Title: Atra Regnum
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Readers: solunvar, Teufel1987
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, language, spoilers
Chapter WC: 4,845
Story WC: 4,845
First Written: December 6, 2008
Last Edited: September 3, 2009
Posted: September 3, 2009
Summary: Harry has a dark secret: He isn't a wizard. But that certainly doesn't mean he can't do magic. It was too bad it also meant that in the face of fanatical governments and enraged demigods, Voldemort was going to be the least of his problems. [AU, no pairings.]
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. This work has not been endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Publishing, Warner Bros., or any of the others holding copyright or license to the Harry Potter books, movies, and products. This is a commercial work. The author receives no financial gain from its production or distribution.
Going Down in Flames
There were three things that everyone knew about Harry James Potter. First was that he was an average person, relatively speaking. Second was that his only real friends were Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Third, and most important, was that he was a wizard.
All three of these were false.
"Oi, Harry, you alright mate?"
Harry's head jerked up as he was caught by surprise. He glanced up and found that Ron was staring at him with concern, a rather rare emotion for the redhead. Embarrassed at being seen so deeply lost in thought, Harry coughed into his hand and turned his gaze to the Gryffindor common room fire, which was burning brightly only a few feet from their seats.
"Er, yeah, I'm fine," the dark haired teen replied. His gaze stayed glued to the fire. "Just...thinking..."
Guilt flashed across Ron's face, leaving Harry with no doubt that his friend thought that he was thinking about his recently deceased godfather. Harry breathed a silent sigh. While Sirius was a part of the matter, he wasn't the issue itself. No, Harry's current issue was far larger than that. To Harry's infinite relief, Ron, in his belief that Harry was mourning, left him alone for the rest of the evening. Harry felt a brief flash of guilt at ignoring his friend the way he was, but the feeling was quickly repressed beneath the immense weight of solitude that he felt pressing down on him.
Harry had never been normal by any stretch of the definition. It came with being a wizard. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on the mental stability of who you asked—Harry's differences went further than most people guessed.
When Harry was three years old he'd first begun to use magic. Not accidental magic, but real magic, capable of doing whatever he'd wished, within reason.
When Harry had first found out about the Wizarding World at the age of eleven, he'd been overjoyed, thinking he'd found a place to fit in. Then he'd discovered that wizards needed wands to perform magic—that their magic was different than his. Hell, Harry couldn't even try to use a wand; while at Ollivander's he'd found that wands were like dead sticks in his hand. He couldn't channel magic through them at all.
After going through several dozen wands, Harry had finally gotten fed up enough to use his magic to make it look like one of the wands had "chosen" him. It was pure irony that that particular wand just so happened to be Voldemort's brother wand. Fate seemed to hate him that way.
Since discovering that he was different, Harry had gone to great lengths to hide his differences from the rest of the Wizarding World. It wasn't that difficult, really, considering that he'd been doing the same for all of his life at the Dursleys.
Harry had figured out at a very young age that the Dursleys—and humans in general—naturally feared anything that was different from what they considered normal. It was a psychology thing, he'd read once. A primal fear and discomfort around anything that could threaten one's survival. Such fears could easily be overridden by the higher functioning, logical parts of the brain, but only if the person consciously wanted it. The Dursleys didn't.
Because of all of this, Harry had been careful to never show his abilities to his family or anyone else. He had instead experimented with them in private, figuring out what his limits were and exactly what he could do.
Another thing that Harry had had to hide from the Dursleys was his intellect. Harry had always been an incredibly bright boy, which wasn't surprising since his entire life was a fight for survival. When one grows up in such a situation, they tend to be very observant and able to use most anything to adapt in order to survive. Harry was no exception and he'd found that he generally caught onto things a lot quicker than others his age.
Harry had, however, pretended to be normal in order to avoid notice. Nevertheless, this didn't stop him from going down to the public library in his spare time and spending hours upon hours reading anything that he could get his hands on. He learnt a lot this way; in fact most of what he'd learnt in primary school was not from school itself but from that library.
Harry was also fortunate that he usually had a lot of time to go to the library. Contrary to what he had told his friends, his relatives hadn't given him very many chores when he was younger for fear that the neighbors would notice. Instead they would just kick him out of the house and leave him up to his own devices. This was actually how the rumors that he was a "hoodlum" had started; after all, what kind of a child spent barely any time at home? Harry couldn't help but chuckle at what the neighbors would think if they found out where he'd spent all his time.
One would probably wonder why, if Harry was so bright, he only was an average student at Hogwarts? The answer to this question frustrated Harry quite a bit. He knew that he could do quite well if left to his own devices, but he had to follow the Hogwarts curriculum, and mimicking the spells that they were supposed to do was more difficult than most would think.
Harry did magic far differently than most wizards. For wizards, it was as simple as an incantation, a wand movement, and an intention. For Harry to cast a spell he had to actually understand what he was doing and why it worked. He had to be conscious of how he controlled and manipulated the energy that was magic. It was because of this that even for a simple spell he would have to spend quite some time in the school library researching the spell and what it did so that he could mimic the result accurately. Waving around a stick in class while trying to do so certainly didn't help his concentration any.
Doing the amount of work for every spell that Harry did, left him with very little time to experiment on his own. Because of this, Harry was bound to the work that all Hogwarts students did and he rarely got the chance to work on anything else. Harry did, however, get several ideas that he never would have thought of before coming to Hogwarts—the Fidelius charm was a prime example of this.
The scuffle of feet on carpet broke Harry from his reverie. For the second time that night, his head jerked up, towards the source of the noise, only to see the end of a robe disappearing up one of the stairs to the dorm rooms. A quick glance around the room revealed that it was late and he was the only one left in the common room.
Harry frowned momentarily, wondering why no one had bothered to tell him how late it was. Since he hadn't even noticed people leaving though, he'd probably been stuck too deep in his thoughts for anyone to reach him.
The teen let out a sigh and rose from his seat, stretching his stiff muscles as he did so. He paused before the stairs, contemplating going to sleep, before realizing that he wasn't tired in the slightest. So instead he turned toward the entrance of the common room and crossed the distance in only a few short strides.
Once he was past the portrait, there wasn't even a falter in his footsteps as Harry used his magic to twist the air around him, making himself invisible. Such magic was far more effective than his invisibility cloak, though he conceded that the cloak was very useful when he needed to avoid using magic.
Harry wandered through the halls of the castle until he reached the top of one of Hogwarts' numerous towers. He hesitated outside the door for a moment, listening for noises, and then, when he was sure that no one was outside, slipped through the door.
He leaned against the tower's outer wall and stared out at the expanse of the Scottish Highlands before him. A cold wind brushed by, sending shivers down his spine, and Harry absently heated the air around himself to keep him warm. His eyes stared through the forbidden forest, not really seeing it anymore.
Hiding the fact that he was different had been much more difficult than Harry had thought it would be when first deciding to come to Hogwarts. Just in the first year he'd had to get used to attempting to mimic spells, as well as trying to fit in with everyone else.
As the year had grown stranger and stranger, Harry had become glad for his two friends Ron and Hermione. They frustrated him sometimes, with their simplicity and immaturity—even Hermione, at times—but they'd been the first friends he'd ever had, and for that he was eternally grateful. Unknown to the rest of the school, including Ron and Hermione, however, he'd made other friends and allies amongst the various houses. They'd started out as acquaintances and study mates, but over the years Harry had grown closer to people such as Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Theodore Nott, and Zacharias Smith, to name a few.
All of the strangeness of Hogwarts had accumulated in the end of the year when Harry's curiosity had gotten the better of him and he and his two friends had gone to try to "save" the Philosopher's Stone. There Quirrell had attempted to kill him and Harry had had no choice but to reveal a little bit about what he could really do before Dumbledore had come to "save the day".
After that, Harry knew that he should have expected that his second year would be strange as well, but nothing could have prepared him for the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. The school year itself had been okay—if one ignored the terror that had spread throughout the student body.
He had to admit though that finding out that he could speak to snakes had been fairly interesting. At first he thought that it was just another strange thing about him, but then he'd been told that it was an ability inherited by "dark wizards". To this day Harry wasn't sure whether his ability to speak Parseltongue was connected to Voldemort or his non-wizard-like abilities.
At the end of the year the strangeness had once again culminated in a final meeting. This time he had had to fight off an ancient Basilisk and destroy Riddle's memory. The Basilisk itself hadn't been very difficult to defeat; that had only taken a few minutes. He'd had to make up a story about using Gryffindor's sword to kill the beast though, since Riddle had had his wand during the fight and thus he shouldn't have been able to use magic. Conjuring the sword had been easy enough; one of Harry's strongest abilities was conjuring.
Fortunately, Harry's third year had been much quieter, and thus much easier to keep his abilities hidden. His meeting with his Godfather had made it a year to remember though. Also, finding out about Time-Turners had been interesting, and had caused several ideas to begin whirling around in his mind. Would it be possible to mimic the effects of Time-Turners without having to use one? The only problem was that he'd probably need to understand how time works for that, and that was something that no one knew.
Learning the Patronus Charm was definitely a highlight of that year. It was quite easily the hardest spell that he'd ever had to master, especially since there was little to no know background on the spell. The main reason as to why he'd finally been able to master the spell was really just instinct and desperation.
In contrast to his third year, Harry's fourth year had been the most active of them yet. Unfortunately, it also put a lot of spotlight on him and his magical ability. It was very lucky that no one had caught onto to the fact that he was different, especially since he'd had to get through all of the tasks with everyone's attention solely on him.
After completing the third task, Harry had had to fight with a fully revived Voldemort. That was easily the most terrifying experience he'd ever had to go through—which for him was really saying something. The strangest part about that encounter was when he dueled with Voldemort. For whatever reason—though most likely because he'd survived the Killing Curse—his magic had literally taken control of the situation and connected with Voldemort.
Harry squeezed his eyes shut as his thoughts shifted to his fifth year at Hogwarts, a year that was about to end. This year had been his worst year at Hogwarts yet, if not as active as his fourth. The reason for this was because Sirius Black, his Godfather, had been killed. His Godfather, who was his only remaining family. His Godfather, who was the only person Harry, had ever trusted enough to tell his secret.
And now Sirius had taken that secret to the grave.
The dark haired boy sighed softly. The loss of his Godfather was more painful than the loss of his parents, if only because he'd actually had the chance to know his Godfather. Plus, he couldn't help but feel that he could have done something to save Sirius. He'd just been too damn slow and had only turned just in time to watch, horrified, as Sirius fell through the veil. If only he'd been alone, been able to freely use his abilities instead of hiding them...
Harry's hands curled into tight fists. Sometimes he wondered if it would be better stop hiding, if that would solve everything. Then he'd remember what his friends told him all the time: that he wasn't responsible for everything. Harry knew it was true, even though some part of him protested.
He just wished that Dumbledore had told him about the prophecy earlier. He could certainly understand the headmaster's reasons for waiting—if he'd been told during his first or second year he'd probably have just up and left the Wizarding World. Yet if he'd been told just a few months earlier, then he might not have gone to the Ministry. He might have checked with someone other than Kreacher to make sure that Sirius really was in trouble.
If only, if only, he thought dryly. But there was nothing he could do about it. What had happened had happened and that was that.
Harry had to admit though that Dumbledore was in the wrong about not explaining at least something of what was going on when he'd assigned Harry to take Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. If he'd known that his link with Voldemort worked two ways he would have been a lot more suspicious. On top of that, the "learning" experience had been nerve-wracking since he'd been positive that Snape would uncover his secret. He was sure that it was only because Snape had only been looking for embarrassing memories that he'd gotten away scot-free.
With yet another sigh, Harry wearily ran a hand down his face. Everything was getting too complicated too quickly. He could safely assume that the "power the dark lord knew not" was his abnormal magical abilities, but he still wasn't sure that he could defeat Voldemort. The wizard had decades of fighting experience while Harry only had raw power. He didn't know if that would be enough.
Harry lifted his gaze to the skyline one last time before turning away. He was leaving on the Hogwarts' Express the next morning and he wanted to get at least some sleep that night.
Settling into Number 4 Privet Drive was never fun, this year even less so. Harry's relatives were grumpy about him being back and Harry himself was in less than a good mood due to his Godfather's death. He was on a short fuse and feared that if he didn't get out soon, he'd do something he'd regret.
As Harry walked from his uncle's car to the front door of his relatives' home—he'd never quite felt comfortable calling it his own home—he shivered unnoticeably as he passed through the wards protecting the house. Normal witches and wizards couldn't feel it, he knew, but Harry could. To him it was like walking through a thin, palpable wall of electricity, except that it didn't hurt. Instead it was like a blanket of energy washing over him, enveloping him. When he'd been younger it had always comforted Harry to know that it was there, even if he hadn't known what it was.
Harry paused to glance back at the invisible wards as he reached the front door. Now though, now he knew exactly what they were. They were blood wards that Dumbledore had erected, using Lily Potter's sacrifice as an anchor. Harry didn't know whether to feel reassured or disturbed by that.
With a shake of his head, as though that would clear his thoughts, Harry turned the door handle and proceeded into the house, Hedwig's cage in hand. His aunt glanced up briefly upon his entrance, a look of annoyance on her face. After only a few moments however, the expression melted away into something else. She stared at Harry, unnerving him greatly. Uncomfortable, he tore his gaze away from hers and proceeded up the stairs to his bedroom.
Harry's bedroom was modest, even by his standards. Everything in it, from the furniture to the curtains on the window, was organized to the point of monotony and there were no personal things lying about—and not just because he'd been away for the past ten months.
The green eyed boy set Hedwig's cage down on his desk and opened the cage door. "There you go girl," he murmured. Hedwig blinked up at him and nibbled his finger affectionately. Harry smiled at the owl; his first friend.
He then picked up his miniature trunk from his pocket and unshrunk it. The Dursleys had never questioned how he unshrunk his trunk every summer; they didn't know enough about magic—or care enough, for that matter—to wonder. Pulling the trunk open, Harry began to rummage around inside of it before finally his hands closed around the worn cover of an old book.
Grinning, Harry pulled the book out and lay back on his bed to read. The book was an old tome about wards that he'd picked up on one of his many "unsanctioned" trips to Diagon Alley and the surrounding streets. He'd hoped that the book might be able to tell him something about why he could "feel" magic, but it wasn't to be. The book was very interesting regardless and he often found himself dissecting the theories for anything that he could use.
Tuning out the sounds of the house, he settled down for a relaxing evening.
By the middle of July, Harry was starting to get antsy. He'd been at the Dursleys' for less than a month, but he was already missing the Wizarding World. Even going out into the muggle world didn't stop the claustrophobic feeling that surrounded him at home.
And so, one afternoon Harry prepared for a trip to Diagon Alley. He wrapped his magic around him, using it to change the way light reflected off him. This effectively created an illusion that changed his appearance so that he wouldn't be recognized. It'd taken him a little while to figure out how to get the magic to wrap around his skin and move with him, but now that he knew, it was almost like second nature.
After securing the clasp on his robes, Harry concentrated on Diagon Alley. After a moment he encountered the familiar, yet uncomfortable sensation that accompanied Apparation. His surroundings instantaneously shifted from his tiny bedroom to the bustling streets of Diagon Alley. He stepped away from the Apparition Point—one learned rather quickly not to dawdle, lest another Apparated in nearby—and joined the flow of people moving through the streets.
Harry walked with the sure determination of someone who'd been to the Alley numerous times, which indeed Harry had. He often dropped by during the summer months either to shop or just hang out. It was rather relaxing to bask in the normal, easy peace of the Alley when the parts of the wizarding world that he was intimate with were quickly becoming so filled with strife. It was a helpful reminder that not everything was going to hell.
At the same time, Harry couldn't help but pity the people who walked through the alley without a care, oblivious to what was really going on beneath the surface. Or maybe it was the opposite—maybe he was jealous of them. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.
But if given the choice, Harry knew that he would choose knowing and carrying that burden over "bliss" without a moment's hesitation.
Pushing his turbulent thoughts to the back of his mind, Harry strode into the large building that housed Britain's branch of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank. It had a rather impressive facade, Harry would readily admit, but the service left something to be desired. Goblins were rather nasty creatures with sharp tempers and disgustingly greedy personalities. That being said, they were also some of the most brilliant creatures Harry had ever met. He'd seen goblins do advanced mathematical equations in their head so quickly that it'd leave a calculator green with envy. Harry would have been surprised that there wasn't a goblin teaching Arithmancy at Hogwarts if he hadn't already been acutely aware of the prejudice in the Wizarding World.
"How can I help you?" one of the tellers sneered as Harry stepped up to his desk.
"I need to make a withdrawal," Harry replied impassively. He was too used to the goblins' attitudes to be bothered by it. The teen wordlessly pulled out his vault key and handed it to the goblin without waiting to be asked.
The goblin barely glanced at the key before directing him to a goblin that could take him down into the vaults. For whatever reason, goblins were always able to tell whether a vault key belonged to the person holding it, whether that person was disguised or not. It was a blessing for Harry since he was almost always under an illusion when he visited the bank.
From there, getting his money was a simple, easy process. Harry had taken the cart ride so many times before that now the trip seemed to blur by. Only a few minutes later he was standing outside once again, a bag of gold in his pocket.
Harry spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and buying a few things that felt he had need of, including ice cream. After all, just because he had the weight of the world on his shoulders didn't mean that he wasn't still a teenager.
When Harry finally Apparated back into his room the sun was only just beginning to set. He removed the illusions around him and sank into his bed with a grateful sigh. Of course, it was at that very moment that the doorbell rang.
"BOY! Get the door!" his uncle boomed.
With an annoyed groan, Harry pushed himself up off his bed. He stomped downstairs, throwing a glare in the direction of the kitchen as he did, and then threw open the front door.
Waiting outside was—thankfully—no one he knew, but instead a rather tall, lean man dressed in casual clothing. There was a blood red stone hanging from a chain around his neck, but other than that there was nothing peculiar about him. He was just your average, everyday muggle.
"Can I help you?" Harry asked, repressing a sigh. There was a new book about charms up in his room that he'd much rather be reading.
"Perhaps," the man drawled. To Harry's great surprise, he didn't have a British accent. The teen couldn't even place exactly where his accent from; he certainly hadn't heard it before. "I'm looking for someone—a boy named Harry Potter."
Instantly Harry's paranoia was kicked into overdrive. He straightened his back while narrowing his eyes suspiciously at the man. Surely the Death Eaters couldn't come to his relatives' house, not with the wards...?
"Yeah?" Harry replied neutrally. He attempted to even his expression out the best he could, but the man had already noted the sudden change in his demeanor, if his sharp grin was anything to go by.
"Oh good," he commented with a rather predatory expression. "I would have hated to have had to search around for you."
In that moment, Harry felt something crackle between them like lightning. He reacted immediately, instinctively bringing his magic up to shield himself, but was thrown back into the house anyway.
Harry staggered onto his feet, staring at the man in shock. He was following Harry into the house with a wide, crazed grin stretched across his face.
"Ooh, how interesting," the man cooed. "The little wizard might be more than a lucky mouse after all." His eyes, though shining with glee, were also glazed with insanity.
The man raised his arms up and though Harry couldn't see it, he could clearly feel energy racing between them—magic, he realized belatedly. But he wasn't using a wand, which was impossible.
A few moments later, Harry remembered that he didn't use a wand either.
Uncaring about his secret for the first time in his life, Harry lashed out at the insane man without bothering to pretend to use his wand. Even through the confusion and fear that clouded his mind, it was obvious to Harry that this man wasn't a Death Eater and that he was stronger than anything Harry had faced before.
The man easily halted the chair flying in his direction and sent it soaring back at Harry with barely a wave of his hand. Harry could faintly hear screams—Aunt Petunia, no doubt—in the background, but paid little attention to them as he focused on just staying alive. He sent another spell at his opponent, his heart pounding in his chest and his blood practically humming in his veins.
Harry had never felt so terrified for his own life before, not even against Voldemort. This man...This man was something entirely different from everything he'd come into contact with before. He was on a completely different level and even though Harry was going all out at the moment, he was slowly but steadily being worn down and pushed back.
"Surrender, child," the man purred. He was tossing a fireball—a fireball! How was that even possible?!—between his hands as he stalked closer to Harry. "I don't want to hurt you—you won't be much good to me damaged. And whole, well, whole you'll reveal so many little secrets that have eluded us for so long..."
Harry didn't have the faintest idea what the man was talking about, but facing danger as he was, he couldn't quite bring himself to care. He snarled wordlessly at the man as he gasped for breath. He was exhausted already? How long had it been since the fight had started? How long had he been struggling for?
Shrugging casually at Harry's feral response, the man tossed the fireball at him. Harry used his magic to harden the air before him to create a shield, hoping to divert the attack in another direction. The house was already in ruins as it was, so one more fireball didn't matter.
In retrospect, it wasn't one of his brightest ideas.
When the fireball hit the "shield", the compressed air instantly gave a massive amount of fuel to the already raging fire, allowing it to combust past its previous range. In a few words, it was like throwing a burning match into a tank of fuel.
A gasp tore from Harry's throat as he was thrown back into the nearest wall. His head collided sharply with the wood panelling and he instantly crumpled to the floor. He could feel something warm running down the back of his neck, but didn't have enough strength left to even attempt to sit up.
Harry weakly lifted his head from the floor as he watched the man walk closer. The psycho didn't even pause as the glass from a broken picture frame crunched beneath his boots. Nearby, Harry could just make out the photo that the frame had once held. It was the only one in the house that had him in it—albeit, on the very edge of the photo—but now his image had been completely burned away by the flames licking one of the house's walls.
As the man finally stopped a foot from him, Harry's eyes drifted shut and his world was swallowed up by darkness.
A/N: And finally we have the first chapter the awaited Atra Regnum, the rewrite of Shades of Gray. This first chapter was a little dry, in my opinion, because I had to go over a lot of Harry's past. You'll also notice that this first chapter is relatively the same as Shades of Gray in terms of content, though there are obviously a few very big changes. The second chapter, however, is where the story takes a massive turn from SoG.
I've gotten a lot of questions about how AR will be different from SoG, so let me explain something:
A little known fact is that I actually wrote the first ten chapters of Shades of Gray three years ago, in 2006 (just before Deathly Hallows was released, as it were). After a while I pushed the story aside to work on other things, but in the summer of '08 I pulled the story out, polished it up, and put it online. However, in the three years between the first draft of the story and now, my style of writing has changed a bit and the story itself has changed too—grown, really. So after a lot of thought I decided that I wanted to do a rewrite. Basically a much clearer final draft, including a number of large plot and character changes.
I've been working on that rewrite—this story—for over nine months now while simultaneously continuing Shades of Gray. You'll notice that Atra Regnum and Shades of Gray will have some similarities as well as some major differences. The basic plot line will be exactly the same and some of the later chapters will be nearly identical, however I'll also be completely redoing a lot of the beginning. There'll be a few new OCs and some of the old ones will never show up.
I've had a lot of fun working on this rewrite so far, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it! The second chapter will be posted as soon as it finishes going through beta round 2, which should be in a day or so. Check my profile for more detailed updates. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, "Atra Regnum" means "Dark Kingdom" in Latin. You'll have to read further into the story to find out why.
Finally, I'd like to give some major thanks to my two beta readers, solunvar (editor) and Teufel1987 (British checker). They've both done a lot to help polish up the story.