Ahem. This story has been officially Disclaimed. I am not JK Rowling, nor am I in possession of any kind of contract that would allow me to own the Harry Potter world, I am simply someone hijacking her universe and refusing to tell it right. I don't know about you, but I'm sure as hell not earning any kind of compensation for whiling away my time typing whatever the hell I feel like, so I'm allowed to mess it up as much as I see fit. Thankyou for taking the time (or not, as it may be) for my sad sob story, and at least you know by now that I Disclaim this story and universe.
"It's more the fact that you exist really…"
Exit Stage Left
…with a high chance of things going B.A.D
There was something to be said for coffee. Coffee, Harry acknowledged, must have been gifted to mortals by the Gods. There was really nothing else like it or that could even hope to compare to its heavenly goodness (no matter how many times Remus waxed-poetic about lindt chocolate).
Harry Potter was hunched over a shabby table with a mug of coffee clutched tightly in his hands, gazing pensively into the liquid before taking a deep swig of it, sighing as it warmed him - just like magic.
He heard footsteps approaching and glanced suspiciously from side-to-side, subconsciously clutching the mug tighter and pulling it closer to himself – he would swear that there was some kind of horrible game going on amongst the others over who could steal his morning piece of bliss and relaxation. He smirked to himself, congratulating himself for his artful evasion of the previous morning, wherein he made the Luna Lovegood fly off the handle and curse his very existence and make insinuations about his parentage and particularly vulgar suggestions about what must have really managed to spawn him due to his zealous recruitment of 'blabbering humdingers' and 'fooling churlins' to give her some vague resemblance to Voldemort or, as they had taken to referring to him, the 'Dark Queen' or 'Dark Tosser', due to that nasty piece of taboo curse work making them unable to say his contrived name.
The footsteps were just outside the door when they paused, and Harry found himself fingering his wand as the door opened. He relaxed a little the moment he saw the vivid Weasley-red hair, and he moved the hand that had been fingering his wand back to his coffee mug – just in case – and proceeded to completely ignore the man that had entered.
The red-head stood awkwardly in the doorway for a moment before clearing his throat, "Er, morning Harry."
Harry grunted and hunched over his mug just that little bit more, not in the mood to answer in even monosyllables at what he perceived as early in the morning.
The tall man's mouth curved up at one corner, as if this behaviour was expected and appreciated for its entertainment value (which, had Harry been caught at a later time, he would grudgingly agree that it was probably mildly funny for an observer) and scratched the back of his neck nervously, "Harry, the others would like you to go to the Great Hall as soon as you can – they've got something they want to give you."
Harry's vibrant green eyes narrowed and gazed piercingly at Ronald Weasley, his former-best-friend-slash-paid-guard-dog-slash-friend-that-got-a-second-chance-when-he-saved-his-life-through-some-stupid-gryffindor-suicidal-heroics as he wondered just what would cause them to ask him to go up there. Hell, he was fairly sure that a number of the families that now lived communally in Hogwarts held him almost singularly responsible for the deaths of their loved ones, which tended to make meals just a smudge uncomfortable. He had stopped eating there after one of the men – he didn't bother to remember the name or face – had poisoned his bloody morning coffee (sacrilege!) after which he had decided that it would be better for all concerned if he wasn't so visible, as it were.
The only reason he didn't die right then and there was the fact that he had had that inconvenient confrontation with Slytherin's over-sized pet snake that poisoned him in second year and survived the encounter with the polished Potter Luck and Fawkes' tears, though the poison was still circulating in his blood, which had the happy coincidence of burning out other poisons entering his body and bloodstream. Convoluted much?
Harry raised an eyebrow at his friend in question, which was his pre-caffeine way of saying 'The Hell?' with large capital letters.
Ron's face twisted, doing interesting things to the jagged scar that disfigured the left side of it, which included the destruction of his eye, over which he wore an eye patch which he was given by a muggle-born student as a thankyou-for-saving-my-family-even-though-you-almost-got-killed gift.
Ron had since been quite obstinate about the 'awesomeness' of said eye patch, although he never did figure out why all the people who had grown up with a clue about the muggle world would break into snickers when they first saw him, slipping in 'aye aye, captain' when he gave them orders. Apparently, wizards had never heard of something as 'uncouth' as pirates. It only got worse when aspiring young prankster Tracey Hollis convinced Ron to say 'aye' instead of 'yes.'
There was an ongoing bet concerning when (if ever) he would find out, as well as a parallel one on when Hermione would crack and scream it at him. There were almost daily pranks involving Doris the parrot that had 'taken a liking' (Harry's part in that particular venture had never been discovered) to Ron, mostly involving the thing sitting on his shoulder and saying things like 'hit the deck!', 'walk the plank!', 'ya scurvy dogs' and 'Put the Dark Tosser in Davy Jones' Locker!' at random intervals, not to mention his clothes constantly being transfigured without his permission. It had become something of a hobby of some of the… less responsible individuals to teach the parrot silly catchphrases for entertainment, and then betting on how many she would reproduce on any one day, if she would add in variations, and if Sir Cadogan would take offense. It was a fairly lucrative venture for Harry, who had an edge over the competition.
The teasing at Ron's oblivious expense had gotten worse when the red-head had needed a peg-leg after a skirmish in which he was eventually able to avenge his mother against Lucius Malfoy. The Snr. Blond Prat's death was met with a perpetual week-long party and celebration by the Hogwarts refugee/exiled/rebel community.
But the weird and twisted kind of humour that had been acquired by the current occupants of Hogwarts castle is neither here nor there, nor are the large betting pools of said occupants (or that Hermione Granger was almost singularly responsible for the beginning of the said illegal and officially imaginary gambling ring).
What was current, was the fact that this was Not Routine. And anything that was Not Routine was generally bad for Harry Potter, currently named Undesirable Number 1. of wizarding Britain, The-git-that-just-won't-die and He-who-keeps-breathing-even-if-we-don't-want-him-to.
Seriously, Harry had read the last one off the front page of the Daily Report, the 'Prophet' having suffered an extremely hostile take-over a few years previous, when somehow 'mysteriously' there was no one watching the alert wards that night so the Light Defence didn't come running to the rescue. Harry maintained that it was an honest mistake – how could he tell the difference between Voldemort's attack on a gossip rag and that the Knight Bus had finally managed to crash into a large water tower outside of London, thus sending them to the wrong location?
…They had glanced at him sideways when he burst into evil laughter for a moment there, but he'd convinced them in the end. He always did – after all, his truth was constantly more strange and wild then anything anyone could hope to invent, so they really had no option but to believe him. (Mwah hwah hah ha!)
But even so, his possible enabling of the Death Munchers was also not an immediate concern.
Harry blinked and took another sip of his coffee furrowing his brow and glancing around the room. He turned back to Ron and frowned, "This isn't another attempt to steal my coffee, is it?" He asked suspiciously, naturally jumping to what he considered was the worst possible motive his maybe-friend-again could have at this awful time in the morning.
Ron stared at him for a moment before slapping a hand to his forehead. He seemed to freeze up for a second, before breaking into loud laughter. Harry just sat there, cradling his coffee while waiting for Ron to stop his hysterics. The red-head managed to get himself under control, although was still chuckling under his breath as he shook his head, "No, Harry. No one is going to steal your coffee. I think we learnt the lesson that time Minnie was stuck as a mouse for a week… and I'm not even going to mention the unspeakable horrors of the Withdrawal of 99'. Wizard's Word. They've only gotta give you something. You do know what day it is, right?"
Harry was slightly pouting at the mention of the 'W' word, but was willing to overlook that in favour of riddling out just what in the world his friend was talking about. "…Er… actually, no. No, I don't even know what the date is, now I think about it – it's much safer that way."
Ron shook his head in exasperation at his long-time-with-a-gap-in-the-middle friend. "Harry, it's the 31st of July – you know, your birthday. This is the day you are supposed to get presents. And, for your information, it's also Th-"
"NOOO!!" Harry yelled, jumping up at the expense of the bit of coffee he had left in an attempt at stopping his friend from telling him the day of the week.
But it was too late.
"-ursday. You know, the day after Wednesday and before Friday." He blinked, just realising that his friend was in front of him and was quick to duck the right hook that almost got his nose. He backed away from his scowling friend, putting his hands in front of his face to deflect future punches and coincidentally in the universally recognised gesture of 'Don't Hit me! I can't defend myself!' He opened up his good eye only to see a darkly scowling Harry Potter moving back to his seat to drink down the rest of his coffee. "The hell was that?" was the only thing he could think of saying at the violent behaviour.
Harry scowled darkly at the empty mug. "You just had to tell me what day it is, didn't you? By the Potter's Luck theory, what day of the week it is depends on how much chance I've got of running into trouble. Frickin' Thursdays (he almost spat the word) are the absolute worst day. Closely followed by Mondays and Fridays. Stupid Thursdays always go bad." Harry grumbled to himself as he vanished the cup that had held his morning 'fix' and scowled petulantly at the table, which had quite a few cracks in it.
Ron looked confused for a moment before his eye widened slightly, "Cor, I thought you'd dropped that stupid 'day's of the week' theory!"
Harry stared incredulously at Ron, before finally saying, "Mate, there is a reason why I don't like to know the days – it's too much of a risk at tempting the stupid Potter curse. Bloody thing. One ancestor hundreds of years ago pisses off a Sorceress and all the first borns are cursed with bi-polar Luck. Just figures." His face scrunched up for a second, remembering the encounter with that portrait of his ancestor that cheerfully informed him that his life expectancy was 'on the short side' because he had pissed on a few goats and made them produce yellow milk for a year. Apparently, most first-borns died within 50 years – although if the Potter waited to have a child after 40 years, the first-born would only get a very mild case of the curse. Harry thought that the curse had answered the puzzle over why his blood grandparents had waited so late in life to have a child.
He had been quite on the pissed-off side, at least until the portrait started telling him that most of the Pureblood families had been cursed in one way or another – the Malfoy's weren't originally genetically like that (just so you know), the Weasley's just had to have lots of children, the Black's were almost universally unhinged in one way or another, and the Lovegood's … well, that was fairly self-explanatory. There were other examples, but they were mostly about dead lines (mostly caused by the curse) but all this information made Harry far more accepting, if only because he had the consolation that it could have been a lot worse. It helped that he'd fully expected to be dead by that point anyway, thanks to the Dark Tosser.
Ron seemed to follow where this was going, but just shrugged, non-verbally saying 'what can ya do?' before he opened the door again, "Well, just come up in a few minutes. There shouldn't be much people – all the malcontents cleared out when they heard about who the gift was for."
Ron moved out of the floor, his wooden leg 'thumping' along in a way starkly reminiscent of the late 'Mad-Eye Moody', although no one would ever call Ron paranoid. Ron and paranoid went together as well as Hermione and stupid – in other words, not at all.
Harry ran a hand through his perpetually messy raven hair and sighed. Ron obviously thought that Harry had believed him, but Harry was fairly intelligent and could read people well (something picked up early on in his 'childhood') and it was as plain as day that there was a third dimension in him going to the Great Hall than what was being said.
He drummed his fingers against the surface of the table before resentfully getting to his feet and moving towards a section of wall that sported a picture of a young man, but the important part was that there was a snake coiled lazily in the painted sun. Harry stared at it for a moment before hissing, §a monkey's uncle§ which caused the painting to become transparent, after which Harry walked through it without hesitation.
What he had entered into was the 'pipe' system that the Basilisk in second year had used to traverse the halls of Hogwarts unseen. Of course, it wasn't so much pipes as it was a network of passage ways interspersed with larger passages that would allow movement for the snake. There was of course a long and drawn out story about accidentally insulting Slytherin's Grandfather's portrait that somehow ended in the coot smugly detailing just how grandiose and cunning his grandson had been by putting snakes into portraits and making it so they would respond to a parseltounge password, and that the universal override for said passwords was saying 'I kissed Godric Gryffindor' twelve times (apparently he decided that it was so far out of the realm of reality that no one would ever dare guess it, much less a parseltounge that had come from his noble line).
Even imagining that gave Harry nightmares for days.
The senile man had gone off on a tangent about how Salazar had been able to 'ghost' the halls because he had blocked off the best and most extensive shortcuts with parseltounge blocks.
Of course, one would wonder what made the Pure-blood grandfather of Salazar Slytherin himself 'drop the ball' so completely, as it were. Well, the reason was that the portrait only spoke parseltounge (even if it could understand english) and thus assumed that all Harry would hear was garbled hissing. The look on the painting's face when Harry had said §thankyou§ after it had finished detailing the 'most Brilliant accomplishments of Salazar Slytherin' was priceless, and enough to fuel several powerful Patronus charms the following weeks.
Thus lead to his scouring of Hogwarts and the subsequent revamping of all the parseltounge passwords, which Harry judiciously and gleefully chose decidedly muggle phrases and lines – he had been curiously fond of quoting The Lion King when in the dungeons.
Anyway, nowadays he mostly travelled through these passages because no one could access them other than himself, and he was confident that even if they discovered the trick of looking for snakes, they would never be able to get the password right while simultaneously 'speaking' parseltounge.
Why would he go to the trouble of doing this just to get a clear corridor? Well, roughly five years back the Tosser basically hijacked the British Government. With that came all the fun things – public execution of 'seditionists' (meaning rebels, for those who are not very loquacious), muggle hunting seasons, complete and utter dislocation from the muggle world, controlling of the press, controlling of travelling and emigration, dictatorship and the oppression of the other magical beings. Yeah, fun time all round; especially since Harry may as well have had a large glowing neon sign on his forehead that screamed 'No. 1 target!' for the world to hear – but the unique and one-of-a-kind-impossible-to-duplicate lightning bolt shaped scar on the aforementioned area worked just as well, perhaps even better than the sign would have.
Anyway, commiserating over two years of scrounging food and fighting skirmishes with the Munchers is actually off-track of his own lamenting over the fact that Hogwarts was officially the Last Stand of the Rebels, otherwise known as the 'Blood Traitors Convention' or simply 'That Large Castle'.
Hogwarts didn't act primarily as a school anymore – after the falling of the Ministry and the beginnings of the 'Mudblood Murders' (their words, not ours) all of the witches and wizards under attack because of close ties to the muggle world were brought into the castle for protection. The number of families just kept growing, and now the castle was practically packed to the rafters, although that handy piece of magic called 'wizard's space' solved many shortage problems.
Hogwarts was, quite simply, the last place that was free from the Tosser's rule in England. After a good few tantrums and such, mostly resulting in the depletion of his own forces, Tom had simply ignored it. He had seized an old sprawling mansion from the Parkinson's coffers and set up his own Wizarding school, with him as its Founder. The school was, from what Harry could gather from talking to some of the snakes that were in the grounds, a lot like those Hitler Youth Groups in WWII, and was almost singularly devoted to indoctrinating the next generation of fanatical Tosser supporters – in that 'school', he had done no wrong – he was 'working for the betterment and purity of the wizarding world'.
At first, Harry had been more than a little leery at the idea that the Dark Queen had just decided to ignore a huge cache of rebels, but as weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, he found that either Tom had developed patience (not likely) or he had decided that there was no threat in them and that he'd do better in stabilising and cementing his stranglehold over wizarding Britain rather than focusing on defeating an enemy that might be able to kill him (rather more likely). And, as far as Harry knew, that 'might' just may as well have been a synonym for 'not-a-snowball's-chance-in-hell,' and apparently Tommie knew it too.
Oh, Hogwarts wasn't left totally alone – there was the odd sabotaged imported foods, the rigorous but necessary checks put in place to ensure that none of the population were Tosser sympathisers or Munchers, and they had grown used to the odd exploding letter turning up at dinner, but compared to the worst-case scenario – namely the DE's laying Siege on the magical castle or a group of Ward Breakers working round-the-clock for however long was necessary for the dismantling and/or complete destruction of the Hogwarts wards, it was manageable.
And three guesses who was a pariah even amongst the rebels of Hogwarts? The first two don't count.
Yup, you guessed it – Harry Potter, apparently perpetual Undesirable No. 1, even amongst the people that he was supposed to save. The whole Prophesy had been leaked to the Daily Prophet when it first became apparent that the Tosser had been resurrected and was killing again. They quickly snatched him up, cheering on the 'Chosen One.' Unfortunately, that prophesy didn't come into action fast enough (wizards had an issue with instant gratification, something only increased and cemented by the use of magic) and they quickly began to blame him for his failure to kill the 'Most Powerful and Evil Dark Lord in at least a Century' and thus began scape-goating him again. He had only been 17 when that happened, and at 21 he was no closer to being able to go toe-to-toe with the Tosser and prevail. Sure, he may be powerful, but there was still a huge gap between his skills and the Dark Queen's.
Everyone had then started becoming fond of the odd attack against his person to 'avenge' their dead family members, mainly because he was visible and an easier target that the Tosser.
That was the story of his life.
But he had accepted it, to a point – he just avoided the sheeple that were likely to attack him, and everyone was good.
He was just happy that he didn't blame himself for not being able to kill the Tosser – it had been rocky there at the start; after all, that was his conditioned response, courtesy of the late Dumbledore. He had been quickly disabused of this notion, by (funnily enough) Luna Lovegood, who pointed out that wizards and witches were responsible for their own actions, and if they didn't take up the fight to defend themselves, why should he be responsible for their inaction? Why should they believe he should be able to kill the Tosser while they themselves made no attempts? Deaths were an inevitable part of war, and the Wizarding World had brought it on itself, both by ignoring the problem after the Tosser's first downfall, and by becoming corrupt, complacent and stagnant.
It didn't stop the grief he had for his allies that died, as well as his closer friends that fell on raids, but it went a long way towards helping himself through his grief and learning to accept that life was fragile and ever-changing – you just had to believe that wherever they went, they were most likely in a better place than they left – it was the ones who had been left behind that you should feel sorry for. He cherished his memories of the departed, and came to view them as the 'better days'.
It was sad when it was almost accepted as a normal occurrence that those closest to you in life would die – those at Hogwarts had been numbed and yet awakened to the ultimate truth of life – that death was inevitable, and often came sooner than was expected.
But even the acceptance of their deaths would not ward away the nightmares of their deaths and the moments in which he just might have made a difference, changed their fate.
But moments departed and things that could not be were not healthy to be dwelling on.
Harry reached the intersection that emerged in that chamber off the side of the Great Hall and poked the snake that was inscribed there in the left eye, causing it to hiss obscenities and slither away in a circular movement which revealed an arch that he had to squeeze through to appear in the room. The stone melted back over the opening as soon as he left it, leaving nothing more than a blank stretch of wall on which, had you carefully studied it, you would find an inch long carving that was the counterpart of the larger one on the other side of the passage.
The room was empty, which was just as well, considering that he didn't want to deal with people snarking about withholding 'vital' information about the structure of Hogwarts. He could hear it now: "We need to know everything about our last Haven! Anything we don't know the Tosser could use against us!" It had been surprisingly catchy, getting the population to call him the 'Dark Tosser' that is. It was that strange sense of humour shining through.
Harry moved towards the doorway, dodging the stuff that was just hanging around, mostly consisting of portraits that had doubles in the Ministry or Pureblood houses that had consented to be spies for Hogwarts – not that it really did them much good anymore; it had been three years since the last rebel attacks on the Tosser's government, simply because it was now akin to suicide to openly defy him – the Tosser had gotten control of the Ministry magical trackers, allowing them to track movement ridiculously easily so there was almost no chance at the element of surprise. Oh sure, they'd found ways to avoid the scanners – you were tracked by magic through wands and also the spells that were engineered by the Ministry, which had been crafted to actually use a bit of your own magic to send back information to the Government about the spells you use (it was all a huge conspiracy initiated by the corrupt ministry hundreds of years ago when they convinced the population that magic needed rigid guidelines) and what level of power you are able to put into the constructs. It had been a frightening discovery that witches and wizards had not actually needed wands x amount of centuries ago, but the amount of conditioning and the decline of magic accessible by the population had meant the change to wands to help bring out and utilise magic that had once been second nature.
It was something of common knowledge amongst the Hogwarts rebels, and children were now encouraged to learn to tap into and control their magic wandless from as early an age as they had it, although they needed a medium when they reached eleven to access and properly use their magics, working the newly created spells that were free of the ministry tampering that had been crafted by a few brilliant minds that resided within Hogwarts, Hermione Granger at the lead. The adults were being re-educated, with mixed results – most of the older generation just did not believe it was possible, and so they were incapable of it. They had found that belief, will power and intent had the most effect on who was able to cast magic through the new ways.
It was actually a funny story about how they discovered that you didn't necessarily need wands to work magic – you see, it had all started with a harmless prank conducted by Gred and Forge, self-proclaimed Masters of Prankery, on the one and only Harry Potter. They had snitched his wand and replaced it with what was essentially a polished stick identical to it. When they saw that he just went about casting spells as normal, they were understandably put out that he had detected their prank and managed to snatch back his wand. It had been a few months when they found a certain phoenix-feather core wand that had fallen behind the closet in their room. The fall out from the fact that Harry had been perfectly capable of using magic without the assistance of a wand, mostly (it was theorised) because he had no reason to think that it wouldn't work and that he expected it to happen, was huge. It had basically revolutionised the inhabitant's views on what magic was capable of, once it was proved that it wasn't a strictly Potter thing.
Harry had not needed a wand since, but he usually kept his around for the comfort that it granted – kinda comparable to a kid's security blanket (no matter how viciously he denied it).
The argument for how it worked was simply that why should magic have such restrictions? Magic is magic, after all, although they quickly realised that a wizard's core power did affect just what and how much you could do in a day, and that exercising that core could increase it, to a point.
There were a lot of people that simply didn't even attempt to do it – Hermione particularly stuck to crafting spells and her beloved logic about limitations, and most of the old families or people who had been closely attached to the wizarding world found themselves unable to abandon the rules that they had lived by and been taught from childhood. The new form of magic was most easily picked up by first generation muggle-borns (because the rules were less ingrained into them) and children that were taught by witches or wizards that were capable of either using the foci or going without, because then they believed that it was possible. They found that the kids simply couldn't do it if they were taught by an obviously sceptical teacher, because then the person's beliefs would be communicated to the child. Another limitation they found was that children needed a magical focus – usually a stone with magical properties, or even an ingredient that had been used in wands – and that it was possible to decrease dependency on the foci as they grew older and more in control of their magic.
The best thing was that this new approach to magic had not been heard of by the DE's or the Tosser, nor had any of the rebels become turncoat and ran to the New Ministry with the knowledge – they were not being monitored by the Tosser either, so the rebels liked to think they had an edge over the competition – one that had been keeping them safe from attack since the new Black Magic wards had been erected around Hogwarts. Black Magic had been part of the construction of the Dark Mark, and was a part of the Horcrux ritual that the Tosser had undergone, so they were fine – Black Magic was those magics focused solely towards torture, murder and the destruction of life in all forms, and was a very good thing to be blocked out of Hogwarts, seeing as that was what Old Mold and his minions used liberally.
Harry paused and shook his head – what was it with him and reminiscing about the past lately? He took a moment to gather his fabled 'Gryffindor Courage' (more like irrational stupidity, but he'd take what he could get) and opened the door – this was the first time that he had actually seen so many people at once for at least a year, probably more since he'd taken to hiding in the most out-of-the-way places.
The door opened and Harry scanned the room – there were even more people than he had counted on; at least twenty. He caught the eyes of a few people – Hermione, Minerva, Remus, Fred, George, Bill, Luna, Fleur, Hannah, Amelia, Tonks, Andromeda, Flitwick and lastly Susan in that first glance, before he noticed something strange. All eyes, which he had assumed were on him, were actually directed a little bit to his left. The knowledge came too late, however, and he whipped his head around just in time to see the profile of Ron before the stunner hit him square in the back.
Everything blacked out and he couldn't help but wonder if his bi-polar Luck had finally caught up with him.
Heh heh heh. I am going to be absolutely evil and leave this as a cliff-hanger, even if you already know what's gonna happen. Why? You may ask. Just 'cause. I made a snap decision and now I'm working on becoming evil – I think it has a good dental plan, but I'll get back to you on that (it would have to, what with all the cookies they give out).
In all seriousness, I'd love ta hear how you Potter fans feel bout my little fic, so pretty please with cookies on top press that button marked 'review' cos you know I work on positive reinforcement and chocolate. Oh, and Pepsi max.
Anyways, ta ta and goodbye, mayhaps I'll hear from you peoples out there.
Signed the ever insane (and aspiring evil person), Skyflyte12.