The Reluctant Lord
Disclaimer: I, in no way shape or form, own Harry Potter or profit from it.
Dumbledore's plans went awry almost as soon as they began. The young boy scarred from his experiences with the Dursley's relied on himself alone. Ron's attempts at befriending him failing because he lacked the heart to reciprocate it. Then he saved Hermione, and got roped into their study group.
Over the years they've added up inconsistencies and clues, tried to find out what the Dark Arts truly are and found themselves so far ahead of their peers that they're questioning the very foundations of magical society. Foundations that have already started to fail.
Italics – Thoughts of the current perspective.
*Action* - An action, sound effect or other ambient thingymajig
"Incantation" A spell cast. (I subscribe to the school of thought that incantations have some cool effect associated with them, they're just not cool enough otherwise)
Ssomething - Parseltongue
Beta'd by the wonderful Ceridwen Kalamack
Chapter One – He Who Lacks Mercy, Lacks Enemies
Wednesday 19th June, 1996
"Incadelesume Vertis Aras!" Bellatrix Lestrange was flung like a fireball into the ceiling as the whip seared forth, hitting her again on the way down, half of her splashed into the golden fountain, the other half crumpled into the wall as the rage powering spell suddenly ran out. It wasn't quite fiendfyre.
Harry chuckled, lowering his wand before fumbling for a pepper up potion. "That was for Sirius." He said calmly before turning back to the elevator.
"Potter." Voldemort snarled. The boy in the question took a deep breath centred himself once more and turned neatly on the spot. 'Remember the rules. Epic dueling is a bit of spellwork, a lot of imagination, cunning, treachery and a fuck load of showmanship. Thank Merlin for Occlumantic focus.'
"Finally got tired of losing minions, Marvolo?" The Boy Who Lived grinned absently, subtly performing charm work on the fountain even as he pointed out Bellatrix's body. "There's about four others downstairs waiting for you. The other one's probably joined them as well."
"My name is Voldemort!" The arrogant bastard screamed for the whole ministry to hear. "Avada Kedavra!"
Harry sidestepped the spell, rebuffing the mental attack at the same time, sneering to himself. The fountain behind the bastard sprang to life as he started his counter attack, Reducto, Diffindo, Finite Incantatem, Transmogrify, Illusio Personixia... And so on.
Three Harry's stood side by side, examining their fingernails for dirt as the dust cleared. The shattered and battered ground a testament to the destructive forces unleashed in the first barrage. The bunch of broken stalagmites in front of him a testament to how powerful the Dark Lord's killing curses where. "A little deadly for Dumbledore's poster boy, aren't you?" he snarled.
The Harrys shrugged. "This way your minions don't have to embarrass themselves by pleading Imperius again. We both know dark mark won't take if it's not voluntary, and raping and killing a witch in cold blood is more than enough to earn death."
Voldemort smirked. "Quite. Unfortunately you won't be alive to spread that little truth much longer. You do remember what happened last time we met?"
Harry smirked. "Oh yes, thirty six hours without sleep and several deadly magical creatures later I still beat you so badly the Ministry refused to believe you existed. Isn't that right Riddle?"
"You ran!" Voldermort snarled, unleashing his own flaming whip. Ducking under the first swing, Harry hit the floor with as much magical power as he could muster, his own fear being vaporised as the whip snapped out of existence. "What is this?" Voldemort asked, taking a couple of steps back. "What did you just do to me Potter?" Harry smirked. He loved area of effect calming charms. Shame they wore off so fast, he didn't have enough power for another.
"Harry!" Hermione cried from the elevator. Voldemort's eyes flicked behind him.
"Avada-" He started.
Harry was faster. "Reparo."
The hastily transfigured stalagmite was blown apart for the second time this evening. As the other members of his study club's mouths hung open.
"Tom, old chap. I must admit that the Ministry of Magic was the last place I expected to find you." Dumbledore said softly. Harry blinked, adding 'make an entrance' to his list of epic dueling requirements as the headmaster strolled across the cracked and uneven floor as though he owned the place. Rather ironically, he had a nicely golden badge announcing that he was a 'Dark Lord Eradicator'. "Now them, I'm sure that you'll be more than happy to come peacefully..."
"Your precious weapon couldn't stand against me, what makes you think-" The back of his robe was destroyed in a spurt of blood as he disappeared with a loud crack.
"How the fuck does he levitate like that?" Harry heard himself asking, before looking at the shell-shocked group behind him, noting the sole raised wand. "Nice shot Hermione. Everyone else okay?"
"We're all upright." Neville said softly, coughing blood onto the back of his hand. "Lost my wand though."
Harry nodded, eyeing the group of Ministry employees that were slowly crawling out of the woodwork. "Good. Sorry I got to Bellatrix first. Wasn't thinking straight."
"It's okay." Neville replied. "Better, she's..." He coughed again as Luna grabbed him, and started forcing a potion down his throat.
"I just injured He-Who-" Hermione started.
"Riddle, Marvolo or Tom." Harry smiled softly, "And breathe, Hermione. Deep breaths, in and out." He walked over, starting to hold her as she broke down crying. "And thank you. All of you." He turned to look at the lot of them. "I wouldn't have made if you hadn't dragged yourselves along."
"So what do we do now?" Susan asked a little nervously.
"Now, young lady, we take your statements and clear all charges before the politicians get involved. As fetching as our minister is in his pyjamas, I do not want him near my niece." Susan gulped.
"Of course Lady Bones." Harry said softly, holding his and Hermione's wands out for her to take. "I take full responsibility for this entire mess."
The old, battle hardened lady smiled as she closed his hand around them. "Tonks, escort our temporary Aurors here to the debrief room." At Harry's astounded expression, she laughed. "You've done what the rest of my department have been trying to do for the last year. Shoved a firecracker up the minister's arse and killed at least one of You-Know-Who's inner circle." With one last look at them she started walking towards Dumbledore. "Make sure you grab the healers before they start handing out calming draughts."
Ron finally caught up with the rest of the world, from his concussed bloody and battered state. "Did he just stop the killing curse with the repair charm?" Everyone nodded. "Bloody hell, Hermione could do that before first year!"
Room of Requirement – Monday 24th of June
A yawning Harry slid down the door, glad that the room consisted of a couple of couches, beanbags and a roaring fire instead of it's usual hell-hole. Then it opened, and turfed him onto the carpet.
"Damn, I'm sorry." A slightly flustered Slytherin said, before picking him up and dragging him to the nearest couch. "Are you okay?" He just grinned like an idiot. "Fine, we'll wait for everyone else first." She pouted. "You okay Hermione?" The brown haired girl groaned slightly as refreshments appeared.
Harry finished the mug of black coffee with a sigh, digging in to the fresh pastries Dobby had brought up for them all, sighing as the sugar rush hit. "All right, the last defence meeting of Granger's Gremlins for this year is called to order." He said with a smile.
"We really need to change that name." Hermione protested. "Maybe to the Hogwart's Army?"
"Hell no." Harry protested with everyone else. "You started the study groups, you get stuck with the name, and I am never teaching a mass class again. The DA was an atrocity. Anyhow, first item on the agenda, there will be no practice today because I'm still recovering from energy potion overdose and magical depletion." There was a couple of mock 'awws'. "Yes, I know, shame isn't it. Next year I'll start the rest of you guys on what I call 'Theatrical Duelling', otherwise known as 'whatever the fuck Dumbledore and Riddle do to make everyone else afraid of them'. That's assuming you've all gotten good enough mental focus." He smiled at the Slytherin. "Daphne, your lessons are truly invaluable for this sort of thing, it's not a coincidence every major power is a master Occlumens."
Taking another glug of tea he turned to the rest of them. "As for the rest of you, I want to apologise to the five of us that weren't present at the ministry last week. I had been intending to go alone but, well, best laid plans and everything... So yeah, I'd rather have you at my back than Ron, any day. What did you guys think of what happened?"
Neville looked around nervously. "Well, I'm damn glad they were holding back, those fake prophecy orbs Luna conjured were brilliant as they couldn't risk smashing them. Even Ron managed to survive the encounter." The rest of them snorted.
"Do you reckon he'll be back next year?" The violet eyed Slytherin asked him nervously. "He gets Malfoy riled up worse than Potter does by existing."
"Oh fuck." Susan swore. "I killed his father as well." She smiled nervously. "I still think you convincing us to use lethal force was the best idea ever but he'd really going to be out for me next year. I might have to wear my shield bracer outside of practice."
"You did?" Blaise almost squealed. "Bad for you maybe, but I owe you one for taking him down a peg."
"So do I." Harry interjected. "I owe Hermione as well for actually wounding Riddle." She blushed at the complement. "Anyhow, now that we've got that sorted, is there anything people think they need to work on or any observations that people want to make?"
Neville nodded. "Quick clean kills, always. I blew a death eaters' head apart because he'd stopped to torture Luna instead of killing or stunning her."
"And no stunners, unless the enemy is purely non-lethal." Susan added. "The amount of times I had to ennervate Ron. I swear he snores like a pig." Everyone chuckled. "The shield bracers just stopped those right out, thanks Hermione."
"Anything else?" They shook their heads. "Good. Then it's time for something you'll all love. Summer Projects." The group groaned as Harry chuckled. "You can always give me a really bad one if you dislike what I've given you."
"Hermione, it's a lot to ask, but I want you to work on expanding the shield bracers so they can be used to reflect reductors and other nasty spells. If you don't think that's going to work, I'd appreciate it if you could think of a way of adding a foci to something with a long range,like a knife or sword. I'm beginning to look into backup weapons because wizards only ever take wands. On that note, Blaise, I'd appreciate it if you could research charms used for blades and other things. I also want all of your measurements." He looked a little nervously. "And how much you think you're going to grow, including bust sizes. I want to buy you all armour." He said nervously.
"You're cute when you blush, you know that?" Hannah said, trying not to join him.
"I'll take that as a complement I think." He handed out a couple of sheets of parchment. "Here's the books we need to have finished by next year. We'll start looking at warding, transportation and indirect damage. I also want you girls," he paused, catching Neville's glare with a smile, "and guy to keep up the physical training and patching together whatever martial arts training you can get. And that concludes defence."
"You mean hero training." Erin, Luna's only friend from her year added quickly. Harry sighed at the cute first-gen witch.
"No, it's defence training. Blaise, what are we doing for charms, please?" The black haired Slytherin girl smiled, chuckled and finally gave in to his pout.
"Only if you do potions after me. Anyhow, here's the reading list and...
Ministry Atrium – Somewhen...
The green light never hit, disintegrating on the reforming rock. "Now, now no need to be jealous Marvolo, just because I still have my most faithful." Purring, she turned to the man running one hand through her hair, drowning in those emerald green eyes even as he kept his focus on the enemy. The quick kiss curled her toes, hell, she even got a kick out of him pushing her down to duck a curse.
The fight finished quickly, and his hands slid under her clothes... "Diffindo." He whispered softly in her ear and cold air touched her back as he came in for a proper kiss and those hands moved forward and...
A sweaty, naked Hermione rushed to the showers, swearing at the alarm spell.
Lavender raised an eyebrow at her other dorm mate. "You think it's nightmares from the department of mysteries?"
Parvati shook her head. "Looked a little too exited for that. I think."
Their eyes met. "The bookworm? Naaah. We'd better start packing."
Gryffindor Fifth Year Boys Dormitory – A little later
"Hey Harry. Why aren't you coming down and talking to everyone, you duelled You-Know-Who and won!" Ron shouted from the stairwell.
"It's Tom, Marvolo or Riddle, Ron, we've been over this. And I'm fine up here." Harry said without inflexion and avoiding eye contact.
"You sure about that mate, I mean it's the last day and everything, you should be celebrating or something, like everyone else is." Harry rubbed his eyes slowly. Why had he stopped this idiot from grabbing those brains again? Oh yeah, Luna was nearby and Neville would have killed him if anything had happened to her.
"Where did you get that glove from it's got some kind of runes on it and everything. I mean it's cool you stole something from the Department of Mysteries but maybe you should get Dumbledore to take a look at it. Make sure it's not dark or anything." Harry rose like the dead from his dead and stared at his anxious year mate. "It's not taken control of you, has it? Dumbledore said it might."
Even without sleeping last night Ron was as transparent as glass to Harry. "It was a gift Ron, so you can tell Dumbledore that it's just fucking fine and he can piss off with the spying already because I'm sick of it."
"Hey, I'm not spying on you." Ron said quickly, "I'm just concerned mate. I mean, I fought with you, didn't I?" Harry stared at him.
Yeah, you did. Showed up out of nowhere at just the right moment. Just like Dumbledore. Just like Umbridge in fact. I wonder who put those really crap tracking charms on my cloak because they almost hid Dumbledore's. Shame I've removed them now isn't it. Harry blinked. "Sirius is dead Ron, and I'm pissed at Dumbledore from portkeying me away from the DMLE without even attempting to ask what I wanted. So no, I'm not interested in talking to anyone for a while." With that in mind Harry got up, put on his invisibility cloak and stood still.
"Hey!" Ron yelled and ran down the stairs. Sighing at how easy he was to trick, Harry pulled the cloak off and walked slowly down to the hall to eat a belated breakfast.
Hermione had spent the morning packing and now was pushing food around her plate. Luckily neither Ron, nor Harry were anywhere to be seen and Neville managed to give her a comforting glance before distracting her table-mates. There was still about an hour before they had to leave for the train and she was thinking. She'd always had a thing for hero tales and well, that had developed to those tales where the heroine followed her man till the end of the earth and somehow some submissives had gotten involved, with the obedience, and the punishments, and the mind-blowing sex and...
She still liked a good heroine though, the one that kicked ass, took names and generally enjoyed herself. With the guy in the background of course, it's not fun if he's not watching. But then why did she get so worked up when dream-harry called her his 'most faithful', it sounded like something Riddle would say to Bellatrix...Wait a sec.
Comparisons flashed passed in her mind. She'd follow Harry anywhere, Bella would follow her master anyway. She'd kill anyone who hurt her Harry in front of her. Bella would do the same. She would kill for her master. So would Bella. She wouldn't torture for her master though not unless, not unless... She shivered. Bella really liked the Cruciatus, and she'd never used it. Fuck. And wasn't that a bad choice of wording right there...
"Hermione, are you okay you look a little pale?" Harry asked.
"Yes," Master. She shuddered, down girl, you've got it bad. "Just... thinking. Feeling better?"
"No." He looked at the staff table and one notable absence. "But then the old bastard still hasn't put his office back together from whatever the hell I did to it, either. Went up like a firecracker."
She giggled, then blinked. Harry smiled at her.
"That's a new one for you. We still have the train journey back, and we'll stay in touch over the holiday. I'll want to know how that work is going." She sighed, finally clamping down on her Occlumency barriers. It was going to be a long journey without Daphne to tease or Erin there to talk runes and rituals with, for that was the first rule of the Granger Gremlins: The Granger Gremlins didn't exist.
The second rule was much more fun: Notice-me-Not charms do, get used to beating them. That had been before they'd found the Room of Requirement for the disastrous attempt at the Defence Association.
Unfortunately breakfast continued as usual. Ron was disgusting, the three of them were silent taking in the gloves they all wore and the ignorance of everyone else. All in all, the companionship was good.
"Working, Hermione, really?" Ron spluttered everywhere as she started scribbling. Harry grinned, pulling out his own parchment. Neville rolled his eyes. "Mental, absolutely mental, both of you." But that didn't matter as Harry saw the scribbled note.
'We really should learn a sign language at some point, non-magical American standard perhaps?'
'If we have the time for it, of course.' Harry scribbled down.
'Time. Hah, like we have enough time for what we already have planned.' Daphne's elegant lines formed beneath it. 'And five meter rule, seriously, you're sat next to each other. Whisper in each others ears like a proper couple.'
Hermione blushed and Harry chuckled. Neville absently pulled his own protean parchment out and then wiggled his eyebrows at them. That ended that discussion.
The train journey was uneventful as they waited till last to pick up a carriage, a subtle charm from Hannah prompted Ron to leave with Lavender. As far as they knew he spent the entire journey regaling his heroics and frankly they couldn't have cared less. What they had cared about was the lack of Malfoy. The sorry bastard had fled home to his mother in 'grieving' for his fathers death. Harry smiled. Oops.
"It's nice to see you sticking together." Amelia Bones greeted the five of them as they left the train together. "I have a feeling you'll need it in the times ahead." They all smiled nervously before Harry took the lead.
"I'm sure the five of us will always have each others backs." He greeted calmly. "Is this about my missed interview? I would apologise but the blame lies firmly elsewhere." He stated softly.
"I would happen to agree with you on that one Mr. Potter." She said softly, giving him his wand back. "And, should said interference not have almost complete control over the judicial system and the Wizengamot, you would have been awarded for such an event. Unfortunately, you and your friends participation has been officially swept under the rug, for the Greater Good of course." Harry frowned.
"Yes, your wand probably does feel a little different now that all the charms, blocks and other monitors have been removed from it." She continued smoothly. "Normally I'd ask to borrow the rest of your wands so that we could document the extent to which our government has fallen but that would be both problematic and illegal. Is the Young Mister Weasley with you?" She gave the group a hopeful once over. "No. It appears I will have to deal with the Harridan later then." She sighed and pulled out a bunch of paperwork and thin books from her robes.
"If anyone asks, you where investigating a series of incidents in the Department of Mysteries that where judged trivial in nature, as befitting our new trial Trainee Auror program, which you happen to be members of."
"You didn't..." Susan started before hug tackling her aunt with a smile. "You're the best, you know."
"Yes, well, if you'll all sign these conveniently back-dated forms I can remove the trace from your wands and give you an official commendation for your actions." She explained calmly. "And give you your ID and training manuals."
"We're not going to be Aurors." Luna said with sing-song formality, before shrugging as everyone looked at her. "I just thought I'd tell you."
"I know, but retroactive legality is a wonderful thing and I'd like to be on the side of one of the two people who've duelled our Enemy and lived." She looked Harry in the eyes. "And I'd prefer it if it was the one my niece trusted."
Harry ratcheted up his mental defences and felt relieved when no assault came. Then, before engaging his mouth he asked himself, 'What would Daphne do?' Then he spoke. "Your offer is appreciated Lady Bones, but I must stress that I will be neither bribed nor threatened into doing anything. I have commitments of my own I must meet." He said, executing a formal bow.
She spent a moment or two in thought before smiling. "Very well said. I will look forward to following you when the time comes. Until that time, think of this as an excuse to train a little more." She offered the form. "You may return it by owl signed or not, but for now let me remove the trace and any other spells I find. We can always add the legally required ones later if you refuse. Your wand, Mrs Granger?"