Disclaimer: Just in case no one has noticed that this is fanfiction (ergo I am a fan and do not own Harry Potter), I should probably give a disclaimer; I do not now, nor have I ever, owned Harry Potter nor am I likely to do so.
Harry did not know how long he knelt beside his mother, he did not know how long he screamed his hatred and anger at a world which had stolen his family and his friends from him, but one thing he did know; no matter how long it would take, and no matter how hard it was, he would have his revenge on the people who did this.
He knelt beside the woman who brought him into this world, painstakingly memorising every last detail of her face, down to the very freckles that adorned her cheeks, and so he did not notice the men who were slowly approaching from behind him. He did, however, notice when one of the men tapped him on the shoulder, said tap being accompanied by a voice. A rather irritating voice, thought Harry, as he attempted to process what the man was saying to him.
"Did you live here?" asked the man, and Harry could not bring himself to respond, the gravity of the situation hitting him all the more when the man referred to his home in the past tense. The man spoke again, "Did you live here?"
Finally, Harry answered the incessant voice, barely breathing a reply, "Yes." As he spoke, Harry absentmindedly noticed his voice was calm and completely devoid of emotion, a vast contrast from the turmoil of emotions that was playing havoc inside Harry's mind, oddly though, Harry could not muster the energy to care.
"Who are you?" asked the man and Harry noticed the man's voice was empty of compassion, but the lethargy that sapped at his energy did not allow him to care, but nonetheless, Harry responded.
"Harry Potter." As completely enraptured as he was with memorising his mother's face, he did not notice the man retreat, nor did he notice that the conversation had ended. He also did not notice as the same man came back mere minutes later, and with a whispered, "Stupefy," cast a red light from his wand that struck Harry in the back, causing his mother's beautiful face to be whisked away from his view as his vision slowly succumbed to darkness, his body falling to the ground as the spell took effect.
Sluggishly, Harry began to regain consciousness, and he pulled himself up to a sitting position, his mind already running through all that needed doing that day, "Well, Dad will almost certainly need help in filling that order from the Blacks. We need to have it sent away soon, and maybe Hannah and I could get a little "alone" time…" The thought of Hannah brought his mind back to the events of the day before or earlier that day, he wasn't sure, and he felt a pain in his chest unlike anything else he had ever felt before. It was almost as though there was a hand reaching into his chest, grabbing his heart and twisting it. At the same time as this incredible pressure, he also felt as though there was a hole inside him, that there was something missing, almost as if he had been tied to something, and the rope had been taut, but now was slack because there was nothing pulling on the other end. It was a horrible, gut-wrenching pain, and he expressed it in a grief-stricken keening that made those around him turn.
It was so filled with pain and sorrow that the minds of all who heard it immediately turned to all those that they had lost. One man quickly moved to Harry's side, and began to pat and rub his back in a comforting manner, attempting to offer some solace to the young man. Harry grabbed on to the source of comfort, clutching to the man's cloak, burying his head in it as tears began streaming down his face, his scream of pain muffled by the fabric of the cloak. The man reacted well, and held the boy to him as a father would, hating the fact that one so young should suffer so much. Harry held the man who was his only source of comfort, and although the embrace was a fatherly one, Harry could not help but remember his father who had always smelt faintly of pine, wood and grass, and so the embrace offered little comfort to his mournful heart.
Still, Harry slowly managed to recover himself to the extent that his eyes were no longer welling up with tears, and wistfully pulled himself away from the man. The man looked down at the boy who had just used his cloak as a makeshift handkerchief, his red, puffy eyes gazing up at him, his cheeks still wet, and lip still quivering due to his sorrow, and felt pity. Harry looked up at the man who had attempted to help him in his heartache, the man's blue eyes looking down at him, mouth open slightly as though to offer some platitude, and felt grateful.
"Thank you," Muttered Harry, his throat surprisingly sore after his cry.
The man only smiled in response before standing up and stepping back so Harry could see his surroundings. Harry cast his gaze around himself, realising they were in a cart travelling through some unknown forest with maybe a dozen men surrounding it on horseback, with another two in cart with him and the man who had comforted him, and, belatedly, he realised these men could be the people who had killed his family. As this realisation struck him, he leapt to his feet, hand already moving to pull his wand from his holster, but before he could even unleash a single spell, the man in front of him had stepped forward and grabbed Harry's wrist, preventing him from causing any damage.
Then the man spoke, a strong Irish accent shining through. "I am Captain Murphy. I am one of the guards in the employ of the Finnegan's, upon whose land you and your family lived. You have nothing to be afraid of."
"Then who killed my…" Harry's voice cut off midway through his sentence as his throat seemed to close over at the mention of his family and friend's death, but Captain Murphy understood the question anyway, and sought to answer.
"We believe it to have been raiders sent by Grindelwald. Two of my men have followed their tracks, but they have most likely already returned to their boats and left."
Harry frowned, "There aren't any ports within several hours walk of my home."
Captain Murphy smiled kindly at him, "That is true, however, you have already been asleep several hours, not to mention the raiders used horses and so were mostly likely away by the time we were even aware of the attack. Speaking of which, why were you unharmed?"
Harry struggled to answer, "My F-father was a carpenter, I was going for wood when the attack happened and when I returned, I saw the smoke. Why… why would they attack my home?"
"Grindelwald's men have been attacking and destroying towns up and down the coastlines, in the mainland as well as here in Ireland, however, they have rarely ventured as far inland as they did earlier today. We are headed to Finnegan Castle, we were sent to offer what aid we could, and if the situation were dire, return with as many survivors as possible, or if there none, simply pursue the attackers. I am glad we found you."
Harry did not know how to respond, nor did he particularly care. The gaping wound inside his chest demanded attention, so he simply nodded at the Captain, and rolled over onto his head, and curled up into a foetal position.
"Harry!" The cry came from Hannah, clad in only her underclothes, which at any other time would have been scandalous, however, all the 5 families who lived in the same hamlet had come down to the lake for a fun day out. "Come, join us!" She shouted again from where she floated beside her mum, Jane.
Harry couldn't help but smile at the obvious glee on her face, and left his place sunbathing beside his mother and father to cannonball into the lake, deliberately splashing her, much to chagrin. She quickly took revenge, however, and splashed him in the face. As he rubbed the water from his eyes, he was unable to see Thomas approaching him from behind to dunk him underwater. Spluttering, Harry emerged from beneath the water, before spinning around. "Thomas Jordan Lupin!" He shouted in mock anger. "Come here and take your punishment like a man."
It didn't look like Thomas had any intention on acting like a man, and had attempted to flee away to hide behind his dad, who promptly winked mischievously at Harry, before dunking Thomas in return, laughing all the while.
Thomas soon emerged to the view of everyone laughing at his misfortune, he also saw Harry still approaching him grinning. "Oh, come on." Thomas pleaded, "Dad already got me back."
"But I didn't." smirked Harry, before he leapt at Thomas and began wrestling with him in an attempt to force him underwater. Unfortunately for Harry, his single-minded approach to this left him unawares to a spell striking him in the side, lifting him upside down into the air above the lake. Twisting and turning, he spotted his dad grinning at him from the lakeside, wand in hand and pointed at Harry. "Let me down." Harry shouted to him, before realising just what was about to happen. "No!" Harry shouted in anticipation of what was about to happen.
His dad smirked gleefully at him, before making a quick wand motion, causing Harry's defiance of gravity to end, leading to Harry falling the half dozen feet into the lake, limbs flailing in an attempt to right himself so he wouldn't fall head first. Alas, his frantic attempts failed, and he hit the water with a massive splash.
This time, it was Harry's turn for everyone to laugh at his misfortune; however this laughter quickly ended when Harry did not emerge from underwater, and instead, where he had fallen, only bubbles rose. "Harry?" Called James before shouting again, this time much more frantically, with a note of panic in his voice, "Harry!" Instantly, James' mind leapt to the worst possibilities imaginable, "What if he hurt his neck when he fell? Oh no, what if he's unconscious?"
As his mind reached these conclusions, his body leapt into action and he dove into the water, swimming quickly to where he thought Harry was, before diving under the water. Unable to see anything, he rose above the water to see everyone else also looking in the water for Harry. As their collective panic rose, they heard a cackling from lakeside, and turned to see Harry holding James' discarded wand. "Payback!" shouted Harry, before quickly casting a few spells at the water, causing ever-increasing waves to buffet the swimmers.
After a dozen or so seconds of this, the waves subsided, and everyone immediately turned to Harry who was doubled over in laughter at them. He quickly sobered up, however, when everyone moved towards him, a glint of murder in their eyes, and he swiftly turned and fled.
Upon remembering this happy memory from less than a year ago, Harry's grief, momentarily abated by the recollection, returned anew, and he wept.
Harry stood in the living room of his house, a place generally filled with laughter and joy, a stark difference to what he was experiencing now. His last remaining grandparent, Connor, had died. Connor had been the oldest person in the hamlet by a considerable margin, some 15 summers, and his age had finally caught up with him, and Harry did not know how to act. His parents, normally so indomitable, had succumbed to their grief and remained largely unable to sleep.
Harry himself had been unable to approach the coffin where his grandfather's body remained uncovered, but with the funeral coming the next day, this would be his last chance to see his grandfather's face, and so he stood in the doorway of the room of his grandfather's current resting place. Remus appeared behind him and put a kindly hand on his shoulder, "Would you like to say goodbye?" asked the venerable man who was practically Harry's uncle.
Harry nodded in response, and Remus slowly guided him to the coffin. Harry gazed down at Connor's face, laugh lines evident around his eyes, now respectfully closed. It did not look like Connor as his smile, normally a constant fixture on his face, was now gone, and left his face looking alien to Harry's young mind. Still, his face seemed peaceful, and his hands clasped around his wand, no one else had been able to force any response from the 11 inches of unyielding oak, and so he would be buried with it, in the fashion of the nobles.
At that moment, Harry recalled a single line from a story Connor had once told him, "A man, royal, not in blood, but in character, in bearing, in action and in thought."
It was not until Remus spoke that Harry realised he had spoken aloud, "I suppose that describes him better than anything else. Harry, let me tell you this, if you act according to that adage, if that is how you live your life, if that is how you die, then that is a life worth living, no matter the cost, or the consequences. That is how your grandfather lived, and he was the best man I ever knew."
Harry was taken from his reminiscences at a particularly rough jolt to the cart. He forced himself to sit up straight, and looked around him. They had just arrived at Shane's Castle, the home of the Finnegan's. Harry's head turned off its own accord, gazing around him to take in the small town outside the keep. There were a number of peasant's bartering at the market, and the smell of salt was prevalent in the air, a side-effect of being at a port.
There were maybe 3 or 4 score houses in the town, making it the largest place Harry had ever been. Harry and his family only went to the smaller markets closer to where they lived, not wanting to make the day trip up to Shane's Castle. "It's big, isn't it?" The query came from behind Harry, and he twisted to see Captain Murphy smiling kindly at him. "I remember when I first came here. I had lived in a small hamlet two days journey from here, not unlike what yours was like. I was the youngest of six sons and there was no room for me at the family farm, so I came here to try and make a living. I was lucky enough to be taken from a life of brawling to become a guard. For me, this place is home and I love, even if there are bigger towns on the mainland."
Harry nodded in agreement, "It's certainly impressive."
The rest of the short journey passed in silence as Captain Murphy allowed Harry to take in the sights of the town. However, too quickly for Harry's liking, they passed through the gates of the castle, and Harry was forced to leave the cart. Captain Murphy strode beside him and began to guide him into the castle, and together, they walked into the greeting hall. Harry absently noted the marble floor, the polished yew furniture and the opulent decorations that were tastefully scattered throughout the room. His gawking did not go unnoticed, but were interrupted when Captain Murphy stopped his movement, before taking a step forward. "Milord, this is the lone survivor of the attack."
Harry looked forward, and his eyes took in the elder Finnegan's upon their twin thrones; and his avid eyes took in Shane first, the man was perhaps a shade less than 6 feet tall, and was very corpulent, with rolls of fat obvious across his body, the result of a good, perhaps too good, diet. His oily face was streaked with sweat despite it being a brisk spring day, and his eyes bore a look of impatience. He bore little resemblance to the hero his father had told him about, the man who had conquered this area of land some 50 summers ago.
His scrutiny turned next to Aideen, Shane's wife, and he saw a woman well past her prime, and more than a little plump. Her eyes were kind though, and there were creases beside them that bespoke of a laughing soul. Her eyes glittered with compassion as she took in the young man before her, his face showing evidence of the emotional turmoil that bubbled beneath the surface, his emerald eyes sparkling with grief.
Aideen spoke first, her voice a musical lilt that caused a motherly feeling to crash over Harry, "Oh, you poor thing! Shane, we must give him a room."
Shane grunted, before wiping his face with a silk handkerchief, "We must do no such thing." He spoke curtly, before a glare from his wife caught his eye, and he conceded, "Out of the goodness of my heart, however, I will allow you to stay with the kitchen staff until we decide on the appropriate method on how to… deal with you." His voice, so unlike his wife's kindly one, was coarse, and filled with disgust at the dirty, red-faced young vagabond who had appeared in front of them.
Harry took no notice of the disgust in his voice, but instead followed Captain Murphy who whispered to him, "I'll show you were you can sleep." The man also handed Harry his wand holster and wand, before giving the young man a hand in strapping in to his wrist.
A/N: Hey, I'm back, finally. And no, it did not take me almost a year to recover from a broken arm, it actually healed last September, but I had to undergo physical therapy as my arm muscles had atrophied into nothingness. Add to that that I read all my stories, and was dismayed by the low quality of writing many of them had, and its, hopefully, somewhat understandable why it's taken me this long to come back to writing. I've decided to focus on this story, because I think it's my best one, however, I am currently writing an original novel that I will try to publish, so updates for this may be sporadic. If any of my readers could spare the few minutes to drop me a review, or take part in my poll, that would be great. Thanks. Also, I find myself very bad at coming up with new names, so if anyone could also send me a few, that would be much appreciated.