UPDATE: Alright, I don't normally do this, but due to some reviews, I really felt that I needed to. I've had some complaints about Harry being "weak", and I really felt that I needed to address the characterization not just to select reviewers but to all the readers. I have a massively long A/N at the bottom of this chapter explaining my points. Please do not skip it over. Thanks.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and the Chronicles of Narnia belong to C.S. Lewis. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from the writing of this story.
VI: Fear Shifters
King Miraz stared at the dead creatures littering the castle floors with disgusted satisfaction. Their pathetic plot to overtake the Telmarine castle had failed, and he could barely prevent the sinister chuckles that wanted to overtake him at such a silly notion. Those foul creatures, the Narnians, overtake the Telmarine castle? It was absolutely ridiculous. He almost couldn't believe Caspian had sided with those things. Almost.
Caspian was too much like his father. Underneath the somewhat aloof façade, there was the calculating viciousness. It was easy to forget about since the latest Caspian's darker side was suppressed by his more lovable nature. Miraz's lip curled in disgust. He'd warned his brother that Caspian would inherit the less desirable traits from his mother. The Telmarine kingdom didn't need a soft-hearted leader; they needed a stern, iron ruler.
That's why, of course, he was the best choice for King.
"Get rid of this filth," Miraz ordered, turning away from the sight and heading back into his room. The servants scrambled to obey.
"Do you realize what you've done?" Queen Prunaprismia asked quietly, staring at her hands.
"I will handle this," Miraz told her with a cocked eyebrow. "Do you doubt me?"
Prunaprismia looked up at him. "Caspian," she spat angrily, "will do everything in his power to get revenge. Those creatures he's leading, they're getting bolder. Look at what they've done. How many casualties have there been?"
"Most weren't our people," Miraz pointed out. He raised his hand when she opened her mouth to protest. "Caspian will get his, just like his father."
Prunaprismia shook her head and her eyes filled with tears. "You'll do everything in your power to win this war, right?" She sniffled slightly. "Our son…he needs a father, Miraz. Promise me you'll win, and Caspian will be dead by the time this is over."
Miraz smirked coldly. "Caspian may take after my late brother in some ways, but he lacks the Telmarine strength. He is too soft-hearted, and that will be his downfall. Do not worry," he murmured, cupping her face in his hand. "I will one day pass the throne to our son, and he will rule this kingdom like a true Telmarine. Caspian and his little band of Narnians will be fairy tales once more."
Prunaprismia smiled and closed her eyes in relief. She hugged her husband close. That ungrateful wretched horror will get his. "I'll go check on your heir," she whispered, tucking a lock of red hair behind her ear before pulling away from his warmth and leaving their chambers.
Miraz watched her go before fetching a servant. "Bring me the general," he hissed dangerously.
He didn't need to wait long before the general stood at attention in his chambers. "My Lord," the general said quietly.
"As you can see, the Narnians are getting bolder," Miraz began, pacing.
"Are we going to war, my Lord?" the general asked.
Miraz smiled chillingly again. "I don't want them dead, yet," he purred savagely. "I want them broken."
"What do you wish to do, my Lord?"
Miraz stopped pacing in front of his general. "Release the captured Fear Shifters in their land." His smile widened. "We'll have them begging for mercy at our feet like the beasts they are."
He couldn't help but think Hermione would be proud if she knew what Harry was up to; after all, how many times had she tried to get him to seriously think about anything? The Gryffindor snorted in amusement before continuing to ponder over recent events. Aslan had told him that he would keep the skills he learned here and take them with him back to the Wizarding world. That was great and all, but how could he use such skills in the mid 1990s?
A light bulb went off in his head, so to speak. He was mainly learning how to use a sword. Who would expect swords to be used in the war? Not the Death Eaters, that's for sure! Harry grinned slightly. Maybe learning how to use the ruddy thing wouldn't be so bad after all.
Improving his body physically would also be a good thing. Wizards and witches relied too much on their wands. It was their only means as a weapon. Without their wands, they were useless. Harry had always been fast, but if he could improve his speed through this physical training, he could probably dodge even more spells than he was currently capable. He wondered if any of the Pevensies knew any hand-to-hand combat as well. Moody had begun to teach him some martial arts, but he'd been killed in a raid not too long ago. His former professor was only one of many casualties.
Harry's thoughts took a somber turn, but he quickly shook his head. He would remember the lives lost in this war over blood, but he wouldn't dwell too long on them. Harry needed to keep moving towards the future in order to really defeat Voldemort. Staying focused on the past would only distract him from his job.
Harry looked at the pelt that served as a door. "Come in."
Caspian walked inside and grinned. "Ready for another day of training?"
Harry groaned. "I swear, you're worse than Edmund," he grumbled.
Caspian laughed. "Training physically can also help your mental and emotional training."
Harry cocked his head to the side. "Really?"
The young Prince nodded, becoming slightly serious. "Training physically requires control. If you wish to be an excellent swordsman, you need to be able to concentrate on the task at hand while maintaining a high level of awareness of your surroundings lest you be attacked. In a way, you're almost clearing your mind and your face becomes blank. This becomes harder for enemies to fight you because they cannot read your facial expressions for some sort of clue as to what your next attack will be. By this mental training, you are also training your emotions. With your mind clear, you'll be able to think normally without letting anger or fear or any other emotion overtake your actions. It's all connected, you see," Caspian finished matter-of-factly.
Harry thought this over. He hated the phrase, 'Clear your mind,' but he understood how it could help in the heat of battle. How often had he let his emotions get the best of him? Too many, he decided, and unfortunately other people seemed to pay the price for his actions.
His thoughts wandered over to Snape, and he scowled. He loathed the man, that traitor. Given what had transpired between himself and Professor Dumbledore before they'd returned to Hogwarts that fateful night not too long ago, Harry knew Snape wasn't totally responsible for the late elderly Headmaster's death. That didn't mean he liked the greasy git any more, though. The fact remained that he'd delivered the Killing Curse and ultimately ended the life of one of the greatest wizard's the world had seen.
"Have you ever thought, Headmaster, that perhaps you ask for too much?"
He could still hear Snape's words echoing in his head, his voice uncharacteristically colored in something akin to anguish. Harry's scowl deepened; he'd loved Dumbledore with all of his heart, but even he had realized that the late Headmaster manipulated certain events to ensure not only Harry's survival but also a firm belief in the Greater Good. That thought hurt him deeply; was he only a pawn to the man he'd respected and admired? Was he only a means to an end?
Harry sighed and rubbed his temples. He'd come to terms with his destiny and understood that he had a duty to save the world his parents and countless others had fought so desperately to protect. He was the Chosen One, the Savior, the Boy Who Lived. Only he could defeat Voldemort, and he hated it, but accepted it. Instead of fighting it, he'd learned to not necessarily embrace the prophecy, but rather tolerate it. He was the only one in the entire world (that was filled will a hell of a lot more capable wizards than him) from Voldemort? Fine. He'd make damn well sure that he and others he cared about stayed alive, though. He had to.
"Don't you understand? I have to do this. He'll kill her otherwise."
Harry angrily blocked out Malfoy's desperate words. The rational part of him understood that Malfoy was forced into his situation, much like him, but the more emotional part couldn't overlook that Malfoy led the Death Eaters into the school, Malfoy allowed Dumbledore's death to be carried out, Malfoy was the reason so many people—students—had gotten hurt and about half of Hogwarts was missing. He may have done it for justified reasons, but Malfoy had opened the door to victory for Voldemort significantly and everyone else was suffering because of it.
"Harry? Are you okay?"
Harry snapped out of his thoughts and nodded his head weakly at Caspian, ignoring the worried look. "Just thinking about less-than-pleasant things back home," he elaborated. He traced circles over his knee. "I'm trying to think of a way to fulfill the prophecy. How the bloody hell can I bring what I'm learning here to the war back there?"
Caspian winced. He knew it was a touchy subject for the wizard and pity stirred in the pit of his stomach. He could understand fighting wars (though he didn't necessarily agree with the reasons behind certain ones, like this one for example), but couldn't grasp the concept that only one person could put an end to it all. "Do you mind if I ask a question?" he asked hesitantly.
Harry gave him a tiny grin that didn't reach his eyes. "You just did, but you may ask another one," he teased, snorting in amusement when Caspian looked at him slightly annoyed. Now he understood why Aslan had said that to him; it was entertaining.
"How can one person win a war?" the Prince blurted out, scowling as he began to pace. "It takes an entire army to fight and win a war! Why is this burden only placed on your shoulders?"
Harry looked shocked. "I may be the only person that can end it," he admitted softly, "but I'm certainly not the only one fighting it. Everyone is doing their part in some way. The Aurors, I suppose you can liken them with soldiers, they fight against Voldemort's forces on a daily basis. Some of our allies within the Ministry are working towards crippling Voldemort's finances.
"A good portion of the people, sadly, are helpless and don't contribute much to the war effort besides fear and ignorance. However, a lot of other people are trying to help in their own way. It's just, Voldemort's crippled the British Wizarding public for nearly two decades and people are just scared. Personally, I think the Wizarding world contributed to the creation of Voldemort, but that's another discussion for another day.
"And yes, while it's true that, in the end, I need to deliver the finishing blow, if it weren't for the people fighting beside me, helping me, and showing me why I fight, I wouldn't be able to do it."
Caspian stared at him, slightly shocked. "You'd make a great King," he said softly.
Harry flushed. "Nah," he replied uncertainly.
Before another word could be said, terrified shrieks echoed from outside. The two shared a glance before running out of Aslan's How, their chosen weapons at the ready. It was absolute chaos with people screaming, crying, and running around. Harry spotted the Pevensie siblings and tugged Caspian towards them. Harry froze, however, when he saw the White Witch in front of Edmund. Peter tried to make a slash at her, but it was useless.
The Black Dwarfs looked at the White Witch with excitement, like she was a Messiah and had come to save them. Nikabrik looked exceptionally pleased if his nasty grin was any indication. He dropped to one knee and bowed his head. The others of his race quickly followed, and Nikabrik looked up only to smirk at Harry's wide-eyed expression.
The White Witch grinned ferally. "Did you really think you could escape me, Edmund? Could escape the darkness inside you that longs for recognition? You're always stuck in Peter's shadow, but don't you deserve so much more?" she purred. "I can give you that recognition, Edmund."
Edmund shivered, shaking his head in denial. "No," he murmured weakly, trying to stop the tremors coursing through his body. His eyes watered, remembering what it was like to fall for her lies and remembering the pain he'd caused his siblings. He glanced over at his sisters; Lucy was next to Susan, staring at him with wide eyes. He'd hurt her the most.
"You're mine!" she shrieked.
Peter let out a ferocious snarl and jumped in front of Edmund, slicing through the White Witch's body only for it to leap out of the way and change into something else. "What are you?" Peter growled, staring at the thing in confusion and anger.
The thing finished changing; it was a woman, her eyes glaring at Peter. "You disgust me," she sneered.
'A boggart?' Harry thought, pointing his wand at the thing.
Peter froze, his eyes wide. "Mum…?"
"Did you think I wouldn't find out?" the woman continued angrily. "I won't have any son of mine act freakishly! You're unnatural; an abomination!"
Harry winced at Peter's stricken expression and the confused, scared faces of his siblings. Caspian made to rush forward, but Harry stopped him. "Your sword is useless," the smaller boy hissed. "You can only fight and defeat a boggart with magic."
Not waiting for an answer, Harry rushed forward brandishing his wand. The counter was at the tip of his tongue when the boggart changed into a beautiful red-haired woman, her green eyes so like Harry's hardened with hate.
"I should've let Voldemort have you," she snapped. "Some hero you turned out to be. I could be living if only you'd bloody died."
Harry knew it was the boggart saying this, knew that his mother loved him enough to sacrifice her life for his, but his heart clenched at the words and the counter couldn't force its way past his lips. What if his mum regretted it?
"That's not true," he whispered harshly, shaking his head. "My mum loved me."
The boggart smirked before changing its form again. James Potter with hazel eyes and Harry's same wild hair looked down on him, his lips pulled back into a sneer. "You're no son of mine."
Harry closed his eyes shut, forcing himself to hiss out, "Riddikulus!"
The boggart-thing was unrelenting, changing its form to various people. Cedric glared angrily at him, dressed in simple robes with Hufflepuff colors. A dirty footprint was smudged on his cheek where Voldemort had mocked him. "You tricked me into taking that cup!" he raged. "You killed me!"
"No, I didn't!" Harry protested. "We agreed to take it together!"
Then Hermione was looking at him, disappointment written across her bloody face. "Why couldn't you have just killed Him?" she asked quietly. Her voice held no emotion, and in a way that hurt more than the anger and disgust he'd been shown. "It's your fault I died, you know. He murdered me, Harry, and you did nothing. You stood back and watched as he killed me, as he rid the world of yet another Mudblood. I thought you were my friend…"
"I am your friend," Harry bit out, shaking and uncaring that many of the Narnians were looking on in horror. "I wouldn't have done that, Hermione. You have to—!"
Hermione morphed into Snape, and he snarled at Harry. "You're weak," he spat. "Because of your ineptitude in doing anything right, the Dark Lord can read your mind like an open book! You might as well have Avada Kedavra'd everyone your bloody self, you incompetent fool! Looks like fame doesn't give you everything. You're just as arrogant as your father, and twice as stupid!"
"SHUT UP!" Harry roared, clutching his wand tightly and pointing it at the boggart-thing. He hissed the counter again, and still the boggart-thing showed no sign of stopping.
Snape turned to Dumbledore. There was no twinkle in his blue eyes, and his arm was horrifically shriveled. "Mr. Potter, you have disappointed me," he said, tsking and shaking his head. "A worthless pawn will not do in the battle against Voldemort. I'm afraid you've doomed the world."
"You wouldn't say that," Harry whispered shakily. His heart clenched painfully, but he ignored it. "I…I'm doing fucking my best…"
Dumbledore switched to Sirius. "Why couldn't you have stayed put? If it weren't for my needing to bail your sorry arse, I'd still be alive," Sirius snarled angrily, looking very much like his canine form. "Murderer!"
Something in Harry's head snapped. Sirius would never say that to him, would never have accused Harry of murdering him. It was only something that had haunted his dreams. He'd always feared that Sirius would blame Harry of his death, but they were just that—fears. The boggart-thing was spouting nonsense, trying to weaken him.
And damn it all, it was working. He knew subconsciously that the people accusing him of such horrid things would never speak to him in such a manner—well, Snape might have, actually—but why did it all hurt so much? Hardening his eyes, Harry began to shout ever counter curse he could think of and tried his best to ignore the vile words spewing from the boggart-thing's mouth.
Sirius became Voldemort, his ruby red eyes glinting maliciously. His grin showed his forked tongue and his snake-like nostrils twitched ever-so-slightly. Harry was vaguely aware of the screams Voldemort's presence had enticed out of the Narnians. Voldemort laughed cruelly and brought his wand up. "Crucio!" he hissed.
Harry was caught off guard when the spell actually worked and collapsed on the floor, writhing and biting his lip to keep from screaming. Red hot needles pricked at his nerves, making him convulse and groan in pain. Blood filled his mouth. The curse ended and he panted, feeling the elixir of life dribble out of his mouth. His vision was disoriented, and he could barely move his muscles.
Lucy sobbed into Susan's arms, the elder girl not looking much better. She'd never seen anyone get tortured, not even in all of her years ruling Narnia. Edmund still hadn't recovered from the emotional assault from the White Witch, and Peter and Caspian looked at Harry with obvious worry. They'd tried to slash at the boggart-thing with their swords again, and had even chucked things at it, but their attempts were in vain.
"You should've joined me when you had the chance, Harry," Voldemort said softly, leaning down to caress the shivering boy's cheek. "But now, I will bring you down to your knees. You will suffer, Harry Potter, and know why the world should always fear my name. You will lose everything."
It was familiar, almost the same thing Voldemort had told him in the atrium before he'd been possessed. He remembered the overwhelming darkness that had overtaken him, and he remembered Dumbledore's kind words.
"It isn't how you're alike, Harry. It's how you're different."
He remembered trying to stop his friends from going with him to the Ministry, and Hermione telling him forcefully, "When are you going to get it through your thick head? We're in this together!"
He remembered Sirius hugging him over the Yule hols after he'd woken up from a nightmare and murmuring comfortingly, "Your parents would be so proud of you, Harry. You're becoming the man they'd hoped you'd grow into and so much more."
Harry slowed his breathing and looked up to glare defiantly at the Dark Lord. "You are not Voldemort," he spat angrily. "You are nothing more than a boggart, preying on my insecurities and fears. I have friendship, and I've experienced love. These are my strengths, and it's what will help me survive this war; it's what will allow me to protect my friends with everything I have. So you can take my doubts and fears, and fuck yourself!"
The boggart-thing hissed angrily and shifted its form one last time. A dementor swooped down, sucking Harry's soul out of his body. He could hear people screaming around him, but his mother's screams and her begging overtook his senses. He could feel his happy memories draining away. He thought of his parents, who sacrificed their lives. He thought of Sirius, who had brought sunshine into his days. He thought of his friends, who bravely stuck by him through thick and thin (though there were admittedly bumpy roads). Finally, he thought of this new world, the promise he made, the warmth of his budding friendship with Caspian, the slight attraction developing to Peter, the innocence of Lucy's smile, the similarities between Susan and Hermione, between Edmund and Ron.
His grip on his wand tightened, and he pointed it at the dementor. "Expecto Patronum!" he said firmly, watching as the silvery stag erupted from the tip of his of his wand and attacked the dementor with everything it had.
He stayed awake long enough to see the dementor explode and his stag melt into nothingness. The edges of his vision blackened as he was suddenly surrounded by worried people shaking him and asking questions. His emerald eyes met Peter's worried ones.
Then everything went dark.
A/N: 10.20.11 Well, I finally had some time to go over and edit the end of this chapter. It's not much of a difference, but I adjusted Harry's reaction to the Fear Shifter. I've also decided to leave my super long note up so I don't continuously repeat myself as to why I characterize Harry the way I do. Thanks to those that stuck by this!
In regards to the boggart: though Harry assumes it's a boggart, and it's my fault for not making this clear in the chapter, it's nothing like the boggarts encountered in the Harry Potter world. The Narnians do not have magic, wands, or latin incantations to be able to properly ward off an HP-style boggart should they come across one. Thus, they had to find a new way to defeat what they call Fear Shifters. So, no, a Riddikulus would not have done much to what Harry considers a boggart. Again, it was my fault for not accurately portraying what I had in my head into that section of the chapter.
"I eamn, he already knew it was a boggart and how to defeat it, easily. Why was he still affected and became so weak during the changes and keeps on saying "no more, stop.." ugh... So weak."
-Why was he affected? Because despite the various titles under his belt that sings his praises, Harry is still very much a 16-year-old boy. Honestly, Harry should've buckled under such pressure in canon and that is why I portray him as such. It's all perfectly natural what he's feeling. As I said in my A/N, this takes place just after HBP during the summer. Dumbledore's death is still fresh in his mind and his emotions are haywire.
The Fear Shifter changed into people he cared about as well as someone who constantly brought him down. If you were faced with people you loved spewing vile, hateful words, how can you NOT be affected by it? I really don't understand how that makes Harryweak as opposed to only human.
"Well... one thing about how I see Harry fighting the boggart is,m and how you portray him is... and i ddnt expect it inr eference from your previous chapters, is weak."
-Again, I don't feel I portrayed him as weak but rather emphasized his humanity. Boy Wonder or not, Harry has a TON of emotional baggage and it is grossly understated in the books. Neglect and emotional abuse has its toll on victims, and the books show not a lick of it. I severely disagree with that, and so I make sure to show that despite whatever awesome magical powers Harry might have, he isn't invincible nor is he able to brush things off. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and it's his greatest strength.
16-year-old boys have the ability to cry and whine. They get their feelings hurt, though they try to hide it. What's wrong with Harry acting his age for once?
"But the way you executed it... made Harry look to weak and defenseless, completely disregarding his previous experience with boggarts."
-And, once more, Harry may be in Narnia, but not everything is the same as it was in the Wizarding world. They are two SEPARATE magical places and though he can bring and leave with knowledge from both worlds, that doesn't mean everything will be the same. To assume such a thing is almost dishonoring both of these amazing worlds. The only real similarities between them are 1) they're magical lands, 2) someone evil tried to take over it, and 3) they have a few similar creatures. Other than that, they are very much different.
"You're making Harry so weak and helpless."
-No. I showed his vulnerability. He's 16, not Superman.
"How could there even be a boggart anyway. They don't have those in Narnia. Not even mentionned in the books."
-This is the part where I claim artistic licence. I don't recall it being necessary for me to follow the books strictly. Besides, there were ulterior motives to having Harry's doubts/fears ripped from him, put on display, and him ultimately conquering them.
And here is the part where I sound perhaps a mite bitchy, but oh well. I appreciate every single review out there. I am extremely thrilled to have some actual constructive criticism; there were some obvious execution flaws on my part for not accurately transferring my ideas from my head to this chapter, and thanks for opening my eyes. I have trouble sometimes viewing my work from the outside objectively and seeing how it really is as opposed to how I imagine it in my noggin. Getting better, but there are still obvious times where my blonde shows. ^^;
On the other hand, however, while I favor my Harry to be strong, sexy, dangerous, all that good shizz, I also highly appreciate realistic characterization. As mentioned before, this takes place just after HBP. That means Harry just watched Dumbledore, his mentor, die. Not just die, but murdered in front of him and he couldn't do anything to stop it. Canon does a terrible job at conveying the grief someone feels after losing a loved one in favor of making him this totally awesome and super cool guy who can do amazingly wonderful things because it's his destiny. As I continue to point out, he is only sixteen years old and human.
His emotions are his greatest strength, though at times they can be a great weakness. Sure he may have crumbled a bit when the Fear Shifter in the forms of many people he loved, but ultimately it was his emotions that helped him defeat it. I'm very certain that should the almighty Albus Dumbledore stepped in front of a Fear Shifter and had to listen as Arianna blamed him for her death, for not being able to protect her, he would've dropped like a sack of potatoes. He's magically powerful, but harboring such a guilt and pain for so long will take its toll on anyone and I doubt anyone would call him weak for it. Or, if they do, they need to be kicked. Placing a traumatized person in front of a creature/thing that preys on his/her fears, doubts, insecurities, and then calling said personweak for having them is like placing a bleeding fish inside of shark-infested waters and scolding the fish for being eaten. No logic to it, is there? (Weird analogy, but that's how this brain works, kay?)
Another thing people tend to forget is that Harry is a neglected and abused child. Years of being called a freak, useless, worthless, and all sorts of horrible names will have an impact on him and Rowling doesn't do even a fairly decent job at portraying it.
So before this explanation further spirals into a debate about the realistic nature of canon for HP, I'm going to say right now that Narnia, while definitely helping Harry learn techniques to take home and fight Voldemort, will also be helping him emotionally and mentally. If you don't like the idea of Harry acting like a regular teenager (or, I loathe to say, weak), then now is the time to stop reading. Harry is going to be awesome and cool, but he will first and foremost be an actual person. He will learn a lot and he will truly grow into the hero he's meant to be while helping Narnia and developing feelings for Peter.
One last note, and here is when my inner bitch claws her way out my mind, I'm writing this story for me. Reviews are fine and dandy, but I'm writing this story the way I see fit. Sorry if you don't agree with that, but I can't honestly say that I care too much. I love suggestions and they even give me my own ideas, but I am not under any sort of obligation to take any of them. While I love to have people enjoying my stories, I'm not going to try to please everyone and lose my own voice in the process. Nope. Not gonna happen. So, and I really do mean this, thank you for every criticism, suggestion, review, etc., but please don't expect me to just change my plans and chapters just because some aspect of this story doesn't please you.
And that is the ending to this excruciatingly long-winded explanation/rant, and I do apologize for the length. Because of the terribly noticeable flaws of my execution of the Fear Shifter scene, that part will undergo some major revision. It won't be removed because I quite like it, but I do see how it falls short of not just everyone's expectations but also my own style of writing. Don't expect it out soon, however, as I do have other stories and priorities that need to be taken care of. Otherwise, farewell, and if you still stick with me, much thanks. If not, sayonara.