Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not owned by me, either now or in the future
A/N: Well. I'm at rev3 (no joke) so what follows is the second rewrite, third iteration of the 'The Headmaster.' Some things have changed, been rewritten or explained in more detail. Others remain the same but overall I feel it's gotten better which ultimately is what I strive for.
This story is AU, starting with Harry and Co. confined to Umbridge's office as she threatens him with a Cruciatus curse. The characters and their personalities are written/described as I see them and with the skills I currently posses. No doubt they differ from JKR's canon but hopefully they don't stray too much. This will be a HP/HG story, with homage to HP/LL but that will be more of a brother/sister thing.
I tend to error on the side of details, weaving intricate problems and their solutions. My apologies if the flow of the story seems inadequate, I'm still an artist in training.
Chapter 1: Successor
Harry panted heavily, his vision blurry and unfocused. Shades of grey danced in front of his face, mixed with an assortment of odd colors. Blond and black, red with brown; they twirled together, teasing and taunting him.
And pink. A lot of pink.
Sound assaulted him as the colors continued to dance. Moans ground together before piercing his ears, quickly to return to low, slow tones - almost like when Dudley messed with Vernon's old 78's.
It took him a little time, but Harry realized what he was hearing.
Panic flared and the molasses of thoughts began to flow more quickly, 'I'm not alone then. Am I at Hogwarts?'
His memory finally kicked and images appeared: Dumbledore's ousting at Umbridge's manipulations, the Ministry smearing him through the Daily Prophet, the dream of Sirius coerced to Voldemort's will. The last thing to fly through Harry's head was an attempt to sneak into Umbridge's office in the hope of saving Sirius, his friends following right behind him.
Faces started to appear and the voices turned human: Ron gasping in stunned surprise, Neville stuttering in fear, Hermione frantically calling his name, Ginny doing the same, and Luna humming a soft tune.
"Now now, children," squeaked a woman which sent a rush of anger through his system. "Desperate measures for desperate times and what the Minister doesn't know will hurt him. We need to be sure Mr. Potter is genuine and his answers truthful."
Cries of outrage were silenced, but some bickering remained. Hermione's soft cries were loud to him and with her in mind, the last remnants of being bulldozed by the Knight Bus melted away.
Just before he opened his eyes, a whisper tickled his ear, singing in tune with Luna's equally quiet humming.
Wake up young one, wake up!
For children cower and fear with time no more to spare.
Now gone too long has he, the Old Grey Beard.
Too busy is he, too stretched too thin to help those so dear.
A next of kin, a successor of him, so must there be.
As set forth by the Heirs, the Children of Myrddin.
Harry leveled a gaze to the pink blob that had been Umbridge, her back to him as she argued with his friends. The grating voice of this loathsome woman caused a river of anger to wash over him and he remembered now, how he came to be here.
'We were caught trying to floo out and she threatened me with the Cruciatus. I guess she does have some strength after all. Disappointing it knocked me out; she can't hold a candle to Tom.
He shifted in his chair which sent an unseen message to Hermione, making her side step the plump creature and look at him.
"Oh Harry! Thank Merlin you're awake!" she said and only when he tried to respond did Harry realize he was shaking like a leaf. A groan escaped instead and together with Hermione's admission brought the attention of everyone else in the room. He blinked several times, a splitting headache making itself known and he shook his head from side to side in an effort to be rid of it.
He was about ready to take another stab at speaking when he noticed Luna's hymn again. Something that had started off so quiet grew louder and unless he had already gone round the bend, no one else seemed to notice it.
One to fill the Golden Throne and wield my strength unbound.
To be the guide of young souls across the tide I ask of thee, do you agree, to bind yourself to me?
Harry struggled against the conjured rope still tying him to the chair. Worse still, Umbridge had her wand back on him.
"Ah, welcome back Mr. Potter. Since you've finally showed up, we may continue. Now, would you care to explain why you were so intent on flooing out of here?"
Harry frantically tried to take in his surroundings but didn't get far as the aftereffects of the Cruciatus hit him. He drunkenly looked around the room and the voices of his friends started to muddle again but this time the images didn't blur. He went from face to face, warmed slightly by all of the concerned looks. As he settled his gaze on Luna, the tension in his body melted and he was captured by that melodious voice.
What say you, one marked by Fate's own hand? I ask of thee, do you agree, to bind yourself to me?
Her lips hadn't moved but her eyes were sparkling. Harry blinked hard and his senses returned. 'Was Umbridge's curse stronger than I thought or did Luna really just say that?'
The blonde's gaze was strikingly clearer and her lips refused to part from the smile she wore.
Suspicion rose up as he thought over the words and the possible meaning behind them. He tried to find a reason to justify a refusal but nothing came to mind. Instead the voice he heard started to sound familiar, like he was talking to someone he'd known for a very long time. The longer he took to figure out who this person was, the more he believed it wasn't a person at all and the less he believed in where his thoughts were leading him.
'No, it couldn't be. Hogwarts? Am I speaking to Hogwarts?'
Absurd yes, but it felt right and if there was one thing Harry trusted, it was his instincts. Not a thread of his being didn't trust the castle and if it really was her doing the talking, then the answer was obvious.
Decision made, the words glided out like they were simply waiting for him.
"I say to you: I do agree, to bind myself to Thee, o' ancient harbor of the Light."
A wondrous laughter met his ears and Harry felt heartened. He wasn't crazy and the voice answered responded with happiness.
'Clearly, more than Fate has inspired here. We shall dance together you and I, far better than those before. Of tongues old and skills now lost, so you must wield anew; for my defense is paramount to those who shall harbor here.'
All the while this silent conversation took place, his friends and Umbridge looked on in slight wonder and concern, although Umbridge was more confused than anything.
"What in the world are you talking about, Mr. Potter? Binding? Of what?"
Ron, Neville and Ginny exchanged equal looks of confusion, Hermione just stared as if a Confundus charm had been cast on her. No one seemed to notice Luna's incredibly clear eyes cloud and her whimsical demeanor wash back over her face. She stirred, shaking her head as if caught in a dream and giggled when she saw Harry's heated, if but airy, gaze on her.
"Hello, Harry. How are you?" she said happily, earning her own looks of confusion from the others.
'Away with you,' whispered in his ear. 'Mind to matters of the present and future. We shall speak again.'
The young man blinked several times, his own eyes clearing.
"Hello, Luna," he ratted out, gasping as if out of breath, "I'm all right now," and with an impish grin, "well, mostly anyway."
The carefree moment shared between the two oddballs shattered and Harry had to bite his tongue to stop from lashing out.
"I don't see why you're being so cheery Mr. Potter, as you have yet to answer my question. Now unless you'd like a second dosage, which I'd be more than happy to administer, tell me where you were going!"
The others held their breath as Harry turned to her, his green eyes alight with anger. Several in the room saw a nasty ending on approach but all were surprised when Harry started smiling.
"Actually, Professor, I wasn't going anywhere. I was simply making an urgent floo call to the Ministry. I was afraid an attack was imminent and I couldn't find you, so I did what I thought was logical."
Umbridge bristled for a moment and became cautious, "Attack you say? How are you aware of that Mr. Potter and what nature is this attack?"
Snape, who had been watching in the background for some time, recognized a drastic change between the pre-cursed Harry and the boy now before him. Any sense of urgency or panic were gone, almost as if he had just been doused with a calming draught. Despite the boy's colorful history with Umbridge's particular choice of spell, Snape doubted the Cruciatus curse would have anywhere near that kind of effect so the question remained: what exactly happened? He was loathe to do so, but a slight diversion was necessary to ascertain whatever the brat just did.
"Mr. Potter has a well-documented history of having insights to the Dark Lord." Snape would never admit the satisfaction at seeing the Toad bristle even further. "I would venture a guess Mr. Potter was given some sort of vision pertaining to the not so distance future and as the pompous brat he is, decided to act upon it."
Ron's face started to light up with the infamous 'Weasley Volcano Red' but was kept in check by Luna's firm hold on his arm. Any explosive responses were extinguished by Harry's calm reply.
"Close enough, Professor."
Umbridge looked between the two of them and couldn't decide who to berate first so took a jab roughly in between. "Nonsense!" she all but screamed. "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is long dead and seeing no amount of reiteration of this fact will convince you otherwise, I shall look into the matter personally!" The general chastising over, she focused back on her captive. "Now then, Mr. Potter. Assuming this attack is not fictitious and we are dealing with a living entity, explain to me what you know."
Harry glanced quickly at the greasy git, feeling slightly disturbed by his supporting words, "I do not know the target, but it is something in the Department of Mysteries. Vol-ah, someone is after an object there and I wouldn't be surprised if they were waltzing through the building right now."
An annoyed huff sounded from Umbridge as she turned and walked over to the fireplace. After pulling a handful of powder from a satchel on the mantle, she tossed it into the flames and they roared green.
"I highly doubt it but as I said before, I shall investigate. In the meantime, Severus, you're in charge and throw Mr. Potter in the darkest cell you can find. When I return after finding nothing amiss, I shall determine the proper punishment for making such an outlandish claim and for wasting my valuable time." The sickly smile she sent him made Harry want to cringe, "This may just warrant an expulsion but we shall see. Inquisitor Squad, you're with me."
The lackeys who watched quietly from the sidelines quickly followed her into the roaring flames and after they were gone, the potions master immediately turned on him.
"I'm well aware something about you has changed and if your lack of a rebuttal against Umbridge isn't enough evidence then your disposition is. What are you getting at Potter?"
"I'm not sure I follow, Professor?" he replied in a cool tone.
A flash of annoyance flew across the man's face, "You will," and Snape paused.
The slight tilt of Harry's smirk sorely reminded him of James Potter.
Whenever his adversary got that look, Snape had come to learn no amount of taunting or riveting would get a rise out of the Gryffindor. Worse yet, it almost always meant James had one up on you and what exactly that meant would be found out in a most unpleasant manner. Through years of practice, Snape managed a frown even though he was raging inside. It was the last thing he wanted, but a tactical withdrawal would be best.
"If that's how you wish to act, then so be it. Detention starts tomorrow night until the end of the school year and you shall report to me following dinner. Do I make myself clear?"
Snape grit his teeth, "Twenty points from Gryffindor, ten for your cheek and another ten for disrespect. Utter another word and I'll triple the mark." He sneered at Harry before turning to the others. "You lot, to your dormitories." He turned back to Harry, "As per the Headmistress' demands you shall find yourself in a cell for the night. Come quietly and I will not trouble myself to bind your hands."
The others were ready to protest but actions were halted by Harry's nod of approval. They all left the office together, his friends in front followed by Snape and Harry in the rear. Just as they began to part ways, Harry smiled to them and winked at Hermione.
She blinked, clearly confused and watched open mouthed as Snape led Harry towards the dungeons. They had gone to Umbridge's office with the intent to save Sirius, even though Hermione believed it was a trap. Now the exact opposite was happening and Harry was the one being led away to a cell for the night.
Snape watched as Harry wordlessly entered one of the older holding cell in this detention block and locked the door.
"I shall retrieve you an hour before breakfast tomorrow morning."
Grating on the professor's nerves and enjoying it thoroughly, Harry nodded silently in response. Snape left with a scowl and marched back up the stone stairs that brought them down. As the footsteps echoed away, Harry sighed loudly and examined his room before going over to the mat and lying down. There were no facilities in the cell and fortunately the bathroom wasn't a necessity nor would it be until tomorrow morning. With nothing else to do, Harry pondered on what happened and he was still fighting with what his senses were telling him.
'Was it really Hogwarts who helped me? How did I know what to say?'
He had been filled with so much warmth and confidence, the rest of the failed escape was settled quickly and without much fuss. It didn't seem like a person aiding him, but it didn't feel otherworldly either. Was it really the castle?
A flash of fire and a trill of a bird startled him and he was up and about as Fawkes finished materializing into the cell. Harry briefly wondered how the phoenix knew he was in trouble, or maybe Dumbledore had somehow found out?
Clearing his thoughts he walked over to the phoenix, bent down and started to stroke its neck. "Hello, Fawkes. Did you come to get me out of here?" He was only mildly disappointed when the creature shook its head no and instead produced a rolled up parchment from its claw. Thanking the phoenix, he unrolled a surprisingly long letter and was pleased to recognize Dumbledore's neat and artistic handwriting.
To the Current Headmaster of Hogwarts (Hello Harry):
Alas my time away has gone on too long and since I'm unable to return, a new Headmaster is to be recognized.
Speaking simply, that person would be you.
I'm sure you have many questions, some of which I can answer and some I cannot. Fate, it seems, has conspired against us and it will be some time yet before we can sit and chat on those things that matter most.
In the meantime, Fawkes has graciously agreed to be our 'mail-carrier' of sorts. Fortunately, phoenixes (or at least this one) are capable of passing through the wards regardless if the Headmaster allows it or not. I must digress briefly and express my frustrations on this matter: although we are familiars, the ruddy bird refuses to tell me how he does it.
Fawkes trilled happily and Harry got the impression it was quite proud of getting under the elder wizard's skin.
Moot points aside, I will tell you what can be risked to paper.
The castle is sentient, Harry. While society is slow to change, our magic is not and does so when it needs and desires. The world is alive in ways you and I can never hope to understand, but we can appreciate it and if we are found worthy, power may be granted in return. There are things the Headmaster can do that would make the Minister of Magic green with envy and any form of government would converge on the location to covet said abilities for themselves.
Unfortunately, you will need to discover most of these things for yourself. While I can tell you the simplest of secrets, it is at the castle's will and discretion whether or not to reveal more to you. She told me I was the first in centuries to be trusted enough for some of her secrets. I am forever in debt to Hogwarts for that and while I am sad my time there has ended, I am also thrilled to know you are my successor.
I have no doubt you already bound yourself to her and whether you did so knowing full well the complications or not; you will soon begin to understand what it all means. Even though I am not the wielder of her strength any longer, we still maintain that bond and I will always be there to aid her when she calls.
It is not as terrible as it may sound, being bound to a sentient such as her, let me assure you. You will always retain your free will and she will never encroach upon it. In point of fact, she will always expect you to use it. Be your choices in her favor or not, she will support you so long as depravity and personal gain do not cloud your judgment. Knowing you as I do, I have no fear of such an outcome whatsoever and neither should you.
For me, her presence was akin to the closest of friends, shy of what I believed would be a wife had that been my calling. When my sister, Ariana, traveled beyond the Veil, Hogwarts comforted me in my grief and our bond grew stronger until it became what it is today. She may take on a similar role for you or perhaps, something different entirely. That is after all, the wonders of magic.
So you know, I am currently held up with your godfather, but I implore you not seek us out.
The Ministry will no doubt use this situation to brand me as a traitor. I will ultimately be stripped of my titles and sentenced by the Wizengamot to Azkaban or a Dementor's kiss. Rest assured that does not affect me in the slightest. The Ministry has gotten it wrong before and Sirius seems to be making his due rather easily.
Harry chuckled at that.
While I adored my position as Headmaster I always was, at heart, a field man. For the time being, Sirius and I will start formulating a few plots and we'll see if we can't cause a little mischief. Case in point, we were fortunate to get a last minute tip off from the Department of Mysteries and it seems Tom decided to pay a visit. While we were successful in driving them back, he acquired what he was after and we will need to speak in person regarding the rest of this matter. Fortunately, no one in my raiding party was injured and you should be pleased to know Bella was captured and hopefully this time, will remain so.
If you need to contact me, call for Fawkes and have a letter waiting. I shall reply as I am able. Best of luck in the coming days my friend and Sirius sends his regards.