Title: Death's Pride
Chapter1 – What Do You Mean I'm Dead!
Ship: H/Hr/L, Nev/Sus B/Han A, Draco/Pansy, Ron/Lav
Warnings: Adult Language
Key:"Speech", 'Thoughts', "Speech laden with magic", §Parseltongue§
[Author's Note:] This story is created from Reptilia28's challenge against the norm of 'Harry going back in time'. This will be only to set the stage, so is mostly dialog and information. Chapter 2 will be the "About" chapter and Chapter 3 will be the start of the real story by the Gringotts trip and summer description, chap 4 will be where things pick up in action and such. My 'About' chapter gives any other miscellaneous info you may need or request. Also, and I apologize for the inconvenience as this isn't how I normally do things, but I am starting this fic with the belief that the readers know who the Canon cast are. If not, the MAIN characters will be given a brief introduction, but will be stilted. This will be the case for Luna, Neville, Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, etc. The main characters beyond Harry and Hermione.
I am purposefully making it seem as though Harry returned, and the events in the chamber happened, right before the year ends.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other crossover I may intentionally or unintentionally create. By reading this story, you understand this disclaimer and understand that it holds true for this story in whole, and in part, throughout the entirety of the story from this location or any other in which the story itself is placed, regardless of a disclaimer being on future chapters.
This challenge was also accepted by:
"Don't Fear the Reaper" by KittyDemon18 (Now KatDemon18)
"In Time" by Artemis Day
"Tabula Rasa" by Reptilia28
"Harry Potter and the Demon of Time" by El Pepe
"A Potter's Death: Last Chance" by Kumitzin
"Forty One Times Dead" by Ruskbyte
xXx STORY xXx
Harry Potter, a confused seventeen year old wizard, sat idly in his chair as he watched an attractive woman, oddly with forest green hair, behind what looked like a receptionist's desk type furiously on a keyboard made of a glowing mist while a glowing screen of what he could only assume to be another language hung suspended in the air. Harry could feel himself moving and looking around, but everyone and everything that came into his vision seemed to be moving at incredible speeds while he seemed to be going through the water in the Black Lake at Hogwarts in February. It sounded about the same, as well. He wanted to speak with the receptionist, but the will to actually speak, the energy to do so, just didn't seem to be in him. Even his thoughts felt mercurial and beyond his reach. It was just too much effort and work to think.
He was unsure of how long he had actually sat there, just trying to turn his head from the left side of the pretty receptionist to the door on the right side of her, when things suddenly sped up drastically and his head turned far faster than he had expected it to, cracking slightly as the bones cracked and popped, energy seemingly flooding back into him.
"Potter! Harry Potter!"
Harry rocked his head back and forth, trying to get the painful crick out of his neck as he stood, turning to the new girl who walked in with a clipboard in her hand. His confusion was beginning to let up, and his ability to think was beginning to return to him now that he was out of the state those in charge had held him in. It was a simple feature to keep new arrivals from becoming hysterical or making too much of a fuss until they could be met face-to-face.
"Right here, Ma'am," he said, raising his hand slightly as he found himself able to think once again, though he was still highly confused. He couldn't really remember how he got there or where 'here' even was. She motioned for him to follow her as she turned on her heel and began to walk down a long hallway. Harry did as prescribed and followed her, taking note of her appearance as he tried to figure out where he was. His mind felt muddled and murky and he couldn't quite figure out if he knew this woman from somewhere or not. He was having a hard time remembering what he had been doing before he arrived there or, much to his consternation, much of anything from before his arrival.
This woman had very deep blue eyes, he could remember from when she had motioned for him to follow, and her hair was such a dark blue that it appeared black until it moved enough for some light to come through showing its true color. She was very petite and had the body of a fully adult woman, though she appeared to be about the same age as himself. He also couldn't help but notice how much her steady walk reminded him of Hermione's. Each step deliberate and with the purpose of getting her from where she was, to where she wanted or needed to be with each step echoing loudly down the long hallway. And while the way she walked reminded him of Hermione, the way she held herself seemed oddly like Ginny with her shoulders back but her hair sashaying around as she moved her head slightly, full of confidence and the knowledge that she was attractive.
It was about the time he was comparing this woman's walk to Hermione's that he realized she was muttering under her breath, though he could only make out the odd word now and then.
"... Grandpa Whiskers better ... reason ... gonna kill the little ..."
After about four minutes of walking down a straight hallway, they came to the very first door Harry could recall seeing the entire trip. Scrunching up his eyes, he looked first at the door and then back down the hallway, seeing bare white walls all the way to the door at the end that they came through that appeared as a black rectangle surrounded by white light. Finding it curious, he looked further down the hall in the direction they had been walking and saw that it extended beyond his vision with bare, white walls and no other doors.
"In here, Potter." The woman motioned for him to enter as she closed the door behind them. He was a little worried when her tone came across as frosty as Snape's on a bad day.
"Excuse me, Miss, but where am I? What happened?" Harry asked confusedly, having difficulty keeping his thoughts clear, though his mind was getting better quickly. He took the offered chair in front of a large desk cleared of almost everything but several folders, a stone box that looked oddly like a shoe box without a noticeable lid and a few writing utensils. The walls were lined wall to wall with ancient-looking tomes that would have made Hermione green with jealousy and envy. The woman sighed as she sat down heavily, looking at Harry with exasperation.
"Do you hate me, Harry? Is that what this is? Are you wanting to get me fired for all of these early deaths? Or do you just hate living that much? One more premature death, ONE MORE! And I'm through!" The tiny woman yelled. Surprised, Harry could only stare in open-mouthed shock as the woman seemed to crack in front of him, a tear trailing down her cheek.
"Wha- Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I don't even know you!" Nervous, he moved a little closer to the desk, wanting to try and comfort the girl, but having no clue how and not feeling comfortable enough to go to the other side of the desk. Particularly after mentioning the whole 'premature deaths' thing. It had to be a joke, right?
"No, of course you don't! Just like all the other times, you're completely innocent of your own demise," she waved off his concern with an aggravated thrust of her hand and laid her head on her arms over the top of her desk as she growled in frustration.
"My demise? You mean I really am dead?" Suddenly, Harry wasn't so upset about the girl crying anymore. When she snorted and raised her head, she looked more amused than upset now. "But... but how!"
"Yes, just like all the other times we've met, Harry," she said as she leaned back in her large chair with a face of utter confusion over her visage. "I don't get it! You're supposed to go to school, get powerful as hell with the help of your soul mate, some Granger girl I think," she mumbled, checking into a file on the desk with a nod, "kick Voldemort's slimy arse and live to be a little over two hundred years old under a pile of multi-great grand babies! But no! You have to keep dying on me!" Harry cringed as her voice rose in the beginning, got quiet to where he could barely hear about Hermione and then become louder and more angry than it had up to that point.
"Wait! 'Granger girl'? Hermione is my soul mate? What about Ginny? And how am I dead? What the hell is going on!" Harry cried out pleadingly. The girl sighed and leaned back into her chair, squirming into its large backing, making her petite frame appear horribly tiny and fragile in comparison as she sunk into the leather backing.
"I suppose I should start at the beginning so you're up to date," she mumbled in a way that was half growl. Harry simply nodded dumbly as the woman leaned on her desk.
"Yes please," he plead. She smiled fondly at him in appreciation. Of all of the dead that came through her doors, none were ever so kind or polite as this mortal had been. Well, except for that once, but she couldn't exactly hold him to that. It wasn't every day you found out that a dragon buggered you to death. He had cried under her desk for the next twelve dead souls to come into her office. His pitiful wails had terrified them more than being told they were dead. After all, what sort of woman seemed to enjoy listening to the wailing of the dead enough to have it as background music?
"Firstly, introductions. I am Lora. I am an Angel of Death, or more specifically, I manage the lives of certain mortals so that, when they die, I can make sure they go to the correct afterlife or, if needed, back to the realm of the living if they didn't learn what they were supposed to, or do what they were supposed to do while alive." She raised a hand to forestall any questions from him as he opened his mouth. "In your case, and those like it where you die before you are supposed to, we send you back so that you have another chance to fix whatever the hell it is you buggered up in the first place." He had the grace to look ashamed.
"Now, I know you, and you do not know me, because your memory of this," she waved her hand in a small circle to indicate everything around them, "is wiped out each time because we can't have people learning of certain elements of what you call the afterlife and how it works or it makes it easier for mortals to try and bypass the system and either go where they want or stay alive, much like your enemy of the mortal world."
"You mean Voldemort?" Harry asked before he cringed a little in fear as the woman glared harshly towards the distance. Goosebumps sprung up along his arms and neck as the air seemed to suddenly get cooler. Most people shivered in fear when his name was mentioned. This woman just got pissed!
"Yes," she hissed, "him."
"Ah," Harry said, unsure what else he could add. The woman looked to be sixteen to nineteen, but she scared the hell out of him. He was sure he saw his breath.
"Now, here's the bit you really need to pay attention to, because I don't like having to repeat myself and I only plan to answer your question once." She waited until Harry nodded before continuing. "Now, off and on from the beginning of summer before your fourth year, one Ginny Weasley had been slipping you love potions with the help of her mother in the food they sent you over the summer. They started out small, so you didn't suddenly show devotion and love to a girl you hadn't shown any previous romantic interest in. They worked, but only partly. Your magic naturally works against the affects of a love potion just like your body fights an illness. It was willing to allow you to fall in love with whomever you cared for, which at the time was Hermione Granger and-"
"No, in fourth year I fancied Cho Chang. Your information ... is ... wrong ... ?" Harry said, interrupting her. He realized it probably wasn't a bright, or even safe, idea when she glared at him.
"You fought off the unnatural portion to begin to care for the Weasley girl and it focused instead on your original love, Hermione Granger," she looked into a folder as she spoke, confirming her information again, "by merely fighting off the targeting effect, leaving you being forced into love, but without a person. It seemed to do this because you subconsciously wanted to love and care for someone, but were too scared to try and worried too much about being unlovable. Normally, you would have realized your feelings for the Granger girl during that summer and have been obvious to her in time for the Yule ball for her to agree, but as you weren't fully aware of what you wanted yourself or the reality of loving emotions, your magic worked on the information you already knew, which was the closest thing to Hermione you could get, which was Cho Chang. You simply didn't understand what you were feeling," she finished with a shrug. "Your subconscious knew you wanted the Granger girl, but your body chose Chang for her beauty and supplanted her instead since she was the closest to Granger you knew and your hormones selected someone easy to lust after."
"So, everything between Ginny and I... it was a lie?" Harry asked hollowly. Lora mentally flinched as he seemed to radiate sadness. At least she had a way to make it up to him.
"On your side, yes. She wanted you for your money and fame and had it stuck in her mind that you and her were like characters in a fairy tale. She and the youngest brother are very unhappy with their lives and how they've turned out. They feel they should be wealthier like a 'proper pureblood' family. They aren't blood supremacists or anything, but are well aware that their family is about the only pureblood family that lives like it does, that they're aware of, anyway. The girl wants you and the boy wants the wealth and prestige of being associated with you. He's basically a leech with an inferiority complex. Ginny has something of a viable excuse, though, considering the events of her first year at school and the lack of help, so I can't really blame her for that, though Ron hasn't got an excuse."
"The mother, while normally a good soul, wants what is best for her family, which is you in this case. She feels that she loves you like her own, and having you as the husband of the youngest would be the best route for all involved and it didn't really hurt anything since you'd be with a family that cared for you as well and you would have cared for her, even if not loved her. And the mother feels she could provide you a loving family if she had you with her daughter, therefore feeling it was a winning situation with everyone. She honestly believed she was doing the best thing possible for you and truly does care for you. She just felt she knew what was best."
Harry, though he didn't want to believe it, knew that she was telling him the truth. That was how Mister and Missus Weasley got together, because Missus Weasley used a love potion on him. While it worked out in their case as a happy marriage, it romanticized the fact that it was illegal, immoral and just simply wrong. And made it seem all the more likely to lead to a happy ending. Ginny herself had told him how much she loved the story. Harry was also well aware of her mentioning of Ron. He was always jealous and petty whenever something that he wanted was given to Harry, or he simply wanted something that Harry had. There were quite a few times in his past to choose from for evidence. And it usually took nearly losing Harry to bring him into the state of mind to accept whatever it was.
"So, this caused my magic to fight against the potion. What else do I need to know?" Harry asked dejectedly. Lora was a little worried that Harry decided to ignore the situation and continue, but didn't think anything else could come of it, so did as asked.
"Well, since it was constantly fighting the potions you were being given, it caused the magic you had access to, to be split between that and whatever you used it for, which caused your spells to be weaker and such. It didn't really affect you as badly until they upped the dosage after fourth year when your mind was the weakest. Another reason I bring it up is because, as a baby, you were already immensely powerful. In the wizarding world, it wasn't a big deal. While not rare, it wasn't uncommon for babies to learn to touch upon their magic at a young age. There were safety guards in place for bouts of accidental magic, though yours was always controlled. However, after your parents were killed, Dumbledore placed a power-limiting seal on you, which left you with access to only about two percent of your over all magical ability, which was all that was left after your magic defended you against Voldemort's killing curse. It was enough to keep you alive, but without the use of magic. You were already very weak from defending yourself and he was terrified that you had the power to break through most power-limiting seals, so he placed the strongest he knew how on you."
Harry looked more confused than when they began. "But I've used magic several times when I was growing up, and I never meant to for the times I remember, so how was it controlled?"
Lora shook her head and thought of the best way to explain. "I was referring to when you were an infant. The seal he put on you kept you blocked and kept part of your mental abilities locked away as well. When you used magic growing up, it was accidental after you began living with the Dursleys because you couldn't control it at that point because it was unnatural to you and your mind was a little weaker. Basically, magic is about as much magical ability as it is mental ability. This particular seal was used because it was powerful enough to hold back the majority of your magic and mostly, just affected your ability to focus on anything specific without holding your mind back. So, you could learn and function as normal, but you always had a hard time retaining anything or focusing on something unless you truly applied yourself to it. Like magically-induced attention deficit disorder. Dumbledore thought that he had to put that seal on you so the Dursleys would be more comfortable."
"But why?" He asked, almost pitifully. Lora sighed yet again, realizing she was doing a lot of it with him. It was difficult when working with children because they were totally innocent and generally knew whatever had happened to them was unfair. It was much the same with Harry simply because he had been so restrained growing up, never really experiencing life much like any younger child.
"The Dursleys hated all magic, even before you arrived. Your aunt was jealous of your mother and your uncle is actually a second-generation squib," she said to Harry's shock. "Dumbledore did it as a way to make sure you couldn't accidentally perform magic when other muggles were around and to let them feel they'd have a somewhat normal home. It just didn't work out that way. They still knew you were magical. When you had access to only two percent of your magic, and were being starved and needed to heal from the abuse, it couldn't go past that two percent, but it could adapt and make that two percent larger by increasing your over all reserves of magic. It did so to keep you healthy and alive." Now Harry was really getting confused.
"How could it do that, though? Is it even possible to increase only a certain portion?" He asked. Lora smiled, happy he had asked a question that was important and relevant, even if he didn't realize it.
"No, it isn't. You see, to increase that two percent to double its original size, it had to increase the other ninety-eight percent as well, effectively doubling your entire magical core. Otherwise, it would be more like a balloon where different bits bubbled up like boiling water which could rupture it. Because of that, when you made it to Hogwarts and were able to perform magic normally, and still with a moderate amount of power, Dumbledore thought you'd found some way to break through his seal and never gave it a second thought. That isn't how it's supposed to work, but you did it somehow and-"
"Wait..." Harry suddenly had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Are you saying that the seal has been active the entire time? Even when I performed the Patronus charm in third year? During the Tri-Wizard Tournament and at the Department of Mysteries?" Lora smiled at Harry as he figured it out.
"Exactly! Even with that block on all of your magic and mind the entire time, your magic was able to fight and help you by different means. It was with the potions, however, where things got horrible and you wound up dying left and right. Beginning fourth year, you died at least once each year, upwards of three. Add to the fact that Grandpa Whiskers never bothered to train you and left you flailing about on your own, it didn't help matters." Harry blushed and slumped into his chair.
"So, am I going up or down?" Harry asked, ignoring her name for Dumbledore. It just didn't seem like an important bit of information in the light of things.
Lora looked confused a moment before realizing what he meant and laughed. "Oh! No, you aren't staying dead," she said, amused at his thoughts.
Harry looked up in a mix of hope and confusion, mostly the latter. "Then why tell me all of this if I'm just going to forget it again? Wouldn't it be easier for you to just send me back without saying so much as hello? I mean, you said my memory was wiped each time anyway."
"Yes, it would. However, the reason you've been going back is because Riddle should have died the night he attacked you with the destruction of his body, but he learned something to keep himself alive and we need him killed because he plans to kill all life, or at least enslave it. And we can't have that. He has plans, evil plans, that are going to literally be the end of the world and we can't directly interfere. Understand?"
Harry nodded, already knowing that the 'something' she'd mentioned were Voldemort's horcruxes that he placed a bit of his soul into. Or at least, that's what he thought. "So, while he's alive and has his horcruxes, he can't be killed by anyone except me, so you need me to go back and take him out so that he can't basically take over the world?"
"Right," Lora smiled brightly and bounced in her seat as Harry figured it out.
"Great," he groused. "No pressure."
Lora glared at him with a smirk as she continued. She was furious that she was so close to becoming fired and risking a different type of job that was literally a Hellish existence, but with her charge, or 'minion' as she liked to claim in her head, able to keep his memory, she was really looking forward to this next installment into his life.
"Now, technically, he can be killed in any of the usual ways, but he'll come back because of his horcruxes and sadly, because of the prophecy. The world will bend around Fate to make sure that it comes to that. She always wins in a war of attrition with Time since Destiny is her sister."
Harry cocked his head to the side and frowned as he thought. "So, why can't you just get him yourself? Or someone else? If you have the power to send me back, then shouldn't you have the ability to bring someone in?"
Lora grimaced as she thought of the best way to explain. "It isn't as simple and clear cut as all of that. You see, while we can control some aspects, all things have a balance. Life and death, good and evil, light and darkness, men and women, smart people and idiots. Where you can consider my side as angels, there is the other side that you can consider the demons, so to speak. While both sides are just as varied as humans in that we have some on both sides that are good and evil, we are only able to do certain things within limits." She frowned as she continued, not sure how best to phrase everything to someone who didn't already fully understand the real concept of angel and demon.
"Angels and demons are simply terms that mankind created, or at least the meanings are. Demons, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, are evil, true, and they do want to take over the living earth as you know it, but they cannot live on that plane of existence. Neither can angels, to be honest with you. At least not properly."
"What do you mean 'not properly'?" He asked, extremely curious about the lesson he was getting. Hermione would be so jealous.
"Well, we could go there for brief periods of time, but we slowly die as we stay there. Our power slowly drains and doesn't regenerate, even if we aren't using it. Once we lose so much, we don't even have enough to come back here and will die, even though we still have some power. I may be immortal, but without my own power, I would just cease to exist. There are only a few ways to deal with it, and none of which are pleasant. But we're getting off track." Harry nodded to show he understood.
"Right. Your world has a perfect balance of so many different energies and life that both sides want, but neither can actually have. It's the epicenter of numerous realities and worlds and generates its own energies while absorbing that of others, making it wholly unique. Where we can deal with that and try to maintain the balance between the worlds and realities, they would rather no one have your world if they can't, which is one of the biggest dividing lines we have. So I and my," she stumbled a little for a term he would understand, "coworkers ... can't go there because that would be abusing the power and the treaty that was agreed upon when the living world was discovered. While we can influence, we cannot directly interfere." She held up a finger to be sure he paid attention to what she was about to say.
"To keep the peace, so to speak, and ensure the other side wouldn't ignore an offer of peace between us, we came upon an agreement where we don't directly interfere, but are still able to wage a war since they wouldn't stop totally until they could merge your plane of existence with their own so they could acquire those energies. It was necessary if we wanted to stop the Demonic Wars on your world. There will be some who are born purely with good intentions and those who are born purely of evil intentions that we call 'Avatars'. They're also known as 'Saints' in your world, though the evil ones aren't usually as well known to the public. These are the ones who we can send to regulate and influence the living world and we can work through them, should they be open to it and allow it. Many prefer to be unknown and remain behind the scenes so as not to cause people to fight directly against them, whichever side they are on, but then there are those who would rather be icons to try and rally others behind. Think of them as Dumbledore and Riddle, respectively, even though they aren't Avatars. Dumbledore works through proxies and stays behind the scenes while Riddle took on the title of Lord Voldemort to try and lead his forces."
"Riddle, as you know him, wasn't pre-dispositioned for anything, actually. But he did turn evil and killed one of those who were. He had learned some rather heinous techniques and wound up absorbing the connection from one of those who were predestined for pure evil when he stole their magical core. At that point, he opened himself freely to the shadow and has been communicating with demons, learning from them and doing their bidding," she shook her head as she finished, truly disgusted with the man. "That is what allows us to take the actions we do. Time travel is normally not allowed, as it interferes with literally all of existence, but we have authorization due to the nature of the shadow's infraction."
"And that's why you're sending me back?" Harry wanted to be very sure that he got an affirmative on this one. "Wait ... Time travel?"
"Yes, Harry, we are not sending you to exactly when you died, unless of course you want us to. Because of the trouble Riddle has been giving us and such, you are being sent back to a point where you can make the biggest changes with the least amount of trouble, but without the risk of changing too much that really matters."
"So, when am I going back?" Harry nodded, understanding the value of the idea.
Lora smiled at Harry in a way far too reminiscent of the Weasleys and Sirius. "There are actually two answers to that question." Lora got up and began to scan her way through a few of the books behind her desk. "As I've told you, we normally wipe a person's memories of what happened after they died when we send them back because we can't let certain facts come out about the afterlife. It was us not taking all the precautions we should have that allowed for several myths and such about death to be frighteningly close to the truth, though I still don't know where they got that bloody scythe idea from." She grumbled and pulled out one book and began scanning again.
"Because of these precautions, we can't send you back and allow Grandpa Whiskers, Snape and anyone else the ability to rummage around in your head, so you'll be getting a few books in long-forgotten magics on what you now know as occlumency and a few others that we're clearing for you to take with you and allowing you to keep as Potter family information, mainly because these magics are in books in your world, just not where it can be obtained without knowing exactly where it is." She grabbed a third and fourth book off the shelf as she spoke and Harry's eyes got wider and wider.
"This is just easier than making you go on a long trip that would be hard to explain," another three books hit the pile, "to get those old tomes and these will be in much better condition. We'll be sending you back to just before your second year at Hogwarts ended so you can schedule a meeting with Gringotts and get things started. We would actually like to send you back to the beginning of your second year, but don't want you to have to face that damned basilisk again." She stacked a pile of seven scrolls, each nearly as big around as her head and nearly as wide as she was tall, next to the pile of books.
"So I'm going back to just as my second year ends and then what? I just read during the summer and make the changes I can to make things better?" He asked, beginning to wonder at the enormity of the situation. Lora gave him a look that basically screamed 'You're an idiot' while setting five more books on the desk with a loud thump.
"Those magical wards that Whiskers," Harry's mouth twitched at the nickname, thinking he'd adopt it, "said protect you are love-based magic. That means there has to be love to power them for full functionality. Your mother's blood, or your aunt's in this case, keeps them around, but the power is all about, and based, on love. The love you feel for your parents allows the defensive properties to survive within you, but you largely used up the power you had in your first year to stop Quirrell, much like a battery. It would take a decade to fill them up again, leaving only the wards left. However, they are worthless except for keeping Voldemort's spirit from entering to take you over, but I'm taking care of that for you. The only things keeping you safe there are wards based on ill-intent and owl-redirection wards. So you need to go to Gringotts, take your role as Head of the House of Potter, become emancipated, which means you can legally perform magic whenever you want and will have full access to your family vaults, and get out from under Dumbledore's thumb and move into one of your family's homes." She grabbed a much thinner book from a drawer and set it on top of the others while Harry's mind was still reeling. That pile of books was now taller than she was!
"Our explanation for giving you what would normally be considered restricted knowledge is based on the fact that you can get all of it after you go back; it would just take a little while to track them down and Voldemort has several years' worth of experience on you and has been getting influence and outright direction from the shadow," she stacked all of the books on top of each other along with some smaller, pamphlet-sized ones and several smaller scrolls and began moving her hands over them slowly, causing them to seemingly melt into one another, "and we can safely say that the balance requires this." As she finished speaking, the books had stopped their melting and were simply now one single book that was about as thick as his hand was wide, three feet tall and two feet wide. Huge even by Hermione's standards, making him happy when she waggled her hand and shrunk it to only slightly larger than normal at a foot and a half tall by a foot wide.
"What's that?" He asked, curious about all that material being shrunk down. She smiled brightly at him.
"This is a grimoire, or a massive amount of knowledge of magic in one tome. Basically, all of those books and scrolls that were stacked there just became this one, single book," she said happily, opening it to the first page to show him the table of contents. "In its smaller form, every page will be a table of contents, sorted by magic class or section, with each book listed along with a description of the book and what it contains. You will simply state the section you want and then open it to the next page and it will begin with the book you stated. You can also just give it a topic and open it randomly. The more that goes into it, the more accurate and better it becomes. It'll get rid of duplicate information and organize things based on various criteria to make it easier to use."
"What about the book that was about three times this one's size? Will it fit when I open it?" He asked. She smiled at him in a manner that he would have expected to have seen on Hermione.
"The covers on the front and back will actually open extra pages as needed or absorb the previous ones as you flip through them. Think of it as a muggle Rolodex where the pages go in a circle-like fashion. For pages that were larger that held diagrams, like some of the rituals in the book, you'll just need to expand the book itself or copy it over to something to expand."
"Ah. Do you suppose-"
"Don't worry. One of the scrolls in here is a way for you to do it. Just ask for 'book combining spells' and you should find it without troubles, along with the other book-related spells for restoring them, keeping them in good shape, creating others out of knowledge in one's mind and other spells of the like." Harry grinned brightly at her, already planning on giving the spell to Hermione.
"Now, inside of this book are several for combat dueling, mental defenses, warding, healing, security, horcruxes since you'll need everything on destroying them, magical guardians and creatures, animagus transformations, wandless magics and several other things that were included in those books." When she looked up at him, she noticed his eyes were rather ... bulgy.
"Don't worry, Harry," she said laughing. "You don't have to learn everything, just what you think will help. A lot of it is information that you will find in the Hogwarts library or other places, just not as easily or in as much depth since most of it is in hidden locations in your world. The only thing I am going to tell you to learn before your third year is the mental defense bits. You may want to look into the combat dueling as well, though, and maybe the wandless magic. The rest can be looked at as you wish. I would recommend you eventually look through a good deal of it, however. You'll want to look up the horcrux information sooner or later, preferably sooner."
"Er, alright." Harry felt like gasping from the mental strain of everything. So much to do and so much to take in, it was just overwhelming! "Um, you said 'mental defenses'. Is that different than occlumency?" Lora blinked at him for a moment before nodding.
"Yes, actually. It is. Occlumency is more of a vault-like technique, where this is crafting your mind to be more of a defensible location. This is far easier to learn, but more vulnerable until you've truly set it up, whereas occlumency will give you walls around your mind that start out flexible and get stronger, as long as you do it properly. The problem, though, is that it takes a very long time to get to a high enough proficiency at it to keep Snape, Dumbledore and Voldemort out if they're really trying and you don't end up with near the kind of control over yourself as you can have with this. This will be weak until you really get at it, then it's only as weak as you make it, or as strong as you make it instead of being something that can simply be broken through with brute force as occlumency would allow until you've had years to develop the ability. All things aside, it has the potential to be stronger than anything else, but requires more upkeep and leaves you more vulnerable in the beginning is all." Harry nodded. He really had a good many more questions, but decided he would learn them by simply reading the books she gave him. Well, book, really.
"Alright... So, when do I leave?"
Lora smiled in a manner far too reminiscent of the Weasley twins for Harry's liking as she opened the folder on the bottom of the others and pulled out a stack of papers and slid them to him with a pen. "I'll be sending you back as soon as you sign this contract."
Harry narrowed his eyes at the smiling Lora as she looked at him with the fakest expression of innocence he had ever seen. And that was after several years of watching Dudley blame mishaps on him. "What does the contract say?" He began to scan the pages, looking for any words that would hopefully jump out and catch his attention. He was fidgety with contracts ever since his fourth year.
"Basically, that you are going back to the realm of the living with your memories intact and," she paused so slightly that Harry wasn't sure he had caught it or not, "have guidance from us, can't tell anyone about the afterlife you've experienced aside from your soul mate and they must also keep it in the strictest of confidence and you can only tell them after teaching them the occlumency from this book, that this is your last shot to get things right and the like." She peered at the paper as if seeing if he had written his name yet. "Also, if you don't sign it, you stay dead, so it really is for the best, after all. Sign your name on the first page and last page, please." She fluttered her eyelashes at him while trying to look cute while he pouted and put the pen to the paper and did as he was told. Once he was done, the contract rose into the air and disappeared with a flash of light and resounding clack of thunder.
"Huh... flashy..." He blinked at where the paper disappeared until Lora rose from her chair with a large grin.
"Alright! Don't tell anyone about what you know until they've learned occlumency and try not to look anyone in the eyes until you've learned it! The book and box will be in your trunk when you get back!" Suddenly, the entire room began to shift and rotate, fading away.
"Hey... Wait! What box are you talking about?" As everything went black, he heard her disembodied voice float towards him.
"You will ... to ... r-" As the voice left and the room he was in shimmered out of view, Harry found himself in total darkness before he was suddenly thrust into a cacophony of noise. He looked around and found himself in the Great Hall. The first discernible thing he heard was Neville's voice.
"Harry, Ron! Look!" Harry saw him pointed towards the entrance and when he turned, he saw a mane of bushy hair above a smiling face before the freshly unpetrified Hermione rocketed towards him and enveloped him in a tight hug. Harry was surprised at the rush of emotions that suddenly filled him, the same ones that he felt when this happened the first time and the happiness at seeing Hermione again after such a close call with death. Unbidden, words flew out of his mouth as if he were an observer in the body.
"Hermione," he whispered into her ear, "if you ever make me worry that badly again, I'm going to be forced to kidnap you and subject you to days on end of the tickling charm." He squeezed her a little tighter before releasing her, her face slightly flushed from amusement and happiness before she almost hugged Ron, both suddenly stopping and deciding instead to shake hands.
Harry mentally frowned as he tried to decide what he was going to do about the Weasleys, but decided he had plenty of time to figure it out since Lora said it would be during the summer after next year it all started. Instead, he made sure they sat together as they did before and he ignored pretty much everything except Hermione, Ron and Hagrid's entrance, making sure to make his speech to Hagrid was as close as he could remember to the original, all eight words of it. After everyone went to the common rooms after the feast, he decided he would get that letter sent out to Gringotts as quickly as possible.
He quickly went upstairs as soon as he passed the portrait of the fat lady and went to his trunk for paper and quill when he saw the book that Lora had told him would be there along with the stone box and a letter stuck to it. Ignoring the stone box for now, he grabbed the large book along with the other supplies he needed and went back downstairs to sit at the table that had unofficially been left alone as his, Hermione's and Ron's and began to write.
Griphook, or whomever my account manager is:
My name is Harry Potter. I am writing this letter to alert Gringotts of my plans to arrive on the second of July to find out my full account holdings, the status of my accounts and their activity, who has access to these accounts, get any emancipation paperwork taken care of to become fully and legally emancipated and see about my parents' will. It is my intention to take up the mantle as the Head of the House of Potter.
None of this has yet to have been done for me or with me, and I was curious about all of it. I have recently learned that things and people in my life are not as they appear and the Goblin Nation has yet to give me any reason to doubt or not trust in them. I believe there are owl redirection wards around my residence in Surrey, so I am afraid I do not believe anything you send will make it to me via that method of communication.
I am familiar with Griphook, which is why I addressed this to him. If this is not who I should be speaking with, I apologize.
I would also request a portkey to bring me from my place of residence to Gringotts and back to my starting point. I am aware that there is most likely a fee for this and am fully willing to pay for it. You may withdraw any funds necessary from my vault as needed. I can, and will, take another method of transportation if this is either not available or is for any reason ill-advised.
I thank you for your time,
Harry James Potter
Harry quickly signed the letter with a flourish and then tilted his head back, letting out a loud, but sad-sounding whistle that fell in pitch, getting the attention of everyone in the common room, including Ron and Hermione who were sitting next to him, though Hermione had been eying his new book and inching toward it ever so slowly.
"Harry, mate, what was that?" Ron's question was answered a moment later as Hedwig, in all of her snowy-white beauty, flew in from the window and landed on Harry's shoulder and snuffled his ear in greeting.
"Nothing ... I just called Hedwig..." In truth, he wasn't sure why he did that to call her. She usually just came on her own when he needed her, but he had to admit, the sound was pretty nice. He ignored everyone's questioning gaze as he tied the letter to Hedwig's waiting leg.
"To Griphook, girl. After this, I think you'll enjoy your new home," he whispered into her ear. Hedwig nipped at his fingertips affectionately before taking flight. Harry watched her go before turning to his book, the same book that Hermione still had targeted in her sights and had covered just over half of the distance towards.
'I know I should tell her what it is, or let her read it, but this is so much more fun!' Harry smiled lightly as he began to read about the seal that had been placed on him.
Harry awoke the next day to Hedwig's hooting from his headboard. Apparently, she had spent the night going to and from Gringotts to get everything her master needed taken care of, which Harry was eternally grateful for, but she was obviously tired and her feathers somewhat ruffled.
"Thanks, girl. Come to breakfast and I promise to have as much bacon as you can eat ready for you." Hedwig eyed him suspiciously for a moment before letting out an odd trilling hoot and flying off with an aerial flourish, making Harry wonder just how much his familiar enjoyed the crispy goodness. Shaking his head, he opened the letter with a smile and hoping for good news.
We at Gringotts thank you for warning us of your impending visit. It will allow us to be very sure that we have all paperwork ready and waiting for you. We only wish more witches and wizards were as candid as you have been.
Your date for the second of July is agreeable with us. We have provided a portkey for your safe arrival and return. It is this parchment, in fact. It will bring you to Gringotts' reserved portkey and apparition zone. This location is heavily guarded and only used under special conditions. This is our gesture of thanks for alerting us to your requests in advance and we have charged you nothing for it. Please do not expect this to be a regular occurrence. Future portkeys will cost the mandatory twelve sickles. You may arrive with one other as your advisor if you so choose, but any more than that will result in a defensible action. Please do not force our hand.
All paperwork you requested, has been noted and should be obtained some time today for your arrival tomorrow. It will consist of all you have requested and any other documents we felt you may wish to see afterwards. It would seem we have much to discuss.
As you have mentioned Griphook, he will be present, but will not be handling most matters. Your family's account has been inactive for some time and therefore, has no account manager. The Head of our accounts department, Senior Advisor Fangstone, shall handle your meeting.
Senior Advisor, Head of Relations
Gringotts Wizarding Bank, London Branch
Harry smiled widely as he realized things were beginning to go as needed. Securing the parchment into the front cover of the book that Lora had given him with a sticking charm, he set it to the side and took a quick shower before any of the others woke up. Once done, he grabbed the book and went down to the Great Hall to keep his promise to Hedwig.
Hermione had been watching Harry all day. It wasn't so much that he was acting odd, as it was that he had a book that appeared older than anything in the library, and she noticed rather irritably that it did not have a title on the spine, and he was reading it constantly. She had first noticed him in the Great Hall with Hedwig on his shoulder, eagerly eating from a large pile of bacon and reading the book as he chewed, being careful to not get any grease on the pages. Her first thought was that it was a book much thicker than anything he would voluntarily read on his own, but with school about to end for the year and nothing new being assigned, she knew he was doing just that.
Now, they were on the train heading home with Ron and Ginny where she was sitting beside him, hoping to get a glimpse of what was in the book, but found that the print was too small unless she was either holding the book herself or reading directly over his shoulder. And that was just too obvious, but looking like a better option as time wore on.
"Harry, what are you reading? And why did Madam Pince allow you to take a book over the summer?" Hermione's agitation was obvious to Harry as he looked at her with wide eyes, almost as if he had forgotten she was there. For herself, she had asked Pince before and was told school texts could not be checked out over the summer.
"This didn't come from the library, Hermione. I got it ... elsewhere," he said with a frown. "And it's something I'm going to learn over the summer."
"Harry, you're turning into Hermione with all that reading!" Ron wasn't sure what Harry's problem was. It was like he wanted to do extra work or something. "Why read more than you have to? We have two whole months before we have to even look at a book again!"
Hermione glared at the boy, causing him to cower closer to his sister. "For your information, Ronald, reading happens to be an enjoyable pastime for a lot of people! Furthermore-"
"Sorry, sorry! I just wanted to know why he was reading when he didn't have to!" Hermione huffed as Ron tried to placate her and Harry chuckled.
"Here. You take a look at it, Hermione. I'm going to the loo." He closed it and handed the book to her and walked out of the compartment they were in. Hermione, grinning in a way not reserved for the sane, took the book and curled into the corner where Harry had sat, the warmth left from his body leaving a soothing feeling like when she read by the fireplace at her home den.
Hermione opened the book to the first page to see what it was titled or if it would give a brief description and found that, entitled 'Mind Magicks', and the letter from Gringotts, stuck to the inside cover. Curiousity spinning, she read that first before going through the book itself.
Harry entered the loo and turned to close the door, locking it from anyone who may have come in, remembering a rather spirited attempt after his fifth year that he still felt too embarrassed to tell anyone about, and when he turned around, he saw Lora there, smiling brightly at him.
"Hiya Harry!" She chirruped. Harry looked at her for a few seconds and blinked before he hopped backwards, hitting the door with a thump and let out a surprised yelp.
"Ah!" He looked around frantically, checking himself over to see if he had any stab wounds or if he was bleeding from anywhere. "What? Why are you here? Did I die again?"
Lora snorted before sitting on the toilet seat, leaving him to stand. "No, you didn't die. If you did, I certainly wouldn't have been smiling," she looked at him with a penetrating gaze, making him shudder lightly, but unable to look away.
"So ... What's up?" He asked nervously.
"You're off to a good start. You haven't really changed too much yet, which is good. I do have a few things I'd like to mention and then I'll be on my way." When he nodded, still looking highly confused, she began.
"Alrighty. Now, I'm here as part of the contract. Remember when I told you that you would be getting guidance from us? Well, this is it. I've called in a few favors and cashed in a few IOU's from some poker games," she looked sharply at Harry and began speaking in a nearly frightening voice. "Don't ever play poker with rules of 'once the clothes are gone, you start getting favors'..." she shuddered. "You'll regret it." As Harry was processing that, and only just about to get to the point all teenage-minded males would go, she spoke again in her previously chipper voice.
"Anyway, you'll want to decide on if you're going to try and rely on your information of the future, which I don't suggest as the smallest things, including your emancipation are going to change, or start over from the beginning, which I would recommend." Now Harry was most certainly confused, thoughts about possible 'favors' out of his mind.
"Why wouldn't I rely on what I know of what's going to happen?" He asked, thinking that was the whole point of going back in time, just like the original end to his third year with Hermione. Lora sighed, saddened by remembering what happened in the past with just such thoughts.
"Well, think of it this way. Imagine you're in a fight with a death eater and you remember the fight exactly as it happened. Now, say you remember dodging left and dodging the killing curse," as he nodded, she continued, "now, imagine that you dodged left because this particular death eater had a tendency to shoot a little to the side of his opponent and you knew that, but you said something or did something where he wound up fixing it and the next time you fought, he was better and hit you instead." Harry's eyebrows rose as he realized what she was saying.
"You mean I may change something that totally makes things different and if I rely on my knowledge of the future and ignore what's going on now, I may screw it up royally?"
Lora blinked with her eyebrows raised high. "You got that faster than I thought you would-"
"But yes, that's basically it."
Harry grumbled before nodding and leaning up against the door. "So, probably just learn as much as I can, try to get what horcruxes I can and just take everything as I can. Got you. I can expect fourth year to run about the same, considering old Moldyshorts shouldn't hear about what's going on with me since he's going to use this whole year to get the Tri-Wizard tournament rigged."
Lora held up a finger. "Don't assume," she said in a singsong voice.
"Right ... Probably safer that way." Harry grimaced.
Lora nodded. "Correct. Also, you should see about going to the Apothecary in Diagon Alley and try to get some malnourishment potions, or potions that will jump start you on a growth spurt and try to live at Potter Manor. It's got a lot of protections that would allow anyone who is underage to practice magic without any problems if you so chose to have them over and for the love of God, get a new wardrobe!" She glared at him as only a woman could. "Just wait until after the summer so your growth spurt won't make it pointless."
Harry nodded and adopted a very serious expression. "I'll take all of that into consideration. Thank you. I do have a question though."
"What's that?" Lora, noticing his expression, became highly intrigued.
"Are you going back now, or do you plan to stay and watch while I pee?" Lora's eyed widened and her face became a furious red before she squeaked and simply disappeared. Harry chuckled and did what he had originally come to do, pleased to have gotten one over on her. It was her own bloody fault for keeping him from his business in the first place, though. It was going to be a lot of fun if he could continue. Meanwhile, Lora was devising plans to get back at him, cackling madly as she wrote plan after plan down. The poor dead soul in front of her kept eying the door and whimpered.
Harry was mildly annoyed as they pulled into the train station. He had tried twice to get Hermione's attention to get his book back, but she swatted him away each time he tried as if he were an annoying gnat. He had been forced into sitting next to her with his arms crossed over his chest and pouted the whole trip back as she read. It was easily the most bored he had been for a while. He found that he had an odd enjoyment in reading the book compared to usual. Maybe it was because it wasn't being forced onto him? As the train shuddered to a stop, Harry shook Hermione's arm, ignoring her annoyed swatting and finally decided on amused over annoyed.
"Hermione, we're here," Harry announced, rather petulantly. Hermione looked up, shocked that they had made it so far. When she finally looked at the pages she had read through, she found that she was much further than she had thought.
"Oh," she looked around again as if lost. "Erm, okay." She was suddenly very glad that she had dressed in her muggle clothing underneath of her robes.
"I promise, I'll let you borrow it when we get back to Hogwarts or once I've gone through as much as I need to, alright?" Harry assured her. Hermione nodded.
"I saw the letter from Gringotts," Harry mentally smacked himself on the forehead, "and was curious about what you're hoping to find." Hermione was hoping it could be something she could help him with. She would love the opportunity to have something to do during the summer.
"I just realized that I had no idea what my account held," which was true, considering he never even found out in the original time line, "and felt I should really figure that out."
"Okay. That makes sense." Hermione admitted, thinking it was a reasonable plan.
Harry nodded, an idea suddenly forming in his head.
"Hey, what would you say to helping me out closer to the end of summer? I'm wanting to get some books and would like your help to get some decent ones and help me get some normal clothes and you always match, so I figured you'd have a lot of better choices than what I would come up with. That, and I have no clue where any decent stores would be or anything."
Hermione's eyebrows rose as he spoke, but felt it would be fun all the same. "Of course! That shouldn't be a problem. I don't do much shopping, but if you don't have problems with it, my parents would likely take us."
Harry nodded as they made their way down the corridor in the trains. "Great! I plan to get a lot done this summer, so I'll write you often so we stay in touch." Harry mentally patted himself on the back as Hermione flashed him a brilliant smile.
The night before, until he had finally fallen asleep, he took the time to think over everything in his past life that had happened and was truly able to see how he had completely missed Hermione and any potential love interest with her. It was like he'd had an epiphany about his feelings like he sometimes had when he got a spell right. And Harry had every intention of playing catch-up this time around. He was not sure whether or not it was actually love in a romantic sense, but knew it would be incredibly easy if he wanted it to be. As they left the train, Harry gave Hermione a loose, one-armed hug.
"Talk to you soon, Hermione." They smiled at each other as Hermione hugged him back and then offered a final goodbye and then rushed towards her parents, who watched the hug with curious gazes. Ron was already gone with the rest of the Weasleys on their way home to get everything ready to take an international portkey to Egypt thanks to having won the wizarding lottery. They didn't have the time to make pleasant goodbyes.
"Get over here, boy!" Vernon's face was a pale pink as his rage was held in check in public. He despised his nephew and being forced to pick him up from his 'freak' school and make him come out of his way just to accommodate the little bastard simply pissed him off.
"When we get back to the house while we're out at dinner, you're going to take care of the garden, then you'll be mowing, then-" Harry tuned Vernon out as they made their way to Privet Drive, already making his own plans for the next day.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," he responded automatically, easily falling into the old routine. When they arrived, Dudley and Petunia came bustling out of the door.
"Get inside, boy!" Petunia looked around as if making sure no one could see them, odd as it was. Harry briefly wondered why they continued telling people he went to St. Brutus' when anyone could see his school trunk and realize it certainly was not where he had been.
As soon as the Dursleys were out of the house, Harry made his way upstairs to his room and quickly began to forge a fake letter from Gringotts to explain why he wasn't doing his chores and began working on his homework. Had he known forging fake Gringotts letters was illegal, he probably would have gone a different route, but it suited his purposes and would be destroyed soon enough.
Three hours later when the Dursleys showed up, Harry had made it through Potions, Herbology, Transfiguration and Charms and was halfway through Defense Against the Dark Arts when Vernon burst through his door.
"Boy! Why didn't you do your chores!" Rather than speak, he handed the forged letter to Vernon who took it warily. Almost as if fearing it would bite him.
Your request to emancipate yourself so that you may leave your "normal relatives at peace and get out of their lives", as you put it, is in process. We will send a representative to you soon to offer you the paperwork and we will then submit it.
Please understand that your request was asked with the express notice of not asking for money, shelter or any other staples from your relatives. Due to this, once the paperwork is signed and completed, you will have one hour to vacate their residence before you will be trespassing and they are under absolutely no obligation to offer you anything. Should they approve of this and sign off on it, then you will have no choice but to abide by that decision. Please understand that this means any obligations, legal and financial, are your sole responsibility, Mr Potter.
If we do not arrive at some point of the day you receive this letter, please find some method of coming to Gringotts to put all paperwork through.
Gringotts Legal Department
Harry watched Vernon very carefully as he read over the faux letter and was very pleased when he saw a slight smirk slowly turn into a full-blown grin that threatened to break his face in two.
"My original plan was to surprise you guys and let you know that I was leaving, but apparently, there's paperwork that I need to fill out and you may have to sign it also. As you can see," Harry pointed at the paper, hoping to hide his nervousness, "I've already made sure you won't have to worry about giving me any money or anything else, really, and you won't have anything left to do with me because there won't be anything I can do to come back and hit you guys up for. But that bit where it said that they may be showing up tonight is why I didn't do the chores. If I didn't have to get ready for the whole official thing, then whoever came here would leave as quickly as possible since I know you don't want to risk the neighbors seeing anything freak-related." Vernon smiled widely as he read the bits over he was most fond of; the whole thing.
"If this works out, then we'll call it square, boy. If it doesn't, then expect to be worked hard to make up for your slack," he growled before throwing the paper on the bed and leaving. Harry shook his head and smiled as he walked over to Hedwig's cage and petted his familiar.
"It seems things are working out well so far, girl. Why don't you hunt for the night while I finish up my homework. With my knowledge, I'm breezing through this stuff like crazy." Hedwig hooted gently as Harry opened the window for her to escape from.
Dan and Emma Granger listened as Hermione told them about her year at Hogwarts, much of it being what she had already told them in her letters. Both were listening, somewhat in fear and somewhat in awe as she spoke of the year she'd had. By the time she had caught them up to everything, they were already finished with their dinner and were halfway home.
"So, Harry killed a giant snake and saved that Ginny girl?" Emma watched her daughter nod before asking the follow-up question. "And that's the boy who you got off the train with?"
"Yes. He was asking if I thought that I might be able to help him pick out some new clothes at the end of summer and get a few books and such." Emma and Dan shared a look of amusement as Hermione seemed to blush lightly.
"Well, I don't think that would be a problem," Dan began, "though I'm surprised he'd want your help rather than his family's. So long as he gives us enough warning to get ready and is willing to work around whatever we may have scheduled if it's important, I'd be okay with it."
"Oh, Harry isn't the type to put people out of their way," Hermione assured them. "If he hadn't asked himself, I would say he would worry about being a bother, actually. He said he plans on writing to me fairly often this summer and would let me know when he wanted to go out and do some shopping."
"Well, we'll see what we can do for the boy when the time comes. For now, tell us more about your classes. You told us in a letter that you get to choose new ones next year, right?" Emma chuckled as she saw her daughter nod enthusiastically.
[Author's Notes: Final:] - Hidy. Just a bit of forewarning and miscellaneous info.
The next chapter is my "About" chapter and is purely about the basics of this story (take a look for details.)
The next STORY chapter (Chapter 3) is going to be Harry's trip to Gringotts and the rest of the summer and then finally, the excursion with Hermione. I plan on picking the pace up quite a bit on that chapter and the one after it. It will be basically random info and Harry's holdings with Gringotts. Chapter 4 will be running story, again.