Chapter 1 - Sorry, Headmaster, change of plans...
August 2nd, 1994
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
I am sorry to tell you that I will not be returning to Hogwarts for my fourth year. I will be doing independent study to keep up with my year mates, however I do need a break from all the murder attempts, dangerous situations, and the general political fiascos that tend to crop up around me. Now, you're probably about to ask, "Where are you going to school this year?" Well, I think it's time I've told you about my summer activities.
When Dudley and I were seven, a card game had come out in England called Duel Monsters. Dudley and I were both very intrigued by the game, however I had to hide it, since I didn't want to be locked in the cupboard again without supper... oops, didn't mean to mention that. (Actually, yes I did, you short-sided old coot.) Thankfully, Uncle Vernon (and I use Uncle verrry loosely) decided that Dudley needed someone to practice with. (I.e. beat up on.) So he got both of us a deck and some booster packs to work with. Dudley opened all the packs and took what he thought were all the good cards. However, Dudley and thinking never go hand in hand, and he passed over some gems that he really should have taken a closer look at.
At that point, rather than go through the punishment mentioned earlier, I went to Dudley and flat out told him that if he used the cards that he took in his deck in a tournament, he would a) get beaten, and b) get laughed at for such a humiliating loss. I also told him I wouldn't help him with his deck if he threatened me. All I have to do is duel him. I don't have to help him win. This was at the point where I didn't care what happened, I was fed up with what passed for my relatives.
Anyway, Dudley chose at that moment to actually act as a human being. We decided to act as a team. He would get the cards, and I would help him with his deck construction. His deck is a machine deck, while mine is a mix of Dragons and Warriors, specifically, Elemental Heros. We spent most of the school year training and re-working our decks, then once summer started, we entered a tournament. The top prize was two duel disks, one for the winner and the other for a friend. Now Dudley, thankfully, had the foresight to save most of his allowance so he could get me some decent clothes to wear while at the tournament. (Again, I lay the blame on you for my attire due to my stays at the Dursleys.)
Back to the tournament. Both Dudley and I were scared, for we knew only about 25 of the people in the gymnasium, and they were all from school, though now that I think about it, I do seem to remember someone looking like Hermione there... wait, I just had a memory flash. Crap, Hermione was there. I hope she's not still pissed at me getting a total win in our duel. (That means I still had all my life points, she didn't. Ask her how the game works, this letter's getting too long as it is.) Dudley and I moved up the tournament brackets, though he got knocked out in the quarter-finals. I, however, made it all the way to the finals, and after a very close duel, won the tournament and the disks, of which I gave one to Dudley.
After that, we entered the regional tournament. Both Dudley and I had qualified for the National Tournament, and we got our names in the local paper. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia weren't very pleased with me, but, since I had qualified and was in the paper, they had to let me participate, which meant a few more clothes for me to wear. At the Nationals, the competition was fierce. I was good... but not that good. I placed 4th, while Dudley got 5th.
After that, we entered a few more tournaments, which gave us even more dueling experience. Even after I started Hogwarts, I still participated during the summer. Which leads me to the reason for this letter. I recently took the entrance exam for a school called Duel Academy, which I passed with flying colors. This exam was for entrance to the main campus on an island somewhere south of Japan. And, since the island is neutral territory, Sirius will be able to visit me whenever he wants.
Since the school starts at the same time Hogwarts does, I'll still be able to go with the Weasleys to the Quiditch World Cup (and don't even try to stop me on that). After that, I need to be at Heathrow Airport on August 30th to catch my flight to Japan, where I'll catch a helicopter to Duel Academy Island. I'll make sure to send Hedwig whenever I can, and I'll try to visit on Christmas.
Harry James Potter
P.S. In case you're wondering how I knew you placed me with the family from hell, I went to Gringotts the day after I returned to get some money for new clothes. To my utter surprise, they brought me to the Potter account manager asking me why I haven't been in to see my parent's will, which I should have seen when I was ELEVEN!!!!! In the will I found two things other than the family fortune. The first was a signed affidavit from Peter saying that he was the secret keeper. I already sent that to Madam Bones at the DMLE. She promised that Sirius will have safe passage through the Ministry so long as he shows up for the trial he should have had years ago. I timed this letter for you to read two minutes before the trial started, as I know you would interfere. The second item were emancipation papers, which I gladly signed. I'm now legal, free to use magic, and I've already pranked my relatives to hell and back. (Dudley only minimally, as he's now someone I can actually stand to be around.) If the Weasleys are there with you, tell them I'll be at the Burrow tomorrow, I'll floo from the Leaky Caldron.
Albus Dumbledore looked at the letter in his hands in shock. He failed the boy... no, the young man who he loved like a grandson. Who knew Harry would take such a perverse delight in counter-acting everything he set up to, well, not control, but to limit him so he could come into his powers slowly. "I guess some people come into their own sooner than others," he thought out loud. Albus then turned his gaze from the letter to the other people in the room. Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, the Weasleys, and Hermione Granger were there, being summoned after he read Harry's first paragraph.
He first looked at Miss Granger, and then quickly decided to look away. Hermione had a look on her face that could only be described as pissed. Her face was beet red, her eyes shown a fury beyond anything ever seen on this earth, and she was muttering, "Him! How could I have forgotten HIM! The next time I see him we are sooo having a re-match!" Professor McGonagall was trying to calm her down. She nearly lost her right arm in the process, but she got Hermione down to at least mildly peeved.
Professor Snape merely smirked to himself at how Potter managed to get the know-it-all so riled up. He thought about making a comment about him, but decided it wasn't worth the loss of his life or his limbs at this time, particularly in the state Miss Granger is in. Meanwhile, Arthur Weasley, his wife Molly and his boys and only daughter, were staring at Professor Dumbledore, wondering what was going to happen next.
"Professor Dumbledore, just what is 'Duel Monsters'?" asked Ron, the youngest Weasley boy.
"I believe, as the letter states, that we should ask Miss Granger here," said Dumbledore.
Taking a deep, steadying breath, Hermione launched into lecture mode, explaining the rules, the types of cards, and, using Professor Dumbledore's pensieve, showing them her now remembered match with Harry, which had everyone, save Professor Snape, gushing over how cute they were.
"And so I lost," said Hermione. "After the tournament, I asked him, 'Why didn't you just attack me with the two Blue-Eyes instead of doing a fusion?' I hated his response to this day. 'Well, this was the first time I used Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. That and I wanted to see the look on your face.'" With the memory over, they exit the pensieve.
Back in the office, Hermione clenches her fists and yells "Harry Potter, when next we meet, you are so DEAD!"
"Do you really mean that?' said a voice behind Dumbledore's chair.
"YAHHH!" yelled everyone in shock, as out from behind the chair walks Harry Potter and Sirius Black, both trying very hard not to give into the laughter wanting to escape their mouths.
"Harry, what the bloody hell are you doing here?" asked Ron. "Ronald, language!" chastised Mrs. Weasley.
"Oh, I just came to see what's on the book list for this year, as well as ask if there were any books I could use to expand the lessons," said Harry.
"I'll write up the list," said Professor McGonagall.
"So, Sirius, I take it you're now a free man?" asked Professor Dumbledore with a twinkle in his eye.
"No thanks to you, ya old fart," said Sirius angrily. Professor Dumbledore blanched. Sirius continued. "Did you even read James and Lily's will? Especially about Harry's placement?"
"No, I didn't, but I would assume that Petunia Dursley and her husband were on the list right after you," said Dumbledore.
"No, they weren't. I was the only listed guardian for Harry. Petunia absolutely, 100, hated her sister," said Sirius. "The will stated, and I quote, 'If I know both Sirius Black and Professor Dumbledore, Sirius will probably end up in jail for doing something stupid, and Professor Dumbledore will place Harry with my sister and her family, who hate anything related to me and magic. He'll probably reason that Harry will be protected by family blood. That's not going to happen as I'm adopted. Turns out I was kidnaped from my birth family right after I was born. My true maiden name is Yuki, as I found through a heritage ritual at Gringotts. Anyway, as soon as Harry reads this will, he is to be given the enclosed emancipation papers to sign if he's not with Sirius Black.'"
"In other words, Professor, you put me through hell for absolutely no reason," said Harry.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't know," said Dumbledore sadly.
"So, are you really going to a different school?" asked Ron.
"Yes, Ron," said Harry. "I'm not quitting magic, as I have lined up some of the brightest witches and wizards from all around the world to help me learn, and not just what the Ministry limits us to learn. Before you start in, Hermione," he said as she opened her mouth, "let me explain. I'm not talking about the Dark Arts and things like that. I'm talking about different Transfiguration spells from China, new Charms from Australia, improved Potions from Kenya. I decided I want a world-class education, instead of just a British-class education, so I'm bringing the world to me."
"How can you afford all this, Harry?" asked Hermione. "I mean, Duel Academy and all those tutors, it's going to add up."
"Well, when I signed those emancipation papers, I gained control of my family fortune. It turns out that I'm ten times richer than most of the pureblood families, combined. I'll barely be spending 1 of the interest for the week on what I'm doing. And yes, Ron, I'm more than willing to share, all you have to do is ask."
"Thanks, Harry," said Ron. "Though, you know, it's going to be lonely here without my best friend around."
"And that brings up the other reason I'm here. I found out that Duel Academy is holding a late entry exam on the 25th. If you and Hermione train, and I mean train, and if the World Cup doesn't run too long, maybe the two of you can enter," said Harry. "Sorry, Ginny, but the minimal entrance age is 14."
"That's okay, Harry. Just so long as you write every chance you get," said Ginny.
"There's just one more thing to do, Mr. Potter," said Hermione tersely.
"And what's that?" asked Harry.
"Re-match," said Hermione through clenched teeth.
"Oh. That. You're lucky that I brought my cards and Duel Disks," said Harry, picking his bag up from the floor behind Dumbledore's chair.
"They won't work in Hogwarts, how many times do I have to tell you that?" said Hermione.
"Actually they will. I don't know how he did it, but Seto Kaiba actually designed the circuitry and wiring to work around magic. So lets go to the Great Hall. We'll have more room there," said Harry as he handed her a disk. "Here you can use my old one. I was already sent the Academy disk." Harry pulls a sleeker version of the Duel Disk out of his bag as they headed down.
"Cool. So if we get in to this school with you, we get one of those as well?" asked Ron in awe.
"Yep. Every student gets assigned one upon passing the entrance exam. They're yours to keep whether you graduate or not," said Harry. "Me, I'm just going for the year, as I want to experience something else for a change."
"What kind of things do people learn at Duel Academy?" asked Fred.
"Oh, there's duel theory, a study of the rules and regulations, deck construction, things like that. There's even a course called duel alchemy," said Harry.
"What?!" exclaimed everyone else.
"Yeah. One of the teachers, a Professor Lyman Banner, found an ancient book about alchemy and something called the Shadow Realm," said Harry. "Oh, I almost forgot. One of the Battle City finalists, Marik Ishtar, will be holding a semester-long lecture series on the comparison of the Ancient Egyptian Shadow Games and modern day Duel Monsters."
"Why do I get the feeling that you said that just to tempt me into going with you?" asked Hermione.
"Because I know your weaknesses, just as you know mine," replied Harry, smiling. Hermione slapped him on the arm for that.
"Ow, milady wounds me," said Harry sarcastically.
"That won't be the only thing milady wounds if you don't quit it," said Hermione with a slightly feral grin.
"Crap," said Harry as they entered the Great Hall, "I knew I was taking a chance on re-awakening her duel drive." Professors Flitwick and Sprout saw the group enter the hall and quickly asked what was going on. After a quick explanation, they joined the others to watch while getting a few bowls of popcorn from the house-elves. Professor Dumbledore vanished the two middle tables, giving Harry and Hermione plenty of room for their duel.
"Just so you know, I built a new deck based on Spellcasters," said Hermione, while shuffling her deck.
"Just so you know, that doesn't mean a thing," said Harry, placing his deck in the deck zone.
"Let's duel!" yelled both Harry and Hermione.
Hand (Opening): Elemental Hero Burstinatrix, Elemental Hero Sparkman, Brain Control, Lightning Blade, Meteor of Destruction
Hand (Opening): Blast Magician, Dark Magic Attack, Swords of Revealing Light, Call of the Haunted, Spell Shield Type-8
"Ladies first," said Harry.
"Thank you, said Hermione, as she drew a card. She picked up Spell Absorption. Blast, she thought, not what I really need right now, but I can make it work.
"I place two cards down," said Hermione, placing Spell Shield and Call of the Haunted in the S/T zone, which appear as giant cards in front of her, to the surprise of the others, "and set one monster in defense mode. I end my turn."
Harry draws a card. It was Axe of Despair. Sweet! thought Harry. This is going to be a blast, starting with... "First I play Meteor of Destruction, hitting your Life Points for 1000 damage," he said, as a meteor appears and slams into Hermione. "Don't worry," said Harry to the others, especially as Ron started to get up to come after Harry, "there are extensive safety protocols in place to make sure we don't get extremely hurt."
"Next I Summon Elemental Hero Sparkman, and equip him with Axe of Despair!" A blue and gold warrior appears in front of Harry surrounded by lightning, followed by a wicked axe that attaches to Sparkman's hand. "Now, Sparkman, attack the facedown monster!"
Sparkman dashes forward and slams the axe into the facedown card, revealing it to be a Blast Magician, which now gets sent to the Graveyard.
"That ends my turn," said Harry.
"Amazing," said Professor Flitwick. "I never realizes Muggles had anything like this."
"I agree, Professor," said Fred. "This is going to be intense."
"And it's only just started," agreed George.
Hand: Elemental Hero Burstinatrix, Brain Control, Lightning Blade
Hand: Dark Magic Attack, Swords of Revealing Light, Spell Absorption
"Okay, my turn now," said Hermione, drawing a new card. It was Magical Dimension. Crap well, I guess it's time to stall, she thought.
"First I activate Call of the Haunted, returning Blast Magician to the field. Then I play Spell absorption, followed by Swords of Revealing Light." The Spell Absorption card gives Hermione 500 Life Points as Swords of Revealing Light activates, trapping Harry's side of the field for three of his turns. "And that ends my turn," said Hermione.
"My turn," said Harry. Well, here goes something,Harry thought as he drew his card. He got Premature Burial. Well, there goes something, he thought sourly. "I set one monster in defense mode and end my turn. Two Sword turns left."
"Let's see what I got," said Hermione. She drew Shield Crush."Eh, might as well use it now. I play Shield Crush, destroying your facedown monster." Burstinatrix appears for a moment before exploding into light fragments. "Your turn," said Hermione smiling.
Please be something good, Harry thought desperately. He got Heavy Storm. "Payback time! I play Heavy Storm!" Upon activation, all Spell and Trap cards on the field are sent to the Graveyard. Harry loses Axe of Despair, while Hermione says goodbye to Swords, Spell Absorption, Spell Shield, and Call of the Haunted, which means she loses Blast Magician, as well.
"Crap!" said Hermione in shock.
"I'm not going to bother with the tribute to get Axe back on top of my deck, instead I'll equip Sparkman with Lightning Blade!" With that, Sparkman get an electrically charged sword which raises his attack points from 1600 to 2400.
"Sparkman, direct assault!" shouted Harry. Sparkman ran towards Hermione and slashed her disk with his sword, causing her Life Points to drop from 7500 to 5100. "It's your turn now."
"Now that was an interesting exchange," said Professor Snape.
"Indeed," said Professor McGonagall, "and in case you haven't noticed, Harry's Life Points have yet to be hit."
Hand: Brain Control, Premature Burial
Hand: Dark Magic Attack, Magical Dimension
Hermione drew her next card, a Royal Magical Library. Man, I wish we had this in real life, she thought. "Alright, I set one monster in defense mode and end my turn."
"And now I draw," said Harry, drawing Elemental Hero Stratos. "Let's have some fun here. First I play Premature Burial. I pay 800 Life Points and bring back Elemental Hero Burstinatrix. Next I summon Elemental Hero Stratos. Now for the Battle Phase. Sparkman, attack the facedown monster!" Sparkman slashes the card, which shows Royal Magical Library before heading to the Graveyard.
Now I'm in trouble, thought Hermione.
"Burstinatrix and Stratos, direct assault!" Burstinatrix launches a fireball, while Stratos sends a whirlwind directly at Hermione, sending her Life Points to 2100. "My turn's over now."
"Harry sure has an impressive array of monsters," said Arthur.
"I'm more interested in the spell cards," said Dumbledore. "I wonder if they can work in real life?"
Hand: Brain Control
Hand: Dark Magic Attack, Magical Dimension
Please, please, please be something good, Hermione prayed to the cards. She drew Nightmare's Steelcage. "Thank you!" exclaimed Hermione, looking up at the enchanted ceiling. "I play Nightmare's Steelcage. All monsters on both sides of the field are stopped for your next two turns, starting now, as I end my turn." A giant steel cage appears over both sides.
"Not again," moaned Harry, as he drew his next card, which was Elemental Hero Avian. "I end my turn, as there's nothing I can do right now."
Hermione drew her next card, wondering what Harry was up to, and got Gemini Elf. "I summon Gemini Elf to the field and end my turn."
Something tells me she's planning something big. It all depends on her next card, thought Harry. Though I doubt it will be strong enough to take on Sparkman. "I draw." Harry picks up a Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Hellooo. Time to take this to the end game. "I end my turn," said Harry, which ends the effect of the steel cage.
Hermione drew her Heavy Storm. Perfect, she thought. "I play Heavy Storm, sending your spells to the Graveyard." Harry watched as his Lightning Blade and Premature Burial, followed closely by Burstinatrix, get blown off the field. "Gemini Elf, attack his Sparkman!" The twin elves fire a spell blast at Sparkman, destroying him and inflicting 300 damage to Harry's Life Points. "That ends my turn."
"You know, I never knew that Hermione was this competitive," said Ron.
"Ron, you've seen her do her homework," said Ginny. "Trust me, this is only getting started."
"Unfortunately, from the look in his eyes, Harry's getting ready to finish it," said Molly.
Hand: Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Elemental Hero Avian, Brain Control
Hand: Dark Magic Attack, Magical Dimension
Harry draws a Miracle Fusion, which is, well, not what he needed, but gives him some extra choices. "Decisions, decisions. Alright, first I summon Elemental Hero Avian, in attack mode."
What's Harry doing? thought Hermione. That monster is way too weak, unless...
"Next I play Miracle Fusion. I remove from the field Avian, and from the Graveyard Burstinatrix, to Fusion Summon Elemental Hero Flame Wingman!" And a red and green monster with one large wing on his back and a dragon-headed right hand appeared on Harry's side of the field.
"You think that monster scares me, Harry?" asked Hermione with a smirk. "I'll still have life points left after you attack."
"Actually, you won't Hermione," said Harry. "Flame Wingman has a special ability. When he destroys an opponent's monster, the attack points of the attacked monster get subtracted from the owner of the attacked monster, in this case, you'll not only lose 200 from the attack, but also the 1900 from the special ability."
"EEP!!!" whimpered Hermione.
"Flame Wingman, attack!" Flame Wingman flew up, then dived at Gemini Elf, destroying the monster. First, the 200 points disappeared from Hermione's Life Points, then the special ability kicked in, and she lost the remaining 1900 points.
Harry Potter: 6900 - Hermione Granger: 0
"Good game, Hermione," said Harry as he came over to shake her hand. "Well I've got to get going. There's a few more things I need to take care of. May I have my Duel Disk back, please?"
"NO!," screamed Hermione. "You're not leaving until I win! That's twice now that you've defeated me."
"Ms. Granger, you're not being a gracious loser," said Professor Dumbledore. "You should be proud that you've played your best, even against a tougher opponent. Clearly, Harry has practiced his skills, and has grown strong as a duelist."
Hermione thought over what the Headmaster was saying. "You're right, Professor. It's just that I really wanted to win," she said.
"Hermione, right there is the biggest difference between our dueling attitudes. You wanted to win; I just wanted to have fun, win or lose," said Harry.
"I guess I forgot that," said Hermione sheepishly.
"Hermione, it's okay to win, but you have to remember that a game is all about having fun, win or lose," said Professor McGonagall.
"Now if you would only feel that way about Quiditch," said Professor Snape.
"Well, that won't be an issue this year, as the Quiditch House Cup is canceled," said Professor Dumbledore.
"Canceled?!" exclaimed Ron. He got up, ran over to Harry, grabbed the front of Harry shirt, pulled Harry close and said, "Harry, train me. NOW!"
"I will, Ron, don't worry," said Harry. "Just let me get a few things settled, then we'll go card shopping. I think you'll lean towards a more standard Warrior deck, and there's a structure deck or two that can work for you."
"Ronald Weasley, do you really think I'll let you go off to this school?" asked an exasperated Mrs. Weasley.
"Mrs. Weasley, I already have it covered," said Harry. "If you and Mr. Weasley, as well as Hermione's parents, agree to let them go if they pass the exam, then my tutors will be payed extra to teach two more students."
"Harry, dear, that has got to be a small fortune! There's no way I'll let you pay for all this," said Mrs. Weasley.
"Mrs. Weasley, please, I want to share this with my friends," said Harry. "Besides, I doubt there will be magical trouble at a Muggle school halfway around the globe."
"Well... alright, but only if he can pass the exam, which means I want to see you seriously training, young man," said Mrs. Weasley to her youngest son.
"I will, mum," replied Ron.
"Great," said Harry. "I have a few more things to move into Sirius's place, then I'll come over to take Ron card shopping."
The teens and the adults organized their plans for this year, praying that nothing will go wrong.