Partially Kissed Hero
I I I
Every so often the entire Harry Potter universe offends me so deeply that I just have to react by folding, spindling and mutilating it.
I I I
Harry Potter had an epiphany.
It was really a very simple one, actually. Once he'd inflated his Aunt Marge in the first week after school let out he'd fled to the Leaky Cauldron and met Minister Fudge, then he'd been told that a very dangerous criminal was on the loose, and after him.
But they hadn't told him very much, only that he was in danger.
While wandering Diagon Alley the next day and passing by the bookshop, the most wonderful idea had come to Harry, and he had popped in to buy a book on Sirius Black to find out more about this dangerous criminal, to know more so he could better avoid him.
The kind clerk had directed him to the wizarding biographies section, and there, two shelves down from all of the books on Lockhart, was a whole shelf devoted entirely to Harry...
... and his family.
The young child didn't leave the bookshop except to eat or sleep for days. Finally, Mr Flourish gave him a copy of every book on that shelf as a gift to get the boy out in the clear air and sunlight again.
But Harry had learned an amazing amount, and finally understood what his best female friend found so fascinating about books. No one had ever told him so much as three words strung together about his family, but there in the bookstore all that time had been entire biographies of the Potter family line, the exploits of his famous parents, and... it was meat and drink to the poor child, who'd always before considered himself an orphan, unloved and, though he didn't put it into exact words, unlovable.
But there in those books, he'd learned that he had very much in common, personality wise, with his father, and many traits in common with his mother. On learning they had skills and specialties Harry himself wasn't pursuing, the child sent off a letter to Professor McGonagall changing his electives this coming year. He'd like to study Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, like his mother had done before him.
So much for an easy class with Ron, but he wanted to see what made his mother love those courses so much, and so it was back to Flourish and Blotts to buy the necessary textbooks, and so eager was he that he started to read all of his textbooks, so he could get a start on his coursework early.
Then, finding his past two years of slacking off with Ron had not served him well, Harry went back over the last two years of books and material, filling in holes formed by him goofing off.
He even wrote to Hermione, asking if she could mail him photocopies of her last two years of notes, and asking if she knew of a muggleborn Ravenclaw in their year they could ask for notes covering the material she had missed after having been turned to stone.
Hermione wrote him right back with several books worth of thick stacks of parchment covering her two years of study, and a note that she'd ask for a reference through McGonagall about whom to get other notes from.
Hermione'd even congratulated Harry on having a great idea!
Having read half a page congratulating him on finally getting serious about his studies, the Boy-Who-Lived felt renewed vigor about pursuing them, and dove into the material like a boy discovering candy for the first time.
Or, more appropriately, like a boy who had just discovered something about his much-loved and absent parents, and wanted to be like them in more than just looks.
Harry had discovered an identity. His mother had been a genius on Charms, while his father was a master of Transfiguration. They had been excellent students, both of them, and he wanted them to be proud of him. So he went around to all of the people in the Alley asking for tips and pointers on how to better master his crafts and be more like his genius parents.
Mr. Flourish ended up leading him to several stacks of supplementary reading on those subjects, and others, and Harry spent more than was probably wise collecting those books and others to help him on his chosen course of study.
After the very first gift of books, Harry found his trunk too small to fit his new collection, but this new set was larger than the trunk itself, so it was obvious that he'd have to do something before he had to pack before going back to Hogwarts. So he asked Mr. Flourish, and got directed by the friendly shopkeeper over to where he could buy a specialty one.
Looking around the wizarding luggage shop, Harry ended up purchasing four traveling bookcases instead of a larger trunk. They were full size, floor to ceiling rosewood bookcases with glass fronts to protect the books from dust and each unit had two halves that folded together like a locket. When closed it looked like a large steamer trunk, about eight feet tall and four feet on each side, but when opened it was just two bookcases joined by a hinge in the center. And the whole thing shrank down to the size of a pack of bubblegum without him having to use any magic, just activating built-in charms.
Because they were travel luggage for wizard-kind, they came with a whole slew of protective enchantments against jostling, breakage, wear or so on. They were really quite remarkable, and so useful Harry couldn't help but buy a matching desk to go with them. Those tables in the common room were too few for the amount of students needing to do work on them, and they were at the wrong height anyway.
Thinking ahead, Harry bought two plush desk chairs, one for himself and one for Hermione, because he knew the bushy haired witch wouldn't let him monopolize that big desk all on his own. In fact, he got one that had extra drawers, because he knew otherwise she'd end up taking them all.
He thought about getting a chair for Ron, but decided against it, as the desk only had room to store two within itself for its compact form, and his best male friend would probably shrink at having to join them at a desk instead of those deep, plush common room sofas anyway.
The furniture salesman told his new client that the desk didn't come with its own writing set, so sent him off to another store to pick up supplies, like parchment, to stock it with.
Harry came out of that store with a selection of auto-notes quills and other handy stationary supplies for making his schoolwork easier that he'd never have imagined without having gone shopping in a specialty store. But, having just asked Hermione for copies of her notes, he realized just how lazy he'd been on taking his own, and seen all sorts of easy ways to rectify that there.
He'd even given the lady at the stationary store Hermione's collection of looseleaf notes, and she'd bound them in covers like their own books. Harry got two sets made, one for himself, and one as a gift for Hermione, thinking she'd appreciate that.
Once again, Ron wouldn't care, so no point bothering. He'd just end up losing his set, if they got him one, and borrowing theirs anyway.
Back at the Cauldron that night, Harry spilled an open bottle of ink over his pants as he was putting all of this away. Thinking at first that it was a small loss, as they were Dudley's old trousers, he'd been brought up short by the magic mirror on the wall scolding him for looking scruffy all the time.
The next morning, the boy went shopping at Gladrags. He already had school robes, so Madam Malkins was out as unnecessary, but ordinary everyday stuff to wear when he wasn't in his school robes was desperately needed.
Then it was back to the luggage shop to purchase a stand alone closet (called a wardrobe) to hold his new attire in.
Harry had just read that morning that his mother had been a genius prodigy at Potions. And, determined not to let Snape deprive him of his family's legacy, Harry went to the apothecary and purchased a complete set of masters level equipment. Then, seeing as how there was no place to set all that up at the Cauldron, it was back to the luggage shop to buy a folding set of cabinets, like his bookcases, and another desk to put it on.
They had a Portable Potions Lab set that came with its own model of desk and two counters, all with underslung cabinets, specimen storage and tool drawers. That set came with features like splash guards and so on, that had Harry wishing he'd known about those before starting Hogwarts, as it would have saved him no end of problems (and sabotage from Slytherins).
Seeing the boy juggle so much in his arms, and with overstuffed pockets, the salesman at the luggage store sent him on to a related business, where they sold Safari garb, and the owner there ignored all of the child's requests and outfitted Harry with everything, the full kit and kabootle, everything from pith helmet and light beige travel outfits with lots of pockets, like you'd see in old pictures of British explorers in the 19th century, to ever-expanding weightless bags, belts whose pouches would store and organize a tremendous amount of safari gear, tools for taking specimens, and everything the old gentry might need out in the wild - down to and including beads charmed to be attractive to natives in case you'd like to trade for their services as guides or bearers or whatever.
The Boy-Who-Lived never even got a chance to object as he was loaded down with a complete set of equipment, including one of the largest and most feature-heavy magical tents on the market, and a magical compass that he could make no sense of.
It was far more than Harry wanted, but he did end up wearing the belt, as it had wonderful functions, including the ability to store just about everything else in its self-cataloging pouches. So he had an easy place to store his self-shrinking bookcases, cabinets and desks for when he needed them, and he loaded in the rest of this stuff so he didn't have to make room for it all in his trunk, which could never have held half of it anyway.
Actually, those boots the explorer's shop had sold him fit better than any of Dudley's old castoffs, and were more comfortable too, so he took to wearing a pair of those as well (one Safari kit contained several sets of boots just as spares in case one were to get bitten by a crocodile or whatever).
Then it was back to the apothecary to pick up extra self-stirring rods and a set of silver cauldrons, as his new portable lab promised him the ability to brew a dozen potions simultaneously, if he had the gear to do it. One of the requirements was a higher-end of self-stirring rod that could take detailed instructions, like 'so many turns counter-clockwise, one turn reversed', and so on. Those, and multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons with the same capabilities, were all required gear for the extra functions of the lab.
That was the real trick about multiple brewing, as it took complicated recipes and reduced them to only occasional hands-on steps. And those grew fewer if you added in the optional automated silver potions knives that could slice, dice, cut to specified dimensions, chop, crush or shred fine all on their own, and accept programming to do this to an entire list of ingredients in order.
Harry got a full set of the knives. Expensive, but worth it.
Then it was back to the bookstore, where Mr. Flourish sold him a book that was not on the Hogwarts equipment sheet, but every Slytherin bought a copy of shortly after being sorted into that house.
And, true enough, it had more on proper potion making procedures and the rules behind why to stir this way instead of that, what ingredients did and how to combine them properly, as well as how to prepare your ingredients in the first place, than Harry had ever imagined before.
So he bought two extra copies and sent them off to Hermione and Ron.
Then he went back and bought copies of Hermione's favorite extra reading, including Hogwarts: A History, the Rise and Fall of The Dark Arts, Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century, and that book they'd found so useful last year: Moste Potente Potions.
Mindful of how Snape had taken that copy of Quidditch Through the Ages from him in their first year on no pretext at all, Harry also had his entire collection stamped with bookplates: Property of Harry Potter.
Thus outfitted, Harry's summer disappeared in a haze of earnest study and practice, drawing on the accumulated skills of those in the entire Alley to ask questions from and act as his tutors.
I I I
Harry had purchased a beginner's guide to chess, and had been practicing against others in the Alley using that wizarding chess set he'd gotten for his first Christmas at Hogwarts, usually while potions were simmering on the burners of his portable lab set up behind him.
Ron only used two or three strategies most of the time, and now Harry could recognize and beat them. He was truly looking forward to having a good year. There was so much he'd wanted to talk over with Hermione that Hedwig had been getting the workout of her life delivering their letters back and forth to each other that summer.
Hermione had even spoken about getting an owl of her own so they could keep that rotation going faster, but it would have to be next summer, as this one was rapidly coming to an end, and they wouldn't need letters to speak to each other at Hogwarts.
Harry had always been bright, but the Dursleys had done all they could to stamp that out of him, as well as his magic. Then he'd befriended Ron, who had lazy practically tattooed on his forehead, and wanting to get along with his first ever friend had gotten Harry to emulate his actions.
Learning about his parents, their good grades, great accomplishments and skill at the arts had been just the boot to the pants he'd needed to get out of that rut. And, while he was not up at Hermione's level yet, Harry was getting there fast.
Hermione was so pleased with him and their discussions that she'd already gotten her parents to extend an invitation for Harry to join them over the Christmas holiday. They were planning to spend the vacation in France, and Hermione had pointed him to a nifty magic device Harry had never heard of before: Language Lozenges.
You took it like a cough drop, only instead of soothing throats it taught a language, just like you'd been born to speak it. They cost only a handful of galleons (no more than seven apiece), and it took about a week to absorb the knowledge properly, better if you used it during that period. But it was best not to take more than one at a time, as it got confusing if you mixed them.
Harry had already bought a set. At the Safari store the clerk had sold him the entire collection of world languages in lozenge form, only Harry hadn't known what they'd done at the time.
So, on Hermione having enlightened him, he'd taken the one for French, and a week after that the one for Latin (to help with his schoolwork), and his latest was to venture into Old Norse, as Hermione was excited to tell him that gave her a real advantage in studying ahead on their Ancient Runes course.
They were planning to get together and take Egyptian, Hebrew, Sumerian and Babylonian during the year, as those all had strong magical cultures attached to them and would aid their studies enormously.
Harry was planning to get her a complete set, instead of the few Hermione could afford for herself, as he was also hoping to get to other languages. Greek had a strong influence on western magic, as did Celtic, and there were other languages out there that could be of benefit to them in their work. Chinese, in particular, had a strong background in Alchemy.
And Harry was determined not to let Snape rob him of the chance to follow in his mother's work.
As a thank-you gift to his friend for her help and pointing out what those language lozenges were good for, Harry had bought Hermione an expanding featherlight bookbag. It didn't have nearly as much capacity as his traveling bookcases, but was less awkward to use. Then, realizing that, he got one for himself, seeing as it would be awkward to haul bookcases out of his belt pouches to set up inside of class.
It had been an enjoyable summer. Harry read books out in front of the ice cream parlor while his classmates ogled the new broomstick in Quality Quidditch supplies. He'd helped out Neville when the boy lost his booklist (and helped convince his dorm mate to take Arithmancy and Ancient Runes along with him and Hermione, so they'd have someone in their year to talk to about classes. And Augusta Longbottom had beamed down on them as Harry had introduced Neville to the not-so-secret but terribly useful shortcut of taking an Old Norse language lozenge to help study ahead for the class). On Neville saying how useful that would be, Harry even thought ahead and bought a half a dozen extra of that tongue, thinking there were other students who would probably need them.
Hagrid had even come by on a trip to pick up more flesh eating slug repellent and told Harry the secret for handling the Monster Book of Monsters, which Harry had then gone and shared with the staff at Flourish and Blotts, where the assistants practically cried with relief, and the owner gave him loads of store credit, which Harry immediately put to good use on buying more books.
But it also enabled him to study up on the Magical Creatures elective early.
Summer was practically over when his friends arrived, and went through the typical Weasley hurried rush to get everything done at the last minute. On seeing his friends, Harry clapped Ron on the shoulder and asked, "So, Ron, what did you think of that Potions book I sent you?"
Ron stopped stuffing his cheeks in order to look bashful. "Oh. I dunno. I never looked at it. Fred and George love it, though. They borrowed it from me just after I got it, and I haven't seen it since. You should ask them if you want to know if it's any good or not."
Hermione was practically vibrating in excitement. "Oh! You mean the Basics of Brewing by Vandergeist? I love that book! Harry got me a copy early this summer, and I've read it four times now. It's got the most useful explanations for potions theory and practice! I wish I'd known about that ever so long ago!"
"Bloody hell!" Ron stared at her, plainly horrified at how she could work so hard over anything he felt was trivial.
Harry chose not to mention that he'd read it four times himself, and had even reviewed and brewed most of the first and second year potion syllabus using it, and was already working on third.
Smiling, they went to Magical Menagerie together, where Ron nearly lost his pet rat to the attack of a large cat, Hermione bought that cat, and Harry bought a kneazel, because he'd read the cat-look-alikes were very good at warning you about suspicious or untrustworthy behavior, and with a criminal on the loose looking to kill him, he wanted some early warning in case they were using polyjuice or something like that.
Besides, he could send Hedwig off to live at Hermione's parent's house, so he could stay within the 'one pet per wizard' rule, and that way Hermione could stay in contact with her parents during the school year. Harry didn't have anyone else to write to while he was at school, so it was good for Hedwig to get the exercise, and it should help the family of his best friend to stay in touch with their daughter.
Harry named his kneazel Augustus, or Gus for short.
Having started to use his mind, Harry had begun thinking ahead. He'd even gone so far as to go back to that magical luggage shop and bought a self-shrinking portable kitchen, just like his potions lab, only meant more for food preparation than brewing. And he'd already stocked it with food staples that should last him through next summer, so he'd eat in spite of the Dursleys trying to starve him. On thinking that, he'd also bought a matching Captain's bed, one with a big, lush mattress for sleeping on.
The worst upset of the summer had been getting a letter from Professor McGonagall telling him that it was too late to change his elective classes. The letter arrived too late to do much of anything about it, but once he'd shown it to Hermione, she insisted he still had to try. So, on her suggestion, he'd sent off owls to Dumbledore and the Minister for an appeal.
Harry was a little leery about doing that, but Hermione kept insisting that he HAD to do something! And the Minister was the most helpful person he knew who might have input outside of Dumbledore, and together they had to be able to do SOMETHING about the situation!
It was another small epiphany when Harry realized that his friend didn't want to go to all of those classes without him. And it made him feel good inside.
Next morning, it was once more the typical Weasley last minute rush to get on the train. They actually got there early, but Molly wanted them to come back out once they'd got on so she could give them all last minute advice.
Having learned so much about his real parents, Harry was a great deal less anxious to let Molly Weasley mother him, and probably make him late for the train. So he said his goodbyes quickly and climbed aboard, getting to an empty compartment early, so he could settle down and finish some reading.
Hermione came in quickly after him, for mostly the same reasons.
Neville joined them shortly after that, then a dreamy blonde second year who didn't say anything, just settled down to read a magazine upside down, and before Harry could say anything Colin Creevey and his brother had also joined in, making for a full compartment.
Ron and Ginny looked in on them briefly, after the train had started moving, but there was no room to sit in the compartment, nor any for squeezing out. Harry was stuck by the window, wedged in farthest from the door, and hoped Ron would find an empty compartment and come back for him, as the one he was in now was kind of crowded, but they didn't see the Weasleys again for the rest of that trip.
It was different riding the train without Ron there yakking on about Quidditch and playing Exploding Snap with him, but Harry managed. He did get to know Neville better, and learned that the second year Ravenclaw girl with them was called Luna. The Creevey brothers were just happy to bask in the glow of being so close to Harry, with Colin snapping the occasional picture.
Then Neville asked for help looking over his summer schoolwork, and Harry and Hermione both dove into that convenient excuse to go over all they'd recently learned, and help out Neville in the bargain.
The sun had set. The trolley had come and gone and the sky was black outside the window when the train started to stop.
"We can't be there yet," Hermione objected, looking at her watch.
Then the lights on the train went out.
"Lumos," Luna said quite calmly, bringing a light to the end of her wand, and popping the cap off of a bottle of chocolate milk. The others followed her example as far as the light went, all lighting up their wands.
"Something's coming aboard," Neville said, peering at half-seen shapes just outside the window.
Peering out into the corridor, they saw several other faces poking out of the other compartments, all of whom shortly followed their example in lighting up the points of their wands - something that made that which followed all that much more horrible.
Long robed figures were not unusual in the magical world, but pasty fleshed creatures that looked rotted, like they'd decomposed in water, were. The horrible creatures drifted inside of the car and went straight at Harry.
There came flashes of light, and a scream, and then nothingness.
I I I
The central idea for this change was, "What if Harry had not been in the same compartment as Professor Lupin?" which led to, "Well, if they weren't taking the last compartment on the train then they'd not have had to share with a scruffy old man who looked more than a bit disreputable," and then, "Well, they DID get there early, but Molly insisted on mothering them until the train practically left without them."
So that led to the question of, "So what if Harry excused himself early?" and then had to be asked, "Well, why would he do that?" and so I postulated, "Well, what if he wanted to read a book?" but that didn't stand up on its own, and needed some real shoring up, and that led naturally to, "What could make him a bookworm?" and the answer to that was, "How about a book on that deadly criminal he knows is after him, but that no one will tell him about? That would certainly be motivational enough."
That led to the realization, "Hey, wasn't that the summer he spent in Diagon Alley?" And then I thought, "I can do this."
Yes, I know Colin's brother Dennis only entered school in their fourth year, but have decided that's a trivial enough change I'm going to leave it as is.