Disclaimer – Anything you don't recognise is mine.
This takes place in seventh year but without taking HBP into account as I can't stand the way that ended.
A huge thank you to Gasia89, otherwise known as Nick, for his brilliant assistance in beta reading this story. He not only beta read it but added to it as well. He has been a life saver and is the only reason I have been able to get this story back up on the site so quickly.
Harry Potter and the Rune of Alacantera
Chapter 1 – Private Rooms
Dumbledore's eye watched the doors as the students poured in for another year at Hogwarts. They all were chattering happily having caught up with their friends on the train and they slowly moved through the hall to their house tables and sat down.
His twinkling blue eyes brightened as one particular student stepped into the hall and looked up at the head table, green eyes searching and a small smile crossing the boy's face as he held a hand up in greeting and Dumbledore responded in kind.
'He doesn't seem too upset.' Snape's sneering voice drifted from his place down the table.
Dumbledore gave his potions master a sharp look. 'He spent four days at the mercy of Lucius Malfoy, Severus; I can't imagine that would be good for anybody.' He scolded softly.
'Could have been worse.' Snape said mildly. 'Lucius could have given the boy to the Dark Lord.'
'Severus, stop it! You and I both know just how sadistic Lucius Malfoy can be. It's unbelievable the boy is even still able to walk around and function properly.'
'It's unbelievable he's not dead.' Snape said bluntly.
Dumbledore didn't respond to the comment instead watching as Harry crossed the hall to sit with his friends at the Gryffindor Table as Minerva McGonagall entered with the first years.
The Sorting Hat continued on its tradition of the last two years of giving a warning but this time it went even further twisting on its stool until it was staring at the Gryffindor table and Harry Potter in particular.
'Be wary, Mr. Potter, time is short for you and you have much to do before you go.' The hat said gruffly.
'Sounds just like Trelawney.' Ron snorted from across the table but Harry's eyes widened as they flicked to Dumbledore. Several others snickered at Ron's comment but quieted as McGonagall called the first name.
Harry could feel many pairs of eyes watching him but his eyes never left the Headmaster's. Dumbledore made a motion with his hand and Harry nodded, knowing it meant to come and see him after the feast.
'Harry?' Hermione's soft voice startled him and he jumped.
'What?' He mumbled quietly.
His friends exchanged glances and Harry growled at the look of pity on their faces. 'Stop it.' He hissed. 'I don't need it.'
'Harry, we just want to help.' Hermione insisted.
'With what? There's nothing wrong.' Harry retorted.
'Harry.' Ron started.
'I'm fine.' Harry declared firmly, turning in his seat to watch the end of the sorting, showing quite clearly that as far as he was concerned the conversation was over.
The other Gryffindors within earshot looked at each other curiously at the exchange, none but Ron, Ginny and Hermione knew what had happened to Harry over the summer and none of the three were planning on explaining it.
Dumbledore watched the Boy-Who-Lived's interaction with his friends with unease but was unable to do anything about it. The sorting finished and Dumbledore called for the food, his concern growing as a grimace flashed across Harry's face as the food appeared. Harry seemed fine minutes later as he filled his plate and began to eat slowly. Hardly anyone spoke to him, unsure of what to say after the dire warning from the Sorting Hat.
Eventually the meal finished and the prefects led their houses back to their common rooms as Harry walked slowly towards the Headmaster's office. He gave the gargoyle the password and slipped up the staircase knocking tentatively at the door.
'Come in dear boy.' Dumbledore called and Harry stepped through closing the door behind him as the headmaster got up and came around the desk. He watched as the mask the boy had worn all day finally crumpled and tears dripped silently down the boy's cheeks.
'It'll be alright, Harry. I promise, we'll find out what he did.' Dumbledore held out his arms and the boy almost fell into them choking back a sob as he allowed the elderly wizard to comfort him.
'There, there, do not fret dear boy. Everyone is looking. We'll find the answer soon.'
'The Hat.' Harry whispered brokenly. 'What of the Hat? It said I didn't have long. What if it's too late?'
Dumbledore's arms tightened around the young man. 'It's not, Harry. If I have to move the very heavens to find out the truth and how to fix it, I will. I promise you.'
Harry's tears soon dried up and he nodded. 'Thank you, Sir.' He murmured.
'Albus.' The headmaster scolded quietly.
'Albus.' Harry whispered, pulling away.
'I've prepared a room for you. Are you sure you don't want to stay in Gryffindor Tower?'
Harry shook his head. 'Not until we know what that curse was.' He said firmly. 'If I stayed there and something happened I don't think I could ever forgive myself.'
'I can't imagine Lucius Malfoy would bother cursing you to make you hurt people, he would curse you to hurt you directly.' Dumbledore insisted.
Harry raised an eyebrow. 'Me harming one of my friends would hurt me far more than anything Malfoy or even Riddle could ever do to me; and Lucius Malfoy knows that, that's what worries me the most. During classes the teachers can keep an eye on me but at night when everyone is asleep, until we find out the truth, I don't trust myself.' Harry finished softly.
'I trust you, Harry.' Dumbledore said sincerely.
Harry smiled but didn't say anything.
'Come on. I'll show you to your room.'
'Thank you, Albus.'
The two walked slowly down the corridor towards Gryffindor Tower but stopped several portraits short. 'The password is Cockroach Clusters, but you can reset it at any time.' Dumbledore explained placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. 'Get some rest, Harry. Tomorrow is another day and another chance for us to find the answer.'
Harry nodded and smiled. 'Thank you.' He whispered murmuring the password before slipping through the open portrait and closing it behind him.
'Does he remember anything else yet, Albus?'
The headmaster turned to see the four heads of house standing silently further down the corridor and shook his head.
'No nothing else. We have all the information; we've even seen the memory of what happened. Harry's relying on us and we can't let him down. I refuse to let him down. I've done that more than once already.'
'Albus, it wasn't your fault. You couldn't have known the wards would fall. You had no way of knowing that Potter no longer called his relatives house home.'
'I'm not sure he really ever thought of Privet Drive as home, Severus.' Dumbledore said sadly.
'And for good reason.' Minerva added.
'I still should have been monitoring the wards better. They'd been down for over a month. There is no excuse for such negligence.' Dumbledore bid the others goodnight with a wave before shuffling back towards his office looking older than any had ever seen him.
'What have to find out what that curse was if not for Potter then for Albus.' Sprout said firmly.
'Lucius Malfoy is still tight lipped then?' Flitwick squeaked.
Snape nodded. 'Now more than ever. I'm not sure even the Dark Lord is aware of what happened to Potter over the summer.'
'Would alerting him to the fact that Malfoy senior actually kidnapped Harry during the holidays and held him for four days loosen his tongue do you think?' Minerva asked.
Snape shrugged. 'It could go either way. The Dark Lord could demand to know what Lucius did, but he could also curse me to the point of death for questioning what has undoubtedly been a successful mission for Lucius, sanctioned or not.'
The four heads of house all exchanged slightly weary glances. 'I'll do what I can.' Snape offered. They all realised that for the moment that was all they could do. After bidding each other goodnight they went their separate ways.
Harry bolted awake at the creak of the door, his head turning instantly towards the source of the noise.. He took in the figure standing by the door, a malevolent smirk on his face as he raised his wand.
'Stupefy.' Lucius Malfoy murmured silkily and Harry knew no more.
When he woke he was on his back on the ground, bound by the wrists and ankles and naked.
'This isn't good.' Harry muttered, lifting his head and looking up at the bonds on his wrists.
An evil chuckle sounded from the corner. 'Your ability to understate the severity of your position will never cease to amaze me, Mr. Potter.' Lucius Malfoy sneered as he stepped into the light.
'What the hell do you want?' Harry growled his green eyes narrowing in anger.
'Now, now, Potter.' Malfoy drawled. 'Don't want to spoil the surprise.'
'Let me go.' Harry snapped.
'I think not.'
'You'll never get away with this.'
Malfoy laughed a deep mocking laugh. 'I already have, Potter. No one knows where you are. That stupid muggle loving fool and his band of merry men don't even know you are gone yet and it will be several hours before they find out.'
Harry wrestled with his bonds fruitlessly for several minutes, that same mocking laugh echoing around the room, before eventually giving up and lying back with a sigh.
'Get comfortable Potter, you'll be here for a while.' And with that the Malfoy patriarch spun on his heel and stalked from the room, robes swirling.
Harry couldn't have said just how long he lay there. Malfoy must have some type of charm on time he began to doze off the blonde aristocrat would stalk into the room and throw a bucket of cold water on him, jerking him awake and pulling at his shoulders as he tried to bolt upright.
Every time Malfoy returned Harry snarled every nasty degrading word he had ever learned from Snape at the man. The first few times Malfoy just smirked at him. However, the insults must have improved as eventually the man raised his wand and flung the Cruciatus at him with an angry sneer that would have withered a troll.
Harry ignored it, continuing to throw insults whenever the man walked in until Malfoy just spat the hex out the moment he walked in the door.
Harry ached all over. He shivered and sweated in turn. His muscle spasms had become so bad that he couldn't help but bang his head on the floor each time he convulsed. He was hungry and exhausted and would have given almost anything for a single sip of clean water.
He heard the door open once again.
'No, please don't.' he croaked out before the Crucio could be cast. 'Please.' He begged a little louder.
The mocking laugh came again. 'Oh how the mighty have fallen.'
Harry's eyes closed and he turned his face away, unable to look the man in the eye.
'It's just about time, Potter. I don't think you're strong enough to resist it now.' Malfoy drawled crossing the room and kneeling beside the Boy-Who-Lived.
Harry eyes squeezed even tighter while he whimpered softly.
'Open your eyes, Potter. I want to see the pain in them.'
Harry's eyes shot open at the words just in time to feel the promised pain blossom on his left shoulder.
'Ahhhhh.' Harry couldn't help but scream as the potion dipped blade carved a rune into his shoulder.
Lucius laughed again, grasping Harry's chin and forcing his eyes open. 'Show me, Potter. Show me how much it hurts.'
'You sadistic bastard.' Harry gasped out.
'Flattery will get you nowhere, Potter.' Malfoy murmured as the blade moved to his other shoulder.
Harry screamed again and the pain continued. Time seemed to have no meaning. Malfoy worked methodically, carving runes into almost every part of his body until Harry was almost delirious with pain. He didn't know what was in the potion, but it burnt; Like lava flowing through the hundreds of cuts that made up the runes that had been carved into his skin. When Malfoy filled the front of his body he unbound him and turned him over. Harry was in no position to escape, even if he had been coherent enough for the thought to cross his mind.
The three times the pain actually dropped him into murky darkness, Malfoy clucked at him, enervating him almost immediately.
'I wouldn't want you to miss this.' He said silkily before eventually turning Harry back over and standing, raising his wand and incanting a stream of words that came out as a muddled mess to Harry but suddenly his entire body glowed brightly and what had dimmed to a throbbing pain suddenly rocketed skywards and Harry welcomed the darkness.
Harry shot up in his bed at Hogwarts, his breath rasping sharply as he struggled to control his racing heart; telling himself it was just a nightmare.
'Calm down, calm down. He's not here. He can't get into Hogwarts.' Harry murmured breathlessly, remembering back to three weeks ago.
He had been found the next morning lying beside the gates of Hogwarts with barely a mark on him. His memories, however, seen by most of the staff and those highly trusted members of the Order showed otherwise. Because they were Harry's memories and he had been in such pain at the time they weren't all that clear. Since that day those that knew had spent hours trying to research just what Malfoy had done to him, unfortunately with no success.
He got up, slipping quietly from the bed and shedding his now sweaty clothes. In a way he was glad the runes had not remained. He didn't think he could stand having everyone trying to stare at his naked body. All the poking and prodding from Pomfrey and Snape had been bad enough.
The sweat on his skin cooled rapidly. He picked up his wand from the night table and sent an Incendio hex at the fireplace, feeling a slight tingling in his stomach as the curse left his wand. He didn't know what it was and quickly sent another Incendio hex to light the torches on the wall. He knew there was no way sleep would be returning to him that night so he settled down with his Charms text and began to study.
Ron and Hermione weren't talking to him the next morning. He hadn't told them he wouldn't be staying in Gryffindor Tower. He couldn't stand the thought of the inquisition into why. Although they knew he had been kidnapped by Lucius Malfoy during the summer, the details of what had happened while in the Death Eater's custody had not been explained and Harry wasn't going to begin now.
Ginny cast a few troubled glances in his direction but Harry ignored them, studiously keeping his eyes cast downwards as he pushed his food into small mounds on his plate to make it look as if he had eaten some. When he thought it looked convincing enough he stood up, grabbing his bag and walking swiftly from the hall.
Classes that day were hideous. He worked silently by himself in the corner of the classroom, unwilling to get too close to anyone in case something happened. He knew he was in trouble when even Snape began looking at him in Tonks actually sent him to Dumbledore for refusing to participate in the practice duels he knew something had to give.
Albus had tried to comfort him, telling him they were getting closer to the answer and just to be patient. Then the Headmaster himself had walked him back to DADA and stayed for the entire lesson watching as Harry dueled three on one with Ron, Seamus and Neville. All but Harry and Tonks thought he was watching out of interest, not noticing the wand hidden by the voluminous sleeves. Harry knew better, and having the headmaster there ready to help stop things if they got out of hand made him all the more confident as he ducked, weaved and put up shields that even Tonks saidshe would have had trouble breaking. By the end of the duel he felt marvelous, like he could take on Voldemort right then and there! He smiled brightly at the headmaster who was happy just to see the boy smile again.
'Well done, my boy.' Dumbledore murmured patting Harry's shoulder before nodding to Tonks and leaving the room.
Harry packed up his books and headed out the door the minute Tonks dismissed them.
'Harry, Harry wait!' Hermione called after him.
Harry sighed, his head hanging. 'Look, I'm sorry I didn't tell you.' He started without waiting for the coming question. 'I just couldn't handle the questions I knew you would ask. I'm not ready to talk about what happened. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to talk about what happened.'
Hermione placed a hand on his shoulder. 'It's alright, Harry, really it is.' She said softly.
'Yeah, McGonagall explained it to us at lunch. We're really sorry we pushed it.' Ron added.
'You have a right to your privacy, Harry. You don't have to tell us anything you don't want to.' Hermione said sincerely.
Harry stared at his two friends. obviously their paradigm shift at their head of house's hands had been significant.
'Thanks guys.' Harry whispered.
'Oh, isn't that sweet. Potty's friends are talking to him now.' Draco Malfoy sneered. 'And the headmaster himself came to watch Potty play. Do you need an audience to go to the bathroom too, Potter?'
'Sod off, Malfoy.' Ron growled. Harry ignored the Slytherin and grabbed his friend's arms and hurried towards the great hall for dinner.
The dreamless sleep potion Dumbledore left on the bedside table again that night worked well. Harry managed to sleep throughout the night without incident but he as he opened his eyes and sat up a wave of dizziness swept through him before exhaustion took over and he slumped back to the bed.
He lay there for almost half an hour before dragging himself from the bed and into the bathroom, missing breakfast but managing to make it to his first class of the day.
He struggled through his classes but managed to keep his ever increasing state of exhaustion from everyone, even excelling during Transfiguration; managing to complete every task they were set before all but Hermione. By the time he came to bed he barely needed the dreamless sleep potion but struggled to stay awake long enough to take it before falling asleep not even managing to place the now empty vial on the table.
The following weeks passed quickly. Harry's magic seeming to grow stronger even as he grew physically weaker. It was an almost daily struggle just to get out of bed. Hermione and Ron became increasingly more and more concerned as he began falling asleep, even in class. Glamour charms hid the state of his ever weakening body but they couldn't hide the physical effects or actions that came with it. Lunchtimes were spent napping in his room and dinners were practically force fed to him before he staggered up the three flights of stairs and tumbled into bed. Albus and Poppy kept up his supply of Dreamless Sleep thinking that maybe his nightmares were keeping him awake but Harry told them that if he was having nightmares he didn't remember them.
Things came to a head in the first week of October as he sat in Transfiguration trying to copy down the notes on Animagus transformations McGonagall had written on the board. His vision grew progressively fuzzier and his fingers lost all capacity to hold his quill. He could feel his heart beating through his chest and he knew something was very wrong. He heaved himself to his feet, staggering several steps past his desk before it was all just too much. He crumpled to his knees, knocking his parchment and ink off onto the floor as he tried and failed to grab hold of his desk. He heard several in the room scream and could see Ron and Hermione's looks of horror as he fell to the floor. The terrified face of Professor McGonagall was the last thing he saw before darkness finally took him.
'Get back.' McGonagall cried as the Gryffindors rushed to Harry's side. 'Mr. Finnegan, please fetch the Headmaster. Mr. Longbottom, go and warn Madame Pomfrey.'
The two seventh years hurried from the room as Minerva knelt beside Harry and turned him gently onto his back. 'Harry, Harry can you hear me?' she said, gently shaking his shoulders.
'Professor, what is it? What's wrong with him?' Hermione cried, Ron looking paler than most thought imaginable.
McGonagall just glanced at them but didn't answer, instead turning back and trying to wake Harry once again. Harry made no response, his breathing increasingly shallow. McGonagall tried to enervate him but that too failed and she quickly levitated him with her wand and hurried out of the classroom with Harry floating behind her, a group of Gryffindors trailing.
'Minerva, straight into his room.' Dumbledore commanded as they rushed into the hospital wing.
'He has his own room?' Seamus asked wide eyed.
'Well, he is in here more than anyone else.' Lavender piped up.
'More than the rest of the school put together.' Neville added sadly.
'I think you should all return to your common room.' McGonagall said, stepping out of the private room and surveying her students.
'With all due respect, Professor.' Hermione said firmly but politely. 'We're not bloody going anywhere until we find out exactly what's going on. What's wrong with Harry? What did Malfoy do to him? And just why does he have his own room here, or anywhere else in the castle for that matter?'
The other Gryffindors all stared wide eyed at Hermione. None of them could ever remember her swearing, let alone at a teacher.
McGonagall's expression softened. 'Wait here then but stay quiet. I'll check with the headmaster at how much I can tell you.'
That mollified the group slightly and they all moved to sit on a couple of beds quietly in the corner as their head of house disappeared back into the private room.
'Harry, Harry, come on, wake up. You need to stay awake.' Dumbledore had the boy sitting almost bonelessly up in the bed, deceptively strong fingers clasping his shoulders.
'C...c...can't.' Harry murmured almost silently, not even able to open his eyes.
'Harry, my boy, please. Listen to me. Just try to open your eyes.' Dumbledore's voice was almost pleading.
Harry's head lolled to the side and he didn't respond.
'Harry.' Dumbledore said again.
'He's going under again.' Poppy cried, casting the strongest waking spell she could.
'I came as quickly as I could.' Snape said, having swept through the door dumping dozens of vials onto the bed. 'Hold him up, Albus.'
Dumbledore moved behind Harry, supporting his head as Snape tipped vial after vial down his throat, Poppy casting a swallowing spell every time.
'Severus stop.' The Medi-witch snapped. 'Four Pepper-Up is quite enough; anymore and you'll give him a heart attack. It's obviously doing nothing.'
'I can't believe it. Two of them should have had him bouncing off the ceiling.' Snape shook his head. 'Something isn't right here.'
Glances were exchanged as Dumbledore lay Harry back down on the bed and raised his wand casting several more charms. 'Well, his magic isn't depleted, if anything it's stronger but the amount of non magical energy he has is barely enough to keep his heart beating.'
Snape's head tipped curiously to the side and raised his wand. 'Finite Incantatem.' He said softly.
'Merlin's beard.' Poppy gasped as McGonagall clutched her chest.
Snape looked at Dumbledore and nodded.
'It seems we now know what that curse was.' The Headmaster said gravely.