Um, someone said I should type a disclaimer so…here it is! Ta da! Everything is now miraculously disclaimed! Moving right along…
So, I was going to do a NaNoWriMo project, but my parents are coming in two weeks and my house is a disaster and I have no place for them to sleep yet. So, yeah, I'm busy. Please consider this my 2008 abbreviated project. Plus, my other story, which is sitting at a pretty 80,000+ words right now, has given me a swift kick and I'm stuck, stuck, stuck. Never fear, however, as my friends/advisors are actively prodding me about it. Also, I thought it might help if I got this nagging plot bunny out of my head!
Oh, the word that confused the beta - Susurration means a soft whispering
Harry sat in some random compartment on the Hogwarts Express with his friends and stared out the window. He was quiet and still. Very quiet. Too still.
He had become more and more quiet and more and more still over the past weeks since Sirius' fall through the veil in the Department of Mysteries. In fact, he'd not said a single word in the last three days and today had not bothered to move at all unless necessary. All he could think about was Sirius falling through the veil – the scene repeating in his mind unceasingly. He saw Sirius fall and heard the soft sound made by the gentle fluttering of the fabric as the man passed through the archway. He heard the faint murmuring of the voices after the dark haired man disappeared into nothingness. Over and over again he saw and heard the scene in its entirety.
It consumed him.
He knew…knew…that if he just listened hard enough that he would be able to understand the whispering voices. And if he could understand the voices he knew that he would be able to retrieve Sirius from the veil. He just needed to understand. And so he reviewed the memory again and again and again in an attempt to make out the soft sounds. It was somewhat frustrating – he felt like understanding was just out of his reach – but he persevered. He knew he would pick up something, if he listened just one more time. And so here he reviewed the memory over and over.
He ignored his friends as they tried to gain his attention and draw him into conversation. He ignored the various adults as they threatened the Dursleys. He ignored the Dursleys on the drive back to Privet Drive. Throughout all these things he simply remained still and stared off into the distance, reviewing his memories of the veil. He could feel that he was just on the cusp of understanding…something.
The Dursleys were more unnerved at Harry's distant and vacant gaze than they had been at the threats of the Order and made no complaint – and were indeed relieved – when, upon their arrival at their home, Harry immediately went up the stairs to his room.
Harry lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling, seeing only the veil.
Harry kept just enough of his consciousness on the outside world to respond to the Dursleys commands to eat, wash himself, tend to the dishes, weed the yard, or complete other simple chores. He didn't mind the tasks as they kept his body occupied while his mind contemplated the veil.
Sirius had long since been removed from his introspection and Harry's focus was solely on the veil and the voices. He understood them now. Somewhat. Every now and then he understood a word or phrase, but it was like he was a child just learning to speak. It didn't matter, though. He persisted, and the voices persisted, and Harry knew that soon he would be able to understand them fully.
He had not bothered to speak a single word this summer nor had he bothered to look at the letters he'd received. The voices were all that was important to him and he spared little mind to distractions.
The little freak was determined to cause problems for her family. They had been threatened – threatened! – that they had to treat the boy better and what did he do? He made it impossible! She knew it was on purpose. It was just like the ungrateful freak to do something like this.
The boy said nothing to them on the entire ride back to the house and had gone straight to his room once they arrived. She'd thought it was just some petulant phase, but the boy still had not spoken. In fact the boy didn't respond at all, to anyone, unless given very specific orders. Why, they even had to tell him to shower and dress in clean clothes!
His blank face was creepy, though not as creepy as his utterly blank eyes and she wanted him out of her house as soon as possible and away from her decent and normal family. Petunia shuddered and sneered in disgust as she climbed the stairs to tell the boy to weed the garden, one of the few things he would get up off that bed to do.
At least the freak was still moderately useful.
Once again his friends tried to engage Harry in conversation on the Hogwarts Express and once again Harry ignored them completely in favor of staring out the window and contemplating the veil. He didn't hear them as they asked about his health. He didn't respond to them when they asked why he hadn't answered their letters. And he didn't notice their pleas to just say something, anything.
Just like at the Dursleys, Harry kept just enough of his consciousness on the outside world to enable him to follow simple commands. He changed into his uniform, rode the carriages to the school, ate a meal at the opening feast, followed his Head of House to the Headmaster's office, and sat quietly while a debate raged around him, all while completely concentrated on the veil and the voices that spoke to him.
The voices taught him things. Things the magical world had long since forgotten. They were teaching him things as they would have been taught to a small child, yet he didn't mind. He wasn't offended. After all, how else was he supposed to learn?
Severus knocked back yet another drink in the privacy of his quarters. The Granger girl had come to Minerva immediately upon entering the school and informed her of Potter's odd behavior on the train. No urgency had been attached to Granger's words, despite the girl's desperate demeanor, and Albus had simply told the girl to send or bring Potter to his office after the feast.
Albus had "invited" Severus and Minerva to his office for the discussion with Potter regarding his behavior. At the time, Severus had simply been annoyed to have any part of his free time taken up by the arrogant brat. Now he was horrified at what he'd seen and wondered if Potter would ever recover from his obvious mental break and what this meant for the war against the Dark Lord.
The boy had responded to no one in any fashion. Not even a single twitch came from the boy during Minerva's pathetic cajoling, Albus' grandfatherly inquiries, or even Severus' own scathing criticisms. It was as if the boy was deaf to them.
As a last resort, Albus had performed legilimency on the boy and had come away pasty-faced. Albus had then authorized Severus to do the same. Never would he forget the utter blankness of the boy's mind and the single image he had encountered there of the Veil of Death. No matter how hard he pressed, the only thing in the boy's mind was the veil and a disturbing background whispering of barely heard and non-understandable voices.
Severus shuddered and reached for the bottle of fire whiskey once again.
The entire school had quickly become aware that something was wrong with Harry Potter. The boy ignored everybody. Nobody was spared the boy's indifference. Students, teachers, friends, and enemies alike were simply ignored as if they didn't exist. That wasn't the worst of it, though.
Someone – Slytherin was suspected, of course, but there was no proof – had tried sending a spell at the obviously distracted Gryffindor. There had been an angry outcry at first – though not from Potter – and then utter silence as the spell hit Potter…and did nothing. For several days – before the teachers put a harsh stop to the practice – spells were randomly cast towards Potter. All had had the same frightening non-result. It was as if the boy was absorbing the magic. Everyone was spooked at this development and gossip and conjecture soon took hold of the school.
Harry was not even peripherally aware of the rumors about him that floated around the castle. His focus was only on the image of the veil and the soft voices that taught him. He learned things about the world that he knew had never been taught at Hogwarts. The voices spoke of plants and animals, the geography of the land and the currents of the sea, weather patterns and the life cycles of all things.
He didn't know why the voices were teaching him these things. While he enjoyed knowing these things, his true purpose was to learn how to retrieve Sirius from the veil. But the voices were insistent and soothing and they praised him and encouraged him when he learned what they taught. And so he bowed to their wisdom and continued to listen and learn. Patience was a virtue, was it not?
Never in all her years had Beatrice seen such a case as Harry Potter. Due to the last war, she had seen dozens of cases of full or partial insanity caused by the cruciatus curse. She was experienced with obliviation spells gone wrong. She had even worked with patients who had retreated into their own minds due to trauma of some type, which, in her opinion, was what had happened to young Harry Potter.
This last set of patients could usually be successfully treated by a healer experienced with mind to mind contact. The only difficulty came in understanding the mindscape of the patient's fantasy world and what type of approach to take with the patient to coax them back to reality. Harry Potter, however, did not have a fantasy world that he'd created. He had nothing but a shimmering, fluttering black curtain attached to a blacker than black archway and an eerie susurration of voices.
Still, somehow she knew there was more to the situation than what she'd understood at the time.
And she didn't want to know what it was.
She'd simply recommended that the boy be kept at Hogwarts and in his usual routine instead of being transferred anywhere, such as the long-term ward St. Mungo's or anywhere within the Ministry's custody. Headmaster Dumbledore had been pleased with her recommendation although the Ministry certainly was not. She didn't care. All she knew was that she didn't want anything more to do with a case that made her shudder in fear every time she thought about it.
Harry was unaware of the frenzy of controversy surrounding him and how he should be treated for his "mental breakdown" and "atypical catatonia." He was unaware of how hard the Headmaster had had to fight the Ministry to keep him at Hogwarts. Unaware and, had he known, uncaring.
He focused only on the voices and their lessons. He learned about magical animals and plants – some now extinct, though they hinted that he might be able to fix that in the future – and various sentient species. He learned about rocks and stones and gems, about caves and canyons and the workings of the inner earth. He learned about the moon and the tides and the seasons.
Often his mind wandered to questions – not always about the topic of the moment – and sometimes the voices would soothe him and bring his focus back to the lesson and sometimes they would praise his curiosity and answer his questions.
But always, always, he listened to them and learned.
Minerva looked away as Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley guided Harry Potter into the great Hall and to a seat at the Gryffindor table. It distressed her every time she saw Harry and knew that he had retreated from the world due to a situation that she felt she had partially contributed to. Albus may have had the final word about keeping information from Harry, but she knew she could have at least raised an objection. She was well aware that Harry did not trust adults and would take matters into his own hands unless he had a good reason not to. She knew that and still had raised no objections. She knew that and still had not supported Sirius when he emphatically argued that keeping Harry in the dark would backfire spectacularly.
And he'd been right, hadn't he? And it had been him that had paid the price of their hubris. And now Harry was also paying the price.
None of the healers that had examined Harry could give them anything more than general recommendations on what to do to try and bring the boy back to the world. Keep him in a familiar place, they said. Have him follow a routine. Let his friends interact with him as much as possible. All these things they had done, and still Harry didn't respond.
It was enough to make her cry at night when no one was around to watch.
The voices were teaching him how to read and write. It wasn't as simple as all that, however, as the symbols they showed him were incredibly complicated. The symbols could be used phonetically, much like the letters of the English alphabet. They could also be used logographically – either singly or in combination – to represent entire words, similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs. The symbols could also be combined ideographically to express an entire concept.
And it was more complicated still. When used ideographically, like on the veil, entire webs of meaning could be created based upon how close certain ideograms, or sets of ideograms, were to others. These webs could easily hold several layers of meaning and purpose.
Despite how complicated it was Harry enjoyed the lessons and his increasing mastery. He also understood now why he had been taught about the world around him before being taught how to read and write. The symbols drew their meanings from the natural world. Without the understanding he had gained from his prior lessons, he would have never understood the symbols or the concepts they represented.
For every concept he mastered, the voices praised him and he smiled slightly. He was unaware that every time he did so was noted by others, or that those smiles gave hope to those who worried about him.
Albus sat in his chair and absently pet Fawkes as he contemplated the situation with Harry Potter. To the human eye the situation was quite dire; Harry was non-responsive, the healers had no idea what to do for him, and he didn't seem to be improving after months of following what recommendations the healers had made. And yet…
And yet every time Harry was brought to his office Fawkes would sing and every time Harry would tilt his head slightly as if listening. Fawkes' song was encouraging and, oddly enough, praising, as if the boy was accomplishing something vitally important. Fawkes' interaction with the boy was strange enough, but it didn't hold a candle to the reactions of the house elves.
Harry's friends had reported numerous changes that had been made to the boy's environment. Harry's bed was now different than the others and dried flowers and other scents had been placed around and within it. The boy's ragged clothes had been systematically replaced with items of high quality and carried the same scents as his bed. The toiletries Harry used had also been replaced with ones of similar scent. When Harry sat at the Gryffindor table to eat, his place was automatically filled with a plate of food unfamiliar to anybody, though Harry ate it, as always, without comment or complaint.
Investigation had revealed that the house elves had indeed done these things, were doing these things, planned to continue doing these things, but he could not get out of them why. The house elves just looked at him with big sorrowful eyes and kept their silence and so he had reluctantly stopped pushing for an explanation.
The strangest thing, however, was what was happening in the Forbidden Forest. The centaurs and other sentient species routinely approached Hogwarts to inquire about Harry's health and deliver gifts for the boy. Albus had accepted all of these gifts graciously, knowing that to not do so would hugely offend the givers. He kept them in a safe place and viewed them as tangible hope that Harry would return to them, but he didn't understand why the gifts were even coming at all.
Harry Potter, to all intents and purposes, seemed lost to the world. And yet…
Harry wasn't aware that he was in Transfiguration the day that he grinned and cried out in triumph. He wasn't aware that his friends and Head of House were trying to get his attention, thinking that this was a sign that he was coming back to them. He wasn't aware when Hermione burst into tears at his continued non-responsiveness, or when Ron clenched his hands and bowed his head to keep from doing the same, or when professor McGonagall dismissed the class 20 minutes early.
No, his triumph had nothing to do with the outside world. He was simply ecstatic over the fact that he had finally mastered enough of the symbols to understand the ideograms etched into the base of the veil. The symbols grounded the base to the earth and allowed the archway to soar overhead. He could now see and understand the ideograms clearly, trace the patterns they made and the web they created. It was so simple, really, so plainly obvious. Now that he understood.
He continued to listen to the voices, learning, ever learning. It was his whole focus.
She tried so hard to be upbeat and hopeful about Harry's recovery and she harshly scolded anyone that said it was hopeless. But it was becoming harder and harder the longer he remained non-responsive. And for a few blissful moments she had thought that there was an improvement in Harry's state, but when he had ignored her, she had been crushed. It had taken a calming potion from Madam Pomfrey to get her to stop crying.
Hermione knew there were people that knew more than they were telling and she knew they wouldn't tell her. She understood now, on a whole new personal level, just how frustrated Harry must have been when denied information that actually pertained to him and not just a friend. She so wanted to wring several necks for even little driblets of information! No wonder Harry had been in such a foul temper last year.
She'd done her own investigations into the strange things now surrounding her friend. She'd gotten nothing, or nearly nothing, out of the house elves. She knew they believed that Harry would recover or, more accurately, she knew they believed that Harry was fine as he was. She had gotten on her knees to beg the house elves for an explanation as to why they were behaving the way they were and they had merely patted her on the arm and told her not to worry, that "Harry Potter, sir, doings very, very good."
The library, including the restricted section, had so far turned up nothing practical in regards to Harry's new ability to absorb magic. The only thing she had found was some old story about the godlike Druids who had built Stonehenge. Despite the dearth of resources, Hermione vowed to continue looking for anything that might help.
She would do everything in her power to help her friend become well once again.
This time it was Charms class that Harry was in when he grinned in triumph and caused a ruckus with his classmates. He had just figured out the ideogram sets on either side of the arch of the veil. The symbols started at the very bottom of each leg and went upwards for about one foot. They were so obvious to him now as he looked at a mental image of the veil. They were so blatantly obvious, in fact, that they might as well have been written in neon orange ink.
The first set of cohesive ideograms anchored the veil to the base it stood upon; no one would be separating the two unless the veil and its base were systematically disassembled. Now he could set his focus upon understanding the next level of ideograms.
He was closer, one step closer, to freeing Sirius from the veil! Jubilation! The voices praised his accomplishment and allowed him his small mental celebration with good humor.
The moment passed and he turned his attention back to learning, still ignoring the world around him, still unaware of the efforts made to encourage his return, and still uncaring of any and all such efforts.
He'd grown up a lot this school year. He'd learned a great deal about friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and faith in the last six months. He'd also learned to see things from a different perspective and come to understand just how misplaced his jealousy of his best friend had been.
Being Harry Potter was something he was now actively glad was not his burden.
He'd seen the state of his friend on the Hogwarts Express and, at first, had been disbelieving that Harry could fall so far from simple grief. Then he'd realized exactly what Harry had lost; Harry had lost his entire family because, really, the Dursleys didn't count. And when Ron honestly thought about it, he didn't figure he'd be in any better state if his own family had suddenly all died in one evening.
Then he'd watched in fury as students tried to see if they would be the ones to finally counter Harry's weird new magic-absorbing ability. He'd done his best to protect his friend but several spells had made it through anyway, though luckily no one had been successful in harming Harry. It had been disgust he felt next as he witnessed the Ministry try to pull Harry away for their own purposes, counter to the healer's recommendations. Fighting the negative comments of the school had been his next hurdle. And then it was the crushing disappointment that Harry's triumphant cry – almost as if he'd caught a snitch! – didn't herald a return to reality for his friend.
But Harry was his friend, his best friend, and he would stand beside his friend steadfastly. He would continue to help Harry until he chose to return, and after. And he would hold strong to his faith that Harry would return. He just sometimes wished his friend wasn't taking his own sweet time about it.
No one noticed the next time Harry grinned in triumph. It was late evening, after all, and he lay in bed in the dark the same as his dorm-mates. He now understood the next set of ideograms upon the archway of the veil! Simple, so simple.
It was during a Friday lunch in the Great Hall when Harry chuckled his next success. His language lessons had been going so well that he now understood the third set of ideograms upon the veil. The more he learned about how to interpret the symbols the easier and easier it became to understand the more complex symbol sets and the more complex webs that they created.
He wondered that no one had done what he was doing. Why had no one figured out how to learn from the voices as he had? Perhaps no one had had sufficient motivation as he had in helping Sirius. It would be just a little while longer before Sirius would be freed. There were only two more layers to go before he would understand how to activate the veil and retrieve his godfather. The voices, his teachers, praised him for his accomplishment and Harry laughed loudly in triumph and delight.
Harry never noticed the silence that fell throughout the entire hall at his outburst. He never noticed the fear he instigated due to his uncharacteristic behavior. He never noticed that Friday afternoon classes were canceled by order of the Headmaster. He never noticed because the outside world was still unimportant and he cared nothing for it. All that mattered was his learning.
Soon. Soon he would understand the veil completely.
Remus watched the kettle on the stove despite knowing it would never boil. It was a magic kettle and was persnickety that way, refusing to do its job while under surveillance. Really, he didn't understand why he kept the thing around and didn't get rid of it in favor of a boring, yet reliable, Muggle kettle.
He sighed as he looked away. He knew why he kept the kettle. It was something to do while he contemplated troubling aspects of his life. Like Harry's current situation. It had been eight months since they had discovered Harry's state of mind or, more accurately, Harry's lack of state of mind.
Officially, there had been no progress. Unofficially, everyone seemed to take Harry's movement from small smiles to grins to laughter as positive signs. It wasn't much, but it was something. Plus, Albus had shared with certain people the gifts he was receiving on behalf of Harry. There were nearly six dozen now, ranging in size from a one inch cube to a flat package nearly a meter across.
And then there was the magic. He hadn't told anybody, not even Albus, but he could feel something in the air, especially when it was close to the full moon. Something that he could label only as some kind of anticipation. He was worried about Harry, but Mooney decidedly wasn't. Mooney rejoiced and quivered with eagerness at the scent in the air.
He wished he understood what it was and why he was so certain that it was connected to Harry.
His lessons shifted abruptly away from continuing his understanding of the symbols and how to combine them. Harry was worried and disappointed, but his teachers soothed him and he calmed and applied himself diligently to the lessons they were teaching him now.
His teachers taught him about the planets and their moons and how they all moved about the Sun. He learned what it meant if they were bright in the sky or dulled and how those effects were enhanced or moderated by where they appeared in the sky. He learned about the stars and the constellations, about comets and meteors and supernovas and nebulae. He learned what they meant and how to read their messages. He rather thought he'd be able to give the centaurs a run for their money, so to speak.
And then they used his new knowledge of the universe to teach him about distance and time and the way those things could be warped to serve different purposes. He was fascinated with his lessons and knew that he would now be able to make his own larger-on-the-inside school trunk, or perhaps his own super-spacious camp tent. The prospect was exciting and his teachers were pleased that he could see applications for what they were teaching other than his immediate goal.
It was then, as he learned about things that he knew wizards could already do, that he realized that he would have the responsibility to spread the knowledge he had learned about things that wizards couldn't do. Or did his teachers want him to keep it secret? No, no, they told him. It was time for the knowledge to return, to be spread amongst those responsible enough to learn it.
And so ensued discussions about how to judge what kind of people could be taught what kinds of things and how to ensure such things were not used for evil purposes. His teachers were pleased at the dedication he showed towards the concept of teaching his newfound knowledge and as a reward showed him a few other fun things that he could do with time and space.
He hated Harry Potter. At least, he used to. But maybe not so much now. Now he was afraid. Not that he would admit that to anybody. But it was true nonetheless. In his very private thoughts he could admit to being terrified of Harry Potter. He wouldn't be surprised if several people knew it anyway. After all, he could list quite a number of people that he knew who were also terrified of Harry Potter. You could see it in their eyes.
He knew, he could feel it somehow, that Potter would recover and be even stronger than before. He knew that Potter would triumph over the Dark Lord and would, in fact, do so with ease. It was too late for his father, but he had wanted to try and convince his mother to switch sides now while she still had the chance. His first forays into the topic during spring break, however, had merely garnered him a sharp slap and a harsh admonition to stop doubting his Lord. It was then that he had realized that it was only those who had been in the presence of Potter recently that understood what power the dark-haired boy held, had been gaining these past months, and that without even being aware of the world outside of his own mind.
And so now he stood before the Headmaster of Hogwarts with an unbreakable jar containing a rat with a silver hand. It was a peace offering to Potter. The very best he could think of. Hopefully Potter would accept the gift and pass over the House of Malfoy when it came time to defeat the Dark Lord and his minions.
Draco could only hope.
Now that he had learned how to warp time and space, time-turners would be a cinch for him to create should he ever so desire. They were simple constructs, really, once you understood the basic concepts. He'd probably make one someday, just for the fun of it.
The last set of symbols upon the archway of the veil was easily deciphered with his new understanding and the keystone at the apex was even easier. His understanding of the veil, as an artifact, was now complete. And so his teachers turned their lessons to the history and purpose of the veil.
He learned who, what, where, when, why, and how about every aspect of veil. He could make his own now, should it be needful. And, honestly, it probably would be. Somehow, Harry just didn't see the Ministry handing over the artifact to him simply because he was the only one who knew how to use it properly. No, likely they would want to keep him imprisoned and try to force him to explain how to operate it. Not that that would work. He had no need to fear the Ministry now. Still, such obstruction would be inconvenient and so he was certain that he would be spending the time to make his own. It would only take a few years.
Once that had been decided, his teachers discussed with him what, and who, was within the veil and what the purpose was for placing those things, and people, there. He was stuck between amusement and disgust at how the Ministry had abused the veil, especially in the last century. He was going to have to spend some time cleaning up the veil from its time in Ministry custody.
He then learned how to transport himself and others. He learned how to do so through each of the elements, through the magic held in the ley lines, and through the shadows of space. He would easily be able to get to the veil when he wished and bring Sirius back to Hogwarts after he was retrieved.
Discussion then turned to Harry's education after the retrieval of his godfather. Harry wanted to reconnect with his friends and spend time with Sirius, but he assured his teachers that he wanted to continue learning from them anything they wished to teach him and promised to make time for them. His teachers laughed in understanding and praised him for what he had learned. They knew he would keep his promise.
The power in the air at Hogwarts set the students to shivering and hiding away in their common rooms and sticking to groups when outside their House. No one knew why, and no one could prove it, but everyone was certain the power was coming from Harry Potter. The magical creatures and other sentient species of the Isles, and even many from farther away, quivered with anticipation. The time was near!
Harry, as usual, was unaware of the chaos in his wake.
He was a hyper house elf, even under normal circumstances. It had only gotten worse once Harry Potter had freed him from Lucius Malfoy. He knew that. All of the house elves knew that. It was why he was often assigned to those tasks that required a lot of time and/or energy. Like the remodeling of the house on Grimmauld Place.
Oh, he hadn't done that alone. He'd had plenty of help whenever he'd asked for it, and not just from the house elves at Hogwarts, or even just house elves. But he was the main being behind the project and he took great pride in his work. After all, once the new Great One awakened he would want a nice place to stay with his family outside of the school. He knew the Great One and his magic-father would have a hard time recognizing the place, just like he knew they would want.
But Grimmauld Place wasn't the only project the house elves were working on. Ever since the start of the school year and finding out that a new Great One would be gracing their halls, the Hogwarts house elves had been giving the castle a thorough scrubbing. Usually silent and unseen, this year the house elves were more concerned with getting every inch of the castle in tip top shape than with decorum. Dobby had had a pleasant time glaring many an impertinent student into submission when they complained too noisily about the frenzied workers. What did they know?
Soon Harry Potter would awaken into a Great One and the old magics would start to return. If their gifts of food and shelter pleased the Great One, perhaps he would bless the house elves as his long distant predecessor had once done.
Dobby quivered in eagerness and raced off to check for any stray motes of dust that had made it past his brethren.
It was exactly one year from the date that Sirius had fallen through the veil. He could have retrieved Sirius several days ago, but Harry felt that waiting until today had a certain sense of rightness. He had put his waiting to use by slowly bringing more of his consciousness to the outside world – and was amused at what he was seeing this day.
His best friends had obviously been excused from classes or testing today. The two, along with an available teacher, shadowed his every move as, unlike the previous nine months, he wandered as he willed and refused to be moved at their urgings. He knew he shouldn't, especially with how much he must have worried them, but he found the combination of hope and worry on their faces to be rather funny.
He followed his path of the previous year, standing quietly and watching as others took their O.W.L.s. The students were unnerved by his presence and so he let his magic flow to make them ignore him. Nobody noticed what he had done. He hadn't expected them to.
As he watched the students, he and his teachers discussed what changes needed to be made to the education of the wizarding people and how he might go about it in a modern setting. The conversation kept him occupied until he moved to stand outside Umbridge's old office, at which time the focus of the discussion changed to what qualifications would be necessary for the new teachers.
It was as he stopped outside the thestral pens that the Headmaster joined Harry and his entourage, and brought along the Potions and Transfiguration teachers. Harry's eyes swept over the old man calculatingly before turning back to watch the thestrals. He ignored the old man's delighted and hopeful expression and eager babbling and contemplated whether or not the man would be of any use in the new school. Did he actually know how to effectively administer a school? There were so many areas of concern, and the man had his fingers in so many pies, that Harry just wasn't sure. It would require investigation after he retrieved Sirius.
Harry turned his head for several moments and eyed the woman, McGonagall. She was a good teacher, from what he recalled, but the same concerns and questions applied to her as well as the old man. She, too, would need investigating. He turned his attention to the last teacher there – the Muggle studies instructor had been dismissed upon the Headmaster's arrival – and smiled. Snape would be the first person banned from the new school. Teaching children was a sacred trust, one that this man had been defiling for years. Such malice would not be allowed to stay. Harry was amused when Snape turned his eyes away.
He returned his attention to the thestrals. The wizards' surveillance of him made no difference to his plans. He would leave for the Department of Mysteries when he willed and there would be nothing they could do to stop him. He watched as the great skeletal beasts came up to the fence one by one and willingly acquiesced to the rather blatant their requests for brief pets, completely uncaring of the agitation he perceived behind him.
Finally, the time drew near and Harry stepped away from the fence. He turned and sent his gaze and a friendly smile over the five that had accompanied him the previous year – Neville, Ginny, and Luna had joined the group over an hour ago, just to provide additional support. He sent his gaze and a smirk over the adults, a smirk that grew wider when he noticed their apprehension. Then, exactly one half hour before the moment Sirius had passed through the veil, Harry simply dissolved into nothingness in front of over half a dozen witnesses.
Harry chuckled as he thought about the flurry of distressed pandemonium that he had likely left behind. His chuckles subsided to an amused smile and he stepped forward to the edge of the base of the veil, a mere ten feet in front of him. He stood there for a minute looking at the veil once again in person and admired the craftsmanship and genius that went into its construction. Then he got to work as he knew he didn't have much time before others would arrive. They wouldn't be able to stop him, but he didn't want to have to bother with the inconvenience.
He stepped onto the platform and walked around it, kneeling in various places so that he could channel magic through his fingers into different symbol sets. He worked unhurriedly, his movements methodical and precise. It was as he channeled magic into the last set of symbols to raise the shield that a small group burst into the room. They'd arrived sooner than he'd thought.
Several stunners hit the shield and were absorbed and Harry took the time to smile in benign amusement at the dumbstruck wizards who had sent the spells. The Headmaster started pleading with him and Harry laughed at the old man's assumption that his purpose in being here was to commit suicide. Harry shook his head at the old man and turned away and proceeded to ignore everyone. To activate the veil required a decent amount of concentration.
Harry stepped over to the veil and ran his hand reverently up the right leg of the archway. His teachers prodded him out of his silent admiration and he knelt down to begin the process of activating the anchor. His hands fluttered over the symbols in specific patterns and less than a minute later the right anchor was activated and glowing. He moved to the left side and repeated his actions.
He moved back to the right and carefully activated the second layer of symbols, the symbols that drew power for the veil, that made the veil capable of being used to its fullest extent. He did the same on the left then turned his attention to the third layer of symbols. The second layer pulled and provided power, but that power was raw and unharnessed. The third layer would temper that power and focus it for the general purpose of warping time and space. The fourth layer would take the newly filtered power and channel it into the specific requirements of the veil. It took him twenty minutes to activate the two layers, not that he noticed.
The last layer of symbols, the keystone, was the final "on" switch of the veil. Harry placed his hands upon the single set of symbols and channeled his magic into them for a moment before stepping back to watch. The entire archway glowed for nearly a minute before a rippling affect became noticeable. Slowly over the next five minutes the archway turned into a pure shining silver and emitted a low hum of powerful magic.
Harry glanced at his audience, now numbering nearly forty wizards and witches, and chuckled at the chaotic hive of activity. There were only a few who stood and watched quietly. Word spread quickly that he was watching them and his audience was soon silent and staring. Harry smiled reassuringly then turned and stepped into the veil.
Harry sent his magic senses into the limbo that was the inside of the veil and found the most recent addition. He snorted in disgust when he realized that the person was not Sirius and had been tossed in just that morning. His teachers apologized for not informing him but Harry shrugged it off; he'd already known that the Ministry used the veil to make inconvenient people disappear. He simply ignored the newest addition and sought out the previous addition. A moment later he had Sirius within his grasp and he stepped out of the veil.
The shouts and babblings of the audience were easily ignored as Harry dropped to his knees and laid his burden on the ground as gently as he could. Sirius was still too skinny, too light for a man his age, but Harry was not used to carrying around even a 140 pound man bridal style. His godfather was unconscious, of course, as he had been hit with a stunner before falling into the veil. Harry leaned down and breathed gently across Sirius' face, sending some magic along with his breath, freeing the man from the suppressing magic and wakening him. He watched eagerly as Sirius blinked open his eyes and looked around.
"Harry?" Sirius asked in confusion.
Harry smiled widely. "Welcome back, Sirius. I've missed you."
I have no intention of ever doing a sequel. I have no ideas for a sequel, either. This was purely meant to be a one-shot story.
Having said that, should you wish to take this story and run with it, you have my blanket permission as long as you credit this story. If you do, just drop me a line about where I can find your efforts. I'd love to see what you come up with!
Some of my general ideas were:
Great Ones – Think super!Druid. Take all those things you've heard about druids being the scholars and teachers and law-holders and multiply by 1,000. Then add magic.
Impact – The wizards, somewhere along the line, lost sight of the interrelationship of all things and starting seeing themselves as the most awesome superior beings that could do whatever they wanted. Now imagine that Harry will be going around and smacking down the whiney little toddlers without any effort at all. It's going to be a very rude wake up call, but Harry isn't on his way to being some abusive dictator or something. His primary focus will be to teach.
Voldemort – A few nice pretty symbol sets and then lure the man/thing into a room, over a piece of ground, through a doorway, or maybe get him/it to touch something and, poof!, no more Dark Lord. It can't be too hard to make up a set of symbols for "destroy creature and send soul onwards." Maybe a few more lessons from the voices on Harry's part.
Veil - My idea was that it is a sort of hope chest/ark. I saw the idea of veil-as-storage-device in some fanfic that I don't recall the name of. Held within it, in stasis of time and space, are plants and animals that could be brought back out hearty and whole to revitalize/restart a dying/dead line and perhaps samples of man-made items of interest. Not everything would be there; the Druids were European, after all, so species from other continents would be decidedly missing. Neither would the veil hold the repository of all knowledge and books ever written; their culture and knowledge was verbal and would have been passed on in such a manner. Upon that thought, teachers of great stature and knowledge were offered the chance to "merge" with the veil so their knowledge would never be lost. These are the voices.