AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sorry this took so long to get out. Real life decided that it was going to give me both barrels for a while and then my muse was being a snob and didn't deign to talk to me. She's back but still finicky. I will never abandon this, unless I end up dead in some horrific, gruesome accident or maybe a heart attack shagging blonde triplets, which would be a nice way to bite it too.
' Thoughts' "Speech"
"Karen, you better have a damn good explanation for this." Grigori was fuming. Harry bearing his symbol would bring trouble to the foolish boy. At least if he didn't know how to defend himself it would. There were still people out there who despised Rasputin too much regardless of knowing nothing but that he was the healer for Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and especially their son, Alexei. Granted there was a reason that the stigma surrounding his name existed, having slaughtered countless people in the first year of the first Great War, but not many people still knew that. They just hated him for not being able to fully heal Alexei. What was he supposed to do, use magic and reveal to them that Wizards did exist? No, he just used his knowledge of muggle medicine at the time to make sure that the idiots who claimed to be healers didn't kill the boy.
'Like I have to explain myself to him' thought Karen before she spoke. "You are training him Grigori; I just thought he should bear your mark for the trouble you will put him through. That and there is a reason you were feared. Train Harry to carry that legacy and maybe the stigma surrounding yours will lessen."
"Cryptic as ever Karen, you've given me an answer without giving me one. Thanks; I can already see this conversation is going nowhere. I'll be leaving." Grigori was usually a patient man but Harry had already burned through most of it during the training session that day.
"Grigori, wait. You call him a foolish Gryffindor, why? What has he done to earn that name with you?" Karen was hoping it was just the deaths Harry had been through, and her hope was of course proven right.
"He's died thirteen times. They should have forgone the memory wipe after the fourth time. He gets it into his head to go save someone or stop something from happening and he doesn't think of the consequences. He just rushes in. He's got enough intelligence he could have been in Ravenclaw and the boy is loyal to a fault so Hufflepuff would have been a good placement. Hell, he could have even been in Slytherin and lived up to his ambition and cunning and been great even coming from a supposed 'dark wizard training ground.' But does any of that happen? No because it wouldn't look good if the boy-who-lived was anything more than a Gryffindor poster boy. Dumbledore saw to that." Grigori just shook his head at how much the meddling old man had hamstringed the young man. 'What kind of man would train someone to fight the most feared dark wizard of the time and only teach him spells to disarm, stun, and do small scale damage?' Grigori shook his head. He was filled with disappointment at how Albus had handled that school. Magical Britain had deteriorated ever since he began running that school. Most adult wizards and witches couldn't cast a decent basic shield, could barely cast a stunner, and couldn't defend themselves if the need arose.
"So you hate him for the things you've heard about him and the things others have done to him, but nothing you've witnessed. He's hesitant to cast lethal spells. That doesn't mean he's weak. The young man has a respect for life. If you want him to prove his worth, give him a challenge besides learning spells. Most wizards don't know wandless magic. It sounds like a worthy skill and a challenge to me." Karen was trying to nudge Grigori in the direction that needed to be gone. If you wanted to know about bearing the burden of being a seer, look no further than to Karen. She would be able to tell you. She writes all of history. She is fate. She knows what WILL happen. She wrote what would happen to Harry. Sadly it had to be done that way for the world to come out better and not still fester in the rotting filth it currently was. Had Harry just saved the world from Tom, it would have continued to hobble along on a crutch. The problems still there, just festering beneath the surface, like a cold sore waiting to break free again.
"I'll try to give him the benefit of the doubt Karen; it's just hard with all that he's been through to see him being weak and acting stupid when I know he's anything but." Grigori sighed wishing that Harry would just live up to his full potential. Harry knew how to survive but it was high time he did it because of instinct and not luck. "I will excuse myself Karen. I still need to converse with Merlin over the Gry. . . Harry's new problem."
"Goodbye Grigori, train him well." Karen said while at the same time thinking 'Like I know you will.'
"Sorer, what is Grigori's problem with me? I haven't done anything to him and yet he treats me like I'm a waste of his time." Harry, while not showing it outwardly, was slightly hurt over Grigori's treatment and attitude towards him. Harry had learned while living at the Dursley's that showing his emotions could and probably would get him into trouble with a beating to follow swiftly after the great purple beast that was Vernon got done yelling.
"I'd rather think he's testing you Harry. He doesn't want to waste his time. Much like Snape pulled with the pensieve left in the open for you to 'stumble' across, Grigori is making sure you're good enough to be trained. Now I'm not going to waste breathe to point out the difference between Grigori and Snape, because it should be clearly obvious." Sorer should have been surprised at Harry's outward lack of emotion when he was hurt but then again as Harry's Death Angel, he already knew what Harry had been through in life. It was pathetic how the Dursley's hated Harry since he was dropped off on their doorstep. Petunia for being jealous of her sister Lily, Vernon because he hated anything abnormal and finally Dudley because that was how he saw his parent's treat Harry and thus decided he could as well. "It's time to test your shields Harry. I want you to either keep me on a single memory or failing that, force me out. Then once you can do that we'll work on creating false memories to the viewer. Granted I will know they are false but that won't matter. In order to do it properly, you would take a true memory to base things off of and then tweak it. Little things in order to make the viewer perceive it's true but not overly change most of the memory. Like if Snape asked you what you and Hermione had been talking about and you just change parts of the conversation to seem innocuous rather than trying to bluff that you hadn't really been talking."
"I understand Sorer. Let's get this over with." Harry prepared himself as best he could and awaited Sorer's assault on his mind. He felt a tickle against his shields and just slapped it away thinking it was his own anxiety. This happened several more times before Harry finally ran out of patience and asked when it was going to begin.
"Harry, it has been going on for the last 10 minutes. I can't even get close to your mind. Hell, I can barely find it and then you slap me away. If you learn the last few things Grigori has for you, you'll be going back much sooner than expected." Sorer was pleased, but also a little confused as to why Harry's Occlumency skills were as good as they were. It had been a few days since starting and granted Harry had the basics of the skill down he was pretty much a Master Occlumens already. Although Harry did have the knowledge from the failed lessons and that may well explain why he was able to do it so well, but it was still strange.
That was the end of Harry's training on the day since if someone couldn't even pull up a memory from your mind, you really didn't need to fake a memory. At least that's what Harry had thought. Sorer quickly disabused Harry of that notion when he said that Harry would still be learning to do it so he would be able to use his "memories" as misdirection
Contrary to most people's beliefs Occlumency wasn't the ability to block access to your mind from others. It was the practice of being able to shield the truth and give the viewer a false memory. The best Occlumens could provide a fake memory that would hold up to the most scrutiny even a master legilimens could manage. In many ways, Occlumency was far superior to legilimency in that in order to do Occlumency properly all you had to do was know your own mind. However to be a truly masterful legilimens, you had to not only fully know your own mind but suffer through trying to figure out someone else's in the process. Unfortunately for Harry, and it could be assumed fortunately for Sorer's continued sanity, Harry's hand ended up slightly glowing and a light burning, which Harry knew was Grigori summoning him for more training.
"Hello Grigori." Harry was resigned. He knew he'd probably be learning tactics or some more spells today. He wasn't, however, ready for a blast of green spell fire to come flying at him as soon as he opened Rasputin's door. The only thing that managed to save him was his seeker reflexes and he dropped to the ground firing stunners. The next thing he knew, he was wrapped in steel ropes. The only thoughts in his head were in how to get out of this mess when he was levitated into the room.
"Next lesson, Gryf. . . Harry. You are not to fire stunners at someone firing lethal spells. There is a force level you must adhere to. They fire stunners and disarming spells, you fire them back more dangerous but not lethal spells. They fire bone breakers and cutting curses, you better be firing lethal spells back. Your life is more precious than theirs." Grigori was trying to be nicer to the boy. In fact, he was. He just needed to get the point across. After that, he planned on revealing why he was so harsh to Harry on the first lesson. Maybe doing that would get his point across.
"Solvo Funis." Grigori dissolved the ropes binding Harry. "Any questions you would like to ask me?"
"Yes, can the dead be killed again? Barring that, why are you so hard on me? I haven't done a thing to you and you treat me as if I'm some arrogant little kid who doesn't want to learn what you have to teach and who only treats you with disdain?" He didn't like being attacked as soon as he opened a door. Slamming his face into the floor just added insult to injury.
Grigori sighed. 'Which question to answer first' he thought with a chuckle.' "No we can't, unless you're Jim which you are not. I treat you that way to get you into reacting how you should. So you don't have to lose who you love like I did." It was never easy to open up to people. Some couldn't follow, others didn't care, and most, at least Grigori thought it was true, only offered false sympathy. "Yes, I was the healer for the son of the Czar of Russia. That was not always my job."
To say Harry was shocked that his trainer would open up to him, even at all, was an understatement. Grigori had no vested interest in what happened on Earth anymore or at least that's what Harry had understood from what little Harry had gleaned when he had asked Sorer about it. Harry decided to press the man for the answer he seemed to want to give. "What did you do before?"
"I ran a shop, in one of the wizarding districts in Russia. I had a wife, several children. I loved them, they loved me. One day one of the many Dark Lords that Russia had came to my shop to 'request' I supply him. I cast Victus Nex on him and pinned a letter with my refusal on it on him. I then found his portkey and activated it. Several days later, my shop was burnt to the ground. My wife was killed along with my children. All for my simple thought that I could get rid of him without retribution because I hadn't harmed him. He then came back after a week to force me into his service since I had nothing to live on and no family left. I killed him with Pulmo Punctum and left him to die not even bothering to attempt to claim responsibility. I went on to become the Czar's healer until I was in turn murdered." Grigori was on the verge of a breakdown. He never shared with anyone. Even in life he had been more of a solitary person than anything. It was a pure miracle he found and married his love.
"I'm sorry for your loss Grigori. I know without experiencing it, I could never know how it feels." Harry was almost shocked speechless at what he had heard. This man had defeated a Dark Lord and was training Harry to be able to do the same. Anything he offered to share should be listened to carefully
"It was a long time ago. I'm used to the pain. It was my constant companion while I walked the Earth alone. So what have we learned so far today?" Grigori reigned in his emotions and got back to teaching, glad Harry wasn't trying to comfort him as so many others would have.
"Escalate lethality as needed. If my opponents fire anything above stunners, they have forfeited leniency in my spell choice." Harry didn't necessarily like it, but he would eventually get used to it. He wanted to succeed and live this time after all.
"Good, at least I don't have to take more time to teach you that lesson Harry. Our next is learning the planning that goes into different kinds of missions muggle special operations forces get. Search and destroy, reconnaissance, and the like." Grigori had a mind for these things, ironing out little details that could totally ruin a plan. Harry's groan was music to his ears.
Harry's training was complete. He learned to plan and fight from Grigori and how to occlude his mind from Sorer. He also developed his own style of legilimency as well. What had felt like months to him had only been a week of actual "real world" time. He was sitting with Sorer in his office with a final covering of Occlumency and Legilimency to make sure he was ready when Sorer said he passed.
'Well, he's pretty much ready to go back and keep his owns secrets and that of death.' Sorer then looked up from his musing to see a smirking Harry sitting in front of him, looking entirely like the cat that ate the canary.
"What's so funny Harry?" he was genuinely confused about what could have the boy smirking so much.
"Just a moment, you'll see." Harry couldn't help himself. He was dead. There wasn't much else to do here besides study and practice what he learned. The more times Sorer found his plants, the better he got at designing them. It had almost been a game between the two of them when they were together the last few hours and genuinely days since coming here and being taught to truly occlude his mind. 'If he doesn't find it, I'm going to assume no one alive back home will either.' The longer he just smirked at his teacher the more amusing thoughts flitted back to him from his Trojan in the Jedi's mind.
"Alright Sorer, I'll show you." Harry looked straight into his death angel's eyes and suddenly they were floating around the Jedi's mind in what was a blanket of fog. "Here it is, now do you see?"
To say the Sorer was shocked was an understatement. As he looked at the fog that he used to shroud his mind, a small window slowly shimmered into focus allowing small wisps of fog to slowly float out of it. The amusing part was now that they were in his mind, the fog that flowed out circled back around the edge and over to Harry. "I almost want to leave it to show others but you'd have access to my mind if I did so get rid of it you Slytherin before I start to give points to the house you most hate."
Harry chuckled at Sorer's attempts to get a rise out of him even for a joke. In the little time he had been here he had already learned that there is a time when taking someone's life is worth the cost you pay for it. That just because he was a Gryffindor didn't mean he had to run into things without thinking. Cunning is not treachery unlike what most of the current Slytherin house seems to think and research, when in moderation, will bring about more successful results when he decided to run headlong into things. Oh he didn't plan things extremely far in advance, he could but he didn't like to. He could better assess situations now, seeing viable options and also having learned that if he took a step back, he sometimes had more options than he originally thought. Sirius wouldn't have been a casualty if he had known that before. It could have been as simple as calling Dobby and asking him to check on Sirius for him.
"Sorer, what do you think, should I request veritaserum when I get back to prove Sirius's innocence? That would take a pawn away from Dumbledore." Harry asked, he had gotten guidance on whether or not to just storm through things and nail them all right away, but he still had to contend with finding and destroying the horcruxes when he got back. He also had to deal with Dumbledore having control over his trust vault, the old man's 'magical guardianship' could be dealt with by clearing Sirius, but that could cause other situations to change and all his knowledge would be rendered useless. Although that in and of itself wasn't a bad thing as knowing what would happen he could change some small aspect and mess things up completely and die again. Better to not know everything than know it all.
"I'd say request veritaserum. It's the only true viable option that doesn't arouse Dumbledore's suspicion that you're not a pawn right away. Yes he is going to notice that something strange is going on with your knowledge of being able to demand it since you are the last remaining Potter and head of house, but it's better than him finding out other things you don't want." Sorer was trying to give decent advice but in messing with the past, there were so many variable that affected the future and it was hard to deduce the outcome.
"Ok, well, send me back Sorer. Where am I ending up anyway?" Harry was already formulating plans based on when he actually got sent back.
"Hospital wing right after the escape of Sirius Black and just before the incompetent Minister Fudge shows up. Have fun Harry, and succeed this time." Sorer was glad to be able to get back to an almost normal function around his office now that Harry was about to go back. Jim would also get off his back about the time continuum and Bob's evil influence on earth. "Harry, before you go, I wanted to at least see your parents once."
With practiced showmanship only achieved after centuries of being 'alive', Sorer dissolved a wall in his office to reveal Harry's parents standing there in a small annex. It was all Harry could do to not break down into tears at seeing his parents, well alive didn't cover it, but there all the same. Lily was the first to break the tension by running over and hugging him and generally cooing over her grown son.
"I love you Harry, and I'm proud of you regardless of what happens." Lily was excited to see her son, even if it was only for a few moments before he got sent back. Sadly it was all the time Jim had allowed them to see Harry. James had passed the final exams to start training to be a death angel, so had just a short amount of time to visit.
"Harry, I'd love to spend more time with you, but Jim's barely given us this time right before you go back, so you'll know you're loved and that you don't have to wonder about it. I'm proud of you standing up for your friends. You've always made me proud. I love you son." James wasn't as physically showing as Lily was, but his love and adoration shown through his eyes regardless. That and Lily was dominating Harry with a strong armed hug before letting him go.
"I've always wanted to hear that. I love you both and hearing you say that makes everything I'm going to have to do seem worthwhile. I'll try to make sure you both stay proud of me. Sorer, I need to go before I'm going to tell you off and stay here with them." Harry was starting to cry. He brought up his Occlumency shields as the world around him started to haze. Soon he was laying in his bed in the hospital wing.
'Well' he thought, 'it's time to get this done right and not fail anyone.'