The Ten That were Taken – 9
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. I am merely playing in the world created by JKR.
Past Imperfect, Future Tense
"Harry! My baby! My child!" The ghost had flung herself on to Harry and being incorporeal, her arms passed right across him, which made him feel as if he had been dipped in ice water. However, Harry was not cognisant of the fact. The one overwhelming emotion as his mother murmured in his ear was that he had found his mother after all these years. His mother, be she flesh or spirit. He could scarcely believe that he had met her. After all these years, when he truly believed that he had no one to care for him, when he had believed himself alone in the world, he had found his mother and she was hugging him. And although he could not truly return her hug, his arms tightened around her incorporeal form, if such an expression could be used. All the while, his mother babbled incoherently in his ear, questioning him on his welfare.
At length, the questions and exclamations came to an end, and Harry gently disentangled himself and stepped back to take a good look at his mother. She looked like a monochrome negative of the photos he had seen of her, a middle sized woman with her thick, ghostly hair unkempt, and falling all over her shoulders. Her expression was one of fondness, but there was something else lurking in her eyes, something he could not fathom. He began tentatively, "Mum ... how", but the ghostly form of Lily Potter cut him off.
"Trapped!", she cried, in the same high pitched voice in which she had greeted him. "Trapped for eleven years! Shall I ever forget?"
Harry tried to cut in, "Whoa, mum! You're going too fast! Who trapped you? How?"
"Trapped!", she hissed again. "Imprisoned in that miserable ward in Privet Drive! For eleven years!" she sobbed, her ghostly tears were clearly visible as they streamed down her ethereal cheeks. "Trapped," she screamed, "while my poor baby slaved away for my wretched sister and her good-for-nothing husband, unable to help, unable to even talk to him! Can you imagine that fate?"
Harry tried to make sense of what his mother had said. He finally ventured, believing he had understood her aright. "Mum, why were you trapped there? How did it happen?"
Lily Potter hissed, "They trapped me! Me! After I had sacrificed myself for my child! After I had refused the call of death to stay back and care for my child! The nerve! How dare they?"
Harry interjected, "Are you saying Dumbledore imprisoned you in the ward in Privet Drive?"
"Dumbledore!" shrieked the ghost of Lily Potter. "We trusted him – James and I! And he, he – he betrayed us both! Betrayed us just like Sirius Black!"
This was the first time Harry had heard of this Sirius Black. Who he was and what his connection was to the Potters needed to be checked. However, this could come later. In the meantime, Lily Potter's ghost had continued, "Eleven years I have waited! Waited for others to help! No more – now I shall look after my baby myself! Myself!"
Harry was growing more and more worried about his mum's demeanour with each passing moment. The ghost of Lily Potter seemed to be more than a touch insane. He raised his voice a notch to make himself heard over the high voice of his mother's spirit and remarked, "Wait, mum – what really happened on the night when ..." Harry could not bring himself to say `when you were killed' to his mother, and his voice trailed off.
His raised voice finally seemed to reach his mother. She looked at him strangely for a moment and burst into heart broken sobs. "My baby! The terrible Voldemort! He came when we were hiding from him. He came and poor James – he tried to fight him off. But that horrible creature ..." Her passionate sobbing made the rest of her statement indecipherable. Then, with a semblance of control, she continued, "I – I did what no one else could. I protected my baby from Him. Sacrificed myself, I did, to protect my baby." With fierce pride, she continued, "I did it – my spell destroyed him and saved my poor Harry! Broken Voldemort was! I stayed back to look after my baby. And – and – I was trapped by that ward in Privet Drive since then! But not now – oh no!"
Harry's brain had been working furiously since he heard of his mother being trapped by Dumbledore's ward. So – Dumbledore had done him another wrong by trapping his mother's spirit in Privet Drive. And he supposed that when Sakarbal, Hermione and Anthony destroyed the ward, it had freed her. And that would explain why she was free now. But why had she not contacted him after she had been freed? However, his mother was already proceeding, outlining her plans, "Now I shall take care of my child myself. And Harry – Harry, my baby, you need to help me take care of you!"
"What do I need to do?" queried Harry nervously. His mother's attitude was making him more and more nervous. In his eagerness to see his mother, he had not factored in the possibility that she might be definitely ... strange.
"I cannot cross these beastly wards by myself. Wards prevent me from reaching my child and protecting him! ME! After all the sacrifices I made!"
She looked at him with a manic glint in her eye. "But if you let me possess you until we cross, I could take care of you! I could make sure you are not hurt again! By anyone!"
Harry took a step backward. This was more than he had bargained for. Being possessed was not something trivial and all too well he knew the fate of Quirrell when he had been possessed by Voldemort. The fact that his mum could consider such a dangerous method for `taking care' of him left him wondering about her sanity more than he ever had thus far during the conversation. However, given his mother's none too stable behaviour, he ventured tentatively, "Mum, is this a good idea? I mean – possession is dangerous!"
Lily Potter – or rather, her ghost, hissed like an angry cat, "I wouldn't do anything to hurt my son! As soon as we get past the wards, I shall leave his body and stay near him in Hogwarts! I shall take care of him. See that no one hurts him!"
When Harry did not answer her comment and implied reproach, she hissed again, and this time her hiss was that of an angry serpent. "I sacrificed myself for my son! And now he suspects me? Me! After all I have done!" Ethereal tears were profusely coursing down her cheeks as she shrieked,"Oh, the shame!"
"But mum," protested Harry, "I never said any such thing! I never suspected you."
"Then you must let me help you, Harry," babbled the ghost of Lily Potter. "I shall take care of you, keep you safe, help you as no one else can or will."
Had he taken a step back to consider her offer, he would have realised that he should have allowed other considerations than love for his mother to decision. His reply should have been tempered by caution, simple common sense – after all, he had not even verified that it was truly Lily's ghost and not another masquerading as Lily – and even the laws of Hogwarts which he would be breaching. He should have realised the false position he was putting himself in by acceding to her request and how dangerous the whole plan was. Having seen the fate of Quirrell, he should have understood the perils of possession. He should have refused her offer and returned to the school. But Harry could not do so – he simply could not bring himself to refuse the request made by his mother. He nodded simply, dumbly, and his mother swooped down on him, before he could say anything else. For a moment, he felt a strange sensation and his mind swam and eyes watered, and staggered as though he would fall, as his mind was trying to process a huge number of thoughts and feelings that were alien to it. As it was, he went down to his knees and clutched a nearby tree to prevent himself from falling prostrate on the ground. After a few moments, with a supreme effort of will, he rose to his feet and set off towards the school, covering himself up in his invisibility cloak.
How Harry got back to his room with his brain whirling and his senses in disarray, Harry would never know. But he did get back to his dormitory, staggered up the stairs to his own bed, and literally collapsed on it. As he lay exhausted on his bed, he could feel the alien thoughts withdrawing from his brain, leaving his mind and spirit his own again. His mother was muttering in his ear, but it was beyond him to even realise what she was saying. All he could feel was glorious relief that his body was his own again. He caught Lily Potter's final remarks in his half conscious state, that she would catch him the next day and urging him to rest for the night. He did not need his mother's advice for that. His body would soon take care of that bit.
The next day dawned clear and bright, a lovely autumn day with clear sunlight filtering in through Harry's window. Harry rose betimes and quickly went down to the large chamber below that served as the Common Room for Harry and his friends. Harry's mum was sitting there, waiting for him. She smiled down at him, a beatific expression on her face. "Good morning," she intoned.
Harry returned her smile, "Good morning, mum!" A new thought struck him. He hesitantly queried, "Mum, how are you going to remain hidden here? Won't other ghosts, or even elves or portraits tell Dumbledore about you?"
She chuckled, "Don't worry about that, Harry. I know many places around here to hide. No one will find me."
Harry was not at all so sure. The old man kept a very close watch on him. Harry was almost certain that he would find out. The more he thought about his actions last night, the less he was sure that what he had done was the correct thing. However, there was nothing to it for the moment. Before he could answer her airily confident remark that she would be safe, his mother spoke to him, "You are not in any of the regular Houses. Why?"
Harry recounted quickly to her Dumbledore's decision to put Harry and his friends in a different place for his protection. His mother interrogated him, "Who are you with then?"
Harry began, ticking off his fingers, "There are three boys and five girls, along with me. Goldstein, Finch Fletchley and Rosier ..."
His mother had swooped down on him even before he had finished talking. "You are friends with a Rosier?" she demanded incredulously.
Harry nodded dumbly, a creeping fear sending shivers down his spine, when Morag MacDougal and Daphne Greengrass emerged from the other side of the Common Room. "Good morning, Harry!" Morag called casually.
Even before Harry could speak, his mother had swooped down on the two girls, "Who are you two?"
The two were surprised at this inquisition by a ghost, but Daphne answered for the two of them, "I am Daphne Greengrass and this is Morag MacDougal ..."
But Lily Potter did not deign to hear more. She shrieked, "Traitresses! Voldemort's toadies! Begone from here!"
The two girls stared open mouthed at this apparition which was shrieking insults against them, while Harry remonstrated with his mother, "Mum!"
Disregarding the surprised expressions of the two girls and her son's reproach, she screeched once more, "How dare you sneak in here to attack my son! You won't touch him! Not while I am here!" Suiting action to word, she had placed herself squarely between her son and the two flabbergasted girls, who were dumbfounded at the howling of this spectre.
Lily's high pitched screeches had roused the entire House Potter, and the remainder of the students stumbled, sleepy eyed into the Common Room. The only problem was that Rosier, Goldstein and Bones came down with their wands drawn. They had meant no offence, but their training had kicked in, and they approached a potentially new situation armed and ready. To make matters worse, Lily no sooner took a look at the face of Sakarbal Rosier than she snarled, "Evan Rosier, you death eater scum! How dare you approach my son? I shall ..." She did not complete her sentence as her snarls dissolved into inarticulate noises of fury, and she swooped down on Harry, intent on possessing him and attacking the young Rosier boy.
It was well for Rosier that Lily Potter, being incorporeal, could not attack him directly with her magic, for it was unlikely that he would have survived the fury of the witch. But she had to possess Harry to access his magic and that saved the pureblood. Harry once more felt Lily's spirit possess him, and his mind was once more assailed with her fury and her determination. Vaguely, he was aware that his hand, obeying the will of his mother who was possessing him, had raised the wand and shot a powerful cutting curse against Rosier, who barely stumbled out of the way. The curse sailed past him and neatly divided the thick oaken door behind him in half. Harry regained a measure of comprehension as his magic was accessed to nearly kill his dear friend and he furiously contested the will of his mother, as she tried to tried to fire another spell. The contest between mother and son made the hand holding the wand unsteady, and the spell went wild, this one striking the ceiling bringing down a shower of mortar on all the inhabitants.
Harry's mind was assaulted by his mother's fury once more, her anger apparent against him for thwarting her bid to destroy the one she saw as a threat to her son. Harry also understood her desire to kill Rosier, her obsession to protect Harry at any cost manifest in its full extent. The threat to Rosier gave Harry a moment of comprehension. Remembering that it was possible for her to possess him only with his consent, he focussed every ounce of willpower on expelling her from his mind. He could feel his mother's savage ire towards him for trying to protect Rosier and trying to expel her from his body. Heedless of her anger, Harry pushed out at her with all the mental strength he could gather, and the results were immediate. She was thrown out of his mind, and he could sense her feelings leaving him.
The effort to evict his mother from his mind had taken too much out of him, and he sagged at the knees, and would have fallen if he had not felt the steady hand of Millicent Bulstrode gripping his arms, holding him up. A minute later, his bearings his senses returned to him, and he was aware of his mother calling him a wretched, ungrateful boy, who had no respect for his own parents' sacrifices, nor any worldly sense and that she would protect him in despite of his lack of cooperation with her efforts. She also cursed and threatened his friends, warning them darkly of dire reprisals if they harmed her son. After a fifteen minute rant, with all the other inhabitants of the room gazing at this raging ghost in surprise, wonder and fear, Lily Potter finally swooped away through the wall.
Susan finally asked the question that was foremost in everyone's minds, "Harry, what in Merlin's name was all that about?"
Harry sighed, sank into a comfortable chair, and buried his face in his hands, "That, Sue, is a long story!"
Harry had explained the entire story to his friends and while Hermione, Millicent, Susan, Justin and Anthony condoned his actions, the three purebloods had seemed disapproving. None of the three had actually said anything, but both Rosier and MacDougal had seemed preternaturally grave, and dismayed with the course of actions that Harry had taken.
Harry had not yet run through his quota of unpleasant surprises for the day. At the breakfast table, a letter from Emmeline was delivered him by Hedwig. He opened the letter and read,
I am glad to hear that you are safe and unharmed. It is no minor thing for a cat to get petrified in Hogwarts. Truth be told, there are only a few ways of petrifying an animal permanently, and all of them require very advanced dark magic. That someone or something in Hogwarts is capable of petrification does not bode well. Keep close to your friends, do what your teachers suggest, do not go looking for trouble and I hope the culprit will be caught before long.
I confess I cannot make out anything about the voice you heard before the attack. It is strange that you alone can hear it. In any case, if you hear that voice again, you should go to Minerva.
As for the books about the Potter family, I can do better than sending you a few books. I am sending you the Library Journal of the Potter family. Basically, it functions as a catalogue of the library and a Potter can see the entire set of books by tapping it with his wand. You can also search for books by the subject and the author. If you want to read any book that you feel is interesting, you just have to tap the Journal and command the book to be opened. You can read the entire book using then, page by page.
Good luck learning about your family, Harry. Be safe, take care and study well.
Harry pocketed the journal sent by his adopted mother. The day's classes passed without further event and Harry got the first chance to use the Journal in the evening, when he and his friends were ensconced in their Common Room. His family library was a veritable fount of knowledge about ghosts and exorcism. Harry found a manuscript that had been written by the first famous Potter exorcist, Decius Potter and subsequently edited by every Potter who had any talent of significance at exorcism, and explained the various powers, and possibilities available to an exorcist. Harry began to read the book which seemed to explain the Potter family exorcism powers and right at the beginning of said tome, Harry came across a note by Decius Potter, who had lived in the late fifteenth century. In his memorandum to his descendants, Harry read the earliest version of what had become the Potter family commandments regarding exorcism, possession and spirits.
Through several holy rituals, I have finally achieved what I set out to. I have, in my lifetime, managed to acquire several powers that would be very useful to others who have struggled against malevolent and mischievous ghosts. Further, it would be a very great pity that all my powers and knowledge should perish with me. My knowledge, I have recorded in this tome, and hope it will be of use to others who fight the wiles and evils of the spirits of the dead. However, thus far, my powers I could not transfer to others, who would find great use from them. As much as I would have loved to teach every aspiring wizard and witch these powers, I can only leave these powers perpetually to those of my own blood. Therefore, I have finally performed this ritual that will pass down some or all of my powers to my descendants – I have no idea how well it will work. However, all my powers are to be utilised for the purposes of fighting evil spirits and never for any selfish or evil purpose. Therefore, I lay down these four cardinal laws and the magic of my ritual itself will judge any infraction of these rules
a) The Potters shall assist every spirit to leave to their true abode, the abode of the dead, which is their rightful place.
b) No Potter shall become, or assist in making another human, a ghost that shall haunt the world. Such a Potter shall be deemed unworthy of the powers of exorcism and shall be stripped of all powers of sensing and expelling ghosts and shall be accursed forever.
c) No Potter shall allow his mind and body to be a host for a ghost or spirit that has refused the call of death. Such an act, unless it be to release a ghost to the land of the spirits, shall be a most foul violation of the guidelines I have stated.
d) No Potter shall ever bind a human spirit to another human or animal in any form or manner for any length of time. Such a deed shall strip the perpetrator of all powers gained from this ritual.
Harry closed his eyes in horror. `What had he done? What would be the price he and his mother would pay?'
However, he took several deep breaths, composed himself and continued to read the book, checking what powers he would inherit. The book began by explaining that exorcism was more a discipline that took a lifetime to learn properly and that it was one of the noblest callings in life. It explained the various forms of exorcism, the need for it and so forth. Nevertheless, the book proved to be delightfully vague about most of the actual powers he would inherit, since the exorcism powers of the various Potters had varied enormously over the years. Some had phenomenal talent at exorcism, some others had next to none, and others, it seemed, had no real interest in the subject. However, there were two powers that almost all Potters had inherited, thanks to the ritual of Decius Potter.
The first power was an increased sensitivity towards ghosts. The Potters could sense ghosts in their neighbourhood with some training. The second was that, with a bit of training, the Potters would be able to feel the attitude of said ghosts. They could tell if the ghosts were happy, sad, or obsessed. This was very useful in exorcism, since most often, the best policy was to help the ghosts accomplish what was holding them back. Both of these powers, which were present in most Potters, could be utilised with some training. Realistically, Harry thought that this was the only set of powers he could hope to learn to utilise properly in that year, if he was minded to learn them.
Several other powers were possible, including, but not limited to sensing possession, a minor ability to influence ghosts and their thinking, coercing ghosts to leave certain areas and location or even confining them in places, and finally and most grandly, an ability to destroy the spirits that were very harmful to others. However, all these powers involved enormous amounts of training before they could be deployed effectively, and Harry thought that he would be lucky if he learnt half those powers before he was finished with Hogwarts. The book also helpfully, contained several training procedures that could be utilised by the aspiring exorcist.
Harry closed the tome, done with the reading for the evening. He rose to his feet, and not feeling like disturbing the others who were still engrossed in their own work, exited the House Potter chambers, and came across a red haired girl who seemed to be waiting for him there. "Hi Harry," she called.
Harry recognised Ginny Weasley. Although he was no great admirer of the Weasleys, particularly after Arthur Weasley's raid on the Malfoy manor, he had no reason to be rude towards the redhead. "Hello," he greeted her warmly.
Before the conversation could proceed further, a head poked out of House Potter chambers. "Harry, could you come over a moment?" came the voice of Justin Finch-Fletchley.
"Coming, Justin," returned Harry. "See you later, Ginny." He waved towards the girl and turned away. Had he looked back at her, he would seen something that should definitely have alarmed him.
I am assuming here that all ghosts can possess humans and that possession is not a speciality of Voldemort. The idea of Lily Potter being trapped in the ward in Privet Drive has been used before (I cannot remember the name of the story, though, so the author will pardon me for not mentioning him/her). The idea in that story was that Lily, liberated from the ward, would take care of Harry Potter much like any house elf. However, I am going a very different route.
Oh – and by the way – I am assuming that Lily Potter (and all other ghosts, too) are capable of possession with the permission of the living creature. But possession is extremely dangerous and tends to destroy the spirit of the living being in question.
Next, Harry was able to expel Lily Potter's ghost only because she is not a particularly accomplished witch when it comes to mind magic and she is totally unskilled at possession.
Finally, don't jump to conclusions about Lily Potter's ghost. She has a huge role to play and this is just the beginning of the Lily Potter sub-plot.