Mind Over Matter
A/N: READ THIS.
This chapter is devoted entirely to the twenty years Harry spent living through the past, detailing snippets of his life during that time and different things he went through. It is set in FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW, because I wanted this chapter to feel like Harry was personally telling the readers his story.
ALSO AND I CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH – Canon flew out the window to fall fifty stories to its death a few chapters ago, so the events in this fic DO NOT FOLLOW CANON AND WILL BE DIFFERENT. I repeat that because I don't want anyone being all 'But- THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENED WTF EVEN ARE YOU DOING?!" *butthurt intensifies*
….We all got it? Good.
Let me also take a quick moment to say that I absolutely adore all of you guys and your wonderful, inspiring reviews. You've all played enormous parts in making this fic what it is, and making sure I stay on it even though I sometimes have my head up my ass. Lol Thanks guys. I'm going to start replying via PM to reviews, so I don't clutter my A/N's with the responses but I still can thank you all personally.
So, hopefully this won't screw up the flow of the rest of the fic, and I hope everyone enjoys this chapter.
The Man Who Would Be Hero
People have different ways of viewing the past. Some look at it like a story, something told that leaves them untouched and is always light years away from their own life. Others keep the past with them always, so close it will suffocate them if they let it. I don't have the luxury of doing either any more. I'm forced to be firmly present in the past, live it out and hope I don't fade away into the obscurity of memory and insignificance.
For me, time is reduced to an internal alarm – counting down the years until my birth, my family's death, my Hogwarts letter, the events thereafter. Always counting down to the inevitable moment where this cloak of shadows will be lifted from my life and I will once more be The-Boy-Who-Lived, though at that point I will not be any where close to being a simple boy any longer.
I've been in the past for three years, two months, one week, two days and five hours. I'm not counting or anything, but there it is. The length of time I've been away from my family, my friends, the man I love with all of what makes me who I was and am. I think it might have been easier, just very fractionally, if I didn't always have the habit of running into them at odd intervals. Sirius, Lily, James, Peter and – and him.
Though none of them knew me, the me I am now, I always felt panicked when I inevitably ran into them. At Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, the Order Headquarters and even muggle London a few times. If I couldn't escape without notice and an encounter happened, they would always be polite and courteous and a bit dismissive – not unkindly, just as strangers are with each other. I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt to be treated like a nobody by them, but it was for the best. I had no want or desire to complicate an already impossible situation, or cause myself any more grief.
I also never let myself dwell on the fact that Remus would almost always stare at me a little longer than was polite, his eyes distant like he was spaced out. It made me feel like he was one step away from figuring out who I am, though I was usually wearing a different face and identity every time the run-ins occurred. That never stopped my heart from squeezing tightly in my chest, but I was very, very good at ignoring those things. I wouldn't be able to survive all of this if I wasn't.
Tonight I was disguised as Patrick Brightwood, a recent defector to the Light. He had met with Dumbledore last week and discussed terms for his protection and freedom – he had very important information he could impart to the Order, in exchange of course for a safe house to stole away in until the Light won the war, or Voldemort won and he would stay indefinitely.
Now that the information had been given, Brightwood was hidden away somewhere in Vienna and I was walking the familiar path up to Riddle Manor wearing the man's face. I felt completely at ease, this being my seventh identity and the job had started coming to me naturally ages ago. It hardly took any thought or effort to slip into a completely new personality and identity. The thought might have bothered me if I wasn't mentally keeping track of all the lives this mission had helped save over the time I'd been doing it.
Rodolphus Lestrange was guarding the door, leaning against the wall to the left of it with a bored expression. I gave him a look of disdain, slipping easily into Brightwood's persona, and Lestrange sneered at me. He didn't move when I opened the door and slipped inside with confidence.
The hallway stretched out, familiar both from the undercover work and the mission I'd been sent on as a teenager. I made my way to the study, the room that had only contained a fireplace and armchair in my time. It was quite a bit different now, covered in shelving that held various items – books, dark magical items, skulls and other nefarious things. There was a deep green carpet situated in the middle of the room, upon which sat the armchair looking newer and more pristine than my teenage years. And occupying it, staring at the fire as a few dark-robed Death Eaters milled on the other side of the room, was Voldemort.
He was not the monstrosity that he would become in my time. He had features that could be considered attractive if he weren't such a terrorist, and wherever he was you could almost always find Bellatrix Lestrange lurking around, obviously smitten with the man. It made my stomach roll with nausea to imagine anyone lusting after that monster, and I think that his disgusting appearance in my time really did suit him better.
"Ah, Patrick," Voldemort greeted warmly, charm woven into every syllable. "How are your children? It has been a while since we've spoken."
"I would appreciate not speaking of them," I replied with faux irritation – Patrick did not get on with his kids, both of which have been on the side of the Light since school and were now married to a half-blood and muggle-born, respectively. "They are no offspring of mine, the filthy blood traitors."
Voldemort inclined his head, "Yes, it is a shame. Davis would have been perfect to join our cause, he was always so very good with a wand. And quite clever. I'm afraid Sophia was never particularly impressive, however, and she is not much of a loss."
I marveled for a split second over the other man's ability to praise and insult, both delivered in an insouciant tone. No wonder so many people flock to his side, misgivings be damned. I didn't outwardly express this opinion, saying instead, "I await your words, my lord." in an attempt to speed this along and get to the heart of why I, or Patrick, had been called here.
"Always so succinct, do you ever stop to enjoy life, Patrick?" Voldemort asked with a grin that really creeped me out. "Very well, we will skip the pleasantries." Rising from his seat, the dark wizard motioned a robed figure forward from the rest. "I have called you here this evening to welcome a new person into our family. Please, remove your hood."
I ignored the lurch of disgust I felt at hearing the Death Eaters referred to in such a way and watched with an impatient air as the robed person pushed their hood away, revealing a man my age with features I'd come to recognize over the years. Standing before Voldemort was none other than Peter Pettigrew.
I was floored. Of course I'd known this day was coming, but I had viewed it in an abstract way – something I knew but that didn't feel so real until now. This was the start – the beginning of everything that would go wrong in my life and the lives of the people I cared about. My fingers twitched, itching to snap up the wand I'd gotten from Brightwood and cast the most vile unforgivable at the man who was about to betray my family. At length, I resisted.
"Peter Pettigrew, formerly of the Order of the Phoenix." Voldemort stated to the others in the room, while Pettigrew stood shaking before him. He seemed highly nervous at the moment and I wondered why in Merlin he switched sides to a man who scared him like that. There was no sense to be made of this – Peter had been there at my birth, helped my parents during my first year, could always be found laughing and happy in their presence. Why was he doing this?
Peter knelt down in front of the Dark Lord, bowing his head in a show of submission. His scent reeked of terror and I was faintly surprised he hadn't passed out from it. He spoke in a squeaking voice, "My lord, I vow my loyalty and my wand to your service to do with as you see fit."
Standard words spoken by initiates out of the way, Voldemort produced his wand and waited until Peter offered his forearm, robe hiked up to reveal the skin. With flair the dark wizard began the enchantment to carve the dark mark into the exposed flesh. The process was painful and Pettigrew's screams rang in my ears, my sensitive hearing causing the sound to be painful.
Voldemort spoke once the task was done and Pettigrew had shut up, "We welcome Peter Pettigrew into the flock, may your knowledge be beneficial to bringing down our enemies."
Once more, I felt sick.
As Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, I had experienced many horrors in my life. I thought I knew what pain was, but it turned out I didn't know the true meaning. Having an abstract knowledge of what had happened to my parents that night didn't even come close to comparing to actually being there when it happened.
Pettigrew had been a Death Eater for little over a month when Voldemort had called a meeting, convening with his most skilled and trusted lackeys – Brightwood being among them. During the meeting, the dark wizard had explained that Lily and James Potter needed to be eliminated, an action that would set them on their way to overtaking the Order. Several other families were named for the same fate – Longbottom among them, and the Death Eaters seemed none the wiser to the fact that those families' magical power had nothing to do with why Voldemort wanted them taken out. It was all about the prophecy and his cowardice.
I eyed Snape as Voldemort had made the order, watching as his skin had went pale and his eyes had shown panic. This was when he would defect to Dumbledore, when he would start spying for the Light. Lily Evans' – my mum's – death.
Voldemort selected five Death Eaters for each group and sent them out to various families with the order to destroy them all – leave no survivors, not even infants and children. And the men and women left, not batting an eye about murdering the innocent. I bit my lip to keep from doing something that would change time, stop my parents from being killed and setting off the chain reaction that would follow, when Voldemort ordered Snape and myself to accompany him to Godric's Hollow.
Snape, Voldemort and myself apparated to the edge of a town less than a mile outside of Godric's Hollow, walking the distance through the moonlit woods surrounding the home my family lived in. As we walked, Snape strode up to speak in quiet tones with Voldemort so I wouldn't overhear – had I normal hearing, I wouldn't have, but Greyback's bite had given me far superior senses and I caught every word.
"My lord, please," Snape's voice was positively panicked, desperate, I felt a rush of pity for the man, "the prophecy only mentioned the child- surely, surely you don't need to kill Lily Potter? I must ask you – I have served you loyally and never hesitated to follow your command, please... spare Lily. She is not any more a threat to you than a fly would be."
Voldemort was silent for a long moment as they made their way to the edge of the treeline, light shining through from the house ahead. Finally, he spoke in the same hushed tone as Snape, "I do appreciate your loyalty, my friend. You have never wavered at my side. I will attempt to spare the woman as a reward for you, but I will eliminate her if she proves to be an obstacle."
Snape's shoulders sagged in relief, "Thank you, my most gracious lord. I will ensure she does not get in your way-"
Voldemort leveled a look at him and cut his sentence short, "You will not be entering Godric's Hollow with me. I cannot trust that you will not act on your obvious emotions for the woman and try to do something... irrational."
Just like that Snape's tension returned anew and we stepped up to the last of the trees, the house beyond coming in full view. I had never seen it fully intact and lived in before, now I devoured the image in front of me. It was revealed to us by Peter Pettigrew's grant of the Secret, nulling the Fidelius charm that had kept it hidden, and it appeared cozy with lights glowing in the windows. My heart ached as I watched my father walk past one downstairs window, a baby with dark hair held in his arms and a smile on his face.
"Patrick, go around the back and make sure we don't have any unexpected company. Severus, you stay guard here at the front. I can handle this on my own." Voldemort commanded. Snape looked ready to argue but held his tongue.
I felt ice settling in my stomach as I made my way around the house by the trees, keeping to the shadows. I waited until the screaming started to move toward the door, forcing myself to keep my pace slow and stealthy lest there actually be anyone around. I heard my father shouting- "Lily! It's Him! Take Harry and go!" and several bangs before the windows flashed green, and I knew my Dad was dead.
I felt a detachment settle over me as I listened to my Mum upstairs, banging around in my room – attempting to barricade the door, I assumed. It wouldn't work. I stared up at the second floor window, in a daze, as I listened to my Mum whispering to myself as a baby. She just kept repeating the same thing, unending. "I love you, Harry. I love you, Harry."
A branch snapped behind me and I turned instantly with my wand raised, prepared to incapacitate whoever it was, when I received the shock of my life. Remus stood at the tree line, in his wolf form, staring at me with his hackles up.
I drew in a breath, released it slowly and took a careful step forward. "Remus-"
The wolf growled and launched into motion, powerful muscles propelling it forward. I tensed and shifted swiftly into my own wolf form, intending to fight fire with fire. The second I was fully changed, I launched myself in a counter charge at Remus.
We met with claws and teeth, blood flowing from wounds – mine, since I had no intention of hurting my mate – and bodies aching from impact. Remus rolled to the side and thrashed to dislodge my smaller form, causing me to end up smashing into a tree from the power of it. A whine emitted unbidden from me as I stood on an injured leg, rounding to face Remus again.
There was another flash of green from the house, drawing Remus' attention and he started forward cautiously toward the building. I wasn't going to allow him to get anywhere near what was going on, and I launched my body into his to keep him focused on me. My foreleg protested violently and the pain caused me to grit my teeth as I attempted to hold Remus' larger form to the ground.
Immediately following what I knew to be the last green flash from the house, Remus growled low in his throat and thrust upwards with all of his strength, knocking me off. There was a pause as magic built in the air and Remus lifted his muzzle to scent, then burst into motion and covered my form underneath his own.
Then the house exploded, and I vaguely registered Snape's anguished scream over the deafening noise.
When the explosion ended and the debris had settled, some large pieces of wood covered Remus and I. Remus was unconscious from the impact and I struggled to get out from under the larger wolf. I finally managed it after a moment, turning once on my legs and scenting at him to check his condition. There was a small amount of blood on the back of his head, fur crimson, but the wound wasn't deep. I shifted back and sighed wearily in relief, wondering why the hell Remus was there in the first place. He wasn't supposed to be.
I moved the debris off of him and glanced up at the ruins of Godric's Hollow once done, heart breaking anew at the loss of my parents. I felt tears blur my vision even as I registered that their loss meant that Voldemort was gone for now, as well. Faintly, I heard a baby crying and knew that my infant-self was somewhere in those ruins, protected from it all by his mother's sacrifice. I was fairly sure that those terrified wails would haunt me until my death, but since I couldn't interfere I steeled myself, pushed away my emotions and turned to Remus once more.
I didn't want to leave him here where everything had happened – he wasn't even supposed to be here. So I cast a feather charm and levitated the unconscious werewolf, moving him in front of me as I walked limply on a sprained ankle to the woods. My intention was to find somewhere safe and distant to deposit him, and I hoped he wouldn't remember much of it. This had happened before he would be supplied Wolfsbane by Snape, so I couldn't be sure what he would or would not remember.
I wondered why he had covered me, protected me from the explosion. I was a nobody to him, there was no reason that he would feel protective of me. Unless perhaps that while Remus didn't remember me, his wolf did. That would be an interesting theory to ponder once I got safely back to my own home and shook off the night's events.
I apparated myself and Remus to the Shrieking Shack in an attempt to take him to the place that would be safest to leave him. Once there, I laid him on the old couch in the living room that was barely big enough to hold his form and went about casting wards to protect from intruders. The magic took some effort in my nerve wrecked state and once done, I sank to the dusty floor in front of the couch and just stared at Remus.
He would be okay physically, but his entire world was going to be shattered when he awoke and was human once more. Two of his best friends were dead, three if you counted Pettigrew pretending, and Sirius was about to be carted off to Azkaban for the next thirteen years. I felt anguish at the thought of my mate going through so much, and I wouldn't even be able to be there for him through it.
I needed to speak to Dumbledore, figure out what to do in the interim of Voldemort being incapacitated. I couldn't tell the old wizard that he would be back, but I did need to remain in the loop on the Death Eater purge that would follow, and begin research on those damnable Horcruxes that we were going to have to deal with. The sword of Gryffindor is what 'a friend' had said would destroy them. I needed to remain aware of its whereabouts for the next fifteen or so years.
That same friend had known things, come off awfully sentimental regarding Remus.
I was beginning at that point to wonder if maybe that friend was someone I knew. Like me.
The years following the attack on Godric's Hollow found me residing at Hogwarts, continuing to pose as a teacher. I was Jay Sparks, Professor of Magical Theory. I didn't use Polyjuice potion for this as it would be too bothersome to keep up doses, and after the Barty Crouch Jr. incident I felt it would be a stupid move. So I glamoured the hell out of myself; chocolate toned skin, dark blue eyes and dark brown hair. I was several inches taller under my new disguise, with a wiry slender frame that was much less bulky than my own.
There were only two people over the years who knew who I truly was – Dumbledore and, after a year of working with the man, Snape. I found Snape to be much more likable when on a more level playing field, our ages and titles similar. He was an extremely intelligent man, something I'd obviously been aware of beforehand, but it was more apparent when he wasn't sneering and doling out insults. He still did those things, but it was without the intensity of hate he'd had for me as a child.
I trained with Snape in between my duties as a professor, trying to master the skill of Occlumency under the guise of curiosity and making myself a better wizard for the Order to utilize, the latter still operating under cover to bring down any Death Eaters that were still making trouble in Voldemort's absence. The lessons weren't as terrifying as they'd been when I was a teenager now that the mutual disdain was removed from the equation. Still, it took me over a year and a half of consistent work to finally overcome my shortcomings and master the skill.
Following that, I was often found with the Defense Against The Dark Arts professor, training to be better at fighting and honing the skills I'd need when the time came again. I was determined to be the absolute best wizard I could when the second war dawned, to know every spell and skill possible that could help me combat Voldemort and defeat him.
It was interesting to observe Professor Quirrell pre-insanity, teaching Muggle Studies for now, and watching as the other teachers mostly dismissed him and the students bullied and disrespected him brought to me a new understanding of his actions during my first year. Though I definitely didn't feel anything but disgust at the man, I now could understand why he snapped. I didn't intervene in the mistreatment, though I was tempted several times.
I kept my ears open for any news regarding Sirius and Remus as well. Sirius was locked away in Azkaban, but Dumbledore – who only knew that the man was my godfather, not that he was wrongly incarcerated – kept me informed of his condition and assured me that he was as healthy as one could be in Azkaban. Remus had went to Ireland after the murders, protecting several witches and wizards for a while that the Order had stashed in a safe house there to keep out of reach of the Death Eaters. These people were defectors and blood traitors, known supporters of Dumbledore and as such had an arrow drawn on their backs.
As time passed, Remus eventually moved to a cottage in Yorkshire to live when the Order deemed it safe for the refugees to return to their lives. Many Death Eaters had been captured and Dumbledore felt that without a leader the remaining silent ones would not be much of an issue – though he still kept sentries posted to watch their activities.
I made friends with the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Adam Cross, and eventually trusted him enough to reveal myself. Adam didn't really know who I was, having no knowledge of who 'Harry Potter' would be until much later when the Prophet uncovered the story about what had brought on Voldemort's downfall, then published the article that would rocket my name into fame for the rest of my life. I remained friends and often met with the man after he had to quit his position to take care of his ill father, and Quirrell was assigned the job.
When Harry Potter came to Hogwarts for the first time, I was still there teaching Magical Theory. It was odd to teach myself and my friends in first year, but I quickly got over the novelty and made an honest attempt to help them be as knowledgeable on the subject as possible. Outside of the classroom, I kept to myself except my training with Adam or my assisting Snape. I had offered my help to the Potions Master in brewing Wolfsbane for Remus, wishing to help him in any way I could and that really being the only conceivable means to do so.
I wasn't really sure what I would do when Harry's third year came about and Remus joined the Hogwarts staff. I figured I might go on 'holiday' and get some Order things done, avoid the entire situation completely. I ultimately did not do that, because it made me feel cowardly to run and essentially hide.
When news of Sirius' escape from Azkaban broke, I rejoiced. I was one step closer to the life I longed to return to. I went about silently searching for my Godfather as the school year approached, utilizing contacts that my various aliases in the Death Eater circle had known. I got close to locating him several times, only to have him slip out from under my nose each one. Sirius was definitely sneaky and damn clever to be so well hidden.
Then the school year soon dawned, and Remus Lupin arrived.
To Be Continued...
A/N: So I set about writing the entirety of those twenty years for this one chapter, then realized how bloody long it was going to be and decided to break it up into two. So next chapter will be the final part of Harry's history through the past. I haven't decided if I'll do a Present-Day scene in that one, likely not because switching from FP POV to Third in one chapter gives me a headache whenever I read it and I'd like to try to keep my chapters smooth and flowing.
Guys, be sure to let me know if you notice a misspelled word, a typo or anything out of place. I work hard to catch those things but sometimes they slip past. I really should get a beta, but it would bruise my pride too much since I am a complete grammar nazi and am myself a beta. Thanks :P
I have decided that this story will be 30 chapters long, so as we approach that mark know that the story's coming to a final conclusion. It's been six years and this story has been with me through my grandmother's death, my marriage, the birth of my son, my first house, my ultimate break up, my son's first three years, and my own dawning self-confidence in myself as a woman. This fic means the absolute world to me, and I'm so pleased to be able to finally do it justice by finally working seriously toward finishing it.
As always, review. I adore you all.