Words Have Meaning
(AN: This baby bunnie attacked me in the middle of writing the next chapter for 2 Shall Be when was reading a reference on something else about home and then hearing Mark Davis a radio talk show host I listen to tell someone "words have meaning". This could be considered a "How It Might've Gone" story, but I feel it stands alone. This one is also a little darker than my usual stories. The bunnie hadn't given me the impression that this was what it intended when the story was told to me. I hope you enjoy it any way. Oh and before I forget, I don't own HP and I am making no money off this. Also I would like to thank Marnsrowe from my group for providing the best definitions for Dumbledore.)
Dumbledore stared for a moment at the sunlit grounds outside the window, then looked back at Harry and said, "Five years ago you arrived at Hogwarts, Harry, Safe and whole, as I had planned and intended. Well –- not quite whole. You had suffered. I knew you would when I left you on your aunt and uncle's doorstep.. I knew I was condemning you to ten dark and difficult years."
He paused. Harry said nothing.
"You might ask –- and with good reason – why it had to be so. Why could some wizarding family not have taken you in? Many would have done so more than gladly, would have been honoured and delighted to raise you as a son. My answer is that my priority was to keep you alive. You were in more danger than perhaps anyone but I realised. … And I had to make my decision, too, with regard to the years ahead. Did I believe that Voldemort was gone for ever? No. I knew not whether it would be ten, twenty or fifty years before he returned, but I was sure he would do so, and I was sure, too, knowing him as I have done, that he would not rest until he killed you. … So I made my decision. You would be protected by an ancient magic of which he knows and despises, and which he has always, therefore, underestimated –- to his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day. I put my trust, therefore, in your mother's blood. I delivered you to her sister, her only remaining relative."
"She doesn't love me," Harry said at once. "She doesn't give a damn –"
"But she took you," Dumbledore cut across him. "She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, yet she still took you, and in doing so, she sealed the charm I placed upon you. Your mother's sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you."
"I still don't –-"
"While you can still call home the place where your mother's blood dwells, there you can not be touched or harmed by Voldemort. He shed her blood, but it lives on in you and her sister. Her blood became your refuge. You need to return there only once a year, but as long as you can call it home, whilst you are there he cannot hurt you. Your aunt knows this. I explained what I had done in the letter I left, with you, on her doorstep. She knows that allowing you houseroom may well have kept you alive for the past fifteen years."
"Five years ago, then," continued Dumbledore, as though he had not paused in his story, "you arrived at Hogwarts, neither as happy nor as well nourished as I would have liked, perhaps, yet alive and healthy. You were not a pampered little prince, but as normal a boy as I could have hoped under the circumstances. "Thus far, my plan was working well."
Excerpts from Order of the Phoenix pgs 736-737 British edition
When Dumbledore finished explaining his reasoning and what he had caused Harry's life to be like for the last fifteen years because of the prophecy he finally showed to the boy, he sat down, not looking at Harry as if he were feeling guilty about his confession and waiting for Harry's reaction. And even then he hadn't told Harry everything. He had no intention of telling Harry that he was a horocrux and must give up his life to save the wizarding world. Or the fact that Voldemort might have inadvertently made himself a horocrux for Harry. If the prophecy were correct, only Voldemort could kill Harry and destroy the horocrux he had placed within the boy. It was one of the few loopholes regarding horocruxes from what Dumbledore could find. The maker was the only one who could easily destroy them without having to resort to extreme measures to destroy them like Fiendfyre or the highly corrosive effects of Basilisk blood to destroy one.
He was expecting either violent shouting or questions, but after several minutes of silence, Dumbledore looked over to see how the boy was taking the news that he was the one destined to destroy Voldemort. Young Potter was looking at his desk, his expression largely unreadable. Not that that unusual for Harry. It was very hard to know what was going on in the boy's mind without resorting to occlumency.
"Harry?" Dumbledore questioned lightly trying to get the boy to look at him so he could get an idea of what was going on in his head.
The boy didn't respond right away, nor did he look up. Apparently he had learned one lesson from Severus' occlumency lessons - Do not meet the gaze of a known legilimens if you want to keep your thoughts secret.
Finally Harry looked up but still didn't meet his gaze as he asked in a neutral voice, "Headmaster, would you say that words have meaning, given what you have shown and told me here tonight?"
"Yes," Dumbledore agreed, "words have always had meaning, though the context will vary depending on the language and the life the person using the words believes the words mean."
"That's a politician's answer," Harry snapped, cold fury appearing in his voice. "I want you to define two words – Home and Normal."
"I don't understand." Dumbledore couldn't understand where the boy was going with this. "You know what both of those words mean."
"I don't want a politician's answer on what the words mean." Harry sounded as if he thought Dumbledore was deliberately trying to play dumb. "I want to know what they mean to you. And just to see how close you are to the correct definition… Dobby."
The requested house elf popped in bouncing in place. "Master Harry Potter calls Dobby?"
"Yes Dobby, can you get me a muggle dictionary?" Harry requested.
The house elf bobbed his head eagerly. "I's get."
The elf popped out then popped back in a few moments later with a thick book.
Opening the dictionary, Harry turned the pages until he found what he was looking for then he repeated his earlier request. "Headmaster, please define the word home."
"Harry," Dumbledore tried to protest. He needed to get things back on track. Harry was not reacting as he expected. He had not expected this dispassionate reaction given that Sirius had died only a short time ago. "I define the word home as: the place where you reside and spend most of your time during the majority of your formative years - and of course go back to visit as you get older. Why are you asking me such a subjective question?"
"According to the dictionary home is defined as: a noun and means a place where one lives; a residence, or the physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment. It is also classified as a dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household and an environment offering security and happiness, a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin." Harry read the definition aloud. "You wanted to know why I wanted to know how you defined a home? It's quite simple. Ever since I was old enough to figure out what the general meaning of a home was, I havenever called the Dursley's house my home. Instead it was and is my prison and since coming to Hogwarts it has be come even more of one, especially this past summer because you chose to cut me off from all human contact. Define normal."
"Harry." Dumbledore protested.
"Define normal!" Harry barked as items on the shelves started to rattle and Fawkes began trilling softly trying to calm the boy down.
Dumbledore sighed. "Normal to me is – a person who is not special or extra-ordinary. They do nothing to attract attention to themselves. They are very good at fading into the woodwork."
Harry turned more pages in the dictionary and then once again read aloud, "Normal, an adjective. According to the dictionary it is: usual; regular; common; typical the normal way of doing it the normal level, constituting a standard if we take this as normal. The psychological definition is - being within certain limits of intelligence, educational success or ability, etc and conforming to the conventions of one's group. Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical: normal room temperature; one's normal weight; normal diplomatic relations."
Harry met Dumbledore's eyes briefly but before the headmaster could get an idea of what was going on in his mind, the boy looked at Fawkes. "As far as I can see, I am not normal. I do not fit your definition of normal since thanks to you and the rest of the wizarding world I am not seen as someone who is not special, nor can I fade into the woodwork. And thanks to the way the Dursley's raised me, I do not fit the non-magical world's definition of normal either. Since I doubt it is normal in either world to force a child to live in a cupboard and cook full meals when they are 4 years of age and then punish them when the meal is not properly prepared. Thanks to you Headmaster, I am nothing but a tool to be used and put away and ignored when I am not needed in a place that is not my home it is my prison like Grimmauld place was Sirius' prison."
"Harry," Dumbledore hadn't expected this reaction. "You know that's not true. You have friends and family and while I will admit the first ten years you spent were not ideal, we have tried to make up for that during this last five."
Harry snorted. "You are delusional Headmaster. I have no real friends. Real friends would have written to me over the summer. I doubt that Deatheaters would be mugging muggle postmen just to find letters being sent to me. Hermione and Mrs. Weasley both know how to send things by non-magical mail but they didn't choose to use that alternate method to keep in touch with me. Instead they chose to blindly follow your orders as if you were God making a pronouncement on high. No one who didn't have a god complex would have subjected a child to what was essentially prison from the age of one."
"Harry," Dumbledore protested. "While I am the first to admit your life with the Dursleys was not ideal, it was the best I could do if you were to have a chance of surviving to fulfil your destiny."
"You mean my destiny of dying to save the British magical world, because Voldemort decided I was the one who was the greatest threat and not a pureblood like Neville. Can't help wondering if my life would have been better or worse if the Ministry had known about the prophecy." Harry cocked his head in consideration. "My childhood probably would not have been any easier given they would most likely spend their time moulding the weapon they needed to finally take out Voldemort, but then at least I would have stood a chance against him. As opposed to simply being like a hand grenade waiting for someone to pull the pin, because of the way you had me raised. Ether way I suppose it is for the best, because certainly nobody will miss their weapon once it is gone. My Aunt and Uncle will probably have a wild party to celebrate the fact that they no longer have to act as my jailers."
"Harry! How can you talk about your family like that!" Dumbledore was beginning to get worried.
"Listen to what I am telling you for once, Headmaster. Actually listen and hear what I am saying." Harry ground out. "The Dursleys are not my family. Petunia Dursley if she could figure out how to do so and not die as a result, would happily have every ounce of blood that makes her related to me removed to be replaced with someone else's just to sever the connection between us. Furthermore, I DENY that I have ever considered the Dursley house as a home. It has been my Prison! Except when I have been away from it and then it was the place I NEVER wanted to return to! And because you had to control every aspect of my life my one chance to make that happen has been destroyed forever!"
As soon as Harry made that statement, several devices on a nearby table emitted shrill cries before they stopped moving forever.
"Harry!" Dumbledore stared at the devices aghast. "Do you know what you have done? You have destroyed the protection placed on you over 14 years ago."
"I sincerely doubt that." Harry countered. They were destroyed a long time ago. If they ever really worked, then they were at best weak. And you have forgotten one thing headmaster. Voldemort has my blood, which means those so called protections against him are totally worthless, because he can walk right through them."
"Harry, you are wrong." Dumbledore tried to frantically recover control of the situation. "The wards were fine, until you destroyed them just now. I would have known if they were not."
"Oh really," Harry voice was dripping with sarcasm. "Would you care to swear an oath on your magic to that effect, Headmaster Dumbledore, given that you had guards at the Dursleys all of last summer, keeping an eye on this weapon of yours to make sure nothing happened to it until it was time to unleash it?"
There was nothing Dumbledore could say to that. Harry was right in a way. Given that Voldemort had taken Harry's blood he might've been able to get through the wards. "You are not a weapon, Harry. But you are a very special young man, and you needed to be protected until you could fulfil your destiny."
"Well if those wards of yours were as good as you claim, then your guards should not have been needed." Harry countered. "I noticed you weren't willing to put your magic on the line to back up your claim. So my aunt's hatred and treating me as if I were something that should be scraped off the bottom of her shoe did weaken them."
Harry got to his feet. "At least I now know my value to you and the wizarding world, Headmaster. I am nothing but a weapon to be brought out when the time is right to kill Tom and be killed as well."
"Harry, once Voldemort has been dealt with, you will have your whole life ahead of you." Dumbledore tired to assure him. If Harry chose not to return because of the horocrux that Tom inadvertently made for him then they would still be unable to take him out. Harry had to believe he had something to live for. "You have your friends and you will find someone to share your life. You have your whole life ahead of you and you will be able to get on with it once the Dark Lord has been dealt with."
"I have no life headmaster, you have seen to that." Harry told him his hand on the knob of the office door. "Don't worry I will return to my prison just like a good little weapon and you don't even have to worry about me trying to take my life, since according to the prophecy, I would not succeed, given I am not Voldemort."
Dumbledore stared at the now closed door. This was going to require some planning. In order for his plan to work Harry had to have something to live for.