Edited for mistakes 8/28/2011. Nothing crucial to the plot has been changed. I'll be going through the rest of the chapters this week and sprucing them up before I finish and post the next chapter.
Hello and welcome to my first foray into fanfiction I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: All rights to the Harry Potter universe belong to Jk, not me. :(
warnings: Slash TR/HP Creature Harry, Manipulative Dumbles
At about one in the morning in the smallest bedroom of number 4 Privet Drive a boy lay sleeping peacefully.
And not just any boy, but the savior of the Wizarding World, the-Boy-Who-Lived.
A blinding flash of green…grey eyes open but empty…..fear and guilt…
"…no Cedric…." He mumbles as his body starts to tremble.
Oh well. Maybe not sleeping peacefully, but you can't really blame him. For you see, during the previous school year this poor boy witnessed the death of one of his classmates in a deadly tournament…
Blood is spilt…should have let Sirius kill that rat….Gods! What is that misshapen thing?…
"Erghh" he cries "Voldemort…no…this isn't happening" and begins to thrash about in earnest.
And the resurrection of a very evil insane Dark Lord.
Pale smooth skin….Bloody hell what's wrong with his face?…Cruel, triumphant, maniacal laughter.
Who killed his parents when he was a baby and would have killed him,
"Harry Potter… Take your wand!"
If not for the sacrifice and protection of his mother Lily.
Hateful, broken red eyes…
So truly, it's a wonder he can even sleep at all.
"CRUCIO" and the boy finally begins to scream.
I do hope someone shows up soon to comfort him…
"BOY!" a load voice bellowed as Harry's door crashed open. He suddenly found himself on the floor, desperately trying to contain his sobs and pull his mind from the shadows that remained of his nightmare. He looked up and saw the large form of his Uncle looming above him, face contorting in various shades of purple and red, mustache and jowls quivering violently.
It would have been rather amusing if Harry hadn't been rather conveniently distracted.
"I LET YOU IN MY HOME!"
"I FEED YOU!"
"AND LET YOU CONTAMINATE OUR HOUSE WITH YOUR FREAKESHNESS!"
"I WILL NOT PUT UP WITH YOU WAKING US AND ALL THE NIEGHBORS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!"
"NOW GO BACK TO SLEEP. I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER SOUND OUT OF THIS ROOM OR IT'S BACK TO THE CUPBOARD WITH NO FOOD FOR A WEEK!" And with that his uncle stormed back out of the room, slamming and locking the door behind him.
"Well" sneered Harry as he unrolled out of the ball he had formed on the floor. "At least he woke me up from that nightmare." He ran his hand through his messy short black hair and crawled back into bed, covering his thin frame with the threadbare blanket that was perfect for summer, but made nights misery in winter. His mind began to swirl with thoughts of depression and bitterness, as it always seemed to do in his quiet moments lately.
He closed his eyes remembering his dream. "Cedric" he whispered and felt tears forming in his large, emerald eyes.
It shouldn't have happened. He was the one meant to die not Cedric. Honest, friendly, loyal Cedric.
Last year was such a mess, first with the death-eater attack and dark mark at the Quidditch world cup.
Then the bloody fiasco when his name came out of that blasted goblet, forcing him to participate in the Triwizard Tournament despite being below the age limit and not having the same amount of experience as the other students picked. Then nearly the whole bloody-freaking school had turned against him. Including Ron The Jealous Git, because they thought he cheated and entered the tournament on his own.
Things were finally getting better after the first task with the dragons when Ron and a lot of the others realized how much he had not wanted any more fame and how bloody dangerous the stupid tournament was, but then of course Hogwarts just had to host the Yule ball.
He hadn't minded the dancing or the nervousness that came with his first real date. In fact, it could have been a wonderful experience. It could have been one of the most wonderful nights of his life, an opportunity to relax and spread his wings a bit. But instead it just sucked.
Except for Ron's robes. Those had been hilarious.
Why? Why had it been so awful? Because he himself hadn't been able to even dance with the one person he actually had any interest in. His attempts to relax and enjoy Parvarti's company had fallen drastically short. No matter how pretty, smart and kind she was. When the witch had finally tired of his admittedly poor company and left to find entertainment on her own, which he had not begrudged her for, he had been left to hang out with the world's largest JEALOUS PRAT. Ron spent the entire evening scowling and growling at anyone who came near, though Krum was the most frequent recipient of Ron's Glare of Jealous Stupidity. Seriously. If Ron likes Hermione so much he shouldn't treat her the way he does.
Ignoring the fact that she's a girl till the last minute, not believing she had a date, and behaving horrendously when all Hermione is trying to do is have a nice evening with a date that actually appreciated her. Honestly, if he hadn't been so rude Ron might have been able to enjoy at least a dance with Hermione instead of getting punch tossed in his face.
'It really would have been nice to have danced with Cedric'… the thought entered traitorously into his mind. He rolled over and buried his face in his to thin pillow, ignoring the burning in his eyes.
"No. No more thinking about Cedric. It's pointless. He's dead. He's dead and it's my fault."
Harry viciously pushed all thought of Cedric away but memories about his horrible last year kept coming.
The second task and those horrifying merpeople. The cold, dark Black Lake.
Then that bloody bitch Rita Skeeter and her articles.
Sirius being stupid and risking himself, even though Harry had been glad to have his godfather nearby.
Then there was the third task. That damn maze filled with monsters and carnivorous weeds that weren't even a prelude to what waited at the end.
The return of Voldemort and that strange ritual to give him a body had been one of the most terrifying moments of his life. His disturbing new appearance seemed far more real and far more dangerous than any of his previous incarnations he had met before.
The most memorable part of his new appearance had been his eyes. Those gleaming red eyes that had been so broken and filled with insanity and evil intent. Just the memory of that maniacal gaze trained solely upon him gave him shudders.
For a moment though... Harry suddenly remembered.
For a moment Voldemort's eyes had cleared as they looked into his own. He hadn't seemed quite so twisted then, so irredeemable. He actually reminded Harry of the Tom Riddle from the diary. Brilliant, cunning, and yes a tad sadistic, but he was far more whole than the monster that stepped out of that cauldron.
But as soon as he saw those eyes clear, they had clouded again, filled with insanity.
And then he had challenged Harry to a dual.
He didn't think he had ever felt as weak. Even broken and twisted, insane, that monster had nearly beaten him, broke him. If it hadn't been for the strange reaction between their wands, Voldemort would have done what years with Harry's loving family had not been able to do.
With the knowledge of his insignificance and Cedric's death, it was all Harry could do to run away.
To grab that portkey and Cedric's body….the one time Harry actually got to hold him…and flee.
Maybe he was being a tad dramatic. Harry knew he was young and that there were many more opportunities and experiences ahead of him. But at the risk of theatrics…
He felt old and tired.
It seemed something horrendous happened every year since he started Hogwarts. And every year as he tried to fulfill the expectations of those around him a little bit more of him died inside. This summer his heart seemed resoundingly empty. All the events of the past year had chipped away at the happiness he stored inside himself. He didn't know what to do. Everything was fucked up.
If only he didn't have to be the golden boy. If only he could be allowed to be who he was. Without fame and without Dumbledore's expectations.
He had been so happy when he first found out he was a wizard. He thought, for the first time, that maybe he wasn't a freak. That maybe he had a place he belonged. That maybe he had a chance to live and laugh and love as he'd seen so many other people do.
And he did have moments like that, with the Weasley's and Hermione and Hagrid and Hedwig. He'd seen unicorns and centaurs and magic. And he treasured all of those experiences deeply.
But Harry had also seen firsthand the prejudices of the wizarding world and he'd seen how little he really mattered in the face of what they think is right and wrong. How every time he found something worthwhile and that brought him happiness there was always someone or something around to turn those moments bitter. Or even overshadow them completely.
It reminded him of a poem by Dickinson he read at the public library
"For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.
For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears."
'I wonder how much more I have to pay for my ecstatic moments' Harry thought and rolled again to face the ceiling.
"Has it been worth it?" Harry softly questioned. When nothing was forthcoming he closed his eyes hoping against hope for a few hours of dreamless sleep. Perhaps come morning when his mind wasn't clouded by nightmares and his own angst he'd find the answer.
Thursday the twenty seventh of July found Harry barely awake and preparing breakfast for the Dursleys. He hadn't had much success finding true sleep the night before and was incredibly lucky he managed not to burn the scrambled eggs he was making. His uncle was already upset with him enough because of his nightmares. Harry really didn't want to add to the man's aggravation.
His Aunt Petunia, a tall, lanky, horse-faced woman, was at his left preparing lunch for her precious Dudders. He and his friends were having an outing today and his Aunt was making sure her darling boy would have plenty to eat while they were out.
'Not that she would ever do anything like that for me.' Harry thought bitterly.
He was only a freak, a worthless nobody. It didn't matter if they practically starved him. He was barely worth a few slices of bread and limp vegetables on the best of days.
"Make sure to add a few extra rashers of bacon boy. I want Dudley to have plenty of energy today." His Aunt said with a sniff.
"Yes Aunt Petunia" Harry said obediently, although he was sure Dudley had enough fat reserve to last him for about a decade.
His aunt glared at him and said "I want to you to go to work in the garden as soon as you've finished making breakfast. Focus especially on the rose bushes. Mrs. Cardin is getting far too much recognition for her lanky flowers. I want to bring her down a peg or two."
Harry nodded. 'At least she puts her own effort into those roses. It's not really your place to bring her down seeing as you don't even touch your garden.'
"Then I want you to clean the gutters and mow the lawn. The paving stones in back need to be re-laid and the apple tree needs to be trimmed as well."
At that moment a tremendous noise was heard as his cousin and Uncle tromped down the stairs.
They came into the kitchen and Dudley and Vernon seated themselves at the table.
"Morning pet." Vernon said "I can't really say good morning seeing as how some freak wouldn't let us sleep last night." And he glared at Harry.
"Sorry Uncle Vernon" Harry said quietly. Thinking breakfast might distract him from a tirade about his freakishness, he quickly set a plate full of eggs and bacon in front of the man. It worked most of the time and it seemed this time wouldn't be an exception.
"Mummy," Dudley said."Could I have some more spending money for our outing today." he stated spooning shovelfuls of eggs into his mouth.
"Of course you can my precious little boy…" and then Harry tuned the rest of the conversation out.
A half an hour later found Vernon Dursley off to work, Dudley out of the house for the day and Harry working in the garden; carefully snipping away at the rose bushes.
Painstakingly avoiding the thorns, he trimmed the dead and wilting blooms as his mind turned to thoughts of his summer.
It had been quiet. Hot and quiet. No news about the wizarding world and no news of Voldemort.
In the beginning, his scar had ached off and on. Now though, it seemed to have settled down and Harry was at a loss as to explain why.
He was more concerned at the moment with latest letter he had received from Hermione yesterday.
I hope this finds you well. How are your relatives treating you this summer? I'm terribly sorry you had to go back there but hopefully you won't have to stay for too much longer.
Listen Harry…I have something I need to tell you. I found out so many things last year and over the summer, but I don't feel safe telling you in a letter.
I know it sounds as if I've been keeping something important from you…but with everything going on last term. I didn't want to add to your worries.
I know this sounds strange, and I normally wouldn't ask you to do something so dangerous, but I need to speak with you privately and in person.
Can you meet me at the Leaky Cauldron on Thursday at 10 am? Please wear the cloak your Father gave you.
(P.S. Please don't say anything to anyone. )
Was it a trap? What had Hermione been hiding? Why tell him now?
In all his letters Ron had never hinted of anything going on, and knowing him if it was something so serious that Hermione felt the need to act this way, he wouldn't have been able to keep it to himself.
After only a minor internal debate he decided he might as well go, especially seeing as how Mione seemed to be up in a fuss about something. And the fact that the letter mentioned his father's cloak which only his closest friends knew about was enough to push away most thoughts of deceit. He had planned on visiting the alley soon anyway and having Hermione along would be a bonus.
If Harry had learned anything from the tournament and the disasters of last year it was that the way he was doing things now, he was going to die. It didn't matter that he was the so called Savior of the Wizarding World and Dumbledore's Golden Boy. Trying to fulfill everyone's expectations and trying to be the perfect little Gryffindor had only gotten him closer and closer to a reunion with his parents.
And wallowing in continued depression and guilt wasn't fixing anything either.
Each year something life-threatening happened at Hogwarts. Right under the nose of the supposedly "greatest wizard alive" Albus Dumbledore and the rest of the Hogwarts staff. Each year, instead of being cared for by the adults in his life people like McGonagall and Dumbledore, especially Dumbledore, he and his friends were left to fend for themselves.
Not to mention, after going through that maze from hell and informing everyone of Voldie's return Harry found himself dumped back here. Dumbledore knew how his relatives treated him. He knew he was miserable here, and still he had done nothing.
Well if it's going to stay that way he might as well be prepared. Harry was making the decision now. When he was eleven he had no knowledge of the wizarding world. No understanding of how things worked. And by the time he understood enough to truly stand on his own feet, expectations had already been set, an image already in the head of the entire wizarding world of who he was supposed to be. The perfect little Gryffindor, Dumbledore's favorite, the bane of Snape and the Slytherins, and a mirror image of his father.
And he had had enough. Both of his restrictive image and the expectations heaped upon him. It was time for both he and the rest of the world to find out who and what he really was. So Harry planned to study, to learn everything he could. No longer would his own ignorance be to blame for the misfortune in his life. Before Hogwarts he had delighted in learning and he was ashamed he had allowed himself to take the easy path in the face of the unknown and frightening new world he had been thrust into.
No more. Harry was going to use every ounce of Slytherin cunning, Ravenclaw intelligence, Hufflepuff loyalty, and Gryffindor courage he had to escape the clutches of both that evil insane dark lord and the parameters an uncaring light side has created for him. He was going to make a future for himself.
'I'm going to finally let myself be me and the rest of the wizarding world can go straight to hell. I've let enough opportunities slip by because of my own insecurity.'
He'd have to remember to stop by Gringotts to pick up some money for the new books he was planning to purchase. He doubted the small amount he had left over from the last school year would be enough if Hermione was going to help him. He'd also have to find some way to hide them from his relatives…
"Lucius, I hope what you are telling me is true." A deep, deceptively calm voice asked.
"Yes my Lord. The girl will be speaking to him this week."
"Excellent." Long, pale, but not unhealthy looking fingers were seen shuffling though a stack of paperwork. "Hopefully with this plan we can end a few of that old fool's manipulations and turn the situation to our advantage. I need to solve the problems related to the boy and this is by far the best solution. Your son did well."
"Thank you My Lord, but I must ask why… It is one thing with the girl. But isn't the boy protected by too many outside influences. Isn't this risking too much?"
"You will see the whole picture in time Lucius. I do not think the boy is as under his thumb as Dumbledore would like to believe." His hand moved to absently brush a lock of jet black hair out of his eyes.
"Of course my Lord, but there is also the matter of the history between you two…"
Cunning red eyes looked up and flashed in irritation.
"Nothing that can't be surmounted. Now leave me Lucius, report to me after their meeting."
"Yes My Lord." And the platinum blonde head bowed in respect before turning and leaving the study.
Sigh. And a sheaf of reports were tossed down almost haphazardly and with a great deal of disgust.
The lean form of Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, then leaned back in his chair, interlinked his hands behind his head and contemplated how much the manipulations of a blind old fool could cause so much damage and complication.
"Things seemed so much simpler when I was insane…"
"Things seemed so much simpler when I was insane…"
"What the hell was that?" Harry thought when he awoke. It seemed his nighttime terrors decided to give him a rest. So instead of finding himself in the graveyard that night, he had received a vision, about Voldemort. But it was so strange. It had the same feel as the vague emotions and snatches he had felt through his scar before but…but the content was vastly different from what he would have expected. It didn't hurt and it certainly didn't reek of the insanity and cruelty he always associated with Voldemort.
The man's appearance was definitely a shocker. He hadn't looked like that in the graveyard.
"Last I checked he looked decidedly more…snakey." This brooding, dark, handsome image was not one he would have linked to Voldemort. It certainly made it harder for Harry to view him as a monster.
Stupid teenage hormones.
And what were they talking about? Who were this boy and girl that had been the center of their conversation?
Whatever was going on it left him with an uneasy feeling. One that centered not only on his preconceptions of the man known as Lord Voldemort, but also the part about Dumbledore's manipulations.
'This won't lead to anything good.' He thought with a grimace. He got up and went downstairs to prepare breakfast when his Aunt rapped loudly on the door, consoling himself with the thought that it was probably just a dream.
Thursday morning after breakfast found Harry pleading with his aunt for permission to leave for the day to "give his aunt the opportunity to have a day of rest and relaxation without his presence around to spoil it." Permission came quickly after he mentioned that with only a few more added chores to his already long list. Harry soon found himself leaving the Dursley's and summoning the knight bus to take him to the Leaky Cauldron.
He was a little nervous about what Hermione had to say and the vision/dream he had the night before wasn't helping.
It was about 9:30 so Harry decided to grab a muffin and some coffee at a nearby vendor. After his breakfast Harry darted into an alleyway, put on his cloak and made his way back to the Leaky Cauldron. It wasn't long before an elderly witch went in with Harry following discreetly behind.
A quick glance around showed him that the best place to wait would be a far corner that was empty of patrons but still gave a clear view of the front door.
He didn't have to wait long.
At about 5 minutes till Hermione showed up and glanced around the crowd.
"She looks alright." Harry thought. Whatever she had been doing was apparently good for her. His friend had been slightly taller than him at the end of the school year and it looked like that was probably still the case. She was filling out more too and her skin held a healthy glow. Her brown, frizzy hair seemed more controlled as well. Harry quickly, but cautiously began to make his way over to her as she headed over to apparently speak with Tom the barkeep.
"Is my private room ready Tom?" Harry heard her say.
"Yes it is miss. Up the stairs and last one on the right."
"Thank you" she said. She took a quick glance around the room and started slightly when Harry grasped her elbow.
"Have a good day, Tom." She said and turned to go up the stairs.
As soon as they were in the room and he had removed his cloak, Harry found himself with an armful of gushing Hermione.
"Oh Harry, how have you been? It's been such an enlightening summer! I've found out so many things. But what about you? Are the Dursleys treating you alright? Have you started your homework yet? I'm almost finished but the potions essay is being a little difficult. I can't tell if Professor Snape is expecting the full history of the discovery of the uses of Caraway or just the history pertaining to Memory potions…."
"Whoa Hermione," Harry said through a grin. "Don't forget to breathe."
Harry led her to the table that was in the room and sat her down.
"Now why don't you tell me what's going on that you couldn't tell me by owl."
"Alright Harry." and Hermione suddenly seemed to get nervous. She looked down and she began to fiddle her fingers.
Finally after a few moments she looked up and took a deep breath:
"Well Harry, you know I'm a muggleborn right?"
Harry just stared at her and Hermione blushed.
Hermione cleared her throat and went on. "Yes, right, umm I was doing some thinking in the middle of last year and I realized how odd it was that muggleborn wizards even existed. I mean for a child to inherit something just out of the blue doesn't make any sense. So naturally I theorized that there must be some wizarding blood in the bloodline whether from a squib or some other source."
Hermione paused for a moment then went on. "So I decided to find out if perhaps that was the case in my family. To do so I decided to brew a heredity potion and since it wasn't really against school rules to do so I asked Professor Snape for the use of one of the student brewing rooms, which he reluctantly agreed too. The catch was it was a shared room… with Malfoy."
"Malfoy..." Harry exclaimed and was about to go on when Hermione held up a hand to stop him.
"There wasn't really a problem with it Harry and he actually helped me out quite a lot when he found out what I was doing. He said it was admirable that instead of trying to contaminate the wizarding world with muggle filth," Hermione crinkled her nose slightly "I was trying to find connections within the wizarding world and he would be happy to help me do so, although he still acted like a stuck up prick half the time. We surprisingly got along very well." Hermione said seemingly amused.
"Hermione, are you telling me you made friends with THE Draco Malfoy? The muggleborn hating, pureblooded, stuck up ponce?"
"I guess you could put it that way." Hermione said hesitantly. "You're not upset with me are you?"
Harry shook his head dazedly.
"No Hermione, shocked and confused, but I'm not upset. If you became friends with him there must be something good about Draco Malfoy." Harry said as thoughts of their past interactions flitted through his mind. "I guess I don't know what he's really like since I didn't really give him a chance. He insulted the first friend I ever made and then I just kind of wrote him off. Even if his attitude was awful, Ron's and I's weren't much better. We just always treated him with suspicion. I don't think we ever stopped to think about what his reasons were."
"Oh Harry, that's so mature of you! Thank you so much for understanding. I was so worried…"
"Hermione you're my best friend. You've stuck with me through thick and thin and I'll do the same for you. I'd be a bloody idiot not to. I'd have no one to look over my essays for me." Harry said with a wry grin.
Hermione's eyes started to get bright "Oh Harry you're the best, and you deserve all the friendship and support you can get. Honestly though Harry, Draco does have some good points and I hope you can find some measure of understanding. I'm not expecting you two to just suddenly see eye to eye. But there's more to tell you." Hermione said starting to look exited.
"Alright, go on." Harry prompted her.
"It turns out my grandfather was a squib. He was the youngest son of a Greek pureblood wizarding family that was put up for adoption when he was 14mths old. His birth name was Emrys Ciriaco Anastas."
"That's great Hermione! Do you have any living wizarding relatives?"
"Not of the Anastas line. The last of the line was my grandfather's brother who died at 17 in a potions accident. I do have some distant relations throughout Greece and Italy though."
"When Draco found out who I was descended from he became really excited and gave me a lot of background information. He told me they were one of the oldest and richest Greek wizarding families and had held a lot of political sway in the Mediterranean. He also said they were typically a bit dark."
After she said that she seemed to get hesitant again.
"Don't worry about that Hermione. It's the choices you make in your life that make you good or evil, not where you come from. I also think there's more to so called "light and dark" magic than we've been told. Look at Professor Lupin. He's a werewolf. A supposedly "dark" creature and he's done nothing but help us."
She looked at Harry contemplatively for a moment before continuing.
"Draco also mentioned,"
"I noticed you keep calling him Draco now." Harry said with a mischievous grin. "Is there something else you're not telling me Miss Granger-Anastas?"
Hermione glared at him but there was a barely noticeable blush dusting her cheeks.
"Draco also mentioned," she repeated firmly. "That I should go to Gringotts to be tested to see if I could actually be the next heir to the Anastas name and fortune."
"Have you gone yet?"
"Yes I did. I went a few weeks after school let out and it turns out that as the last in the line, even if it is of squib descent, when I reach 17 I'll be able to take the title of Lady Anastas and take control of the properties and fortune that have been lying dormant since my granduncle died."
"That's fantastic!" Harry exclaimed.
"Isn't it?" Hermione said happily. "It really makes me wonder if there are more muggleborns like me who have hidden ancestry… It's terrible to think of all the history and connections that could be lost to them. I personally can't wait to see all the heirlooms, artifacts and books there might be." Hermione got a dreamy look in her eye before she suddenly focused on Harry again.
"Have you ever been into your family vault Harry?"
"Family vault?" Harry repeated, a little thrown by the question. "I've seen the trust vault my parents left for me. I haven't heard about there being anything else."
Hermione scowled terribly.
"We're going to Gringotts after this Harry." She stated firmly, her tone brooking no room for argument.
Harry nodded in agreement even if he felt slightly confused. There was no arguing with Hermione when she got into a mood.
"I've still got a few more things to tell you, I said this was an enlightening summer but all the news I found out wasn't pleasant." And she suddenly became rather serious.
"What happened Hermione?"
"The test they have at Gringotts to reveal if you have enough blood to be counted as a member of a family line also reveals your magic. Different abilities, bloodline traits, etc; including lasting magic that has been performed on you. Blood adoption and bonds are a few examples but they also reveal things like compulsions and obliviations."
At the last sentence Hermione looked straight into Harry's eyes and He could see her normally warm brown eyes had become rather steely. It made him feel sorry for whoever had raised her ire, but that feeling was gone as soon as the next sentence passed Hermione's lips.
"Harry, the goblins found evidence of several compulsions and obliviations."
Harry was struck dumb and after a moment asked quietly.
"The compulsions were for me to give my absolute trust and confidence to Albus Dumbledore and also to feel compelled to confide in him with any situation regarding you. I think it's safe to assume it was he who cast them. As for the obliviations, well there isn't really a way to retrieve the memories because the wizard who performed them was incredibly powerful so I'm assuming it was Dumbledore as well…"
Harry had paled drastically. His thoughts were in a whirl. Dumbledore... Why would he do something like this? And what was he hiding that was so important he had to obliviate Hermione?
"Why?" he said through clenched teeth and he found himself shaking off his bewilderment and instead becoming incredibly angry. "Why would Dumbledore go to all the trouble of casting compulsions on you and what is he hiding by obliviating you?" Harry's voice was starting to get louder.
"Harry please calm down we can't risk being overheard. Especially since we don't know what we're dealing with or what Dumbledore is trying to accomplish."
"Sorry Hermione." Harry said as he let out a large breath. "It's just a bit of a shock." He took a few deep breaths in order to calm himself.
"Well it was to me too. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it and I found out weeks ago. I don't know what I would have done if Draco hadn't been there…"
"Wait a moment. Malfoy was there?"
"Yes. He's the one who helped me convince the Goblins to let me take the test. He also paid for the removal of the compulsions."
"You're really messing with my reality Hermione. It's hard to picture Malfoy doing something like that."
"I told you he had some redeeming features even though it is hard to believe." She retorted smiling slightly.
They were both silent for a moment before Harry spoke.
"Do you think I can take the same test at Gringotts? "
"Yes. I really think that's a good idea. Chances are that whatever is going on is directly related to you. I can't think of any other reason unless he knew of my bloodline and wanted my support once I gained my inheritance but that's not very likely. Especially with one of the compulsions being directly related to you."
"I agree, it's more likely he's concerned with keeping the bloody boy who lived under his thumb and what better way of doing that than having the loyalty of my closest friends."
"From what the Goblins could tell, the compulsion to talk to him about you is fairly recent, as is one of the obliviations. The rest are a few years older."
"Wait, how many times did he obliviate you?"
"The Goblins said it was about 3 times but it could be more or less."
"Bloody hell!" Harry exclaimed and he slumped in his chair. "He could have been obliviating you every year we've been at Hogwarts. What are we going to do? Is it even safe to go back to Hogwarts? What I wouldn't give to know what those memories were about…" He muttered.
"Well we might never get the chance to find out. It takes a wizard of equal or greater strength to undo an obliviation and the only one I can think of is You-know who and I don't think he'd be willing to help"
"As for our safety and going back to Hogwarts," She pulled a tear shaped jade pendant out from under her shirt. "The Goblins provided me with a charmed pendant that creates a barrier around the mind. It was rather expensive, but worth it. When we go there today we'll pick up one for you. I'm not going to let some manipulating old fool keep me from getting an education." She puffed up indignantly.
Harry chuckled and Hermione smiled at him before getting serious again.
"I've also done bit of research on a branch of magic called ocllumency that I think we should both learn. It protects the mind from outside invasion. I have a few books it would be good idea for you to read through before school starts again. After our trip to Gringotts we'll most likely have a better idea of how to move forward."
Harry suddenly stood up and started pacing.
"I agree Hermione. But don't think for a moment I'm going to take this lying down. This is just one instance where Dumbledore has screwed with me. I've already decided I'm through with it. I'm sick of Voldemort and Dumbledore messing up my life. I honestly can't tell much of a difference between the two anymore. Except that Voldemort hasn't hid his true intentions. He's always said he was going to kill me and I don't know what Dumbledore is really trying to do." Harry paused and looked back at Hermione
"I can't tell you how sorry I am. If it wasn't for me…"
"You stop that right now Harry James Potter. It's not your fault! Don't let the thought even enter your mind. I'm your friend and we'll get through this together." Hermione stood and drew him into another hug.
"Thank you Hermione" Harry mumbled into her hair before pulling away.
Needing a change of subject Harry said
"Speaking of Voldemort Hermione, I had this dream…"
Hermione didn't really have any insight into his vision/dream except to say that a sane dark lord would make fighting against him all the more difficult and that the content of their conversation was curious.
They spent almost another hour just talking to each other before they were ready to head into Diagon Alley. When Harry made to leave the room Hermione stopped him.
"Hold on a minute Harry." she said and pulled some clothes and a silver chain out of her bag.
"Change into these and wear the necklace. It's enchanted to slightly modify your appearance. Consider it an early birthday present."
"Where'd you get this? It's brilliant." Harry said while pulling the robes over his clothes and slipping the chain around his neck. It would be wonderful to go into Diagon Alley without everyone staring and pointing at him.
She suddenly looked sheepish.
"I might have ventured a little ways into Knockturn Alley with Draco."
"No!" Harry laughed "You didn't..."
"Yes I did and oooh that's perfect!" she squealed as she finally got a good look at Harry and she was so busy examining his new looks that she let his comment of "crummy date location" get away with only a glare.
His hair was now, instead of black, a light brown and fell straight instead of being messy. Gone were his green eyes and he now looked at her with light brown ones. He didn't look any taller but he was decidedly plumper. His face had also rounded out as well. All in all he was a far cry from looking like Harry Potter.
"Alright Hermione let's go" and they walked down the stairs gave a polite nod to Tom and entered Diagon Alley.