The Sequel has been posted!
(A/N All Harry Potter characters belong to JKR I'm just having fun with them)
Sweat ran down her face, her hair a brown so dark it was nearly black stuck to her face. She stared into the mirror's reflection of her own light blue eyes, as she focused. Slowly her left arm shrunk, her lightly tanned skin changing into feathers the same shade of brown as her hair, and just as glossy. She watched through the pain as her chest flattened and her body drew in on itself. The pain was intense, yet she remained focused. The last to change was her head; this was where she had trouble, it had taken weeks for her tutor to coach her through it, but now she had it. An Eagle Owl sat where she was before. She opened and closed her wings slowly, pushing the muscles through the full rotation before stopping and repeating, she had to do this every night for two weeks before she could even attempt to fly.
Gradually her body would adapt, and the muscles used for her Owl form would become strong enough. The change back was much quicker, as if it took force to compress her body into a smaller shape, but to return to normal all she had to do was release the pressure, and her body would snap back into herself. Daphne sat panting on the plush white rug of her bedroom floor. The pain had subsided, but the soreness, oh how it lingered. The first time was the worst; it wasn't until after she had changed back that she realized which muscle groups were needed for flight, and just how uncomfortable certain garments could become.
Cyrus sat in his favorite chair, nursing a Firewhiskey in front of the sitting room window. The weather, it seemed, mocked his mood-warm and sunny just did not go with frustrated and irritable. His daughters were very dear to him, and while he was not opposed to marriage contracts, he knew that matches as good as his own were rare. He had a rare understanding with his wives, both were content to play their role in public, and in private they were the best of friends. The fact that they all lived together as one family and functioned so well, was he knew, mostly due to his first wife Megan. So confident and calm, she could handle nearly anything without losing her cool. She had approached him, and had the audacity to give him a list of suitable candidates for the Davis wife! At first he would not hear of it, what man would let a woman chose his wife? Then he looked at the list, and found that it was in fact well thought out, and that had been the start of a theme which had been the same ever since. In public she deferred to him, in private she was a sounding board, and oftentimes the engineer of his plans and dealings.
Her daughter was so similar and yet also different. She had no desire to put on a public face, she wanted the respect of achievement, and when she wanted a thing, she worked for it. Just recently she had fought and argued for a tutor to teach her the Animagus Transformation, and in the end he gave in. Even if it was beneath a pureblood to become an animal in the eyes of many, he knew it could be an escape for her if she was in need.
As he thought of his daughter, his mind drifted to Harry Potter. The rumors surrounding the boy were so unbelievable, and yet they were hushed. No facts had escaped from Hogwarts except by student's hearsay. He wasn't the only one who would dismiss rumors generated by kids, but there were so many. He needed to meet the boy, and find out his plans for the contract.
"Troubling thoughts?" Megan questioned, settling down on a soft couch, her legs tucked up under her.
"Yes, our daughter can be quite difficult; I was pondering the Potter boy. I can't help but dread the meeting between them."
"I know," she sighed, "Daphne is working things up in her mind, based on what you said about a lack of wealth to buy out the contract. Not only that, but she is pushing herself too hard on that Animagus stuff. Right now she is downing pain potions and soaking in the tub to ease the soreness."
"She is much like my brother," Cyrus acknowledged taking a sip. Roderick Greengrass was an imposing man, powerful in magic, and he had a great drive to seek knowledge. He was the Captain of a group of Hitwizards, recruited by feuding factions all over the world to fight their battles. He maintained an almost military discipline over a company of no less than twenty members, and Hitwizards were known for being independent and surly. Yet he had an iron grip on their actions, and as a result they were widely sought after. He often visited during holidays, and would speak of the places he had seen, and the magic worked by foreign wizards. Daphne was often captivated by his words, in fact the two of them had a rather close bond.
"Yes, in some ways." Megan's tone suggested she disapproved. "He has filled her mind with his words and wonders, and you know he pushes her to learn more than she should, magic that is too advanced for her age."
"He does, but he would never allow her to come to any harm. Not if he could help it, he is very much devoted to her wellbeing."
"Anyway, all we can do is wait. Potter should return this week and then we will see."
Harry watched the Island fade away, as they cleared the newly created mist. It was a beautiful place, a place he would return to, he promised himself. Yet would he? How many promises throughout life did one make to oneself and forget about, or lacked the means to accomplish? The mist had been a surprise; it seemed Ian had decided that the Island was quite nice as well. He spent quite a bit of time away during the last day, reestablishing the mist and Unplottable wards. He further surprised them all when he created keys for everyone: small dragon bone tiles that would allow passage, acting as a Portkey; it was his gift for a job well done: a private vacation spot. Harry was lost in thought as he stood in the breeze, things would be different now. He had changed not only physically, but in the way he approached life. He knew when he returned he would do his best to accept who he was, and be happy with it. No more would he be the meek and scared little boy.
The wind picked up, blowing his hair into his eyes and breaking his thoughts; in irritation he brushed it away.
"If that shaggy mop is bothering you, I could cut it you know," Alessandra said, she too had watched the island fade away.
"Yeah it is, could you?" He was hopeful, if he had known she could cut hair he would have asked some time ago.
"Come on then," she said while swatting him on the shoulder, leading him to her room. Harry followed, admiring the way the fabric of her dress hugged her hips and the way they swayed. He had been noticing things like that quite a bit now, ever since his experience with Belle. He did understand her reasons, and respected them enough not to be upset about her putting a stop to things after coming on so strong, but it did make him regret not capitalizing on the opportunity when he had the chance, it would only have been a small step further.
"Sit here," Alessandra said, pointing to a freshly conjured wooden stool. "I know the perfect style for you, with that square jaw and mesmerizing eyes, we'll have the girls lining up to get you." She laughed as she said it, but really she meant it.
"Alright then," Harry said with a smile, thinking that sounded just fine.
The mirror displayed Harry's reflection as he looked at the new cut; it was shorter than he had ever worn it. 'Much shorter than Ron's hair,' he thought. It was neatly trimmed on the sides and back, with a deliberately casual I don't care style to the top, yet still short. The only catch was that he had always covered his scar before, now it was mostly visible.
"You look roguishly handsome Harry. I'll clean up, you go see what Annalisa and Belle thinks."
Annalisa and Belle were discussing the wedding when Harry walked into their cabin. It was just a bit bigger than the others since they shared. Belle looked up and groaned, in an over the top gesture to his new look.
"Look at you, testing my resolve," she laughed. "It looks good on you."
She looked to Annalisa, to find her staring at Harry, not at his hair cut, but his scar. Harry grew slightly nervous, and cleared his throat. Annalisa startled, her blond hair falling out of its loose bun, the look on her face was one of horror.
"Oh my…" Annalisa gasped, "Harry would you sit down here for a minute, I'd like to go get Ian and Bill to look at your scar."
"What, why?" Harry was slightly irritated she was focusing on his scar.
"Harry, there's active magic in it, and its quite dark. Just sit still for a minute, and I'll be right back. I've never looked at it before, like this." It was then that Harry noticed she had on her Cursebreaking glasses, to see active magic. She had been using them while charming the blue invitation paper to read aloud in French and English. Harry sat, a little unsure of what was going on. Quite a while later, Harry still sat, his irritation really growing. Annalisa had long since stopped casting spells, and Bill had only been sitting back and watching, a frown on his normally cheerful face. Ian however, was still working, his own face a blank mask of concentration, before he finally sat back with a sigh.
"Well, what is it?" Harry snapped, they had been poking and prodding his scar for nearly two hours.
"Harry," Ian's deep voice was surprisingly soft, "I can say with 100 percent certainty that you have never survived the Killing Curse."
"What?" Harry was confused; everyone said he had survived it. Yet, no one was actually there then were they?
"Let me explain, the Killing Curse banishes a soul from our world, I do not know to where, just that it is gone. It's a powerful bit of spell work, and with a master of the Dark Arts like You-Know-Who, there is no chance you would have lived. What was done is bad enough though, I don't know why or what went wrong, but it seems he performed a ritual to make a Horcrux."
Bill choked on nothing, and Annalisa let out a small cry. Harry just looked on blankly, his mind was still processing that it wasn't a Killing Curse, and he didn't know what a Horcrux was.
"A Horcrux is a container; it holds a piece of soul, torn from the caster." Ian added.
"There is a bit of him in me! GET IT OUT!" Harry was panicking; the thought of Voldemort's face sticking out of his forehead nearly made him retch.
"HARRY!" Annalisa's voice cut in loudly, "It has been in you for thirteen years, just relax for a minute."
"OK…OK but you can get it out right?" Harry asked, forcing himself to try and be calm.
"No, I'm afraid-" Annalisa began, only to be interrupted quickly by Ian. "Yes we can."
Annalisa shot Ian a glare at interrupting her. That turned into a confused look as he continued.
"Listen, your scar is not normal, even for a Horcrux. The ritual for creating a Horcrux was developed in Egypt, the thought of immortality was huge there, and this was thought to be a way to achieve it. It is not though; it will extend the life of one who casts it and tether them to this world if their body is destroyed. This ritual is one of the reasons why there are mummies, because the body eventually decays and fails no matter what you do. It then becomes a vessel to contain that last bit of soul, perfect material for Necromancy, but we're going off topic. In any case, involving a Horcrux with a live vessel, the soul is absorbed." Ian paused to look at Harry, who was sitting with his fists clenched.
"An example of this was a wizard named Sobek, he created many Horcruxes and chose to place them in crocodiles. The bit of his soul and the Ka, or soul of the animal, merged; giving him the power to control the creatures completely. I've also read stories of two wizards who were very powerful; they each made a Horcrux, and placed it within the other. So long as one lived, he could revive the other. Magic involving the soul is tricky, yet fascinating I think. With you, I am almost sure that you were not an intended target. For some reason, the soul piece inside you is contained, isolated from your own."
"That means you could remove it then?" Harry asked yet again, he really had felt tainted as soon as he learned what his scar was.
"Yes. Bill can you get the material for a Transfer ritual please?" Ian asked.
"You mean the ritual used to remove the souls in Mummies that Muggles find?" Bill asked to clarify; he was shaky and stood uneasy.
"Yes that one. Annalisa, could you prepare a vessel to receive please?" Ian turned to Harry. "Now I need to know Harry, do you know of anything that could be protecting you from this? It seems as if some magic is fighting it, trying to push it out."
"Professor Dumbledore said it was my mother's protection that saved me, her love for me," Harry was explaining, when a thought occurred to him. "Would he have known that my scar was a Horcrux?"
Ian thought for a moment and said, "I don't think so Harry. Dumbledore knows a lot about magic, but this is Dark Arts at its deepest, using the soul in ways Dumbledore would not delve into, even just academically. There are soul magics he would understand, like the Familiar bond. It's a soul connection from and to an animal companion that gives the companion an added magical boost, and long life. Also, have you ever noticed how married couples sometimes seem to know what the other is thinking without words? Another example of a soul connection." Ian paused, "For every act that is dark, there are acts that are pure and good Harry."
"It's magic at its most primal, yet it's subtle. No flashy wand waving, cause and effect magic. Now lie down and close your eyes, when you wake you will be your self, and only yourself."
Dumbledore sat at his desk, going over the papers for the start of term, and the organizing of the Triwizard Tournament. He was quite cheerful; he had just yesterday pushed through an addendum to the laws surrounding the Heirs Test. It would mean most of his students would be unaffected; the only students who would be were the Heirs to the 22 high seats. There would be no signing of the House Charters required for the rest; it was now a free choice to each individual.
"Albus," Minerva said entering the office, "have you seen these tasks?" She was waving a parchment outlining the tasks and challenges for the selected competitors.
"I have, Cornelius seems to be pushing to make a huge spectacle out of this now. I suspect to draw attention away from the mistake of passing an Heir Test; people have been most upset about it."
"But Albus, this says an ongoing dueling tournament, five tasks, students in the Forbidden Forest, and we can't possibly control these environments! Has he taken leave of his senses?"
"I have argued with the committee, but the other schools are in agreement with our Ministry. I was however, able with the support of Madame Maxine, to get an age limit of seventeen." Albus had begun pacing, but stopped abruptly to look at a small silver instrument, it had begun puffing and whirling. A few spells later, and a very satisfied look had formed on the Headmaster's face.
"What is it Albus?" Minerva asked.
"Harry it seems, has returned and in most excellent health. I believe I will go to the Burrow and help Molly plan a welcome home dinner. I have much to discuss with Harry."
"If you don't mind Albus, I'll join you. I could use a night off, and I must admit I'm curious how it went."
Bill watched as they approached the dock, even with the charms he had applied to himself, he still felt on the verge of being sick the whole time he was on board. His mind was churning, in his time as a Cursebreaker he had witnessed some terrifying magic, but last night had been the first time he had been so personally involved with it. He had expected a struggle to remove the soul fragment; but it never came, in fact, it was as if the soul fragment in Harry's scar was eager to be removed. That's when things became frightening; the fragment of soul overpowered Ian's bonds and escaped. It fled out a porthole and into the night. Where it went was a question they couldn't answer. In part, Bill was horrified at setting loose a fragment of malicious soul that had the potential to possess any weak or willing host. Then again, he was relieved that Harry was freed of this burden. He had watched Harry from the time he had awakened, for awhile he brooded, but it became clear he felt better, because he seemed to have to work not to smile. He had thanked everyone endlessly, and was really pleased his scar had faded to be only slightly noticeable. Harry's energy and cheer was contagious, and he was looking forward to some time at home as well. Bill had to wonder how this Horcrux that was inside Harry had not possessed him, like the diary had done to Ginny, which he now realized was also a Horcrux. Was it the cause of his vision earlier in the summer? Did this now mean that Voldemort was gone, or had he made more Horcruxes? He would speak to Dumbledore when he had a chance, and decided not to pester Harry with these questions now; and as for the escaped Horcrux-Harry never asked and no one said a thing.
The transport of their loot to a Goblin warehouse was slow, it was well into the afternoon by the time they were finished. They would meet in the morning at Gringotts to receive the breakdown on how much their loot was worth, and their payments.
"Harry, hey. Well, I wanted to give you and Bill these." They were invitations to Belle's wedding: powder blue paper, personal invites placing them in the bride's section of the seating. "I have to leave for home now, so I can see to some last minute changes; really they just did whatever they wanted. Oh… anyway I just wanted to say goodbye for now, and please come. It'll be nice to have some familiar faces in the crowd. Say you will?" Belle stood looking at Harry as if she would hex him if he didn't.
"Of course we'll be there. Right Harry?" Bill interjected.
"Wouldn't miss it." He replied, giving her a hug, feeling an ever so slight sense of loss. "Take care."
Hermione watched in awe as Mrs. Weasley marshaled her family. After Professor Dumbledore had shown up with the news of Harry and Bill's homecoming, things had been busy. No one had been spared, even Professor McGonagall had been asked to provide a large outdoor table and chairs. Although she doubted any chair at the Burrow had ever been so straight backed. Professor Dumbledore had been put in charge of lighting, and glowing orbs floated over the table and path to the house. All in all, it was turning out quite nice, the only delay was waiting for Harry and Bill. What could be taking so long? Everyone was talking quietly, shifting in their seats while waiting for Harry and Bill to be present before they started dinner, although Ron kept grumbling.
A loud crack echoed, followed by an indignant voice.
"I hate that! Uggh, why must it feel as if my head was shoved through a little bitty tube?"
"I told you, when you're not the baggage, then it gets better," a calmer relaxed voice answered.
Hermione was looking at the two arrivals; one was completely a Weasley, tall and redheaded. The other was her main focus. He was so different, but as he looked up, shocked at all the people there waiting for him, their eyes met. His smile was as she always remembered; like a shot she was up, flying toward him, jumping up and crushing him into a great hug. To her surprise, he swung her around in a circle as if she was light as a feather.
"Harry Potter, what happened to you?" Hermione asked, looking him up and down as if he were a mystery to solve. Harry just smiled a half smile at her as they walked to the table.
"I guess it was all the sun, food, and fun." Harry teased.
"Bloody Hell! You're almost as tall as me now mate." Ron said, slugging Harry in the shoulder, yet his eyes darted back and forth between Harry and Hermione.
"Welcome home, Harry dear, you look very well cared for." Molly smiled, beaming at Bill.
"Thanks Mrs. Weasley, it's good to be here," and it was, the smell of dinner was mouth watering.
"Hey Harry, this is Charlie," Bill introduced, sitting down in the last available seat.
"Good to meet you, Charlie," Harry said, noticing Bill's smirk at taking the last chair, while shaking hands with Charlie, absently noting how large and scarred they were. He drew his wand and a quick flick later, he had a chair. One more smirk, and it had a cushion unlike all the others.
"Well done Mr. Potter, full marks indeed."
"Thanks Professor McGonagall," Harry said sitting down. "Owen was quite the teacher, must run in the family."
Hermione was almost thrown off from asking when he learned that, and berating him for using magic out of school, by his charming and cheeky reply. This was new. She fired a slew of questions at him anyway. Dinner got under way; they all talked and were catching up, and telling about their summers, although as instructed by Bill, Harry refrained from telling about the more dangerous parts. He would save those for later, when Mrs. Weasley wasn't around.
"Ginny, could you pass the rolls please?" Harry asked, enjoying the roast beef and gravy.
Ginny nodded, and placed her elbow straight into the butter dish, drawing chuckles from around the table.
"I can't believe I did that again!" Ginny growled, chucking a roll at Harry and wiping off her elbow. Her face was beet red, but she was laughing as well. Harry just caught the roll and winked back.
Dinner was winding down, and Harry was full and happy.
"Harry, perhaps you could join Arthur and me inside for a long overdue conversation?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry's eyes shot between the two men, and he nodded. As they walked off, he heard Ron ask,
"What do you think that's about?"
Hermione's reply of "honestly Ronald," was comforting in an odd sort of way.
"Harry, we have some good news, as well as some less than pleasant news. I'm assuming due to the fact that you're wearing both the Potter ring and the Black ring, that you are aware of the up and coming Heir Test." At Harry's nod, Dumbledore continued. "Well, that's part of the less than pleasant news, but some changes have been made recently. First: no one but the High seats are required by law to sign their Family Charters, they will retain the choice. Second: the Potters have an active marriage contract, and Lord Greengrass has been to see me, inquiring about your intentions, you will need to have a meeting with him soon."
Harry suddenly felt a bit nervous; knowing was one thing, meeting another. He just gulped and nodded again.
"Very good then, I suggest writing a letter tonight saying you arrived back, and apologize for the delay. He has been quite worried for young Miss Greengrass' future."
Harry looked up suddenly, showing interest. "So it's Daphne then? What do you know about them, sir?"
"She is quite a bright and ambitious young lady, quite charming as well. The family is a little darker than others, but certainly nothing to be overly worried about. They were neutral in the last war, and her father Cyrus spends most of his time on politics."
That was almost less than he knew. "I… I'll write him tonight. Could you tell me what I need to say?"
"I will Harry," Arthur cut in, "in fact, that ties in with what I want to tell you next."
"Thank you, what is it?" Harry was looking between the two. It seemed that Arthur was a little put out at Dumbledore.
"Well, now that your Aunt is gone, they packed up and moved you see; you were in need of a guardian. Lucius Malfoy was discussing this with the Minister, when Albus interrupted and suggested that you become my ward, and the Minister agreed."
"What does that mean?" Harry asked.
"It means," Dumbledore said, not noticing Arthur's less than pleased look, "that Arthur will be responsible for you, and you will live here from now on."
"And that you can come to me with any questions you have, or anything really. Percy has moved out and gotten a flat, actually he will be moving again soon into the Prewett home, but I'll explain that later. What I am saying, is that you can have his room for your own."
Harry was shocked, the fact that he had a home here was great, but he had planned on taking care of himself, and he knew Mrs. Weasley was a bit controlling.
"Thank you Mr. Weasley, I don't know what to say." Harry was shaking hands with Mr. Weasley.
"Call me Arthur."
Together a letter was composed to Mr. Greengrass, suggesting a meeting tomorrow afternoon; Fawkes consented to carry the missive.
Greetings Lord Greengrass,
Firstly, let me express my regret about the delay in contacting you. I have been out of the country, as you know, and until recently was unaware of my heritage and station. I am available anytime after the noon hour tomorrow to meet with you in regards to the marriage contract. Please reply with a time and place to meet, and I will make myself available.
Harry James Potter, Heir to House Potter
While Harry was writing, Dumbledore was looking at him; this was a different Harry. He was accepting things well, it was both relieving and concerning. He needed to speak with Bill and find out what Harry had been doing, so he knew better how to direct him. He did look good, Dumbledore thought, there was a lightness to him that had never been there before.
Harry thought about telling Dumbledore about the Horcrux, but he was already tired and felt that it could wait for term to begin. He was also a little miffed about the high handedness Dumbledore had shown, nearly dictating Harry's letter word for word, and drilling traditions and wizarding customs at him as if they were distasteful.
Later that night Ron and Hermione met in Harry's new room, it was clean and empty of all but a bed. After conjuring a couple chairs, and explaining how to do so to Hermione, Harry told the full story.
"Oh wow, you must be so far ahead! I'll have to work oh so much harder to catch up to you now." Hermione was going on; Ron rolled his eyes at Harry, sharing a grin.
"Wow, I almost regret not going. I thought you would have to cook and clean." Ron looked like he was holding back something.
"I probably would have, except Dobby was with me…he is kind of my elf now." Harry looked up; noticing Hermione was staring out the window.
"What do you see?" Ron asked quickly.
"Oh, it looks like Bill is casting wards around himself and Dumbledore." Hermione said, as she watched Bill wave his wand. Harry looked out as well, seeing the magic being worked with the use of his contacts.
"It's a Silencing Charm, it keeps a conversation private." Harry said thoughtfully, he knew he was probably the topic. He had yet to tell Ron and Hermione about the Pensieve and the elixir, something was stopping him; maybe it was the look in Ron's eye, or Hermione's enthusiasm in questioning him, but it could wait.
Ron lingered after Hermione left. "So… you meet any girls while you were away?
Harry started to talk about Belle, but realized he couldn't.
"No, just the ones on the Expedition, why?"
"Oh well in Romania I met a…"
Mrs. Weasley was confused. All the dishes were washed and put away, and no one admitted to doing it. 'Well this was the type of prank she could get used to,' she thought on her way to bed. She missed Harry slipping through the kitchen by only a moment, as he made his way to the back porch. The night was warm, and the smell of freshly cut grass hung heavy in the air, mingling with the smell of the apple orchard. Harry sat looking at the sky. It had been a life changing summer, a defining summer, one that he would remember for the rest of his life. He allowed himself to think of his scar, and what it contained. Try as he might, he could not forget what it was, yet it was hard to worry about it now. He felt different, as if before all his happy thoughts had been filtered, living through a tinted lens, and now that lens was clear. It wasn't tangible, yet he felt less down, in fact you could say he was happier and more carefree now than ever before. There were no more dark thoughts whispering in the back of his mind, weighing on his confidence.
Looking to the future he could be sure of just one thing, he would take all the joy from life he could, and be the master of his own destiny. Largely unbeknown to Harry, destiny had a plan for him, and there could be no debts to destiny.
(Story complete. Thanks for reading, I hope it was enjoyable for you, and if so the sequel "Harry Potter and the Debts to Destiny" is coming soon. This will show Harry trying to forge his own way with the events of his fourth year and the Triwizard Tournament. )