Alright, next chapter here for "Awakening of the Serpents' Avatar. If you haven't already noticed, its going to be quite a long chapter (yes, yes I know, horrible isn't it!). The reason for this is that quite a bit of material will be going into this chapter, and I fully plan on it covering the events leading up to his training and then a considerable portion of the training itself, if not the entire thing in one go. This is a large part of why it took me this long to update; that combined with college and work. On another note, I have decided to put the review answers to the prior chapter at the beginning; it simply makes the most sense. And that reminds me: I must say I am impressed! It is apparent that I have some very avid readers that enjoy my story, due to the considerable amount of excellent questions and points in last chapter's reviews. I see now that I was unclear on some points and simply forgot to mention others, so I shall correct these inadequacies on my part in the upcoming review answers.
Bloody Brandy: Ah, but that would ruin the suspense if I told you such! :)
ladysavay: Good questions! First off, I apologize for I failed to mention this last chapter, but he isn't done with his business in Gringotts. Simply put, Harry was tired from everything he did that day and just wanted to call it a day. He will visit Gringotts briefly in this chapter. The transactions have ceased immediately, and the money will soon be returned to its rightful owner. What Harry was referring to was the legal action Ragnok was going to take against those who wronged him; he has his own plans for that, but they aren't to be implemented yet. As for the will reading of Sirius Black...its not dire to the plot, so I'll give. THOSE WHO DON'T WANT A MINOR SPOILER STOP HERE. Harry will be informed of the will reading a week before it is due, which will be very close to the end of the summer. Had he stayed at his relatives, he would have never received such...but now that he is obviously taking control of his life, the situation has been resolved. SPOILER OVER. Lastly, yes he's still underage, but he's heading to an unplottable location protected by ancient wards; Dumbles isn't getting in easy. As for the trace, since he was going back to Gringotts the next day but wanted to ensure he could protect himself if needed right then, he had the trace removed by Borgin; honestly he wasn't planning it, he simply thought it was a good idea at the time. Very good questions once more, glad you've been paying attention to it! :)
Silverfawkes: Hmm, indeed I did mean a Coral Snake, sorry for the confusion. I honestly get the two mixed up, what with their color schemes so similar.
Bleedndreamz: I know you didn't really have any questions, but I simply write this to reassure. Aye, I do realize how many times such a thing has happened, and I apologize for such. However, some things must be stated to avoid confusion in later chapters, no matter how droll they may be. I realize this and have tried to make the scenes at least somewhat different; the vault was one attempt. However, other than a relatively brief part of this chapter, what takes place has been seldomly done and what I'm planning on no one has attempted before; or so I believe...correct me if I'm wrong when the time comes. And no, he will not shop for chapter upon chapter; his wandering around shops is nearly all over. As for interaction from friends at school, he most certainly will, but not until the summer is over and he finds himself back at school. But he will be interacting with far more than just school friends in due time. I will try my very best to make sure I do not take the 'common route' that other stories have; I try to be unique.
ArchDemon Lord Of Death: You really want to know the pairing so soon? Eh, well its your enjoyment. If you truly want to spoil a bit of the story for yourself, sent me a private message requesting this once more, and I will give you your answer...though it is a strong possibility the pairing will soon become apparent ;P
Rebekahalana: Lol yes, you're the second person to point this out; very astute! And although it IS a magical snake, I did indeed mean a Coral Snake; I apologize.
Ninja bat master: Sorry my friend, the pairings are already set in stone before I even write the first chapter of my stories...though I do admit it is quite amusing watching everyone dance around in anticipation of the pairing. Do not worry, the pairings for this story will become apparent with time.
NaruTayu FTW: ….Though I do appreciate the enthusiasm you show, I do ask that you respect my story and the path I have chosen for it. I do encourage the occasional suggestion so long as it has merit; such can be shown in "A Fox Among Tamers". However, the suggestion that I indulged upon in that story was minor and in no way affected the plot of the story; this is why I accepted it. While your suggestions do indeed have merit, the sheer amount of them could make a story by itself. I already have the plot down in my mind and it will be revealed as the story continues, so I ask that please, do not attempt to encroach upon my plot with one of your own...if you are so adamant about this plot idea of yours, why not write a story focusing on your idea yourself?
Dark Dragen: I'm sorry I haven't sent you a private message with the pairing yet, I'm sending you the pairing now, since you asked for me to tell you personally.
Lighting-Squall: Yes, do not worry there will be some bashing...but it won't be overdone to an extreme. Using bashing too much simply makes the enemies in question loose any competence in the eyes of the reader. While this will be the goal for a given few, there will be those who will be quite the formidable enemy. They will be bashed, but it will be mild.
Jest795: Yes, Harry is going to be delving into some very...unique things while he trains. I'm not sure if they will be classified as rituals...but really, the familiar bond was a ritual so technically he already has.
Ymere: Now that I can answer on here, its vague enough that I feel it won't impact the story any. Yes, rest assured the pairing will be straight in this story, and any pairings between other characters. I don't mean to offend any homosexuals out there, I just simply do not enjoy writing homosexual pairings, nor do I even know where to begin when it comes to such pairings.
1Aszrael1: I'm glad you enjoy it! But you are mistaken on one account: I do not give "A Fox Among Tamers" preference to this; I update them equally.
Tryptophan36: I'll admit, his actions with Borgin were somewhat careless and there was the chance of betrayal, but a few things must be taken into account. First, Harry has been a very naïve kid his entire wizarding life, and just recently 'woke up' so to speak due to Sirius' death. As such, he's still quite new to the whole 'cloak and daggers', and will make the occasional mistake. Secondly he was relying on Borgin's greed combined with Nagini's presence as a buffer for any betrayal. Indeed, that very same greed could have backfired on him, but he was hoping that the massive amount of items he would purchase would keep Borgin's greed focused on the customer in front of him.
1Aszrael1: Why so rich...a few people have asked this, so I'll specify my reasoning. One of the richest men in the current world is Bill Gates, we all know this. We also know he made his massive fortune in less than a lifetime, and through mundane methods. Now consider Harry's lineage. His families are ancient, and very much immersed into magic. This being said, they had not only generations in which they could gather their fortunes, but magical methods by which to obtain them. When the families first began, the mundane way of getting precious ore like gold was a massive undertaking and mines were a rarity...most of the gold was found littered on the surface at that time. On the other hand, wizards have had access to magical methods of obtaining such ores with far less hassle...house elves anyone? My theory is that the wizards and other magical creatures (such as goblins) had already taken the vast majority of precious metals such as gold and silver before the muggles started to really mine for it. When this occurred the magical peoples obviously had to be far more careful in their mining (ore deposits suddenly vanishing would cause quite a stir I'd imagine) but by that time they had amassed a great quantity already.
Katzenmond: Ahh, I was wondering when someone would ask that question; good eye! The reason he used the pouch with Borgin was simple; he hates the man's guts for his greed. And how better fitting than to use such greed to distract the man as he makes a massive pile of galleons from his very large purchase, only for said man to realize after the fact that he needs to COUNT that massive pile to make sure he wasn't jipped; his greed would allow him nothing less. Now for the petshop, while the snakes were slightly expensive, the amount was nowhere near as exorbitant as in Bourgin and Burke's, and thus he simply used his pouch. His reason for this is simple; him flashing a card that was only given to very affluent account holders in Gringotts is basically telling everyone within sight to hold him for ransom if they can't access his money themselves. While this may be true with his pouch as well, it is moreso with his card; it shows he is planning on spending a lot of funds quickly, thus gaining attention. He will use the card, but only when he is able to defend himself well, just in case.
Eac: A good point, one which I myself am unsure of. However it only glows a very faint blue, certainly not visible in lit areas. If you need confirmation, watch the Triwizard Tournament during the third trial in the maze. When Krum attacks Harry, you'll notice his eyes have an odd blue sheen to them; that's the imperious. You're only able to notice it because its night, and they're in a dark maze. Good point though!
Nargus: No, I'm certainly not forgetting that. However I have stated before that Nagini's past is very much OOC, and does not in any way coincide with canon.
Nargus: Lol hello again! A very perceptive one aren't you? I'm not sure whether or not Ignotus was ever a Hogwarts professor, but I do know he lived far longer than he should have, due to him using the Invisibility Cloak to hide from death. Eventually he grew tired of life and revealed himself to death and went willingly. And while he wasn't the first in the line, he was undoubtedly the most important and the only survivor out of his other two siblings.
….Wow, that was a huge review answer session, but you all had very valid questions and I thank you for your attention to detail, it helps me become a better writer. Now then, I don't want to take any more time away from the story itself, so without further ado let chapter 5 begin!
"Blah blah blah" – Normal speaking.
'Blah blah blah' – Thoughts.
'Blah blah blah' – Thought-speak.
~Blah blah blah~ – Parseltongue (or layman's terms, snake-speak)
"blah blah blah" - Spells.
-(location)- : this tells the reader where the scene changed to.
^Obviously denotes a scene change^
Disclaimer: I do not own anything belonging to the Harry Potter book series. However, I DO own this fanfiction story.
The Years of Change
With the dizzying feeling of being thrust back into a normal state of being, Harry and his passengers suddenly found themselves deposited onto a forest floor covered in pine needles and shrubs. Five muffled hisses and one muttered swear was the only indication of their displeasure, and soon they were all observing their surroundings, Nagini from aside his own head and the other snakes from his cloak sleeves.
To Harry he immediately noticed a few distinct differences in the area that suggested he was not in England any longer. First off, unlike the now mild weather in England due to summer, here it was bitingly cold; he was quite surprised to find there wasn't snow on the ground. Secondly he was feeling a little out of breath just by standing and his ears hurt a little; signs that he was at a decently high elevation, one that was beyond the capabilities of England's mountains...Scotland's? Maybe. But that wouldn't explain the extreme cold as it was summer there as well.
As if summoned by his thoughts, an icy gale swept through the forest floor, instantly causing all the snakes to withdraw into his cloak once more and he himself bundled up further and cast a heating charm on himself. As the charm took effect and his cloak was suddenly warm, Harry was now positive it wasn't a waste of money to get the tracking spell removed a day early, and judging by the contented hisses from underneath his cloak his passengers agreed.
Looking back at a bouncing Dobby, Harry couldn't understand how the skinny little house elf wasn't frozen on the spot, but simply dismissed it as elven magic as he followed his little friend. As they were walking Harry and a now warm Nagini observed their surroundings and were beginning to wonder where exactly his Manor was located. The weather practically screamed winter and more than once Harry had nearly fell when his foot slipped on some hidden ice, giving even further credence to the winter theory, but that would mean that wherever they were was somewhere in the southern hemisphere; far, faaar away from England.
Snapped out of their mutual musings by an overly-exited elf, both noticed they were approaching the tree line but couldn't see outside of it clearly due to the stark contrast between the dark forest they were in and the blinding sun in the clearing. With yet another exited hop Dobby was first to cross the line, with Harry following closely behind with his eyes squinted and covered by his hands, Nagini mimicking his actions by bringing her head under his hand's shadow. When both he and Nagini had adjusted to the glare of the sun, Harry removed his hand and both stared in open shock at the site that greeted them.
While Harry had seen bigger; namely Hogwarts, he was not expecting to come across a literal castle in the clearing, and by the way Dobby was bounding towards the place, his castle. It was situated in the middle of the clearing and had what you would have expected from a castle: a rectangular wall surrounded the 'keep' of said castle, with fortified towers at each of the four corners and one halfway in-between each. The entrance consisted of one large iron gate that was capable of being lifted, and a few feet behind that sat two large oak doors. Harry finally gained enough composure to walk, but still had a wide-eyed expression as he addressed Nagini.
~I-I knew that the manor would have been large due to the Potter line's age, but I would have never guessed that the manor was actually a castle! Granted, it isn't the largest one I have seen, but when you take into account that this was just for the Potter family, this is utterly massive!~
When Nagini spoke, it was apparent she held just as much wonder as he did about their new dwelling. ~I must agree with you on this Harry, I too did not expect a castle of all things to be in your inheritance, however let us wonder later and pay attention now.~
Nodding at her wise words, Harry turned his attention outwards as they approached the formidable structure. Just as they were nearing the iron gate, Harry and all his occupants felt an invisible wall pass over them and with a creak and groan both the iron gate and wooden doors behind it opened slowly as it sensed the presence of its master approaching it's walls. Dobby turned around and with a smile on his face bowed and spoke.
"May I's be presenting to Master Harry; Potter Manor." And just as quickly he resumed his jovial bounce towards the now visible manor that rested inside the fortified walls.
Passing through the gateway, Harry and the rest of his passengers viewed the manor itself; the other snakes having been drawn from his cloak by their curiosity. It was very large in size, but like the rest of the castle it was built out of stone; it was apparent that its main priority was for defense. No matter how backwards some of the wizarding culture is now, it seemed that the wizards of old recognized that while magical protection was all well and good, when that failed good ol' stone was a very nice fallback. Fortunately it had a considerable courtyard separating the walls from the manor, else it would look very bunched together. At first he had wondered why his family didn't simply hide out here while they hid, but looking at the manor now he could see why. With its intimidating structure and only the occasional small window, it wouldn't have made the best environment to raise a child in alone. He himself was not too terribly keen on living here if its outer appearance was any clue, but it was certainly better than going back to the Dursleys or, Merlin forbid, somewhere that Dumbledore would cart him off to.
When they finally entered the manor itself, Harry was a little relieved that the interior was not nearly as spartan as the exterior, but he still would have preferred something else. It was what one would expect of an entrance-hall in such a stalwart location. Lining the side walls every ten feet or so were suits or armor bearing the potter crest on their shields, while magically-lit torches adorned the wall between aforementioned suits. Behind the suits on the wall were tapestries, most of which bore either the Potter crest or the Gryffindor one, each one having the color scheme of red and gold.
Harry mentally winced at the color scheme that adorned the walls and armor; while he could tolerate the colors in moderate amounts, the past five years of living in the audaciously bright-colored Gryffindor Tower had made him a bit weary of the colors. Ironically enough, his favorite color had always been a deep green; not the exact color of his eyes like most would assume, but more of a deep forest green. Unlike the red and gold which was bright and invasive, green was the color of life and was naturally soothing to him. 'Gah, how did I manage not to go insane looking at these painfully bright colors for five years? Give me a deep shade of green and perhaps a dark-silver as a sub-color...basically a toned-down Slytherin color scheme, and I'd be happy.'
'I agree Harry, already I tire of these painfully bright colors. Are we going to live here for very long? If so, please at least change some of these tapestries a little bit.'
Harry gave a slight jump at the sudden voice of Nagini in his head; it appeared she was listening to his internal ramblings. 'Listening to my private thoughts were you? Don't worry, as long as it is you and no-one else, I don't mind. Unfortunately I'm a bit reluctant to modify these tapestries any...to do so would feel like I'm insulting my family, no matter how painful these colors may be. However, while I do plan on us staying here until I can find another alternative, I will be changing the color scheme of our personal rooms if they too are colored so brightly.'
Nagini simply squeezed Harry gently in response while sending feelings of reluctant acceptance. Turning back to his escort, Harry saw that Dobby seemed ready to give them the whole tour; something he really wasn't up to at this moment. He simply wanted to set up a room for him and those he was towing along and then get some sleep; it was still early but all the excitement of the day had worn Nagini and himself out. Before his excitable friend was able to drag them off to Merlin-knows where, Harry quickly spoke up.
"Dobby, I know you want to show us around and all, but Nagini and I are quite tired. Do you know were the sleeping quarters are?"
Dobby's massive ears drooped for hardly a moment in disappointment before they shot back up again as he spoke. "Yes, Dobby be knowing where Master Harry and Nagini can rest. Please be following Dobby."
As they continued past the entrance hall and into one of the adjacent halls, Harry mentally rolled his eyes as the hall had the red and gold color scheme yet again. Getting tired of having to look at the bright colors, Harry instead focused his gaze on the stone floor just behind Dobby's form. It was because he did this that he found himself quite surprised when a voice off to the size suddenly spoke up and seemed to address him.
"Oh, what have we here? It would seem that we have a new heir...you there, lad! Yes you, come closer so I can see you better."
Harry was wary, but Nagini's senses and Nagini herself both informed him that there was no scent coming from the dimly lit corridor. To alleviate some of his growing paranoia, Harry silently took out his wand and with a whispered "Lumos" the tip of his wand became a beacon of white light that speared through the gloom with ease. What met his eyes surprised him; a portrait was at the end of the short corridor, and the wizened face of an elderly man was peering out at him with unrestrained curiosity. Even more shocking was that the man's face, though certainly older, had features that he himself bore. Assuming that this was one of his ancestors, Harry walked over to the portrait until he was only a few feet from it and waited as it inspected him.
"Hmm...you're a bit of a runt, aren't ye boy? That's alright, I know a few good potions that will have you looking and feeling better in no time. Tell me, what's your name?"
Although Harry bristled at the runt barb, he couldn't really blame the man; he was abnormally short for his age and nearly all skin and bones due to his oh so wonderful treatment in the loving care of the Dursleys. However, the mentioning of potions that could remedy his situation helped derail his annoyance...that, and the fact that Nagini found the barb amusing, if her shaking body was any indication.
"Harry. My name is Harry Potter, sir. May I ask who I am speaking to?"
The elderly man's eyebrows rose at his last words before he replied. "Ah! To ask for one's name without giving my own first, my age is finally catching up to me it seems! Anyways, my name is Richard Potter, and now that we've made introductions, what was your father's name by chance? One of the wards around this castle put us portraits and everything else non-living into a sort of stasis when the castle is unoccupied. Essentially, decades could pass and to us it would only be a second."
Harry mentally noted to ask more about that particular ward later; he had an idea for it, he just wasn't sure if it was feasible. Curious as to how old this portrait really was, he answered. "My father was James Potter."
Apparently the man knew his father, for he let out a bark of laughter before he spoke up once more. "James? That little troublemaker James is your father? Hmm...yes, yes I can certainly see the resemblance between you two...so I guess he finally got together with that fiery redhead...Lily was it? You have her eyes, there's no mistaking that. In case you're wondering, I'm James' grandfather. Its good to know he finally started a family of his own; he may have been a brat, but he was a lovable one. Tell me, where is he? I didn't see nor sense another Potter enter the manor."
Harry's entire demeanor shifted as Richard finished his question, unknowingly reminding Harry of the fact that he never had the chance to know his parents, and that the only one he could have called family died trying to protect him. While the four snakes he brought with him sensed his sudden depression and wisely chose to stay out of the matter, Nagini had other plans.
To say Richard was surprised when Harry's entire demeanor changed from curious to depressed would be an understatement. To say he was startled when Harry suddenly yelped and looked at his shoulder would have once more been an understatement. To say he was absolutely stunned when the head of a large serpent appeared from where Harry was looking and proceeded to hiss at the boy, only for Harry to hiss right back at it would be like saying the sun was slightly warm. Still, Richard simply chose to let this spectacle play out; his questions could come after.
Meanwhile, Harry was quite surprised when he was brought out of his depressed thoughts by a sudden pain near his collarbone. Looking down under his cloak, Harry came face-to-snout with an angry looking Nagini. Foregoing any attempt at keeping herself hidden, Nagini reared her head out of his cloak and poised it to where her head was directly in front of his. Once this was done, she spoke up to him in parseltongue.
~That's enough! I can understand your sorrow for the family you never had, and I can understand your grief for the Godfather you lost; I have lived that memory as well if you have forgotten so soon. However, what I will NOT tolerate is your continuing thoughts of guilt over Sirius' death! Yes, you may have fell right into Voldemort's trap and yes, Sirius' death may have been avoided otherwise, but you are forgetting a few very vital facts! First, you and I both know that Snape's 'tutoring' in Occlumency did absolutely no good for your mental state, thus making it easier for Voldemort to get inside your head. Secondly, aren't you forgetting the fact that you informed Dumbledore about getting these strange visions, yet he did nothing to prevent them? It was he that made you go through that 'tutelage', Snape that enthusiastically gave you said 'tutoring', Voldemort that laid the trap, and Bellatrix that struck down your Godfather; you were simply the misguided boy that sprung the trap! I did not choose the weak fool I see before me now as the Avatar for my species; pull yourself together, see the true perpetrators of the crime, and stop blaming yourself for something you never did or so help me I'll give you a reason to be depressed!~ Her tirade done, Nagini simply pulled back an inch, but still held her stern gaze on a now wide-eyed Harry.
Speaking of which, said boy was still reeling from the sheer fervor that Nagini spoke with. Had anyone else spoken the same to him he most likely would have simply nodded and moved on...but she didn't simply berate him. What made him reel was the passion by which she spoke; he could hear it in her sibilant hisses and feel the emotions through their bond. However, the true shocker for him was the feeling she was unknowingly broadcasting to him while she spoke; the waves of conviction and certainty that she buffeted him with told him one thing, and that was that she believed every word she spoke. Considering that she had viewed these memories herself as if she was in Harry's body and still believed him free of blame forced him to look back on said memories and he realized...she was right. He...he wasn't to blame for Sirius' death!
To the onlookers and one portrait in particular, it appeared as if some great physical burden was removed from Harry; his back straightened from the slight hunch he was sporting, his shoulders squared and his eyes seemed to reignite with a new-found purpose.
Harry felt reborn; he did not realize just how heavy the burden of guilt he carried was until it was lifted from him, and he felt like a new man. Turning his attention to the one who relieved him of his burden, Harry gave to Nagini a rarity; he smiled. Not his 'I'm humoring you' or 'I'm smiling so you'll think everything is ok' smiles; this was a genuine, 'I'm happy, and I'm focusing it on you' smile. While Nagini was not expecting the smile (really all she was hoping for was a resolute nod), she nevertheless was glad to receive it. However she was more than a little surprised when he went even further and rested his forehead against her own so that he was looking right in her eyes, and whispered so only she could hear, ~Thank you, Nagini.~ It might have been short and in-eloquent, but the gratitude and sincerity behind his voice said things that words alone could not. Still too surprised to give any verbal response, Nagini simply butted her head against his own and returned to the cloak.
Richard watched all of this with a wide-eyed expression from his portrait. He had just seen a snake of considerable size not only come out of Harry's cloak, but proceed to hiss at him for quite a while. Even better, it seemed that Harry understood the snake, and by the expression he wore at the time it would seem the snake was giving him quite the verbal thrashing-an amusing thought. However, judging by his actions after the snake was done berating him, whatever it said worked, and worked well. While this was all very interesting, it was simply something he had never seen in all his years. The Potters had always been firmly entrenched into the Gryffindor mindset, yet here a Potter stood with a snake of all creatures wrapped around him like a massive sash! If he had any lingering doubts about waking up, they were all gone now; this boy made things interesting!
"Hmmm...that was a most peculiar occurrence, Harry. Judging by the observation that you seemed to actually understand the snake, I take it you're a Parselmouth?" He almost missed it, but the very minute flinch Harry made told him his answer, though he was impressed by his ability to keep his expression neutral. "Ah, well that makes things very interesting. A Parselmouth in the Potter family...I wouldn't have believed it if I myself did not just witness that interaction. No need to worry though, while a good number of your ancestors would have been...displeased by such a thing, there are those among us who are open-minded and simply find such things interesting. Considering that I am one such person, I would request something of you if you would be willing to grant it. Take my portrait and put it somewhere where you'll be; this dingy old corridor is getting quite tiresome. Of course, I will assist you should you need it and offer you words of wisdom that my age has let me acquire, and to top it off I have a decent arsenal of spells I would be willing to teach, should you be interested."
While Harry wasn't exactly happy with the knowledge that some of his ancestors were a bit shallow-minded, he was happy that he had apparently found a mentor of sorts. He certainly wouldn't be trusting the portrait with important secrets and the like; that came with time. However he could at least count on the man not double-crossing him; after all, portraits are merely the impression of the deceased person's memories upon a canvas, where they live a pseudo-life. They don't have ambition; they simply have the more simple emotions from life, such as happiness, sorrow, anger, curiosity, and most importantly, boredom.
'Nagini? What do you think? Its not like the man will betray us, and we may be able to glean some knowledge from him that the books we have may not have otherwise given us.'
It took a few seconds for Nagini to respond, mainly so she could think upon her response, but partially because of his actions a minute ago. Pushing those thoughts to the side for the moment, Nagini gave her response. 'I agree with you Harry. However while the man may not have a reason to betray us, I would still suggest that we keep some things from him, such as your new-found status as our Avatar and your relation with the Peverell line. I have a feeling that keeping that lineage a secret for as long as possible will benefit us in the long run, and keep the spotlight away in the short run.'
Harry nodded at her advice, having already planned on doing the very same thing. Turning towards Richard, he simply nodded before he shrunk the portrait and placed it in one of his pockets. After that, Dobby quickly resumed leading them to their quarters and soon Harry, Nagini and all of their new companions were looking at a room of considerable size with quite the comfortable looking bed. The only problem? Harry repressed a flinch as the colors of red and gold assaulted his vision once more, and having had quite enough of that color for the day, took out his wand and started a mass re-coloring. Not even five minutes had passed, yet the tapestries that hung from the walls, the large rug situated in the center of the room, and the bed itself were now all a deep forest-green with silver trimmings, giving the room a much calmer feel to it.
Sighing in relief, Harry quickly placed Richard's portrait in an adjacent room of considerable size that he planned on using for studying/training, then put his trunk next to the large bed and enlarged it. After this, Harry approached the bed and extended his arms while his new friends slithered out onto the large mattress, shivering a little at the cool bed. Not long after, Harry himself took off his robe leaving him only in his oversized hand-me-downs. Mentally sighing, he added that to his list of things to shop for tomorrow when he went back to briefly visit Gringotts to claim his adult status. Nagini had already unwound herself from him and was on the bed as well, her large girth taking up the end which she currently occupied.
Settling himself down, he didn't even need to say anything before Nagini draped her body over him for body heat. However when Harry saw the other four take that as an invitation to climb aboard, he decided to draw the line; one very large snake on him was enough, thank you.
~Hold on there you guys. I realize this castle is quite chilly, but I cannot have five snakes of considerable size laying all over me. I will allow you to rest against me for heat, but please keep your bodies off of mine.~
Aritus, Iocus, Callidus and Saffir didn't even protest; they simply wanted body heat, and that would be more than adequate. They waited until Harry had finished getting himself into a comfortable position, then all four literally outlined him with snake. At this Harry mentally heaved a sigh. 'Well, hope I don't get uncomfortable during the night, because I'm certainly not going anywhere, hmm?'
Nagini simply laughed in his head at his predicament, knowing that with her weight on top of him and their bodies bordering his, that her bonded was going nowhere until they were good and ready. Still quite amused, Nagini rested her head on his left arm and looked out the solitary small window the room provided and saw that it was snowing.
'Now that I'm inside and warm, snow isn't so bad. As a matter of fact, it's quite soothing to look at, so long as I'm not in it.'
Harry, feeling bored as he waited for sleep to come, looked at Nagini's head when he felt the emotion of wonder coming from her. Looking in the direction she was, he noticed she was looking at it snowing outside...snowing? 'Looks like I was right, we are most certainly not in England...probably nowhere near it either. I mean, snow in June? Although I must admit it is quite nice to look at, regardless of how strange.' Looking back at Nagini, he had to hold back a chuckle at how soothed she looked by it, considering her cold-blooded nature.
~Enjoying the view, Nagini? I wouldn't have thought you would enjoy the snow, though I suppose as long as you're not in it you have no reason to despise it. Good idea though, I think I'll join you in your gazing.~
And Harry did just that, slowly becoming mesmerized by it's subtle dance through the sky as it journeyed to the cold earth below. Not long after Harry felt two weights upon his right side, and looking over found it to be the twins Iocus and Callidus, resting their heads on his body so they too could look at the snow. Turning his attention to the other two on the window side, he observed that they too were looking out the window contently. Chuckling to himself at the scene they must have made and deciding to tolerate the twins' intrusion for now, Harry laid his head back down and resumed his gazing as well. All too soon, Harry found himself falling under the alluring call of Hypnos, and soon he along with Nagini and their new companions were sound asleep, oblivious to the world around them.
Sitting alone upon what appeared to be a throne, the pallid, pasty complexion of the man sitting upon it seemed unnatural, even for those whom stayed indoors their entire lives. So much so that the veins upon the man's bald head were alarmingly visible, their deep blue violently contrasting the pasty white skin they lied underneath. If one were to look at his face, they would be not only shocked by his ruby-red eyes, but by the general look of it. Where a nose would have been, a simple rise in the face was all that resided there, and where nostrils would reside, odd slits would be seen instead. If you were to ask (and live long enough to hear), the man would claim that it made him resemble the species by which his house idolized. However if you were to ask someone who had never seen him before, they would simply assume that he had a horrific accident involving dangerously high speeds, a sturdy wall, and his face.
This man's true name was Tom Marvollo Riddle, but to most he was simply known as "Voldemort". And right now, Voldemort was not a happy person. Tapping his long, spindly fingers against his armrest, Voldemort glared at the twin-doors to his throne-room as if doing such would immediately summon the one he had been waiting for. For the past five hours he had been waiting, and he was becoming livid.
'Where is that blasted snake! The mission might have been of utmost importance, but the mission itself was almost insultingly simple. Enter the household, find the Potter brat, bite said Potter brat, leave. That's it. Everything was timed perfectly; that idiot of a wizard Fletcher was 'guarding' at the time, and everyone should have been asleep! I swear, if that damned snake wasn't half-basilisk I would have made her into boots ages ago!'
He was mere moments away from humoring himself by torturing one of the muggles his followers had captured when he heard a rapping upon the large doors to his throne room. While he would have usually been livid by the unexpected visitor, he was both bored and hoping it had to do with the damned snake, and so he decided he wouldn't torture the visitor. Yet.
One of the large oak doors creaked open, and from it a black robed figure shuffled in with its waist bowed and eyes lowered. Moving slowly to Voldemort, the figure bent down and kissed the hem of his robe, as was protocol, then moved back a respectable distance and knelt.
Voldemort knew who it was even through the mask the man wore due to a strand of hair that hung out of the cloak; there was only one person he knew that had hair that greasy.
"Rise, Severus. What is it, and you had better have a good reason for this intrusion...or not, I would be more than delighted to reintroduce you to a particular favorite spell of mine should your reason be unsatisfactory."
Severus barely withheld his shudder, knowing all to well just which spell his lord would reacquaint him with. Wanting to avoid said experience, Severus hoped what he had to say would appease his lord.
"Of course my lord, I bring news from the old fool and his followers...it seems that Harry Potter has gone missing, and Dumbledore has no idea as to his location." Seeing that his master's attention was now fully focused on him, Severus quickly continued his report. "We know he is not dead because the charms Dumbledore had placed on him for such an occasion are still active. However, some of the more intrusive charms such as the tracking charm have been removed by some unknown means. Dumbledore immediately sent all of his order on a retrieval mission, yet we quickly found out that tracking charms and "point-me" charms had no effect; it is as if the boy has simply disappeared, my lord."
Voldemort listened to his minion's words with rapt interest, not having expected such a turn of events. However, there were multiple scenarios that were now racing through his head. 'Disappeared yet not dead? If that is the case then it's obvious that the snake has failed her mission, and as a result the damned boy has fled...but to where? I can immediately rule out anywhere near order members; from what Severus told me it sounds as if the boy has lost faith in his bodyguards, which is good from one angle yet horrible from another! He no longer has protection should he run into my Death Eaters, yet at the same time I now have no idea where he is whereas before I at least knew his location! And if that old fool can't find him than I certainly won't have any better luck; senile he may be, but Dumbledore knows how to keep hold of his pawns...if the boy managed to slip from his sticky grasp, it appears there is more to Harry Potter than meets the eye. No matter, right now I can make no move to 'acquire' the boy, thus I must simply wait...and I so hate waiting.' Voldemort ended his musings, looking up with a barely concealed smirk of malicious amusement at how Severus squirmed at his long silence...he simply loved the fear wafting off the man. But alas, he has things to do and little time to do them; with the order busy looking for their Golden Boy, he can use this opportunity to launch some more raids!
"Very well Severus, you have done well to tell me of this. As such, I have decided to withhold that little re-introduction...for now."
The man wasted no time, backing away in a low bow until he reached the doors where he quickly opened them and exited, only for a balding, cowering little man to slip through in his stead. Voldemort had to work hard to keep the sneer of disgust off his face at the sight of the pathetic man; evil and insane he may be, but that didn't mean he condoned cowardice, and this man was the epitome of it. His eyes gleamed maliciously as an idea came to mind...after all, why send for a prisoner when he already had someone right in front of him?
"Ahh...Peter Pettigrew, just the man I wanted to see. Come, I have a task for you."
Said man barely withheld a squeak, yet approached his lord as he was commanded. He was just going to give his daily report on the status of their prisoners, but the gleam in his lord's eye nearly made him hesitate. Nevertheless, Peter approached until he was ten feet away and kneeled.
"You see Peter, lately I have been quite bored waiting for a certain being to drop by, and as a result I am finding myself in need of entertainment. I was originally going to amuse myself with a few of the prisoners...until you so graciously dropped in without even knocking. So since you were obviously so eager to see me that you forgot protocol, I will now with just as much eagerness give you your task Peter..." Here he trailed off, his smirk now fully blooming on his face as he beheld the pathetic man's beady eyes bulge in terror. "...scream for me, dear Peter. Crucio!"
Every Deatheater within the manor shuddered as the all-too familiar scream ripped its way through the dingy corridors; they knew that scream all too well, for it was their own when put under the wand of their lord. They all outright flinched at the maniacal laughter that trailed just behind the scream; it would seem their lord was in a good mood today.
The first thing Harry felt when waking up could be summed up in one word; warm. Not just warm though, he was downright toasty! Cracking open his eyes, he immediately found the answer to his unspoken question when he beheld the large onyx form of Nagini draped over him, completely eliminating any need for a blanket. Looking to his sides, he saw that the others had managed to press their own bodies up against his sometime during the night. 'Sneaky buggers...' Taking a deep breath, Harry looked at his familiar and his breath hitched when he saw her eyes; they were wide open and empty...she looked dead! However, before Harry could have a panic attack his brain started functioning past its zombie-esque like state and he calmed down as he remembered snakes don't have eyelids, simply transparent scales covering their eyes. Still, it was a bit unnerving to see his companion's eyes so lifeless.
Unknown to Harry, both his breath hitching and the sudden, brief feelings of terror and grief managed to rouse Nagini, who quickly looked around to assess the situation before looking back at Harry in confusion while he wore a sheepish expression on his face. When she inquired why he had the sudden panic attack, Harry told her of the incident with a bright red face. When he was finished Nagini would have blinked if she was able to, and as it finally settled in she gave a snake's version of a chuckle and bumped his forehead with her snout in a small form of affection, feeling a bit moved by his concern for her. However considering her size, the bump ended up sending Harry's head back down on his pillow with a huff and a chuckle of his own.
After laying there for a minute, Harry finally looked back up and noticed that the rest of his companions had awoken as well and were simply content to lay around and watch their little interaction with bemusement. Looking outside, Harry noticed that the sun was already high in the sky and was most likely near noon. Having already made a few plans for the day, he knew he couldn't afford to lounge around any longer, and so with a sigh he spoke up.
~As much as I would enjoy just resting today, I have many things planned and little time to do them...for now. Would you four like to stay here or come with me and Nagini?~
As he suspected, they wanted to go with him if only so that they would not be bored or cold. After Nagini had removed herself so he could get up, she once more wrapped around his torso while the other four coiled around his arms, after which he put on his cloak and moved out of his room, waving to Richard as he passed his portrait. Stepping out into the main hall of the castle Harry still didn't see the one he was looking for, so he simply settled on a more direct solution.
"Dobby, I have need of you."
Not even two seconds had passed before his enigmatic friend popped into the room. Smiling at the scene, Harry explained what he needed to do today, and how Dobby was to help.
"Alright Dobby, today I plan on visiting Gringotts once more to finalize my status as a legal adult. I'm not entirely sure if there's anything else I'm going to do while I'm there but before I head out I'd like to get something to eat."
Dobby simply bobbed his head happily, after which he lead Harry to a large dining hall. Most of the room itself was taken up by a large sturdy oak table that was lined with similarly sturdy chairs. Above the table a large iron chandelier hung with its candles adequately lighting up the hall itself. Once more the walls were lined with red and gold tapestries that gave the room a rather affluent feel. However Harry ignored most of this; both he and Nagini had already decided that this would not be their permanent residence, simply a temporary solution. For how long they did not know, but now was neither the time nor the place to ask such questions. With a semi-tired sigh, Harry set himself down in a random chair and waited for his meal to come; he had no doubts that Dobby had already stocked the kitchens and pantries with food. Sure enough, only ten minutes had passed before Dobby came popping back in with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and pancakes with a glass of orange juice. Harry had no idea how the elf and his coworkers were able to whip something up like this within ten minutes but at that moment he really didn't care either. Will all the subtlety of a starving wolf Harry dug in, savoring every bite of the first decent meal he had in what felt like years.
He was halfway through his meal when the sound of fluttering wings echoed throughout the dining hall. Harry nearly kept eating until he remembered that this wasn't Hogwarts; owls shouldn't be coming in here. Snapping his head up, Harry was both relieved and joyed to see the familiar white plumage of Hedwig as she swooped down and landed on the shoulder opposite where Nagini's head laid, gaining some nervous hisses from the snakes on his arms from such close proximity to one of their natural predators. With a smile on his face Harry gently reached up and stroked the plumage on her chest, eliciting a soft hoot of appreciation from Hedwig while he spoke up.
"Hey there girl. Hope you made it here alright, have any trouble?" Getting a negative hoot as an answer, Harry grabbed some of his bacon and offered it to Hedwig, who accepted it with an hoot and an affectionate nibble on his ear lobe. Chuckling a little at the feeling, Harry happily ate the rest of his meal while making a mental note to give his companions some mice, should they want some. Once he was done, Harry thanked Dobby and proceeded back to his room to ask Richard a few questions before he left for Gringotts.
Arriving at the room adjacent to his own, Harry saw that Richard was awake and seemed to be waiting for him. While that was a bit odd and certainly creepy, he supposed he couldn't blame the man; he would be a bit...eager to talk to someone too if he had been cooped up in some dark corner for who knows how long. As he approached, Richard spoke up when he was close enough with news that would shock Harry.
"Ah, there you are, young heir. I hope you had a pleasant breakfast. Now then, before you go off to wherever you've got planned for the day I'd like to fill you in a little about Potter Manor and the surrounding lands. I'll understand if you need to get going right away, but if you can spare some time then it would be in your best interests to listen."
Harry thought for a moment before nodding to himself; while he did need to visit Gringotts it was not imminent. Besides, he was quite curious about just exactly where they were anyways and Richard was willing to give him a detailed description. His decision made, Harry nodded his head and pulled up a chair to sit down on while Nagini rearranged herself on his lap; the other snakes were quite content to stay on his arms for the moment.
Letting a pleased grin cross his weathered face, Richard began. "Excellent! Now I have no doubt you'll have questions during the explanation but please wait until I am done talking to ask them; this will not be an extremely lengthy conversation, just one that will ensure you are well informed about this area. I suppose first I should start with the manor grounds themselves. As you have most likely already guessed, Potter Manor is more of a castle than a manor; this is mostly due to the time in which it was built. The manor itself was built back in what muggles have dubbed the 'Medieval Era' of England and although we most certainly had powerful wizards back in that age that could create powerful wards, even those can fall. That being said, having a backup that consisted of massive stone walls, iron gates and imposing barbicans was a wise idea should things go poorly. Now as to the landmass Potter Manor is located on, we are on an island east of the one muggles call New Zealand."
Harry's eyes bugged out when Richard told him where they were, and through the link he felt Nagini's surprise as well; she shared his memories and that included education. 'New Zealand! No wonder its snowing here, we're on the southern hemisphere; its winter here! How the bloody hell did a wizard from the Medieval Era find an island so far away!' He was just about to ask that very thing then Nagini poked him in the stomach and his mouth closed with a click, remembering that Richard asked him to withhold his questions until the end.
Chuckling at Harry's face and his snake's actions, Richard resumed his speech. "I know what you were about to ask Harry, and I was getting to that. Now take heed, what I am telling you has been passed down from Potter to Potter; I was born far later from when this all occurred. Anyways, the ancestor who found this island was one whom truly loved to explore. Considering that we have had flying brooms for a very long time, we wizards were far more capable of exploring the world than the muggles of that time, and as such we found places far before the muggles ever did. As the story goes, your ancestor eventually stumbled across this island in his travels, and due to its stunning beauty and its location on top of the intersection of powerful magical ley lines he decided that it would make a fine candidate for a manor. That being said, he called one of his house elves, told them to remember the location and then apparated back to England, where he spent the next year gathering supplies and the workers needed to construct the manor. Once that was done, he had his house elves take the supplies and workers to the island under an oath of secrecy while he himself hired the skills of a group of skilled warders. He had them set up rune stones at strategic areas around the island that fed off the ley lines that once activated cast an island-wide disillusionment charm and notice-me-not charm, thus making it as if the island never existed, and that muggles would not accidentally find it by accident. Once the manor itself was complete he had the warders cast a modified Fidelius charm on the manner, one which only permitted those of Potter lineage and those they trusted to enter or even see it, for that matter. After that the Potter family has been living here for generations, although it would seem that your father chose not to live here...but considering how imposing it is I suppose I can see his point. That's basically the sum of what I needed to tell you, any questions?"
Harry thought for a moment, remembering the large forest he was in and the mountain range he saw once they cleared the forest; most islands didn't have mountain ranges...a mountain, possibly but an entire range? Nope. As this revelation sunk into his head an idea wormed its way in, one that made him smile quite a bit.
Nagini saw the smile and felt his sense of smugness and wondered what was going through his head but decided not to ask; she would probably find out in a moment anyways. Sure enough, only a few more moments passed before Harry asked his first question.
"Richard, how big is this island? Its not too often you see mountain ranges on one."
Said portrait stroked his beard in thought for a moment, before clicking his fingers as he seemed to remember the information he sought. "Ah! I remember being told that this had been brought up a few times before, and although this is only an estimation I was told the island was about one-third the size of the one adjacent to it, New Zealand. Why do you ask?"
The smile that graced Harry's face previously returned with a vengeance upon hearing this, almost appearing to split his face in two.
"Oh, no reason."
The way he said that so innocently with that smile upon his face made Richard shudder in his portrait, while Nagini looked on with no small amount of approval. She didn't know what he was up to, but knowing that whatever it was would be good was half the fun. However that was not all Harry had up his sleeve, as he once more lost his smile and thought for a moment before speaking.
"Richard, you said that the manor was under some type of stasis ward when I am away...can you clarify on that ward a bit?"
It was quite amusing to see Richard puff up in pride, though the reason for that was soon apparent.
"Of course I can, Harry! Back when I was more than a mere portrait, I was considered quite adept at wards and how they function. I had even designed a few myself! But back to the topic at hand; to put it simply, the ward does not truly put everything in stasis, it merely slows down everything within its parameters to obscene levels that have been set by the ward's design. Back when it was designed it was thought that the ward would be too taxing on magic reserves to be practical, yet upon testing it they found that the ward actually created a small surplus of magic that in the case of this manor, slowly feeds the ley lines this island rests on. The reason for this is due to the nature of the spell itself. Now I'm no muggle scientist, but if what I understand is correct then because the energy usually used within the boundaries of said ward suddenly stopped being used, the excess energy had to go somewhere. Because the wards were based on magic, the excess energy simply became magic and charged up the ley lines...or so I was told. My father was always fascinated with muggles and their science; I can hardly understand the basics, but I think that's how it goes. Why do you ask, Harry?"
During Richard's entire description, Harry listened with rapt attention; if he understood correctly, that particular ward actually slowed down time within its borders, and even more it acted like a magical battery, however small! Even more surprising was that Richard delved into the muggle study of science, even if only the basics. Making a mental note to add science to his list of things to study, Harry asked his question.
"Alright, so basically this ward slows down time within its borders, am I right?"
That shook Richard up a bit...slow down time itself? He merely thought it made everything slower, thought process, physical actions, etc. But now that he thought about it, if that was the case then the castle would have slowly fallen into disarray over time, yet it was as if nothing changed! He briefly wondered if the creators of this ward even realized what they had stumbled upon. Snapping out of his reverie, he gave a slow nod to Harry, still reeling from just how powerful the ward could be.
"Ok...so here's my idea. How about instead of slowing down time within its borders, we instead do the opposite and speed it up? That way while everything outside of it goes normal speed, everything and everyone inside it will speed up. My idea is really for training purposes; I need to get strong and knowledgeable as fast as possible, and this is the best way I can see...if its feasible."
Harry had unknowingly awoke the ward-crafter in Richard; the man loved designing new ones, and the one that Harry was suggesting was certainly that...and powerful...frighteningly so. He seemed to have a quiet discussion with himself, oddly enough to the point where it appeared to his audience that he was arguing with himself. Yet Richard was completely oblivious to the amused looks that Harry and his companions were giving him as he thought of the runes needed to make such a thing possible. A good ten minutes had passed when the old portrait seemed to give a final nod of triumph and turned back to Harry.
"Well, I must say you're impressed me Harry. I don't think anyone else realized that we were actually manipulating time itself in that ward, but I digress. What you want should be fairly easy to create; while it would be nearly impossible to create such a ward from scratch, as we have not the expertise nor time needed to construct such, we are fortunate enough to have its reverse already made. I am experienced enough with warding that I should be able to simply copy the original ward and make a few changes, such as replacing the 'slow' rune with 'hasten' and tweak the severity of the hasten; it wouldn't do for a minute to pass out there and a century to pass in here if you plan on training."
Here Richard paused and fixed Harry with a serious stare, causing said boy to pay close attention.
"Now here's where it gets tricky. Unlike the other ward that actually produces some magic, I can guarantee you that this one will suck up magic like nothing I've ever seen. So much in fact, that the only way I see this happening is to have this ward directly feed from the ley lines that run through the island, and even then it will not be sustainable. I'm not sure how much time you'll be given before the ley lines are no longer able to support the ward and need to recharge, but I do know this; its a one time deal Harry. This will drain the ley lines to the point where it may take years to recharge them fully, and during that time all wards created and/or already in use will have to be powered by other means. That includes the disillusionment ward and notice-me-not, regardless of how little it takes to sustain them; if they are not powered by other means, this island will become visible to the muggles and their technology during your training. To the outside world it may only be for a day or so, but that is not a risk I am willing to take considering their cunning; I can indeed make the design for the rune stones necessary to activate this ward, but I will only do so once you come up with a way to keep the wards that protect this island up and running. Lastly, I will only make it once you give me a wizard's oath to never share this ward; what you have come up with Harry is very powerful, but more importantly it is very dangerous if it winds up in the wrong hands. Do you understand?"
Although it was a setback Harry wasn't to happy about, he nodded in assent; he didn't even expect his idea to be possible, and now he had a way of training while simultaneously solving his time issue! Richard brought up a very good point though; they needed to be very secretive about this ward...he shuddered at the thought of what Voldemort could do, should he get his spindly hands on it. Pushing that thought aside, Harry gave his thanks to the old portrait and made his way to the entrance hall. While he walked there, the smile he wore previously returned as he thought of the island's size; it was perfect.
Nagini, having noticed his smile returning full force and the feeling of smug satisfaction practically rolling off him in waves, could take no more and rose her own head up beside his own, tapping him on his temple as she spoke to him through their bond.
'Alright, I was able to contain my curiosity when you gave that smile off the first time, knowing that I would know of your plans eventually. I even ignored the fact that you were completely blocking me from reading your inner thoughts...but seeing that same smile come back again is too much! At least give me a clue!'
Harry chuckled in amusement; it would seem he had found a weakness in his bonded. 'I thought the saying went, 'Curiosity killed the cat.', not 'Curiosity killed the snake.'?' That earned him a slap from her tail, causing him to laugh out loud at the embarrassment and annoyance she felt at being compared to a cat. 'Alright alright, but just one clue; I doubt it would give away anything anyways. Lets just say that I forgot that I needed to purchase something else yesterday...or should I say somethings.'
While a confused Nagini stewed on his vague clue, Harry himself finally made his way to the entrance hall while pulling his hood over his head; it wouldn't do to have people recognize him. Once he arrived, he called his ever faithful little ball of energy, Dobby. During this time he had Hedwig fly off to wherever she wished at the moment, probably to go out hunting some mice on the island.
"Alright Dobby, I need to get back to Diagon Alley, but I need you to apparate me as close to Gringotts as you can; the less time I'm out in the open the better, the last thing I need is for Dumbledore and his stooges to catch my trail."
Nodding, Dobby did just as Harry asked and he, Nagini and the other four now slightly disgruntled snakes found themselves standing in a shaded alleyway just across the street from Gringotts. Nodding his head in thanks to his friend, Harry made his way to Gringotts at a steady pace while the occasional passerby gave him ample space. Inwardly he smirked at their reactions; its amazing what a difference a black hooded cloak can make. Soon enough he found himself once more in Gringotts and quickly made his way over to where he spotted the form of Griphook. Said goblin turned his weary eyes upon the cloaked person with suspicion, or at least he did until said figure spoke up in a quiet voice.
"Hello again Griphook. Sorry for the intrusion once more, but I still have unfinished business with Master Ragnok; is he free at the moment?"
Griphook relaxed once he recognized the voice of Harry Potter and with a motion to wait went into a backroom, no doubt to check. A minute later the goblin came back and spoke up in a voice just as quiet as Harry's own so that attention would not be brought to them, having already been informed of the situation.
"Sorry for the delay Mr. Potter. Master Ragnok does indeed have a spare moment, though it is just that; whatever business you need done must happen in a timely manner as he has a few appointments with some other rather influential clients. I hope this is alright?"
"Yes Griphook, I simply need to officiate my status as an adult with Ragnok. Once that is done I will have no other business for here, at least for now."
Harry was turning to walk away when Griphook caught his attention once again, his voice sounding oddly wary as he spoke.
"Just one more thing Mr. Potter. I do not mean to cause you discomfort, but as an employee of Gringotts and due to your mail being tampered with, I must inform you personally that there will be a will reading for one Sirius Black on the 25th of August. Not attending the hearing would be paramount to forfeiting any inheritance you might have otherwise claimed from him; it would be prudent to attend. On a side note Mr. Potter...I am sorry for your loss."
Harry was glad he had his hood up due to the tears that had fallen upon having that painful reminder thrust upon him. However, both he and Nagini knew that Griphook was just doing his duty.
"...Thank you, Griphook."
With that, Harry was led into the back area of Gringotts, where a guard eventually led him to the opulent office of Ragnok once more. Upon his arrival he didn't even have time to knock before the door swung open and he was met with the sight of Ragnok.
"Hello once again Mr. Potter, I've been expecting you. Come in, come in."
Harry quickly entered and sat at the offered seat in front of Ragnok's desk as Griphook closed the door on his way out. Once both were settled, Ragnok went straight to the heart of the matter.
"I am assuming you are here to finalize your status as a legal adult, Mr. Potter?" Getting a nod of confirmation Ragnok pressed on. "Then let us get down to it shall we? It may seem a little hasty, but I am a very busy goblin just as I'm sure you yourself are quite busy these days as well. Here are the papers for you need to sign; sign here, here, and here on each. After that, let one drop of your blood fall on your signatures; doing so will confirm aforementioned signature. Once all this is done that's it Mr. Potter; you will be your own wizard."
The thought of being free from the grasp of his oppressors brought a feral grin to Harry's face and a coinciding hiss from Nagini. He quickly signed the documents where specified and drew some blood with the knife borrowed from Ragnok and quickly let it fall on each signature which glowed a bright crimson before fading back to its original ink-black. Looking to Ragnok for confirmation, said goblin looked over the papers with a practiced eye before nodding in acceptance.
"The papers all look good...congratulations Mr. Potter...or should I say Lord Potter-Peverell?" The last part was said with a malicious smirk; Ragnok knew very well how much the boy in front of him would shake the very foundations of wizard society as they knew it, and he personally couldn't wait for the insanity to start. After all, while fighting by means of business endeavors and taking over said businesses was a nice substitute, nothing beat good old-fashioned bloodshed in his honest opinion.
"Just Mr. Potter if you would, or Lord Potter if you absolutely must; I would prefer to keep my other lineage a secret for now, you understand. Once more I thank you for all the help you have given to me...I cannot fathom why the other wizards treat your race so poorly, considering the skills by which you run your businesses. Good day, Master Ragnok."
With a nod from Ragnok, Harry strode out from the office and donned his hood once more before entering the entry area of Gringotts. Barely ten minutes had passed from the time he entered to the time he left Gringotts, and yet in that time he had utterly crippled Dumbledore's influence on his life; at least when not at school. Even then there are ways to help stunt that as well. Head held a little higher, Harry strode out into Diagon Alley and quickly made his way to Knockturn Alley, lest he attract attention he would rather avoid at this point in time.
Once they had entered Knockturn, Nagini felt comfortable enough to slightly expose her head so she could see where they were going. Confused by their re-emergence into Knockturn she was about to inquire why they were doing such when she remembered his vague clue. 'He said he forgot to pick up something...no, somethingS. I don't remember anything else in that Borgin place that interested him, and I highly doubt he'd ever want to return there anyway, not that I can blame him.' She pondered for a moment more when she has a small epiphany 'The only other place we went to was that store for 'pets'...but why would h-...no, he couldn't be thinking of doing THAT could he?'
Sure enough, Harry turned another corner and there was the 'pet' shop. Looking up at Harry's face, Nagini could literally see the smirk trying to break through on his face and could easily feel the amusement rolling off of him. She could only sigh at this; after seeing his memories she knew just how reckless her bonded could be when the occasion arose. '-Sigh- He is. Well at least I know we most certainly won't be bored during the training...I can only hope he limits himself a little if he's doing what I think he is.'
Meanwhile, Harry was having quite a bit of difficulty keeping the smirk down that was just dying to form on his face. He knew very well that Nagini had figured out his admittedly vague clue but she did not know to what extent. Entering the shop once more, Harry was more prepared for the looming man behind the counter who was now looking at him with slight surprise and familiarity.
"You again? Didn't expect to see you again anytime soon. Doesn't matter though, I assume you'd like to look at the special goods once again?" Getting a nod from Harry he spoke once more after they entered the room. "Alright you know the drill, get what you want, pay and get out."
Rolling his eyes at the man (once Harry turned around, of course) Harry spotted the ten eggs sitting exactly where they were. He was about to approach them when he glanced at the other creatures there; the Venislew and the young Griffon. He remembered how Fawkes could 'flame' people virtually anywhere...that would be a very handy backup to have. Looking at the Griffon he couldn't stop the slight wince at the image of glaring red and gold that flared up in his mind but quickly stomped down that image; it wasn't the Griffon's fault that such a...colorful house chose it as their mascot. An idea brewing in his head, Harry turned to the shop-owner and spoke up.
"Sir, I have a few questions about these creatures. First off, was this Griffon captured or raised in captivity?"
Raising an eyebrow at the odd question, the man answered nonetheless in his gruff and blunt way. "Captured. Little over three months ago."
Harry gave the Griffon a once over with an appraising eye, the plan in his head now becoming clearer. 'Hmm...judging by its size and what Hagrid said about them, I'd say -glances down- ...she's about ten years old, only a year or so away from full maturity. Even better is she was raised wild; I don't know the first thing about caring for a Griffon.'
"Alright, last question. Those dragon eggs...what kind are they?"
At this the man actually smirked; it admittedly unnerved Harry a bit.
"Hungarian Horntail. The whole lot of them."
At this Harry could help but gape as he turned around and looked at them once more. Images of the Triwizard Tournament's first task rushed through his mind at the mentioning of the name, but he shoved those away with the help of Nagini. 'ALL of them are Horntails? Bloody hell, I had expected one, maybe two to be one but ALL of them!' He was just about to change his plans concerning them drastically when an idea popped into his head.
'Nagini, are dragons able to understand Parseltongue?'
Said snake looked at him like he grew a second head, garnering a raised eyebrow from the shop-owner as he observed the scene from the door.
'This is upon the assumption that I have talked to a dragon before, Harry? Do you think I'm mad? I'm a snake, I'd end up becoming a well cooked meal before I even got within speaking distance! I mean...it might work, dragons are closely related to serpents, but as I said I have not tried speaking to one so I wouldn't know.'
Although Harry felt a little heat rise to his cheeks due to Nagini's stating what should have been obvious to him, Harry still gave a nod of thanks as he thought on the matter some more. 'Alright...so I MIGHT be able to talk to them. Not exactly a small risk considering what I'm dealing with, however dragons take at least five years to fully mature; if things start looking bad I'll have time to...improvise.' His decision made, Harry turned around and said four words that made all his passengers choke in shock.
"I'll take them all."
Shock was also apparent on the shop-owner's face before it changed to a rather nasty sneer. "Look here kid, even if you were able to take care of TEN dragons, a griffon and a Venislew, I highly doubt you'd be able to afford them all. You think those snakes you bought were expensive? Sure, they might have been magical and some hard to find but they're snakes, not uncommon. On the other hand, you're wanting to buy ten dragons which were exceedingly hard to obtain, a griffon which is quite frankly a relatively rare magical creature, and finally a Venislew, which are basically extinct! Give me one good reason why I should even start to think you have the money necessary for them."
While the man's rant was impressive and only amplified by his large stature, Harry thankfully had a very convincing counter-argument. After all, what happened in here could not be spoken of or mentioned in any way, shape or form. He simply withdrew from his cloak his Gringott's card and held it up for the man to see. 'Widening of the eyes? Check. Eyebrows vacating face and relocating to hairline? Check. Now we just need to wait for the...ahh there it is! The look of greed. Hook, line, and sinker.'
While Nagini's muffled hisses of laughter were going on underneath his cloak, the man snapped out of his gaping and for the first time actually smiled. Granted it was a smile just oozing with greed, but Harry took what he could get, all things considered.
"Well you've got the money alright, kid. I'm not even going to ask what the bloody hell you want with all these animals and I really don't want to know so long as you buy 'em."
Harry did just that, using his Gringotts card to pay for them instead of dumping a large pile of gold out inside the store. The transaction complete, the man spoke up with his smile of greed still plastered on his face.
"Right. I'll just shrink the eggs for you along with the cloth they're in; you need to keep them warm at all times, hot if you can manage it. The Venislew and Griphon will be a little bit trickier if you don't want to draw attention to yourself...since you just made me quite well off, I could drop them off at a pickup location if you need one."
Harry shook his head at this, though he was surprised the man actually offered to help him. "There will be no need for that sir. Dobby!"
A few seconds and a pop later, Dobby was soon taking both cages back to Potter Manor, where Harry would deal with them when he got back. When asked if he needed anything else Harry responded in the positive quietly, so the shop-owner couldn't overhear.
"Actually yes Dobby. While I don't need you right at this moment I will most likely be needing your assistance in moving things to Potter Manor throughout the day. On another note, how goes the search for willing house-elves? Oh, and speak quietly and only with 'Sir' for now Dobby, I'd rather not let this man know who I am."
Dobby seemed to have a small seizure at the thought of being so useful today but spoke nonetheless. "They is all ready to serve you Sir and is waiting at the manor."
Surprised that Dobby already had him his ten house-elves (Dobby included) but pleased regardless, Harry laid down some ground rules for them to follow. "Good work Dobby. I'm going to lay down some ground rules that apply to all house-elves employed under me, that includes you. You all will have 10 hour workdays during which you will have two breaks of 45 minutes each; the breaks are non-negotiable, I'm not going to run my workers ragged. If its absolutely unbearable working only ten hours a day then the absolute maximum is twelve hours. I'll leave the assigning of shifts to you, but at least two house-elves must be on shift at all times in case something was to occur. If one of you is not on an assignment I have given, then they are to simply keep the manor in good condition since it will not go back into 'standby' when being under my care are in it, thus it will need cleaning. For now their priority is to help you move any purchases I may need moved back into the Manor, where they will then place them in the room next to my own. You got all that Dobby?"
His answer was an excited nod as he turned to the cages. The griphon barely had time to look up before they popped away, whereas the Venislew managed a startled squawk before it too was whisked off.
The shop-owner simply blinked at the scene before simply shrugging his massive shoulders; they were already paid for, what does he care about what happens to them now? Turning to the kid he raised an eyebrow and opened the door once more. He may have been happy about the large purchase but his message was clear to everyone there: If you're done buying things, leave.
And Harry did just that, exiting the shop as the owner damn near slammed the door behind his back. 'Yes, quite the charming man indeed.' This garnered a chuckle from Nagini as he pondered on what to do next while walking back to the entrance into Diagon Alley. 'There's not really all that much else I need here at the moment...at least not anything someone likely has. I don't know of any magical artifacts or spells that actually generate a moderate sum of magic except the ward set up on the Mansion...and that one will be out of commission while we're using the modified version for training.'
Nagini, having been listening to Harry as he rambled on through their link finally stopped him with a slight tightening of her coils and an exasperated/amused sigh via the link. 'Thought like a true wizard, Harry. Have you forgotten your other roots so soon? You lived in muggle society most of your life, though granted it was quite...secluded in your particular situation. However I know you have seen at least some of what they have accomplished, and from the short time I've been with you I've seen things that wizards can't even comprehend! Take for instance that moving metal monster we were in!' 'Vehicle, Nagini' 'Right, that! Muggles were able to make that thing move without magic, so it had to get its power from somewhere. Who's to say you can't buy what you're looking for with muggles?'
That stopped Harry dead in his tracks for a second, making a pedestrian behind him swear silently as he swerved around the suddenly still cloak figure before moving on with a sneer, not that Harry noticed nor cared. However it was only for a second before he continued moving once more, this time with a clear location in mind; The Leaky Cauldron and ultimately, muggle London.
'How is it exactly that a snake whom has barely even seen the muggle world can come up with that solution whereas I, who lived entirely in the muggle world for the first eleven years of my life could not?'
The frustration and incredulity was all to clear as his thoughts rang through her head, causing Nagini to once more force herself to stifle her amused hiss, lest she startle the wizards and witches around them. 'I'm just that good, Harry. After all, everyone knows that snakes are the most cunning of all creatures.'
The haughtiness in her voice, although clearly acted out, make Harry shake his head in bemusement at the character of his familiar. He had to admit though, that he had been in a far better mood ever since they had performed the familiar bond. Granted, some of his good mood most likely had to do with him finally breaking free of his puppet strings, but the majority of it came from having someone he could truly rely on; someone who knew what he went through and had their own rather unpleasant experiences to back it up. Once more he silently thanked Nagini for trying to kill him, albeit unwillingly. Funny as it may sound, had she not then they would have most likely never met, and thus he would not have a dear friend and more importantly, someone that would stay with him for life...it was a comforting feeling.
Nagini would have smiled if her face was capable of it as Harry's emotions went from amusement, to reminiscent, and then finally settled to a warm satisfaction that she just knew was aimed at her. However her demeanor quickly changed as Harry exited the Leaky Cauldron and entered muggle London; the sounds that were just a second ago the quiet lull of small conversations now became the dull roar of thousands of people traversing the streets, 'Vehicles' rumbling by with their own distinct roars, 'Still think they're monsters' and the dull rumble of something large underneath the ground passing by; she would rather not think about that last one. Combined, all these sounds make a near deafening roar to her sensitive hearing and so she completely submerged herself in Harry's cloak, even going so far as to press her head against his back to muffle the sound somewhat until she could adjust to it.
Harry, having noticed Nagini's sudden retreat within the cloak and her discomfort at the noise quietly mumbled "Silencio"and cast the spell so that it quieted all incoming noises directed at himself and his passengers instead of silencing one object in particular. He didn't completely silence the noise because they would be left without a very important sense and therefore simply toned down the noise to a bearable level for his serpentine friends. The quiet hisses of relief he heard in response to the spell was all he needed as he walked along the crowded corridors of London's downtown metropolis.
Upon turning the corner he came across a rather large clothing store, if the mannequins dressed in all manners of clothing were any indication. Looking at his quite out of place plain black robe he decided that dropping in quickly for clothes would be prudent; the amount of raised eyebrows he was getting from the other pedestrians just amplified that point further even if his hood was lowered a while back.
Quickly walking into the store, Harry was momentarily stunned at the sheer selection that greeted him; rows upon rows of clothes of all colors and styles greeted his eyes, some of which he had absolutely no idea as to what they were or where they were worn. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted what could only be a clothier glance his way before positively blanching at him. He promptly ignored the woman as he knew all to well how much he stuck out but could care less at the moment; this visit was for the NEXT time he walked around somewhere muggle; he didn't think they'd appreciate him walking around with five snakes wrapped around his limbs and torso like some makeshift clothing were he to take off his cloak. Looking around the mass of textiles that hung everywhere, eventually his eyes landed on something he actually recognized; jeans. Even better, above said rack of jeans was a picture of a man clothed in said jeans and looking quite normal while beside said picture the words "Men's Clothing" stood out; how convenient!
Strolling to the section, Harry was quick to grab five pairs of jeans that actually fit him after some experimenting and then ten shirts; five black and five green. After this he grabbed the other necessities; undergarments and socks. His little clothes shopping spree done, Harry walked to the cashiers and waited in the line. Upon finally making it to one, Harry was quite embarrassed when upon having to pay he simply held out his Gringott's card. The cashier merely gave him a deadpanned look before pointing to an odd looking machine with a slit in it. Eventually he figured it out after following the convenient picture and paid, hastily walking out of the store with his face still beet red and Nagini shaking in her mirth.
Grumbling under his breath about complicated muggle contraptions, Harry made a mental note to get some books about technology; he was going to be reading quite a bit, it would seem. The only problem? It would seem that muggles didn't partake in reading a great deal, for he could not for the life of him find a bookstore! He was just about to start swearing up a storm when he caught sight of a poster on a store selling what appeared to be more muggle contraptions. What caught his eye was one word in particular; generator. Reading the entire adversisement, they apparently sold something called a "portable generator". However upon entering the store and seeing said generator, the only reason they could have possibly have called it portable was the fact it had two wheels at the end. Other than those it reached up to damn near his shoulders and considering it looked like a solid chunk of metal painted green he could only shudder at what it must weigh. Were he a muggle he would have a daunting task ahead of him...luckily he had no such limitations and had a very handy moving device by the name of Dobby.
Upon approaching a salesperson and expressing his interest in the large 'portable' generator it was like the man lit up; apparently it was a fairly expensive item. Remembering what Richard said about there being ten runestones set up along the island to cover its entirety for the concealment wards, Harry told the man he wanted to purchase ten of them, and this was where he ran into slight complications. While the man was understandably excited he was also even more suspicious and voiced his suspicions of what exactly a boy like him wanted with ten generators and how said boy could pay for them. Fortunately for Harry, the Slytherin side of him that he had suppressed the last five years sprang up at this opportunity to show itself and he informed the man that he was doing this because his father, a Vernon Dursley wanted said generators for his company. Of course the man asked for addresses and phone numbers that Harry readily gave; upon which they moved onto the purchase as Harry once more used his Gringotts card. Upon being asked where his father wanted them moved he simply told them to drop them by his house; the Dursleys wouldn't even know of the transaction if he was lucky. To Harry's fortune, the man also informed him that the generators would be filled this once compliments of the store for the purchase. Upon exiting the store Harry entered an empty alley and called Dobby, where he instructed the elf to transport the generators to the manor once they were in the truck and to take his clothing purchases while the elf was at it. Once this was done he walked to the back of the store and waited until he was ten of the generators being loaded onto a truck before a person started walking to the driver side of the truck; presumably the driver. Upon making sure that no one else was looking his or the driver's way, Harry took out his wand and with a quick whispered "Obliviate!" the man forgot he ever had the generators in his truck.
Nodding in satisfaction, Harry reentered the mainstream of downtown London on his search for a bookstore once again, but this time with a different approach. He simply went back to the area around the Leaky Cauldron and looked the opposite direction from which he first searched. Upon turning the corner and finding himself looking at what could only be a bookstore with the name "Foyles" standing out on the front he nearly hexed the next person that gave him an odd glance. Entering the store with a grumble, Harry was once more surprised by the sheer size of the place but this time did not stop; he was getting used to the apparent fact that muggles like to make everything BIG. It took a good hour and some browsing, but when Harry exited the story he was doing so with bags upon bags of books that were quite heavy. He had gotten an few military strategy books, one being highly recommended to him by an imposing looking fellow called "The Art of War" by a man called Sun Tzu. A handful of history books that would bring him up to date on what the muggle world has done, a fairly large sum of books that would give him some insight into the workings of technology, and finally books that supposedly taught mathematics up to something called "Calculus" with corresponding books that taught Chemistry, Physics and Biology. The last book he got was one that he had absolutely no understanding of but for some reason intrigued him to no end; Genetics. Upon inquiring of the book the clerk he asked informed him with absolute certainty that he would have to have a considerable amount of knowledge in Chemistry and Biology before he should even venture there; this just intrigued Harry further. He bought the book with the knowledge that while he most certainly could not understand it now, that he would by the time his training was complete, and hopefully sooner.
Exiting the bookstore, Harry was sorely tempted to buy a computer; a laptop in particular (Sorry, but in this story the technology will reflect the modern technology of today; I was a kid in the 90's when this part took place), but restrained himself from doing so. The reason for this is that for some odd reason any muggle electronics would react quite...poorly to anything magical based, and he'd rather not buy something just for it to break as soon as he got to his manor. However this would not deter him; he mentally promised himself to figure out some way to adapt muggle technology so that it would work, but that was a ways down the line. For now he had all he needed at the moment and thus decided it was time to return to the manor and hopefully begin his training. Stepping into an alley, Harry called Dobby and soon they were all once more inside the Manor's main hall.
Taking a moment to reorient himself and giving an annoyed Nagini an apologetic scratch, Harry quickly made his way back to his rooms where Richard along with all his newly purchased products were waiting for him, including 10 generators of considerable size. Said portrait turned his gaze from the purchased items and rose an eyebrow at Harry before speaking.
"Welcome back young heir, I see you've been quite busy today, hmm? Though I am curious; I recognize most of these items, but what are these ten large metal things?"
Mentally crossing his fingers in hopes that it would work, Harry replied. "Those are muggle generators, Richard. According to the man who sold me them, they generate electricity that they use to power...well everything. These can supposedly run for days without having to be refilled with gasoline, which is a liquid muggles use to power much of their machines. I was thinking that maybe these could each power an individual runestone?"
Leaning back in his portrait, Richard stroked his beard as he thought of what Harry said. After a few minutes of murmured words and what appeared to be arguments with himself, Richard spoke up.
"I can't say for certain that it will, but theoretically it should. Luckily for you the runewords that were meant to power the runestones are "Draw", "Passive", and "Power" which roughly translates as the runestone would draw power that is otherwise left unused and use it to power the wards. What we're hoping on is that when it says 'power' it means of all kinds; this 'electricity' included. Only way to really find out is for you to bring one of those generators out to a runestone and set the stone on top of wherever this electricity comes out of; you'll be able to feel the shift from one power source to another if it works; you might even be able to visually see it. Luckily for you, Dobby can bring you to one so you don't have to walk there with those cumbersome things."
Harry was just about to get Dobby to take him to a runestone when he felt four of the five bodies wrapped around him quickly vacate his body and make a dash for his bed in the other room. He could hear the low muttering hisses as they grumbled about 'crazy wizards' and 'stupid uncomfortable popping'. Laughing quietly under his breath, Harry shot a questioning look at the only one who stayed and was met with the clearly annoyed yet adamant gaze of Nagini.
~I may not enjoy all this teleporting around that we're doing, but that won't stop me from staying with you, Harry. You and I both know the depths to which our bond reaches and how uncomfortable we'd be without the other close by...besides, I for one am comfortable and warm; let the others shudder without your body heat; I'll weather the uncomfortable sensation.~
'A slytherin response if I ever did hear one; she admits she doesn't want to leave me, yet upon realizing her declaration quickly adds the benefits to staying. Regardless, I quite enjoy her wit; its certainly better than the rather one-track conversations that Ron came up with that usually had to either do with A: slacking off on homework, B: Quidditch, or C. Food...yes, I'll take Nagini over Ron any day.'
Chuckling at her response to his unspoken query, Harry gently stroked the scales just past her head, garnering contented hisses as he replied. ~Always the faithful one, aren't you Nagini? What you said is true for me as well, and I reward faithfulness with my own faithfulness to you. However I'll be straight out and say I simply enjoy being around you with or without any physical comfort, even if you are quite comfortable.~ The last half of the sentence was said while throwing a playful wink at Nagini, who ducked her head in embarrassment at being found out.
Turning his attention away from an embarrassed Nagini and ignoring the look Richard was aiming towards the both of them, Harry requested that Dobby take both him and one of the generators to a runestone, and soon he found himself being buffeted by a cold gale, courtesy of the mountainside they currently found themselves at.
Nearly cursing at the biting wind and very aware of Nagini's extreme displeasure at the sudden freezing temperatures, Harry quickly cast a warming charm over everyone including Dobby, whom he was surprised didn't freeze on the spot with the small elf's lack of acceptable clothing and bony stature. One the charm took effect and the feeling in his fingers returned, Harry looked around for the runestone and found it resting inside a small alcove in the mountainside that had obviously been made for the sole purpose of holding it. It wasn't really much to look at really, just a simple flat, circular stone. But engraved upon it were runes and runewords weaved in such a way that the finished product was beautiful too look at, regardless of the rather dull stone it was engraved upon. However, he needed to turn on the generator before he got anything else accomplished.
Turning to the large block of metal sitting in the snow, he made his way over and after a minute of inspection found a key that he turned to "On" status...and nothing happened. Narrowing his eyes in annoyance, Harry looked at the generator again before coming upon a pull-string with a grip at the end. Strugging, Harry pulled on the string and was rewarded by a cranking noise and a slight sputter. Getting fed up with the stubborn metal box and the cold gales around him, Harry set one of his feet on the generator and using that and his arms, pulled with all he had; and was promptly sent on his ass when the generator started up with a roar. Scrambling back away from the machine that sounded rather angry, he eyed it for a moment before determining that it just sounded that way, even though it thankfully quieted down after its initial roar to a low rumble. Taking the runestone, Harry began to move it around the surface of the generator hoping that something would happen, and luckily for him, something did. As soon as he ran it across the part where multiple holes were in the generator (sockets), the runestone abruptly yanked itself out of his hand and stuck to the generator like a magnet. Only a second passed before Harry could feel a magical shift in the area around him like Richard said, before the runes on the stone suddenly lit up a blinding yellow for a few moments before slowly settling down once again. The smile that made its way to Harry's face simply couldn't be hid; it worked.
Upon returning to the manor and informing Richard of the success, said portrait began to draw out the runes necessary for them to enact their plan, informing Harry that it would take at the very least a few hours to finish the design, regardless of its similarities to the one that was around the manor. In the meantime, Harry grabbed a book on animagi and returned to his bedroom, where he propped himself up against the bed and read his book with Nagini quietly following along, idly wondering if his unofficial stalkers were having as much success as he was.
-(Order of the Phoenix Headquarters, A.K.A. Black Manor)-
To one Albus Dumbledore, as the search for Harry Potter dragged on he was starting to wonder if this was more than a simple teenage rebellion. For one thing, the point-me spell would now no longer work for some reason whereas before it would point to London; Diagon Alley in particular. There were only a few possible reasons why the point-me spell would cease to work, and none of them were scenarios he liked. First was that the boy was dead; in this case the spell would not even respond to the designation of "Harry Potter"; you'd have to specify his body. However he would have been warned far before this by his tracking devices if such a thing occurred, so that was out of the question. Next was that he was in a location that had wards specifically for the sole purpose of keeping the location unknown, or 'unplottable'. This was the only feasible option he could think of, but if this was the case then just where was the boy? If he was taken by death eaters the devices which monitored his safety would have gone completely mad, so he was safe wherever he was...which means the only viable scenario he could think of was that the brat had found, on his own, a heavily warded safehouse!
Sitting at the end chair inside the kitchen of Black Manner, Albus Dumbledore rubbed his eyes wearily; he no longer looked like the cat that caught the canary. 'And to think, the summer was starting out so well too.'
However his musings were cut short when the fireplace flared and a highly disheveled Minerva McGonagall stumbled out before righting herself. This alone was enough to set him on edge; he could count on one hand the number of times he had seen the prim and proper head of Gryffindor House. Before he was even able to ask a question said witch turned her eyes on Albus and he would have choked on a lemon drop if he had one; never had he seen the witch so angry, and at him of all people! The question he was about to ask was soon to be answered though, and by a very irate McGonagall.
"Albus Dumbledore! I said it when we first left young Harry at those thing's house and I'll say it again; keeping him there WAS and IS a mistake! The amount of fury those people hold for anything magical was absolutely appalling, I'd wager there were friendlier faces at the Salem Witch Trials! Blood protection be damned, Albus! Sure it might keep Voldemort from killing poor Harry, but it won't stop his relatives from doing so! And before you even say I'm over-reacting over one of my cubs I made this" Here she slings a memory vial at a wide-eyed Dumbledore "to silence any such accusations; all the evidence is in there; Merlin knows how those disgusting Dursleys wouldn't stop gloating about all the 'discipline' they gave Harry! I have abided in your decisions for decades Albus, even when I didn't like them...but this...this went too far. I'm no fool; I know you have devices that monitor his health and the simple fact that you never intervened when he was abused is simply inexcusable; I will not stand by you on this decision, Albus. Furthermore, unless this order get a major overhaul and fixes its policies I will have nothing to do with it; as of now I am simply the head of Gryffindor House and the Transfiguration Professor. Good day, Headmaster."
And with that, McGonagall spun back around, threw some floo powder into the fireplace and with a shout of "Hogwarts!" whisked off, leaving an old man looking at the vial in his hands like it was poison and wondering just how his day could get so bad so quick.
Both Harry and Nagini were deeply entrenched in the book on animagi; one due to his interest in becoming one and the other due to her fascination that a wizard could become an animal. So wrapped up in the book that they didn't notice the highly amused gazes of the other four snakes due to their positions; Harry's nose nearly touching to book and Nagini's head resting on top of his as she read as well. This was the sight that Dobby came in on, and for a second the elf shared in the amusement before he remembered his task and spoke up.
"I is sorrys for bothering Mr. Potter, but Mr. Richard said he is done with design, Mr. Potter sir."
Finally wrenching his eyes up from the book, Harry cast a time spell and was slightly shocked that nearly three hours had passed; guess the book interested him more than he knew. After telling Dobby that he'd be there in a minute, Harry turned his attention to Nagini, who was still using his head as a headrest. He couldn't see her, but he could feel the satisfaction coming from her.
~Sooo...you plan on staying like that?~
A bit of movement on his head and soon Harry was looking at the head of an upside-down Nagini who was regarding him with a mix of contentment and smug amusement.
~Yes, I do believe I am going to stay like this; your hair is quite comfortable, Harry.~
The laughing from his other four companions was unmistakable, and Harry himself laughed at the situation before heading into the other room, where a proud Richard sat in his chair inside the portrait with what could only be the new runewords arranged into an artistic circle on a parchment. Ignoring the look Richard was giving the two, Harry sat down on a chair and addressed him.
"So, I'm guessing that's it, huh?"
That seemed to be all he needed to say, for Richard immediately took the subject and ran with it, completely forgetting about Harry and Nagini's humorous position.
"That it is, Harry! I'll admit it was a little harder than I thought and I had to tweak the design a bit, but the fundamental activation sequence I left untouched; I just redefined what it did after activating. Essentially I did as I thought I'd have to, switching the runeword "Slow" with "Hasten" and tuning down the intensity so that a century doesn't pass in a minute; wouldn't work anyway, it'd take too much power. Back to the point, you need to engrave this EXACTLY as I have shown before you onto a minimum of five flat, round stones; any less and you could destabilize the area effected by the ward. Once that's done, simply take the new runestones and place them where you want the boundaries and once you're ready, simply channel some of your magic into one of them. Since they are all linked, they will all take that as the cue to activate and upon discovering that you are no longer a viable power source, they will turn to the magical ley lines. If my estimations are correct we'll have a little over five years to get ready, but it could extend up to six or possibly seven even though the chance of that happening is highly unlikely."
Harry nodded and did as he was told, finding five stones of considerable size, he brought them back in front of Richar'd portrait and painstakingly engraved the runes onto the stones with a small cutting hex being maintained on the end of his wand. It took nearly two hours to finish the five stones, and another 30 minutes of comparing them to Richard's before they finally deemed them suitable for the task. With that done, Harry headed out along with Nagini to find suitable locations for the stones, and eventually ended up placing them in a large pentagonal shape with the manor as the center. Harry make sure to include a large portion of the surrounding forests as well, knowing that what resided within needed to be able to sustain all of them, including their new additions...ten dragons in particular. Thus he needed to make sure there was a large population of herbivores that could withstand the demand. Luckily for him, years and years of isolation and abundant resources led to an abundance of animal life; deer in particular, though there were other smaller herbivores present, along with a horde of rodents, much to his serpent friends' delight. Once all the stones were arranged in the way he wanted them, Harry did as Richard instructed and sent some of his magic into the one he was next to. Upon doing so, the stone glowed a deep forest green before the color changed to a bright blue; apparently the color of the ley lines' magic. All was quiet for a second before a massive barrier sprung up a few feet in front of the stone and encompassed the entire area in a large pentagonal sphere.
Harry was about to see if it worked when his sight fell upon something that gave him all the proof he needed; a bird outside the barrier appeared to have simply frozen in time. A smile spread across his face and he said two words that would have a monumental impact upon the magical world as they knew it.
(Alright guys, I was sorely tempted to stop here but I'll keep going, just for the sake of getting this part done with...yes its the dreaded training arc...though its not really an arc. Before you get a pissy know that I'm making it as short as possible; I know just how painful multi-chapter training arcs can be, and I don't want to subject you to that. Therefore while this will cover the years Harry trains, it will do so briefly with the sole exception of vital moments than need to be shown in detail, which will be shown in flashbacks. The true meat of the story starts after this chapter; everything up until and including this point has been preparation for what's to come, and I hope you all will enjoy it. Oh and one last thing to keep you on your toes...although I won't come outright and say it until the end, the pairing for this story should be painfully obvious by the end of this chapter...alright I'm done hogging the spotlight for now.)
Almost immediately after the activation of the new ward, Harry ran into a problem upon returning to the manor; the river which would have provided a ready water source for them would not sustain them for five years, mainly because the section within the ward was essentially cut off from the other parts. This also brought up another problem; keeping the plant life alive without rain. His solution? Aguamenti. Although it was a pain, until he had a better solution Harry had to literally water the forest every week or so, which thankfully didn't take too long due to the copious amounts of water Aguamenti spewed out, though it did leave him rather drained afterwards. As for his studies, Harry began learning the mathematics needed to eventually reach Calculus while building up a strong knowledge-base for chemistry and biology.
For his physical training regiments, Harry was delighted when Richard informed him that the manor came equipped with training dummies much like the ones he used in the Room of Requirements, only the ones in the manor would have raised red flags at the ministry, mainly due to the difficulty levels they could be set to. At highest, the dummies could emulate with startling success the actions and spells of Voldemort's Inner Circle death eaters...and there was ten dummies that could be activated at once. However for the first year Harry kept it on the low levels, slowly working his way up. To fix his stunted growth, he used the knowledge in some of his potion books to brew up and maintain a regiment of potions meant to fix what years of malnutrition has wrought upon him. At first it surprised him how easy potions seemed to be now, until Nagini reminded him that the absence of a certain professor sneering down his back and sniping at him every few minutes could improve anyone's ability to brew potions. To tone his body, Harry ran laps around the perimeter of the barrier 'daily' (seeing as how there were no days due to everything seemingly frozen outside the barrier, including the sun), initially only doing one a day but pushing himself to run farther and faster each day. Under the instruction of Richard whom he eventually learned was an auror back in his day, he began to gain considerable muscle tone with exercises designed specifically for that purpose.
His relationship with the other occupants of the manor grew as the year went on, the Venislew (which he named Aqua) having taken a liking to him and initiating a far weaker familiar bond with Harry, while the Gryffon was still slightly weary of him even after a year; he didn't blame her, knowing she probably had a bad experience with humans. As for his relationship with the other four snakes Aritus, Iocus, Callidus and Saffir, he could honestly say he loved them (in a platonic way). Aritus seemed to be the unofficial leader of their little group, often being the voice of reason amongst them while he learned (much to his pleasure) that Iocus and Callidus the twins were quite mischievous, which led him to theorize that all twins have such a side in some form or fashion. Saffir was the one that toned down the twin's lively nature with her own gentle nature. As for his relationship with Nagini, he could say with utmost certainty that she was the best thing to happen to him. During the year they got to know each-other to the point where nothing was hidden; if one asked the other told, with the sole exception being surprises of the pleasant sort. They practiced with their sense-sharing to the point where each was essentially looking in two places at once.
However the biggest event that occurred during the year was the hatching of all ten dragon eggs, and Harry had to admit for such a fearsome species they did look quite adorable when they were the size of a mini-dog. However that small stature was quickly lost, for by the end of the year the four females reached up to around four feet (head included), with the six males standing almost five feet. He had yet to name them mainly due to the fact that he still couldn't understand them...that or they couldn't talk yet.
With the second year came great progress for Harry concerning his studies in mathematics, chemistry and biology. He had completed the foundational mathematics needed to begin Calculus and was at least halfway through said subject by the end of the year. As for chemistry, Harry had completely memorized the table of elements and understood how they reacted between one another. In biology, Harry began delving into the makings of cell-structures and how bodies worked; in particular he studied DNA, since he figured out that it was a vital part of understanding genetics.
As for the physical aspects of his training, his body truly began to show the efforts of his potion regiment, as he had grown to a respectable 5' 8" and was apparently due for more. He could now run a lap around the several-mile perimeter without being winded and could push himself for another 3 before having to stop. His training with the dummies was paying off as well, considering he now had it on mid-auror settings and would take on at most four dummies with that setting.
He also began studying battle tactics and strategies used by muggles during their multiple wars, and was beginning to realize just how tiny their own war against Voldemort was in the big scope of things. He nearly fainted from shock when he learned that the Russians had lost an estimated twenty million soldiers/civilians during World War II...Harry wasn't even sure the entire world had twenty million wizards!
As expected, his relationship with the other inhabitants of Potter Manor only improved during this time, as every snake could often be found wrapped around one of his limbs, with Nagini in her customary spot around his torso. Speaking of his wonderful familiar, they had begun practice fighting with Nagini wrapped around Harry, both looking out for each other's back and both were astounded at the success. If one was left vulnerable from over-extension, the other would cover the weakness until they could recover, and due to their bond it was instantaneous.
The Gryffon, which he ended up naming Sophia, finally warmed up to him after a particularly nasty incident where she 'vented' on him for past transgressions that other humans had inflicted upon her. Apparently seeing him take no retaliatory actions against her after her attack did the trick, for the next morning upon waking up he found himself staring into the brown eyes of Sophia whom decided that she would rest by the bed. It was due to this that Harry had to apologize to five irate snakes, two worried birds, and one startled Gryffon after he screamed for all he was worth at what amounted to six in the morning. Luckily for him the dragons slept in the large entry hall.
Speaking of the dragons, by year's end the females were just over six feet and the males were pushing seven and both at least twice as long. All had began attempts at flying and had managed to get gliding down to an art, though they just didn't have the wing muscles yet necessary to fly. It was a great relief to Harry that as their size grew the did not begin to see him as a possible meal, and one day near the end of the year he found out why.
"Hey Richard! Have you seen the dragons today! I can't find the buggers!"
Said portrait threw Harry an incredulous glance before he spoke up. "You're telling me you can't find ten six foot dragons that have all the subtlety of a rampaging bull? And for that matter, why would I see them? They can't even come in these corridors anymore, let alone the rooms!"
"Alright alright, I get it! No need to get all snippy with me...grumpy geezer." The last part was mumbled and judging by the look on Richard's face, it was a wise decision to do so. Deciding to check the lower floors again, Harry wondered once more how ten dragons had escaped not only his notice but the senses of Nagini. He was just about to head into the dining hall when he caught a glimpse of red outside the window. Peeking outside, both he an Nagini were stunned to see all ten of them outside in a huddle, seemingly growling something to each-other. Curious and relieved that they had found them, Harry headed outside while absently casting a warming charm. Upon stepping outside, he immediately approached the ten dragons and spoke up.
"There you guys are! I've been looking all over for you; why are you outside in this freezing weather? I know you'll soon be too big even for the entrance halls, but you've still got a ways to go yet."
He was expecting them to simply greet him as they always do; approach and smother. Yet he was in the shock of his life when they all looked at him for a moment and began their growling-hisses again. 'Now think about it, its almost like they're trying to talk.' After a few moments more, some decision seemed to be made and one of the females was nudged, apparently chosen for whatever it was they were up to. However he froze colder than the snow around him when the female seemed to work her jaw a bit, look up and utter one word.
It definitely held a rough tone to it, but there was no mistaking that it was parseltongue and feminine...but most important was the word that was spoken, and judging by the way Nagini nearly squeezed him to death, the was more than a bit stunned as well.
~W-What did you say?~
Nagini chose this time to rear her head up and to the side of Harry's own, as if getting a clear view would lessen the insanity. As for the female, she simply continued staring at Harry before uttering the word once again...with a twist.
~Father.~ Here she paused, this time directing her attention to Nagini. ~Mother.~
Both would later swear they heard muffled laughter coming from the group, but both were far too busy looking at each-other with gaping jaws and disbelieving expressions on their faces.
No matter how much they tried, Harry and Nagini could not convince the dragons that they were not their parents. After a month of trying both just gave up and let the delusional group continue calling them mother and father. On the plus side though, the relationship between them grew exponentially, now that Harry and Nagini could talk to them and even name them, which the dragons basically begged them to do one day. The males were named Brimstone, Backdraft, Scathe, Firestorm, Spike and Overheat, while the females were named Blaze, Wildfire, Scorch and Talon.
The third year was by far the most mellow of the years, with little of significance happening. Harry had completed his studies in mathematics including Calculus, as well as chemistry and biology. That being said, he spend a good portion of his time reading and learning genetics and basically what made you, you.
Physically, he could now run two laps without being winded and could push himself to 5 in one session, and could now take on all ten of the dummies on upper-auror level settings.
The dragons finally managed to gain the ability of flight, though unfortunately they could not fly as far or high as they wanted due to the barrier, but they made due. By the end of the year the females were 8' and the males were 9'. More importantly, every last one of them were apparently dead serious when they claimed Harry and Nagini as parents...which was rather odd for the both of them. Long story short, when outside the two could rarely go anywhere without ten rather large, intimidating tagalongs. Thankfully hunting for food was made quite a bit easier for Harry when they learned how to breathe fire, using the combination to make quick work of prey, while Harry would follow close behind on another dragon to douse the flames with an Auguamenti.
As for Sophia, the Gryffon had by now reached full maturity and had apparently claimed the floor to the right of Harry's bed as her spot, regardless of the rather tight squeeze it took her to get past the door and into the room. While Harry was glad for her companionship, he had a suspicion that she was only like this to him and would still react poorly to other humans...not that he could really blame her.
By this time there was not a moment when one could find Harry or Nagini without finding the other; it was a constant with the sole exception of when Nagini went to hunt. Whether it be slithering behind or beside Harry, or wrapped around his torso, the two might as well have been joined at the proverbial hip. The other snakes oftentimes found the situation amusing, but were also secretly impressed by the bond they two showed towards each-other.
Year three was also the first year Harry really began to study magic intensively, and was shocked when upon reading Merlin's book, "The True Way of Magic: Wandless" he learned that originally, wizards and witches didn't use wands...hell they didn't use any medium at all! The book explained how wands simply toned down the magic and channeled it for more precise use, and how due to the ease that came with wielding a wand, over the centuries wizards and witches slowly became dependent upon their wands until wandless magic was either considered a myth or the sign of a very powerful wizard or witch. It taught him how using a wand was practically akin to using training wheels, and that you could never reach your full potential if you relied upon one. And so, not wanting to question the wisdom of Merlin, Harry did so, following what the book said to slowly but surely gain the use of wandless magic. Theoretically, all you needed to perform wandless magic was a good picture of what you wanted done and a solid will, and slowly Harry managed to perform basic activities with wandless magic by the year's end. He also started reading through the section on parseltongue by Salazar Slytherin, and found a plethora of spells designed specifically by and for paseltongue! This year was also the year Harry began studying true occlumency and found out that 'clearing your mind' was the worst thing one could to...which made one very irate human for a good day. Needless to say, while year three was the least eventful, it was packed with knowledge.
By this time the sole muggle studies he had left was genetics and learning about their technology. By the end he had a few theories as to why muggle electonics wouldn't work in magic-soaked areas, but he wouldn't be able to test it until the ward collapsed.
His study into genetics, however, brought him to a decision that would completely change his life. While studying genetics, he learned about gene splicing and how although muggle scientists had begun to do such, the test subjects had an incredibly low chance of survival, and even when they did the changes made were hardly noticable. While Harry knew they had facilities far past what he had, Harry had something they didn't: magic. And so with a fervor that somewhat surprised Nagini, Harry informed her of his plan. He knew that while he would be undoubtedly a formidable opponent by the end of the training, there would always be the possibility of taking a rather nasty hit during battle, and he wanted to improve his ability to stay in the fight. With this in mind he informed Nagini of his plan to use some of the blood he harvested from the dead basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets to splice his own DNA with that of the basilisk, with magic and his will guiding the splice to only effect his skin, and even then only by giving it the spell-repelling ability of a basilisk's hide. He explained to a very skeptical Nagini how he would have never attempted this before knowing genetics, but now that he knew exactly what he was guiding the magic to perform that there would be no problem so long as he maintained a firm focus on what he wanted his magic to do. Multiple times Nagini tried to dissuade him from it, mainly because such a thing had never been attempted before, but eventually Harry's determination to see it threw led to the day that would change their lives.
'I've told you this already Nagini, so long as focus is maintained, my magic will do exactly what is desired; we both know this and it has been proven countless times by wizards such as Merlin himself! With you there to make sure I keep focused on the splice, we'll have this done in no time and I'll be a bit more spell-resistant.'
Nagini sighed mentally at this; she knew what he spoke was true, but she just couldn't shake the feeling that they were missing something. But no matter how many times they checked, rechecked, and just for the hell of it checked once more, they couldn't find anything that would suggest something would go wrong. Mentally crossing her non-existent fingers, Nagini gave out a slow hiss and nodded her assent.
Happy that Nagini finally gave the go-ahead, he took both her, a vial of the basilisk blood and a transfigured needle into a separate room away from the others for the 'operation'; they needed absolute concentration for this and told everyone so. Upon entering the room, Harry laid Nagini on the sole table there while he took the needle into one hand and filled it a quarter way with the basilisk blood; more than enough for what they had in mind. Looking at Nagini, he saw her body go limp as he could feel her mind enter his own to be a guide for his concentration, making sure he was focused solely on the specific DNA splice they wanted. Using his mediocre occlumency skills, Harry brought the full measure of his focus on the task at hand as he injected the blood into his arm, already feeling his magic do what they planned.
Harry was just letting a small smile bloom on his face when he suddenly felt something else reacting to the injection of basilisk blood and the magic...something that was already there, but apparently not part of his body. Trying not to panic, Harry frantically tried to think of what the substance could be, but quickly delegated that to Nagini while he continued focusing on the task, hoping that whatever it was would not react violently. He only had to wait a minute before he felt feelings of disbelief and shock coming from Nagini, and only a second more before she spoke out in his mind.
'Harry! The basilisk's venom from second year, it's still there somehow, you've got to stop the procedure right now before something happens!'
Harry's thought whirled as he desperately tried to maintain a firm focus on the task. 'The basilisk venom? It's still there? How? I thought the phoenix tears got rid of it!'
Neither Harry nor Nagini could have known what the results of mixing the most potent healing substance and deadliest poison known to the world could have done, for nothing like it had ever happened before. While the phoenix tears did indeed get rid of the basilisk venom, it only got rid of a small portion of the venom. The amount of venom injected into Harry was a far greater quantity than that of a few phoenix tears, but the tears still managed to render the remaining venom harmless, but nevertheless there. Harry's body couldn't break down such a potent substance, so it simply sat there with everyone none the wiser. When Harry injected the basilisk's blood into himself and willed the magic to splice it with his own DNA, the dormant venom inside him responded to the will due to it's connection with the basilisk's blood, but because Harry was solely focused on the basilisk's blood and not the venom, the venom simply merged with his DNA with no restrictions placed upon it like the blood had, in essence rendering his will null and simply making it so that magic merged the two DNA's successfully and without endangering his life.
As it was, both Harry and Nagini had little warning before the combining of both DNA's reached the point where his magic deemed it necessary that he be unconscious for the rest, thus sending Nagini's mind careening back into her own body while Harry fell to the ground, fighting an uphill battle with keeping conscious. One last though went through his mind before he succumbed to the darkness. '
'Oh, bloody hell.'
When he finally came to, the first thing his eyes came across was the amber orbs of Nagini. While the feelings or worry he could feel coming from her were surprising, the feelings that confused him where those of awe he felt from her. However he put that aside as his still murky mind registered a rather uncomfortable sensation on his lower back so he immediately rolled over and sighed at the relief given from it.
~...Harry? Harry are you alright? That's you in there isn't it?~
The worry in her voice he could understand; they did just have a near-disastrous incident...but what was that last part? 'What does she mean by that? Who else would it be?' Still not quite fully aware yet, Harry sat up from his place on the floor and absently rubbed his forehead; it felt like Voldemort decided to Crucio all of England and let him 'enjoy' the festivities as well!
~Uggghh...bloody hell my head hurts. What are you talking about Nagini, who else would it be, hmm?~
However it was not Nagini that answered him, rather it was Callidus that responded in a smug tone.
~Well, it's Harry alright. By the way, excellent new look Avatar! I must say, if you didn't look the part before, you certainly do now!~
This was quickly followed by the sound of scale smacking scale and a muffled ~Ow!~ from Callidus, before the normally soft-spoken voice of Saffir spoke up to reprimand him.
~Callidus! Now is not the place and certainly not the time for you remarks! That goes for you as well, Iocus!~ Here her voice turned softer, and Harry realized she was addressing him now. ~Avatar, how do you feel? You've gone through quite the...experience.~
Before he could ask any questions, Nagini chose now to speak up.
~It's been nearly two days since you've passed out, Harry. And I'll say this in advance for when you finally do realize the situation; we had no way of knowing the basilisk's venom had remained in your body all this time, so don't start beating yourself up about it.~
At this, Harry's eyes snapped open. 'The basilisk venom, that's right! It interfered with the procedure...oh damn, what did it do?' Heaving a sigh at the crap that constantly seemed to happen to him, Harry pinched the bridge of his nose...or at least tried to. He noticed two very important facts when attempting to do so. One: His hand was now a deep green and shimmered from the light in the room, and two: his nose was far further out that he remembered, for his hand bumped into something he clearly felt a good ways before it should have touched his nose.
Slowly drawing his eyes away from his hand, Harry looked around the room and realized that everyone was there with the exceptions of the dragons, and only because they couldn't fit. Most were giving him worried looks, with others like two certain twin snakes were looking at him with admiration, while Nagini was an odd mix of both.
"...Mirror. I need a mirror, Dobby."
Said house elf simply bobbed his head, seemingly worried to the point where it actually drained him of some energy, yet within thirty second Harry was staring at himself in a full length mirror...or what he supposed was himself. First thing he noticed was that he no longer had any clothes on...but it really didn't matter now as far as modesty was concerned. For from the tip of his now bald head to the soles of his feet he was covered in deep green scales, and from his brief observation, they were everywhere. The sole exceptions to this were his belly, chest and inner thighs, which were all covered with segmented tan scales, much like one would find on the belly of a snake, and the scales along the spinal column of his back, which were black and raised into ridges. The cause of his pain while laying on his back became clear when a long, thin prehensile tail was seen gently swaying behind him, reaching down to touch the floor if he were to fully extend it. While his general bone structure had remained relatively similar to what it was before, his hands were now adorned with what could only be called sharpened, black scales giving them the semblance of claws, which also adorned his feet. However while the majority of his bone structure might have not changed, his skull most certainly could not boast the same. The reason his hand touched his face far earlier than it should have became all to evident now that he gazed upon his now serpentine muzzle. It was somewhat similar to Nagini's own, yet his had raised ridges where his eyebrows would have usually been. The same ridges that marked his back also marked his muzzle, with said ridges doing up his slightly extended neck, over his head and finally ending at the tip of his muzzle. Opening his maw, he noticed the small curved fangs that lined the sized, along with the two primary fangs which snicked down from the roof of his mouth once he opened it. Vaguely he noticed they were tipped with a slight purple sheen. 'Venom.' Even his tongue was now a serpents, promising him a 'fun' time when speaking english. Finally, he noticed with great relief that even though his head was officially a serpents, he still had eyelids; he'd go insane if he couldn't blink. However, his eyes now had slits and seemed far more dangerous than before; he probably couldn't kill or petrify anyone with them, but he would wager he could scare the piss out of almost anyone.
His observation done, Harry turned from the mirror and looked to the beings that he now considered dear friends, and in particular his familiar. He honestly wanted to be surprised about this, really he did...but he just couldn't.
"Well...I ssuppose you all are thinking I'll freak out, right? I'll admit, before I became a wizard I would have probably went inssane with thiss. Hell I'd probably go inssane if I wass a normal wizard! But...after all the weird sshit that has happened to me I just can't find thiss all that ssurprising. Life-changing? Most ccertainly. Sshocking? Not really. And Nagini, you don't need to worry, I won't blame mysself for thiss change, nor anyone elsse. I think you drilled that point home to me with Ssirius."
All was silent for a moment, each one regarding him incredulously due to his rather calm outlook on this whole situation, before Richard in his portrait burst out laughing. After he had calmed down, Richard looked back at Harry with amusement and more than a little respect.
"Bloody hell my boy! Only you would become a half-basilisk and end up shrugging at it, I knew there was a reason I liked you! Oh, if only some of those bigoted ancestors of your were here, I think they'd die again knowing the new head of the Potter line is the first half-snake, and basilisk at that! However while I can respect you keeping a cool head over all of this, we're going to have to do something about that voice of yours, not to mention your physical appearance. You'll need some way to disguise both until you're away from eyes and ears you do not trust."
Harry mumbled something about letting him try to talk normally with no lips and a thin, forked tongue, eliciting muffled laughter from Nagini. But Richard had a point; if he was to return to Hogwarts soon after the barrier dropped, he would need to figure out a way to disguise both his physical appearance and his voice.
The rest of the fourth year was mainly spent getting used to his new body, which he quickly found the benefits and downsides to. The first downside he found was that he was now what he called 'luke-warm blooded', meaning while he could keep himself warm with his own body heat, he was also now far more susceptible to cold weather than he was before, finding this out upon stepping outside and nearly shrieking as the cold gales hit his scales, much to the amusement of his passengers. Secondly, he almost had a heart attack when upon yawning one morning, he had a literal 'jaw-dropping' experience. (Painful, I know but I had to put it in there...it was punny!...I'll stop now). His appetite had also changed drastically, having become essentially carnivorous and occasionally forgetting to chew, not that it was really a problem for him with his new anatomy.
For the benefits, he quickly noticed both his increased height of an even 6' and just how flexible and nimble his new body was. He could honestly say without exaggerating in the slightest that he could put the most flexible, double-joined acrobats to shame with his movements, thanks mostly to the serpentine aspect. Next he found out to his great delight that glasses were a thing of the past; his vision was so sharp it was almost painful; for the small downside of his color spectrum dulling slightly. Lastly, his wandless magic seemed to have been given a boost, for things he had found relatively difficult before the change were now almost simple; it would seem that having a side that had technically never used a wand helped greatly.
He continued with his animagus training and found out with little surprise that his 'animal' form was that of a (surprise, surprise) basilisk bearing no small resemblance to the one he killed, much to the delight of Nagini and the other four snakes. It was not all that uncommon to find a massive basilisk fast asleep in one of the rooms at 'night' with Nagini in her full size and the other four snakes somewhere amidst the massive coils, and occasionally Sophia could even be found perched atop the pile, much to everyone's amusement once they awoke; it would seem the Gryffon did not care in the slightest what form Harry was in. As for the dragons, they just claimed the change further proved his status as their father, much to his chagrin and Nagini's amusement. Hedwig didn't even hesitate to peck him when he stated he could understand if she was weary of his new form, much to his relief. Aqua was much the same, only she looked at him for a moment before simply rubbing her head against his in a show of acceptance. The elves were the most shocking, for after Dobby's initial meekness, they simply acted as if nothing had changed.
Fifth Year-Dropping of barrier:
The last year was focused entirely upon magical training and physical training, due to Harry learning all he could or wanted to from the muggle subjects he brought with him. During this year Harry also found out his passion for making things, specifically magical items and wards. With more than half of his time completely devoted to magical studies, his knowledge of runes and their applications soared under the tutelage of Richard and the rather helpful rune books, most of which he knew were one-of-a-kind. As for the creation of magical items, Harry found quite the helpful book which offered spells designed for the sole purpose of crafting items. By far the most useful of these being one which turned materials that were typically not malleable, malleable; the most important of these being gems. With this spell, named "Mollis reddere" Harry could essentially mold the gems into whatever shape he wanted, even merge several of them into a larger gemstone. He had great plans for this, but he pushed those aside until he was done with his training.
His occulmency training was nearly complete; his mindscape now resembled a castle with very close resemblance to Hogwarts, and even more confusing. Along the easily found hallways he put his memories of little importance, along with a few fake memories to mislead any intruder. If the intruder managed to delve deeper, they would soon find themselves in the dungeons of the castle, where unlike Hogwarts, a massive labyrinthine cavern awaited them, filled with rather nasty creatures if one should wander off the correct path. If they should manage to even get past that, what awaited them would appear to be nothing more than a dead end...and for most it would be, unless you spoke both parseltongue and knew the password, which was ~Serpentis dominio~, or Serpent's dominion in both parseltongue and latin. Where upon entering they would find a chamber reminiscent of the Chamber of Secrets, only without the massive statue of Salazar Slytherin. Here would lie his most closely guarded secrets. Needless to say, his mind was a well-guarded vault that few, if any could breach. Even then, it would take more time than they would have to crack.
As for his spell repertoire, Harry delved into everything he could get his hand...claws on, including the 'dark arts'. He cast nearly every spell that was classified by the ministry as 'dark', including all the unforgivables. Unsurprisingly, there were no dark caresses and sibilant whispers to use them again after casting; they were just like any other spell, albeit a bit more draining due to their potency. Perhaps his greatest increase in spell knowledge came from parseltongue spells, most of which were incredibly potent; some in their ability to heal grievous wounds, and others in their ability to deal said grievous wounds.
His physical training took on a whole new level with his new body, finding out quickly that his stamina had nearly doubled and his flexibility was simply on a level on its own. Due to his serpentine heritage, the muscles in his body compacted and strengthened, enabling him to jump to a height of seven feet at his max, and leaping nearly twice that far. By the end of the year, his height had also topped off at 6' 2", a massive difference from his comically short stature of before.
This new-found physical prowess combined with his growing repertoire of spells enabled him to take on seven of the training dummies set on the highest setting (Voldemort's Inner Circle) at once in an all-out fight and still make it out on top, if only barely. He hoped that upon returning to Hogwarts he would be capable of taking on all ten.
This year was also the year he decided to read the book, "Legacy of the Peverell" and learned of the Deathly Hallows; the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility, and the Elder Wand. One of which he had in his possession, one in the hands of Albus Dumbledore, the Elder Wand, and the last being unknown, which was the Resurrection Stone. Through this book he learned that with these three artifacts in one's possession, they essentially became invincible if all three items deemed their bearer their master. It was this knowledge that lead Harry to bury the Cloak where only he and Nagini knew of; in the wrong hands the three items could bring about destruction on a scale never before seen. The book also spoke of how to correctly bind a spirit from the afterlife into a body, and how the only way to do so was with the use of the Resurrection Stone. Even then, the spirit had to be willing for the procedure to work. Harry learned that what people referred to as inferi were simply animated corpses with no will of their own; a twisted practice that defiled and disturbed the rest of a corpse.
As for his relationships, he only grew closer to all of the inhabitants and finally relented to the now fully-grown Hungarian Horntails to accept his position as their father and not just let them think so, much to their pleasure. By this time they could no longer fit anywhere inside the castle with the sole exception being the massive courtyard, so they either stayed there or in large caves they requested of Harry to make in a mountainside that was under the barrier. It was odd being considered and accepting the position of father of the ten dragons, but he didn't mind; he finally had a family to call his own, albeit by far the most unique family he'd ever heard of.
But by far the greatest change was in his relationship with Nagini; after his change there was a gleam in here eyes that Harry couldn't figure out for the longest time, seeing as how her emotions during that time were so numerous that he couldn't decipher what they meant. He himself had been feeling odd emotions towards his familiar, and seeing as how the only time he ever experienced anything even remotely resembling love was during his little crush on Cho Chang, he had little experience in the matter. It took a particularly frustrated Nagini one 'night' to finally get it through his thick skull just what both she and he were feeling, and when it finally clicked Harry was left speechless for the remainder of the 'night', leaving a distraught Nagini to think he had refused. However he was merely lost in a swarm of emotions and memories, taking the entire 'night' to think things over carefully, and by the time they typically awakened he made his way back to his quarters, where Nagini was coiled upon his bed, misery simply oozing from here and making his heart clench. It was a meek Harry that apologized to Nagini for his lack of response last night, and a very embarrassed Harry that admitted he felt the same, but that he wanted to take things slowly; he'd never really been in a real relationship before, and especially not with a snake, even though he himself technically was one as well. For Nagini she was overjoyed to hear his timid declaration, and didn't care in the least that he wanted to take it slow; that was just fine with her.
From there on, things were different around the two; the bond they shared reached a depth they didn't think possible. And though the others were never told, they all knew that Harry and Nagini were an 'item', prompting one particular portrait to laugh for a good half-hour over the irony of the situation once more. However, while they may have been together they never did anything explicit; Harry was dead serious when he said he wanted to take it slowly, and Nagini respected his wishes.
Finally, when Harry was going through his stretches to begin his exercises for the day it happened; with a sound that could only be compared to glass shattering, the massive dome that had encompassed them for the past five years broke into thousands of pieces, with said pieces soon dissipating into nothing before ever reaching the ground. Immediately, the waters from the river rushed into the nearly-empty section, the birds that were once stationary moved once again, and the rest of the world finally moved in-synch to the grounds around Potter Manor.
With a smirk on his serpentine muzzle, Harry turned towards Nagini who also wore the same expression on her own muzzle, and with an voice filled with anticipation spoke seven words that would prove true in the times to come.
~The world won't know what hit them.~
Ending Notes: DONE! Merry Christmas and holy hell, 26,000 words! Enjoy my gift to you all and please accept my apologies for my absence these past months and this massive chapter as penance for my absence. Now if you haven't figured it out by now I worry about you, but the pairing is Harry/Nagini...honestly I'm shocked only two people figured it out. I mean, I have stated multiple times that I write stories that have never been attempted before, and I even posted the pairing on the summary! However, for all of you about to turn green in the face thinking of what this may lead to; don't. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't do smut. Period. Hell I wouldn't even know where to start in this particular scenario. The M rating is for blood, gore and language, NOT SMUT. That being said, while the relationship will be apparent it will NOT encompass the story; it will simply be one aspect of it. I know it was probably painful reading through the training section but it was a necessary evil; I can't just say he spent five years training and got a lot stronger...well I could but it'd make for a shitty story, and I don't want that. Thankfully the training arc is complete, finished! There will be little snippets of training here and there throughout the story, but it will never again be to such a degree...I'll admit the training part was a big part of my absence...I hate writing those parts. For all you frothing at the mouth for the next addition to "A Fox Among Tamers" worry not! THAT story is already on a roll and I don't have a painful training section to plow through; just straight up plot-goodness! I think I've rambled on enough now, and just as a last reminder, I will now be answering reviews at the BEGINNING of the chapter, not the end...just makes more sense to me. That being said, have a good day and Merry Christmas! (Sorry to all you out there that may take offense to this, I'm just wishing you a good day)