Lessons Learned

This story is my alternative version of Harry's sixth year because frankly, I wasn't thrilled with a few aspects of JK's version. I like to think that the death of Sirius might prompt more thought and maturity instead of anger and resentment. I know I'm just a romantic or an optimist.

I am, of course, only playing with characters and situations conceived of by a much better writer than I. I am not writing for profit but the sheer bloody-minded need to get this out of my system. I post it only because my better half insisted.

Spoilers for all seven books included.

Pairings: HP/DM and RW/HG eventually — although if you are looking for steamy sex scenes, this isn't the story for you

Rating: M


Part 1: Summer of Discontent

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

And all the clouds that lowered upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

--William Shakespeare from Richard III


Harry,

I know you don't like to talk about what's on your mind, but I really think you need to after everything that's happened. If you hold too much inside, you'll make yourself crazy over the summer. I was hoping this book could help you get some of it out without having to share with anyone if you didn't want to.

Write to me if I can help in any way.

Love,

Hermione

If this had been a normal summer, Harry probably wouldn't even have found Hermione's gift until he got back to Hogwarts. But this summer, Harry's trunk wasn't locked away in the cupboard under the stairs. When they got back to Privet Drive, all three Dursleys still looked a bit shell-shocked after their warning from Harry's reception party at King's Cross. Harry mentally thanked Moody's scary appearance and had hauled his trunk and Hedwig's cage up to his room before they thought to take it away from him. Since then, Uncle Vernon had been too busy working extra hours trying to get a promotion at work to take much notice of Harry. Harry was pretty sure he was also trying to pretend Harry didn't exist and Petunia and Dudley were taking their cue from him. Harry was taking the opportunity to avoid seeing them all as much as possible.

So, he came across the notebook from Hermione that first full day back while he was looking for something to read. He hadn't left his room except for trips to the kitchen and the bathroom since the afternoon before, and he was already bored and restless. He was hoping to find an old Quidditch Weekly to reread, but all he found were schoolbooks and the notebook from Hermione.

Just great, he thought, this'll really help. He thought the sarcasm was almost Snape-worthy and then felt guilty for being so mean when Hermione was only trying to help. Well, he certainly had nothing else to do.

I don't know why I'm writing in this book. I guess mostly I'm just so bored. I want to be doing something. Fighting Voldemort. Preparing for war. Instead, I'm stuck back at the Dursleys with nothing to do and no one to talk to. I'm going to go crazy if I have to stay here all summer. I hope Ron can convince his parents to let me come to The Burrow.

Strangely, he felt a little better just for writing that down. But, of course, now he had nothing else to write.

Nothing to do.

Nothing to do.

Nothing to do.

God, this is pathetic.

He slammed the book closed and opened his Transfiguration textbook. Maybe he could find something interesting in there

#

A few days later, he was pacing his bedroom with sudden anger. He had been brooding about what happened at the Department of Mysteries. Why hadn't Dumbledore told him abut the prophecy or that Voldemort might try to use him to get it? Why had Snape broken off their Occlumency lessons? Why had Sirius gone there? Why hadn't he been more careful when he was fighting Bellatrix?

Harry felt the hair on the back of his neck standing up and heard a buzzing in his ears. Suddenly he realized that he was losing control of his magic. He really didn't want another letter from the Improper Use of Magic Office. He had to get control. He closed his eyes and counted to 10. When he opened them, he felt only marginally more in control. The notebook that Hermione had given him lay on the floor in front of him. What the hell, it was worth a shot.

It's so unfair. It could have been prevented so easily. We barely got to spend any time together, and now he's gone. If only…

An hour later, he looked up surprised to find how much time had passed. He wasn't angry anymore; he wasn't breathing hard or clenching his fists or sweating in frustration. Maybe Hermione had the right idea here.

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I can't believe that bitch Umbridge got away with all she did. Who gave her the right to poke her nose in everyone's business and ruin everything? I can't believe anyone would believe her lies about Hagrid…

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Stupid Snape always makes everything so difficult. Maybe if he had explained how the hell I was supposed to block him before he attacked, I would have actually learned something. But no, he has to….

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I can't believe my dad and Sirius were such bullies. I can't believe Professor Lupin would let them get away with it. He had to know how awful it was to be picked on as much as I do. I don't think I would have liked any of them if I had known them while they were at Hogwarts. Did they really change when they got older? Can anyone change that much? Why did everyone like them if they….

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How did I let it happen? If only we hadn't gotten separated from Ron, Ginny, and Luna. If only I had Petrified that Death Eater that Hermione had silenced before he hexed her. If only I picked the right door. If only we weren't there in the first place!! I'm such an idiot for letting him maneuver me right where he wanted me.

Harry slammed the notebook closed again. He had been writing in it off and on now for more than a week. It always made him feel better. But this was not something that was going to go away just by writing about it. He had killed Sirius just like he had killed Cedric. It was only dumb luck that Sirius was the only one dead among his friends that night. He only had himself to blame for being there in the first place.

What can I do so that no one else dies? What can I do to try to prevent another disaster?

1. Trust Dumbledore. He knows more than I do.

2. Talk to people when I'm having weird dreams or if I think something funny is going on. Ask for help from Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, anyone!

3. Learn Occlumency. (How do I do this if Snape won't teach me?)

4. Don't let Snape get to me. Dumbledore wants us to get along, and he will kept treating me like a kid if I keep acting like an idiot every time Snape provokes me. Plus, I need as many people helping me as possible. Snape's a git, but we need him on our side. Who knows, maybe he'll unbend enough to teach me O again.

5. Don't let Draco and company provoke me either. Fighting with the Slytherins is just a waste of time.

6. Learn as much as I can. I'm going to need every hex, charm, spell, and potion there is to beat Voldemort. I need to start trying to learn rather than just trying to pass my classes.

He sat back satisfied that he had a plan. Now, how did he make it happen? Suddenly, he needed some air. He hadn't been outside since he had gotten back from Hogwarts. He sat and listened. It didn't sound like Uncle Vernon or Dudley was home. He put on his trainers and walked quickly and quietly downstairs and outside. He didn't think they were home, and Aunt Petunia rarely stirred herself to notice Harry without them around to goad her. But it never paid to assume too much when it came to the Dursleys. And it was always smart to stay far away from any place Dudley might hang out with his friends.

Twenty minutes later, he was still walking when he saw a sign for a bookstore ahead of him. Inspiration stuck. Maybe Snape wouldn't teach him Occlumency, but he could practice what he was supposed to be doing last year. Snape was always telling him to empty his mind. Harry was pretty sure that was what people were trying to do when they meditated. Maybe he could get a book on meditation that would tell him what to do.

He opened the door and a little bell jingled to signal his entrance. A woman that reminded him a little of Mrs. Weasley grinned at him from behind the front counter. Harry immediately felt better just looking at her motherly smile.

"Welcome to Constant Comment. How can I help you?"

"Um. Well, actually, I was wondering if you had any books on meditation."

Oh, certainly! There are books, tapes, CDs, even videos if you want. They're all upstairs. At the top of the stairs, take a left and then look for the 'New Age/Self-Help' signs. If you get to the coffee shop, you've gone too far."

Harry followed her instructions and found himself immersed in a huge selection of books and other paraphernalia. There were so many books that he was a little unsure what to buy. He didn't have a tape player, and he only had a little bit of Muggle money, so he was pretty sure he couldn't buy one. They looked dead useful though.

Meditation Made Easy will lead you easily and comfortably into a meditative state of mind. Meditation is a wonderfully easy way to revitalize your spirit, to let go of tensions, and to promote peace of mind. Sit back, make yourself comfortable, engage your imagination, and allow the gentle voice lead you into a relaxed and regenerative space.

Maybe he could ask Hermione to send him some money. He could always pay her back from his Gringott's vault when they got back to Hogwarts.

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