Harry Potter and the Marauders of the Mind
Summary: Post-DH, Pre-Epilogue. The wizarding world is recovering and Hogwarts is re-opened. Harry Potter struggles to become a good DADA teacher, but it's hard when a large portion of his mind is commandeered by four familiar Marauders.
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling
A/N: Had a random inspiration to write this story. It just popped into my head and wouldn't leave.
The First Intrusion
It took a long time for the Wizarding world to reorientate itself after the final battle. It was a chaotic whirl of rounding up Death Eaters, funerals for loved ones, infighting at the Ministry of Magic and rebuilding Hogwarts.
Strangely, no one questioned that the restoration and reopening of the most famous school of Witchcraft and Wizardry should take priority in the rebuilding of the Wizarding world itself. Although it was never explicitly said, there was an overall feeling throughout Britain that the moment Hogwarts reopened for a new year, with Professor McGonagall as its new Headmistress, would be the moment that life would begin to return to normal.
Harry Potter, through all this, strove above everything, to keep to the himself. The eighteen-year-old Boy Who lived Again And Then Proceeded To Beat The Dark Lord (and wished everyday that someone would come up with a less cumbersome title) retreated to his Godfather's house, where he struggled to come to terms with his own part in the battle.
"Harry, you know you're always welcome to stay with us at The Burrow until everything is settled down," Ron pleaded with him, when he and Hermione dropped by one evening, ten months after the Battle of Hogwarts. "It's not healthy living here all on your own. You need to get out and do something."
"I am doing something," Harry said stubbornly, as he placed mugs of tea in front of his friends. "I'm making this house habitable again. And I'm not on my own, I've got Kreacher." He sent a smile to the ugly little house elf who bustled round the kitchen cooking dinner, dressed in a tea-towel toga and Regulus Black's locket.
"House elves don't count," Ron said, ignoring the look Hermione shot him at this statement. "You can't hide from the world forever, you know."
Harry ducked his head and stirred his tea rather viciously. He couldn't explain it to his friends. He couldn't make them understand that it was okay for them, because they had each other and a future and families that were really theirs. They were happy, and slowly recovering from the shock of the war while he stumbled and tripped along his life path, unable to follow them.
Ginny had tried to restart their relationship in the few months following Voldemort's defeat, but Harry found that he couldn't even make that work. There was a yawning gap between them filled with the dead of the war, and he could find no way to cross it. It was the very reason he had been able to walk to his death on the day of the final battle. He really had nothing left to lose anymore. His parents, Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, Fred, Tonks…so many people dead.
And then he had seen them there – James, Lily, Sirius and Remus, brought forth by the Resurrection Stone - and no matter how hard he tried, he could not get them out of his head. It was the obsession that the Deathly Hallows story had warned him about; that irresistible longing to be with them and talk to them again. That single moment when he had been part of his own family, not someone else's; not a second-hand family like the Weasleys whom he loved, but would never really be his.
He dreamed about them at night. Odd dreams where he was somewhere fuzzy, unable to make out shapes, but hearing their voices in his head. They bickered and laughed together, joked and conversed more seriously. Afterwards, He always remembered the warmth and love in these dreams, but never the conversations themselves. Instead of easing over time, the dreams just seemed to get more vivid and more frequent over the year following Voldemort's defeat. By the time his nineteenth birthday rolled around, there were moments when Harry almost imagined he could hear them in the back of his mind while he was awake. He wondered, with a weird sort of detachment, if this is what it felt like to go insane.
"He's right, Harry," Hermione said, breaking into his musings. "You can't stay locked away forever. That's sort of what we came to talk about actually. I've been helping Professor McGonagall with getting Hogwarts together to open this coming September. She hasn't been able to get hold of you. Those wards you've put up against owls are really a bit over the top, don't you think? Anyway, I said I'd ask you."
"Ask me what?"
"Whether you will be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher." Hermione and Ron watched him carefully for his reaction. They did a lot of things around him carefully now, as though he might break if they pressed to hard.
Harry's eyebrows shot up into his messy black fringe and his mouth gaped open. "They want me to be a teacher? I'm only nineteen!"
"You're the Defeater of the Dark Lord," Ron said. "No one will dare mess around in your classes."
"She offered me the position of Transfiguration teacher as well," Hermione said. "It's ridiculous, really, to even think about employing us as teachers, but so many of the best witches and wizards were killed in the war that they're pretty desperate. Apparently loads of parents said they'd feel safer leaving their children if Harry Potter is at Hogwarts. I'll only go if you do, though."
"No." Harry said firmly. Him? A teacher? For a moment he thought he heard a snort of laughter inside his head that didn't belong to him, which didn't make sense at all. For a second he thought of Voldemort, but there was no familiar auror of nauseating evil and corruption. Just his imagination, then. It had to be. "No. Definitely not."
"No! That's my final answer."
I'm insane, Harry thought, as he sat at the head table and stared down at the students who were filing into the hall. I've finally gone insane and that's why I'm doing this. He felt uptight and uncomfortable in the smart, new teaching robes Hermione had forced on him, and he was aware of hundreds of eyes staring at him. It reminded him of that time second year when everyone thought he was the Heir of Slytherin.
It was strange being back at Hogwarts. The witches and wizards who had restored the school had done a wonderful job. The Great Hall looked as amazing as it always did at the opening feast; the four long students' tables, each overhung with their own banner, and the staff table set up on a raised dais in front. The floating candles drifted beneath the enchanted ceiling which reflected the clear night sky.
:-You never told us the view was so cool from up here, Moony.-:
Harry jumped. "What?" he said aloud.
"I didn't say anything, m'boy!" Professor Slughorn assured him jovially. Harry wondered how much the fat potions master had been offered to agree to teach another year, seeing as he knew how hard it had been to get him back the first time round.
"Nothing," he mumbled. "I just thought I heard something."
:-They all look so little…-:
"Hermione?" Harry glanced to his left at the sound of a woman's voice.
"Yes?" she looked up.
"Did you say something?"
Hermione frowned at him. "Are you alright? You look a bit pale."
"I thought I heard – "
:-Is he talking about us? Harry, CAN YOU HEAR US?-:
Harry jumped violently and almost fell off his chair.
:-He can! Harry, listen. It's us, it's – -:
:-Harry, listen, we're not sure how we've got – -:
:-Do you know who it is, Pronglet? We just – -:
:-Shut up, all of you! Harry, calm down, you – -:
It was a cacophony of voices in his head, getting louder and louder as they struggled to be heard. It was clear from the fact that no one else reacted that he was the only one that heard them. He felt his breath shortening and his vision going fuzzy as he recognised two of the voices - two voices that he should never have been able to hear or recognise again.
"Harry? Harry?" Hermione was shaking his arm, but he could barely hear her over the other voices.
:-You're not going crazy, sweetie, we really are here.-:
:-…snuck in while the doors were open. You know, at the inbetween-station with old Dumbles – -:
:-…because of the Ressurection Stone, and we just hung on, and wouldn't go back – -:
:-…must breathe, Harry. SHUT UP, YOU LOT! Listen Harry, we can explain – -:
"Harry! You're hyperventilating. Calm down!"
There were hands on his back and someone tried to make him drink something cold.
Then it was black.