other, and continue to do so until, well… you don't need to know that. The point is that what you term as life is essentially one way in which you continue to exist. When you die, you move on to the next great adventure, as Albus likes to say."
"Okay. I don't think I understand it all, but continue please."
"Do you know how a Killing Curse works? There are five fundamental things that allow a person to exist – body, soul, mind, heart and magic. The body is basically a medium for the soul to reside. Of course, it can do so without one too as you very well know, but only when it has an anchor."
"You mean like a horcrux?"
"That is correct. Your mind and heart is what differentiates you from the others and your magic is what binds everything as a group. You can exist in the absence of any of the first four quantities, but not without magic. The Killing Curse effectively breaks the connection between these elements. But it doesn't completely destroy it. As a result, you continue to exist, but not how you did earlier."
"Er… Some of this stuff is bouncing over my head, but I get the gist. What I want to know is how this is related to me. I mean the curse did break this connection within me, didn't it?"
In response, Aurora just smiled, making Harry mumble some chosen expletives under his breath.
"The connection was indeed broken, but not for you. Do you know Harry that when Voldemort tried to kill you, he was, in fact, successful in creating a horcrux? Part of his soul was residing within you, attached to your own soul, till the moment the curse hit you. When it did, it shattered the connection Voldemort's soul had with your own, in essence destroying the horcrux itself."
"This is great, just absolutely great."
"But this is not the main reason why you are not dead Harry. You are not dead the same reason why Voldemort is not dead."
"You're kidding me!" Harry exclaimed in disbelief. "This isn't true, say it isn't."
"You are alive, Harry, because you have managed to create horcruxes of your own."
"But I didn't kill anyone." He replied feebly. "You have to kill someone to create a horcrux, don't you?"
"That isn't entirely true, Harry. The meaning of horcrux that you know is the corruption of the purest piece of arcane magic that was lost over time. There was a time, when a horcrux was the most sacred thing a person could ever create. It wasn't a symbol for cheating death. It was the symbol of everlasting love."
"Love… how so?"
"A horcrux was the magic involved in a soul bond. You bond your soul to that of your one true love, your soul mate. Your mate dies, and so do you, but the bond remains forever and you move towards the next level of existence. And if that doesn't qualify as a way of conveying your love, then I don't know what would. Over time, the purpose of the horcrux was corrupted by the quest for immortality, thus making it as what you know now."
"That's sad to hear. So, er… does this mean I have some soul mate waiting for me or something?" Harry asked somewhat embarrassed.
"No, Harry, not at all." She replied. Seeing him sigh in relief, she continued, "Well… not just one actually. I think you are aware that seven is the most magical number."
Seeing his horrified face, she couldn't hold back any longer and burst out laughing. When Harry realised she was making fun of him, he made a sour face and began laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
"You are so gullible, Harry."
"Ha, ha, I'm glad that I make you laugh. But seriously though, there isn't, is there?"
"Don't you remember? You bound your soul yourself?"
"What? When? I don't remember."
"This is all the effort of your sentient magic. You had sworn to yourself that you would fight Voldemort. But deep down, you knew, and so did your magic, that you wouldn't survive as you were then. This is because you weren't ready. And your magic was all the while looking for means to ensure your survival. But then, during your conversation with Voldemort, you provided it with a most suitable method. Do you remember what you said? I'll tell you. You said, 'I will only be gone when there is no one here who loves me'. As I said, you bound your soul yourself."
"Bah! I knew I shouldn't have said that."
"What you have created isn't exactly a horcrux. It is more suitable to term it as an anchor. Your soul is anchored to the people that truly love you, except one anomaly for balance, of course. You, in your current state, are just an echo that was created by your magic to fulfil your last wish. You wanted to meet your parents, and well, here you are."
"Didn't get to meet Sirius now, did I?"
"No, you didn't. But your deepest desire has always been to meet your parents. And now, it has been satiated. But that's not the crux of the matter. You really don't want to go back Harry? Look deep down inside your heart and tell me you don't. And if you say so, then I won't trouble you any longer."
"Can't I be selfish sometime? Am I wrong in not giving up something that I've been waiting for my whole life? Do I not have a choice?"
"You are not wrong, Harry. Part of the reason why you are the person who you really are is because you are always ready to give up what you have so that others can be happy. You may call it your saving-people thing, but it doesn't change who you are. Besides, you did have a choice. The fact is that you have already made the choice. You are here to understand why you have made it. Do you remember your conversation with Firenze? Your choice would determine the future, and also if others would have a future."
Harry pondered over this for a long time. This was what Firenze had meant that day, that he would have a choice to fight, or to stay away from it. He had thought that his choice had ended after his apparent death. But in fact, the choice was whether he would be back to fight after his death. He now understood the difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.
He understood why Firenze had said he couldn't see if they would meet again. Everything depends on the choices we make. He knew that, on a subconscious level, he, or rather his magic, had already made the choice. And now was the time to fulfil it.
"Can I really defeat Voldemort?" He asked finally.
"Of course you can. You do have 'the power the dark lord knows not'."
"You mean love?" He asked, still having some doubts.
"Yes Harry, love. Do not underestimate it. Remember that you were able to create anchors only because of your ability to love. Even your mother was able to save you because she loved you due to which she sacrificed her life for you. And therefore, you can defeat him. In the eye of the storm, you'll be a lonely dove. But you are a survivor, Harry. You have always been one. And you will continue to survive as long as you have the power of love. With love, your chance of winning goes from none to slim. And believe me – slim is a lot more than none."
"Okay. So, where do we go from here?"
"We go wherever our choices lead us." Harry realised that this conversation with Aurora was similar to the ones he was used to having with Albus Dumbledore.
"You already knew I was going to cave in."
"No, I didn't. But I had hope."
"What about my parents?"
"They will continue their existence, albeit without you."
"Is there some way that I could be with them?"
"They will always be with you, Harry. The ones who love us never truly leave us. You can always find them, in your heart."
Yeah, she's like Dumbledore through and through, he thought. Or maybe, Dumbledore is like her.
"Your parents have already been told about your decision. Ready?" She asked getting up.
"Yeah, let's go before I change my mind."
She waved her hand and opened up another door to lead them directly in their living room. As soon as he entered he was drawn into another bear hug by his mother, while his father as always enveloped both of them. He pulled away slightly and looked into his parents eyes. He did not want to leave them, but he understood that this was what was needed of him. And he would do anything that he could to defeat Voldemort. He just hoped his parents would understand.
"I'm leaving." He said shortly.
"We know, son." His father replied.
"We understand what you have to do, Harry." His mother continued. "We will support whatever decision you'd take. And we don't blame you one bit. Just remember that we will love you forever. We are, and will always, be very proud of you."
"Thank you." He replied in a heartfelt manner.
His parents' love and support meant everything to him. And now that he had it, he realised he had everything that he ever wanted. He then turned back to Aurora and was surprised to see pseudo Fudge standing beside her. He looked a nervous wreck and was wringing his hands repeatedly.
"I'd like to apologise for my earlier behaviour." He said finally. "It was all Aurora's fault. I swear." He continued with a little more confidence. "She wanted me to go all Fudge on you."
Harry looked over to see Aurora trying to stifle her giggles and realised that pseudo Fudge was indeed telling the truth. He stared at him for a few seconds, making him squirm even more.
"Well, no harm done." Harry replied finally and shook hands with him. "But why exactly do the drama?"
"It was to let you see what you can do, and to see if you still had it in you to go against the rules. Hector here," Aurora said, indicating pseudo Fudge "is quite an actor. We decided he was the best man for the job. We just didn't know things could get so out of control."
Hector just grumbled under his breath about the unfairness of his situation.
"Ready to go, Harry?" Aurora asked.
"Yeah, but how do we get there? I mean, I don't exactly know how I got here."
"Just close your eyes and I'll take care of everything."
Harry gave one last smile to his parents and closed his eyes. He felt two fingers being pressed on both of his temples and felt a slight gust of wind surrounding him. He then felt his feet leave the ground and had a sensation similar to floating or being weightless. There was a sudden white flash that assaulted his eyes even though they were closed. Then just as suddenly it had started, it stopped and he felt weight returning to his body.
"You can open your eyes now." Aurora said after a couple of seconds.
Harry opened his eyes and after adjusting them to the light, saw that they both were, in fact, floating in a thick fog. At least Harry thought they were floating. He could not feel the ground beneath his feet.
"Where are we?" He asked. "And why is there all this fog?"
"We are still travelling between the realms, and hence the fog. We are near, what people call, the Bermuda Triangle. It is the most magical place on the entire Earth."
"So that's why all those planes and ships keep on disappearing? The magic causes the electronic equipment to stop functioning."
"Yes, the Bermuda Triangle is a highly restricted area. Very few people even know of its existence. The magical governments know, of course. But it is placed under the strongest of wards. Being an echo, it is easy for you to bypass these wards, but only because they know you are coming and have granted you access. If you don't have the clearance, it would be very foolish of anyone to try and enter."
"But what's all this secrecy for?"
"This is the largest centre on the earth dedicated to the study of magic. The centre will make any of the Department of Mysteries look like child's play."
"Oh! And what about the people who enter here? The ships, the planes, etc…"
"Those who survive get their memories modified and are sent back."
"You sound like very few of them survive."
"Not many are able to survive. Since the beginning, muggles have been warned not to enter this restricted area. Well, you know about how curiosity killed the cat, don't you? Their curiosity and ignoring the warning are the main reasons. At least they have lessened in recent years."
Harry fell silent after that. There was nothing that can be done if you do not heed the warnings.
"What's the date?" He asked suddenly. He realised that he had spent a lot of time with his parents and Voldemort could have almost destroyed everything in that time.
"It's the same day that you had your confrontation with Voldemort, although it's close to midnight. Time is another thing that is relative when you are no longer alive."
"Cool." He said feeling a little relieved.
"We are here." She announced after another minute.
Indeed, Harry saw that the fog was slowly thinning. When it cleared, he saw they were in a large circular room. In the centre on the room, a large ritual circle had been drawn on the floor with intricate runic patterns carved inside it. The whole setup was giving off a reddish glow with the runes sparkling with almost a dark scarlet hue. Just above the ritual circle, a body was floating in the air. It was completely bare and in fact looked more like a blob of skin and bones. It didn't even have a single hair on it.
"Your new body," Aurora said floating beside him. For a moment he had almost forgotten that he was not alone.
"Doesn't look like me." Harry said doubtfully. "What happened to the old one?"
"It was destroyed with the Dome of Vengeance. Don't worry, this is just a shell. Your magic will adapt to it and make it look like you."
"So, now, er… how do I enter this, um… my body?"
"Just feel for it. Let your magic guide you. Currently you are just an echo. To live, you must have a shell. Your magic will feel it and you will feel yourself settle in your new body."
"Er… okay, is there no one here?"
"The people in charge are waiting outside. Once they know you have entered your new body and are alive once again, they will come and help you. Is there a problem?"
"No, not at all, just making sure I don't fall down, crack my head and die again."
"You won't die Harry. And rest assured that if you do, I will get you back here and make sure to have some cushions on the floor next time."
"Thanks." Harry replied and stuck his tongue out at her and was replied with another smile.
He closed his eyes and thought about his magic. As if answering his call, he heard a soft humming sound. He tried to convey that he needed to get himself inside the body and was answered with another soft hum. He suddenly found something tug at his navel and felt that his effort had been a success.
He opened his eyes and smiled trying to convey his success to Aurora. He opened his mouth to say something but felt his vision blurring a little. He shook his head, but instead felt something pounding in his head. He made another extreme effort and finally managed to say something.
"I think I succeeded." He said slowly. "I won't be seeing you again, will I?"
Aurora just shook her head in the negative and waved a goodbye at him just as she began to fade away.
"Wait," Harry called out with another effort as darkness began to surround his vision. "Who are you really?" He still didn't know who she really was.
Just as his vision went completely dark, he heard her voice in his last conscious moments.
"Me? You know me, Harry. I am Fate."
It was an experience Harry had had many times in his short life. In fact, he was now so used to it that he rarely gave it a second thought when he felt the crisp linen sheets of a comfortable bed spread out underneath him. He was no stranger to the hospital wing at Hogwarts. He often wondered why he didn't have a bed booked especially for him in the hospital wing. In his opinion, he frequented the hospital wing far too often than the regular lot.
He felt very groggy, his eyes felt heavy and his whole body felt as if it was made out of lead. New body, still has work to do, a stray thought entered his mind. The words were barely registered in his brain as he was feeling highly disoriented. He wanted to lie on the comfortable bed forever. But then the stray thought did indeed register itself in his mind like a gong striking in his ears and his eyes flew open in panic.
Many thoughts started running in his now alert mind. New body! Holy shit! He wondered if he had successfully managed to enter the body. Oh Merlin! What if something went wrong?
It was as if someone noticed him panicking and a face came into view. It was an elderly woman, a healer perhaps, who greatly resembled his school nurse, Madam Pomfrey. She smiled at him causing him to relax slightly. It was a proven theory that if the healer is smiling at you, then you are probably completely safe and out of the woods, unless of course you are going to die in the next few minutes in which case the smile is just to make you feel better.
"Hello Mr. Potter. Are we awake then?" She asked in a soft melodious voice.
He tried to speak but found his throat to be very dry, so instead settled on nodding. She drew a green vial from the bedside stand and poured a slightly sour liquid in his mouth, making him feel better in a couple of minutes. His body also felt relatively normal and just as easy to move. He slowly got up and shook his head to clear the cobwebs from his brain. He was alive once again, of that he was sure. All that remained uncertain was a way by which he could finally vanquish Voldemort once and for all.
"The bathroom is through there." The healer said pointing to a door to one side of the room. "My name is Helena Carter. Just call me if you need anything. The dining room is the third one down the corridor."
"Thanks, Mrs. Carter." Harry replied. He stood up, stretched his limbs and then set off towards the bathroom.
It feels a little weird, he thought about his new body. It didn't feel any different from his old one. There was just the fact that he now had a completely different body than the one with which he was born. Two more similarities between me and Voldemort, first the horcruxes and now a new body, he thought. But it didn't affect him that much. He knew he now had one more chance to get rid of the Dark Lord and wanted to be ready when the time came, for then, it wouldn't matter how many similarities they both had, but rather who would walk away alive from the final battle.
He stood in front of the full length mirror and stripped down completely. One thing that immediately came to his notice was that he wasn't wearing any glasses and yet could see quite clearly. His emerald green eyes stared unblinkingly back at him he briefly wondered how he did not feel his glasses when he woke up. This surprised him more because even when he was dead, he needed his glasses to see clearly. And with his perfect vision, he could now see the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead quite clearly.
Perks of a new body perhaps, he reasoned with a grin. Well, he surely wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, or eyes, or whatever. He was just glad that the second Killing Curse didn't leave another scar.
Almost everything else was the way it was before. His hair was back once again to its former glory, meaning it resembled a bird's nest quite successfully. He thought his height had increased by an inch or two. His body also felt a little more muscled than the one he remembered. He already had some from playing Quidditch, but these were just a touch more than earlier, not bulky of course, but just there to make sure he wasn't looking skinny anymore.
His fingers, he was sure, were longer than they had been previously, a minor change nonetheless to which he paid little attention. He was very relieved to see Harry Junior and his nutty friends the same as they were before.
Half an hour later, he exited the private room set up for him in a set of nice clean clothes that were laid out for him and made his way towards the dining room. As soon as he entered, he was served an enormous breakfast by Mrs. Carter that he was sure would make Mrs. Weasley very proud. Harry was certain these two women would get along very well.
When he was finished, two people entered the room carrying some parchment and settled in front of him. As far as Harry could tell, they were brothers, not twins, but they had a similar facial and body structure. Both were about six feet high, middle aged and had well built athletic figures.
"Mr. Potter," one of them began, "my name is Jason Carter and this is my brother Alexander. We are the Chief Administrative Officers for the Magical Research facility. We will be your hosts for the next few days until you are ready to return. We have been advised to train you in certain fields that will help you perform better now that you know that your magic is sentient. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask."
"How long was I out Mr. Carter? Call me Harry." Harry asked thinking that they were sons of Mrs. Carter judging by their names.
"You were unconscious for approximately seven hours. It was necessary for you to adapt to your new body. And please, call me Jason."
"And you can call me Alex." Alexander cut in.
"That's fine. So how long will I have to be here? The sooner that I'm able to return, the better it'll be for everyone."
"Yes, we are aware of that." Alex said. "Your training period would actually depend on how fast you are able to adapt to the changes. But we reckon we can cut it down to three to four weeks with the help of a Time Dilation Field."
"What is a Time Dilation Field?"
"It is one of our recent inventions. A Time Dilation Field, or TDF for short, is a means of speeding up time in a particular area over which it is cast. It is a very advanced piece of magic, usually requiring at least 5 wizards to cast it successfully. Inside the field area, time moves at a speed about four times faster than that outside the field. Four times is the magical limit that a human body can adjust to without problems. Of course, since you are inside it, you do not notice the difference. It seems as normal as always. The days, the hours, the minutes and the seconds – all are similar. Except that, we have developed magically simulated motions of the sun, moon, stars, etc. otherwise, you would have been stuck with sunlight and darkness both for two consecutive days." Jason explained.
"And that means, by our estimation, you will be ready to return at most by the end of this month." Alex continued.
"Why are you helping to train me? Not that I don't appreciate it, but I want to know the reason."
"Your case is unique Harry, simply because this is the first time such a phenomenon has occurred. We admit that we want to study it a bit. Although, we assure you that we won't treat you like a lab rat. We respect your privacy and you won't have any troubles from us."
"Alright then, when do we start?"
"The TDF is being setup as we speak. We have another three hours or so before it will be ready. Till then, I think we should go through some plans regarding what we have to accomplish in the coming period." Jason said.
"First of all," Alex continued, "we don't think you should let anyone except for a few close allies know that you have indeed returned. It will give you a tactical advantage. And since you will need to hide your true identity, one of the first things we will cover will be disguising yourself. Your metamorphmagus ability will come in handy for this purpose."
"I didn't know I was a metamorphmagus." Harry replied a little confused.
"You were indeed not born as a metamorphmagus, Harry. Your ability was developed by your magic because of your will to appear normal, or rather as inconspicuous as possible. You started showing the ability quite early in your life when you grew your hair every time you had a haircut. But unfortunately it was limited to the hair only. While you were unconscious, we were able to alter it with a little help from your magic itself so that you now have the complete ability. We were also able to rectify the defect in your vision so now even that won't hinder you in any way."
"Thanks for that. And how do you know so much about me?"
"Don't mention it. And as a matter of fact, we know everything that we need to know about you in order to help you achieve your goal. Also, it is essential that you learn Occlumency in order to protect your secrets. Legilimency will also come in handy when you want to discover things that your enemies would like to hide from you."
Harry just nodded while listening to everything that was being said. He knew the more he learned, the better prepared he would be to defend himself.
"We will also go through some battle scenario training that will hone your battle tactics – stuff like what to do, what not to do and when or when not to do it. You will also be taught some other useful stuff like basic healing, some practical curses, stealth, tracking and camouflage, etc. In short, you will learn everything you will ever need in order to stay alive and kick some ass." Jason expanded.
"And all this will be completed within four months?" Harry asked.
"You bet! We even think you'll have some time to spare after you are done with you."
"Are you both going to train me then?"
"We have the pleasure of being your regular trainers. Others will be involved as and when they may be needed. Healing will be taught by our mother. I believe you have already met her."
"Yeah, she reminds me of my school nurse."
"The other important aspect you will be taught is personality development. You need to make sure people believe that you are the real deal and not some imposter. This training, along with your disguise and camouflage techniques, will ensure that no one doubts your identity." Alex finished with a flourish.
"Okay then, I'll look forward to get trained and then make sure to turn the Death Eaters life into a living hell."
"That's the spirit young man. Your enthusiasm will make sure we give you the best we can."
The rest of the morning was spent by the two instructors explaining to Harry what actually happened at the magical research facility. They could not tell everything since they were bound by secrecy laws, but still they did provide him with a general overview.
As Aurora, or Fate, had said, the facility was indeed the largest on the Earth. There were four other smaller facilities round the globe, but they would not tell him where they were located. Even Harry was now bound by the secrecy laws and wouldn't be able to tell anyone else that this facility was located within the Bermuda Triangle. It was a slight variation of the Fidelius Charm and could only be used if the concentration of magic was very high. It was the charm that was cast on most magical schools so that they could be hidden from unwanted people and access could be limited to those who either studied or worked there or had valid reasons for a visit.
Over the years the facility had become some sort of a community where people lived and worked on different aspects of magic. There was also a general populace that was not involved in research, but rather the well being of the community. Each and every one who worked on magical research was a specialist and quite gifted in their respective fields. It was the basic criteria for anyone who wished to work here – you had to be the best among the best. And though they had a working relationship with each other, they also enjoyed the social aspect that a normal community offered. Many of them had even started families after they had started working here.
The facility had all the required basic amenities – schools, hospitals and an effective administration. Harry was surprised to learn that both Jason and Alex were born and brought up here. It was true they visited the outside world, their relatives, and even went on holidays. But from their point of view, it was no different a life than what other people in the world lived.
Harry was so enthralled after learning so much about the facility that he wished even he could turn up here after finishing up with Voldemort. At least, he knew for a fact that he would be living among real intelligent people instead of the mindless sheep whose only purpose in their futile life was to point and gawk at his forehead or to try and ostracise him from their lives blaming him for all that is going on. Of course he realised that his title as the Boy-Who-Lived now had an entirely truer but different meaning.
Yes, life here would be so much peaceful, he mused longingly.
After an early lunch, Harry was whisked away with the help of a portkey directly where the TDF had been set up. He learnt that it was a secluded area far away from the general population. He could see a dark violet boundary line surrounding a moderate looking house. The boundary was glowing slightly and Harry could literally feel the amount of magic that had been used in its creation. He had a feeling of vertigo as soon as he entered the boundary and was thankful that he had had a rather light meal. Jason explained that the dizziness was because the body took a little time to adjust to the enormous change in the time dimension.
That afternoon, Harry's training began in earnest. Alex advised that they should start working on Occlumency first, because it would take longer to learn and also because Legilimency could only be learnt after being thorough with the former mind art. Jason in the meanwhile had gone back to complete some tasks and would return later.
"You should remember one basic thing when it comes to Occlumency. It is your mind that you are shielding from an outside attack. As a result, you own it and are its sole master. Your will must be strong enough to repel the attack. The skill is similar to defending against the Imperius Curse. It is a battle of the wills and the stronger always comes out on top. Your mind implies you have complete control over it and others don't have the right to enter it. But your control must be strong, as must be your will to defend, or the attack will be successful. Now get ready, I am going to enter your mind."
And before Harry could say another word, he clearly felt Alex's presence inside his mind going through his memories. He was in the cave alongside Dumbledore and forcibly feeding him the potion. He was airborne on his broom playing Quidditch as a feeling of exhilaration flowed through his body. He was sitting in Dumbledore's office going over the memories regarding Voldemort's rise to power. The next instance, he had cursed Malfoy so badly that the blood was flowing freely from his chest. He could see himself sitting with his friends and shedding tears at Dumbledore's funeral. And then just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped leaving him breathing very heavily.
What surprised him more was that even though he had been given a warning, the attack was very sudden as Alex had not used a wand and neither barked out the incantation as Snape used to do. Instead, he had continued to stare in his eyes and gained access without any problem. Harry realised that he may have to work on this very hard if he had any chance of success.
"Tell me why I succeeded in entering your mind, Harry."
"I was unprepared, I guess. I mean you didn't even use a wand or say the spell. One moment you are warning me and the next you are in my head."
"Yes, what you must realise is that the attacker won't warn you he is going to attack. And though this may seem a little harsh, it will only help you in the long run. You require eye contact for performing Legilimency, a wand is not necessary. And don't worry about clearing your mind and all that jazz. You should know by now that in your case, brute force works better than any other method."
"That reminds me, I'll need a wand. I don't even know what happened to my old one."
"Don't worry about it. Jason is going to get you one. It may not be perfect, but it will have to do. You'll have to retrieve your old wand when you return. Now remember what I've said, you have control of your mind. You possess the will to prevent me from gaining entrance. Now get ready."
Harry was finally able to expel Alex from his mind on the fifth try, but only after a couple of memories had been played out. Though Harry did not feel it, Alex insisted that it was decent progress on the first day. He just warned to try and stop anyone from entering instead of expelling them after they had already entered. Prevention is better than cure, he said as his mother often insisted. He also gave Harry a pleasant surprise by informing that his link with Voldemort, which was so strong due to the soul fragment, was now destroyed. As a result, Harry would now be free of visions from Voldemort.
They took a short break and had another session wherein Harry managed to expel him on the second try. He was just frustrated that he could not stop him from entering. After freshening up, they had a light snack, courtesy of the house elves, and then started working on his metamorphmagus skills. Though Alex wasn't a metamorphmagus himself, he knew the general theory and instructed Harry on the fundamentals of human anatomy. He warned Harry not to try and change the internal organs as that could have disastrous consequences.
Harry spent the next half hour in front of a mirror trying to hide his scar but was met with no success. He then tried to make his hair long and violet but was instead successful in lengthening only a select few while some others did change their colour to violet. He was slightly disappointed but was reminded by Alex to take it one thing at a time. The fact that he had managed to do something was itself a huge accomplishment. His new hairstyle was also successful in making Alex fall to the floor clutching his sides and laughing heartily.
He asked Alex why he wasn't able to hide his scar and whether it was due to the fact that it was a curse scar. Alex replied that he could eventually hide it but it would require a little more practice. He also reminded that the scar was now curse free as Voldemort's soul fragment within him was now destroyed, but the scar would remain as his magic accepted it as a part of his body. He also said that the hair was easily done because he had already done it and his magic was very familiar with it. Overall Harry was very glad that he indeed possessed the metamorphmagus talent as he knew it could come in handy.
Almost a month had passed in the TDF since Harry had started training. Till now it was only the Carters who were training him. His day began with a light physical exercise that would ensure that he would get more and more comfortable with his new body and remain athletic. While Alex took care of his Occlumency and metamorphmagus skills, Jason had started teaching him some curses that would make sure his enemies wouldn't wake up for a long time when those babies hit them. He also promised that they would cover the more lethal stuff later.
He was also started on basic healing with Mrs. Carter, which Harry found out to be the most difficult spells he had ever learnt. She had been able to procure a few healer training dummies but Harry had managed to cure only a few minor cuts and bruises. Of course, he was improving rather fast for she had threatened that he would have to heal himself after training if he couldn't even get the basic curses right.
One important thing that Harry noticed was his magic seemed more eager to flow out than ever before. He often found spells and curses easier to accomplish than he had before. He even had little trouble performing new spells, which he could master in two to three days. Jason explained that due to the sentience of magic, Harry did not need to shout out the incantations or even wave the wand in a particular pattern. So long as he knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish, his magic would make sure to get it done.
Even his metamorphmagus training was coming along nicely. He could now alter his appearance at will, but the problem was that he had difficulty in maintaining a particular form. The longest he had maintained a form was half an hour. Alex had told him that his skill would improve with practice. His progress in Occlumency was almost negligible. He had been able to stop Alex a few times now, but even then he could not hold him outside. Alex would eventually manage to slip inside, leaving him breathing heavily. And once again, Alex insisted that he was progressing a bit faster than they had estimated, but Harry was having some serious doubts about that.
The second month ended in a similar fashion to the first, but Harry now felt he was making some decent progress. He was able to master most of the basic healing spells, partly to remain safe from his own healing. His metamorphmagus skills had improved and he could now hold his form for almost half a day. Jason still had him training on nonlethal curses but had also started teaching him stealth and camouflage. The most surprising thing was that Harry was now able to hold off Alex's intrusions with relative ease. He was now getting a little confident in his Occlumency which led Alex to announce a major change in plans.
"Now that you have mastered the easier part," Alex said, "we'll now be getting on with the difficult part."
"We're starting on Legilimency already?"
"Of course not, it'll take another month or so. Once you have mastered Occlumency, Legilimency is a piece of cake."
"So what is the difficult part then?"
"What you have mastered till now is known as Defensive Occlumency. We'll now begin with Diversionary Occlumency."
"Eloquent as always, aren't you Harry? We'll have to work on that. But back to the topic of discussion, you now know how to defend your mind from an attack. I'll now teach you how to not defend your mind completely from the attack. This, in simple terms, means you are not protecting your entire mind, but are allowing some bits and pieces to be seen."
"You mean like selective defence?"
"That is correct. When you feel that someone is trying to discover your thoughts and you don't want them to know that you are trained in Occlumency, you'll have to employ diversionary tactics. You should be able to make them feel as if you are completely defenceless, but also be able to show them some selective memories that may not be useful to them. I'll also teach you to forge memories that will look so genuine that no one will be able to find fault with them."
"Memories can be forged?" Harry asked in shock.
"Of course they can. Obliviators do it all the time. Even you have seen Slughorn doing it, though he didn't manage to tamper with it successfully. That's the main reason why they are not used as evidence in courts. Now here's how you do it…"
It was a pleasant surprise to both Harry and Alex that Harry got the hang of Diversionary Occlumency quite easily. He had to work on it a little but managed to accomplish it in just a couple of weeks. He was also able to forge some memories with relative ease. Though the duration was still short, Harry knew he would be improving on it. He was also now able to hold his new form for a whole day and even while working on his other training. Soon they had begun working on Legilimency. It was similar to Occlumency in a way that even in this, a person need to overcome the other persons will. The only important factor on which they had to work was how to do it subtly so that it wouldn't be detected.
Jason had started showing him some of the lethal stuff now along with ways to counter and shield against those. He explained that while the basic shield 'Protego' could hold off most of the intermediate level curses, the advanced shields would last a lot longer and hold off majority of the powerful and lethal curses. He also started teaching some advanced spells like the ones for making portkeys or tracking a person's movements and even a few basic wards.
By the end of the third month, both Alex and Jason had finished with Harry's training and introduced him to a new trainer who would be taking charge of him for the rest of the time. His name was Jonathan Wilde and he would be teaching Harry personality development. He was an old man, at least a century old and almost six and a half feet tall. He was a thin, bald man with kind eyes and a wrinkled face, but Harry could tell he was very wise.
"I have been studying you for the past three months, Mr. Potter," he said, "you and your magic. And what I can see is most curious indeed. Do you know that due to your soul being anchored to six others, your magic is in fact being divided among them? What you can practically draw on is only a seventh part of what you actually possess."
"What?" Harry asked startled. "I can only use a seventh part?"
"Don't be frightened young friend. Your magic is only serving you. The division is so that it can protect them. As long as they are safe, your anchors are safe."
Harry heaved an enormous sigh of relief.
"I will inform you of the remaining trivialities later. What we need now is ten days of your time. In ten days, I will teach you to be who you, in fact, are not. I will teach you to create personalities, copy characteristics of others, so you can take their place and other such useful arts. You will be proficient in measuring a person in a few seconds. When you hear them speak, and learn their mannerisms, you could impersonate any person in this world in a manner that no one will doubt. Some of the things I'll teach will appear useless, but which are in fact not so. I am sure that by the end, you will start calling me Mr. Wild instead of Mr. Wilde. Now, let us begin…"
Mr. Wilde's words had in fact come true and Harry had begun to call him Mr. Wild or the 'Wild-man' instead, though he respected the man for his wisdom. He often gave some advice, which he termed as 'pearls of wisdom', to use when a specific situation arose. He even taught Harry how words could be used as weapons to mentally destabilise an opponent. He insisted that his most profound advice was – you should not just step in front of an opponent and curse him; you have to say something profound to distract him first. Harry had often seen Dumbledore use this tactic.
The man had taught him everything – from sneering like Snape to strutting like Malfoy. True to his word, he had trained Harry to imitate any one that he saw. Compiled with his metamorphmagus ability, he could now become anyone in this world. On the last day, he was asked to imitate Snape as a test. Harry was initially horrified to change to a Snape look alike. But Wild-man pointed out that he would have to do it sometime or the other, in the future, and most probably he would have to imitate his enemies. In the end, Harry did a fantastic imitation of Snape that even Alex and Jason applauded.
The old man also gave Harry a gift on the final day, a gauntlet for his left hand, which was made of light golden thread.
"It was developed here by the Research Division, especially considering your sentient magic. The gauntlet can be used as a shield against most curses, provided you use it with that intent in your mind. Your magic would then act on the intent and power the gauntlet so as to act as a shield."
Harry knew it would certainly be useful when he wanted to go on the offensive and did not want to waste time shielding against curses.
"Thank you, sir. This is indeed very useful." Harry said with gratitude.
"Now, I believe we have one other matter left to discuss – your anchors, to be precise. I'll inform you what we have learnt so far. Your soul, as you know, is anchored to six other individuals besides you, you being the seventh. We believe you will know who exactly your anchor is as your magic will pick it out, but we are not exactly sure how or when it will happen. Out of the six, we have been able to determine the identities of two of them. You will be little surprised to know that one of them is the Dark Lord himself."
"Voldemort is my anchor? How's that possible?"
"I believe that your magic felt the need for an anchor that would surely remain undamaged. And judging by the current scenario as well as your equation with him, the Dark Lord would indeed be the safest bet."
"Hmm… that makes sense, I guess." Harry replied thoughtfully. He would exist as long as Voldemort would exist. "So who is the second one?"
"The second anchor is your godfather, Sirius Black."
The statement was enough to drain the colour from Harry's face. He couldn't believe the old man had said his second anchor was his long dead godfather. But what if he isn't really dead? A voice in the back of his mind said. Harry knew better than to get his hopes up, but he couldn't help but ask for an explanation.
"Si-Sirius… how is that possible?" Even to him his voice sounded so small that he wondered if Mr. Wilde even heard it. "He fell through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries. Everyone told me he's dead. He is dead, isn't he?" He dreaded the answer, but the small spark of hope still remained.
"Er… you have to understand that…"
The hesitation was enough for the small spark to turn into a raging inferno.
"He's alive? Oh Merlin, he's alive!" Harry exclaimed with joy.
"Not exactly, Mr. Potter. Not exactly…" Wilde replied sadly.
There you go, another chapter done. Like it? Don't like it? Tell me so.
You may love it or you may hate it, but I'll bet you didn't see that coming.
Please Read and Review. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
1. I didn't bring back James and Lily – not much room in the story for them. And I'm not that much a fan of voices in the head.
2. The Love Potion in also a part of the main plot, and not just a means to split up Remus and Tonks.
3. The government wasn't that interested in Harry's cash, although that would have been welcome. We haven't heard about taxes in the magical world – makes me wonder how the Weasleys would survive, or even if they have to pay tax. The main intention of the government was to control Harry.
4. Harry's OOC mainly because he is rather in shock and he wants to try something that he has seen Dumbledore do quite successfully. I also wanted Harry to be a little selfish, and not holier than thou as always.
5. We have seen Voldemort's friendly nature in GoF. He can be quite a charmer when he wants it to be. Also, I wanted to portray a Voldemort who is rather over confident now that Dumbledore is dead.
6. About the title, I think NGA is rather appropriate. But if you can suggest a better one after reading this chapter, I'll consider changing it.
7. To those reviewers who pointed about Harry walking on his parents… well I'll say I'm not the only one. I surely empathise with anyone who has had that experience.
8. HONKS will be coming up soon.