A/N: Hey look! A new chapter!
The swerve from canon to AU continues. I like a balanced story. With Harry having more support, the Beast and the Packs on his side I added the Fae as a wild card rather than make Voldemort more powerful. The last chapter generated some powerful responses; most good, some downright hostile. I believe three said they would never read this story again. To each his own, I am just trying to tell an interesting story.
I have started writing new material for Balancing Destiny. I won't post anything here until Weres Harry is completed but all of you that keep asking now have a status. ;-)
Preying for Time
The Great Hall was in chaos with the disappearance of Harry Potter. The Fifth year Gryffindor had managed to stare down the entire school, tell them exactly what he thought of them, and then manage to completely disappear. The students discussed Harry's oath and his rant.
In the end, it didn't change much. The junior Death Eaters still wanted him destroyed (although now they were a bit more wary having felt Harry's power personally). The Light-Siders conceded the oath made it highly unlikely Harry was involved with the disappearances but he was still dangerous and a murderer. The group it had the biggest impact on were the neutrals. They accepted Harry was innocent of involvement with the disappearances and they felt guilty for joining in on shunning Harry. But since they still didn't want to get involved in the fighting it would give Harry little additional support aside from not participating in such activities themselves.
Individually there were some changes. Susan Bones was furious with Harry using her parents and the crass way he talked of their deaths. Since she first learned the truth her parents were her heroes. They managed to create her an emergency 'safe room' under the floor boards that was charmed against discovery and magical fires while the Death Eaters were tearing down their house's wards. They knew creating a space with room for all three of them was beyond their power and time so they consciously sacrificed themselves to give their baby a life. She would always honour them for that. But while Harry's words infuriated her, she also felt some sympathy for what Harry felt on Halloween and it shamed her. The 14th of September was never a good day for her and it would be worse to have everyone celebrating that day. As the niece of the Head of the DMLE, she also knew oaths and recognized the simplicity of Harry's. It left no wiggle room for his involvement. It made her start to reassess what she thought she 'knew'. Susan's world got a little greyer that morning.
Among the Junior Death Eaters, there was one that took Harry's words to heart. Surprisingly, it was Pansy Parkinson that actually stopped to think. Her father was the last Death Eater killed in the Alley. Potter had killed him by decapitating him with a Flame Whip Charm. It wasn't the animal that killed him, it was the wizard. Suddenly Pansy realized they were all poking a caged wolf with a sharp stick all the while thinking they were safe from retaliation. The Light-side believed in the rules that restrained them. Potter had just put them all on notice that the wolf was no longer caged. Any further poking was at their own risk. Pansy suddenly recognized her own mortality under these new rules. Maybe direct confrontation was not the best solution.
The Aurors and several teachers immediately deployed to find the missing Boy-Who-Lived but no sign of him was found. None of the ghosts or portraits reported seeing a sign of him either. Snape even checked Myrtle's bathroom but the hormonal ghost said she hadn't seen Harry but he was always welcome to her plumbing. (Snape shuddered at that innuendo.)
Dumbledore didn't believe Harry hadn't left the school grounds because the wards hadn't been triggered. There was always a chance the youngest Marauder knew some way around the wards but the Headmaster didn't think so in this case. His conversation with Sirius that evening enforced that belief. The dog animagus was too calm especially after the events of the last Friday so Dumbledore knew Harry had been in contact with his family. But Sirius also lacked the hint of gloating he would expect if Harry had reached London. Thus, Harry was somewhere in the school.
The Ministry was going insane with Harry's disappearance. The Aurors were treating Harry as their top suspect for the abductions but surprisingly, Miss Bones spoke to her aunt about Harry's oath. That created another ruckus when they realized they still had an abductor to deal with and had managed to run off the Boy-Who-Lived. Dumbledore tried to calm them but Fudge was letting his fear rule his rather limited intellect. The man was an instinctive politician and supported the mob's rush to judgement on Mr Potter. Now that decision – and the mob – would turn on him. The fool had actually said they set the whole thing to make him look bad. (Fudge never said who 'they' were.)
Albus had missed most of Harry's rant in the Great Hall but received a full report from Professor Crowling. While Albus believed killing should always be a last resort, he did accept that Harry had little choice when he was outnumbered as badly as he was in the Alley. Yes, he could have run but that would have exposed more people to the Death Eaters. For good or ill, Gryffindors were trained NOT to run.
"Stay safe, Mr Potter," the old wizard murmured.
"I can't believe the little twit is doing this to me again!" the Indian witch growled as she paced. Harry's five friends were gathered in an unused classroom discussing the disappearance of said wizard. Right now they were mostly watching the furious young witch spout off on her missing boyfriend.
Ernie leaned over to Ron. "Wherever Harry is, he might want to stay there a while," he whispered. Ron went to reply but they were both hit by an advanced colour changing charm. They now looked like candy canes or an old barber shop pole as the strips animated to twist around.
"Knock it off you two," Padma said through clenched teeth. "Harry's out there somewhere alone! Anything could happen to him!"
Ron was frowning down at his red and white stripped robes. Absently, he said, "He'll be back once he's cooled off. (Bloody hell, these are my last clean robes!) He just needed to get away for a bit. Give the bloke a break. (Ernie, what's the spell to fix this?)"
"What is that supposed to mean, Ronald?" Hermione demanded.
"It means I want my bloody robes changed back!" the wizard shot back. "I didn't even say anything." Padma rolled her eyes and cancelled the spell with a swish of her wand. "Thank you," Ron grunted.
"Now, what about Harry?" Padma asked in a falsely calm voice.
"You saw, Pad," Ernie answered for his friend. Ron was sharp enough to see things but wasn't gifted at putting it into words. "Harry completely lost his temper. He needed to get away to calm down. In fact, I bet ten minutes of my snog time with Hermione that his elf minion is with him right now. And you know how much that time means to me."
"Ernie!" Hermione protested turning crimson with embarrassment but slightly pleased all the same.
"But Harry Potter's Puffer would lose because Dobby is here to deliver Master Harry Potter sir's letters," Dobby suddenly said from his place on the table next to Ernie. The Fifth year Hufflepuff jumped away with a yell at the sudden voice right next to him. Dobby just smiled and held out his envelopes.
"Dobby, where is Harry? Is he okay? Is he safe? Can you take me to him?" Padma fired out.
"Dobby can't say, yes, yes, and no," the elf replied before blinking away with the envelopes left behind.
"Bloody elf's been around Harry too long," Ron said with a grin. Daphne ignored her boyfriend's quip as she reached for the two envelopes Dobby had left behind. One was addressed to the group and the other was just to Padma. The Slytherin witch silently handed the on to Padma and then opened the other.
Padma took the envelope and quickly opened it. While she was silently reading, Daphne started to read the other one aloud.
Sorry for the disappearing act. I had to get out or I'd be in Azkaban for murdering the Hogwarts student body. I would have waited for you but I reckon if I did Snape or the Aurors would be there too and I'd never get away. Dobby got me somewhere safe where I could let it out without hurting anyone. When I woke up this morning I had someone here to talk to. Honestly it was more than a bit weird even by my standards or weirdness. I'm feeling better but I think I might stay here a few days. Maybe once things settle down I can have Dobby show you where I am.
I've been wondering if Hogwarts is where I want to finish my education. I'm sure Sirius could get a tutor or two along wih Remus also if we wanted to home school. Or we could go someone out of the country. Something to think about.
Be careful and I'll be keeping an eye on you.
"He must have the Map with him," Daphne commented as she finished reading. "At least the brat sent us a note. Padma, you okay?"
The Indian witch had finished reading her letter and had tears running down her cheeks. That conflicted with the smile on her face.
"Oh, I'm fine," the witch answered. "I'm still going to smack him for leaving us behind, but only once."
"That must have been some note," Ernie said in an aside to Ron. The red-haired wizard smiled and nodded.
Harry woke the morning after the blow out in the Great Hall in a warm bed inside the cottage the magical holodeck had provided. The last thing he remembered was curling up to sleep on a large oak branch after exhausting himself in the forest. He'd hunted down a small dear and shared it with some of the small forest predators like he'd done before Hogwarts. He didn't know if these were real animals or some type of magical constructs but it felt right to him. He'd felt content when he'd gone to sleep.
Waking up in a bed was a surprise. Waking up to the smell of bacon and eggs was an even bigger surprise. Assuming it was Dobby; Harry pulled on a shirt and trousers from his trunk and walked out of his room.
What he found wasn't Dobby. It was a woman in her late twenties or early thirties with long dark hair done up in a single braid that flowed down her back. Her clothing looked like something from a renaissance faire or a Shakespearean play.
"Come in, my Harry," the woman said without turning. "Breakfast shall be ready presently."
Harry stepped slowly into the room. He didn't feel threatened but he still was cautious. "Who are you?" he asked.
The woman turned and smiled at Harry. She was classically pretty with an aristocratic look with a narrow nose and high cheekbones. But when she smiled Harry saw a hint of dimples.
"You could say I am your fairy godmother," the woman said. "Of course fairies are not, what is your modern term - ah, politically correct right now, are they? Now, sit and eat." The woman placed a plate full of eggs and bacon on the table directly in front of Harry.
Harry made no move to sit. "Who are you?" he asked again although a bit more forcefully.
"You may call me Aunt Rachael, Harry," the woman said as she sat down with her own plate across from Harry. "I have watched you for a very long time. It wasn't until your wonderful little friend Dobby brought you here that I could talk to you."
"Aunt Rachael?" Harry repeated.
"Oh, not biologically or anything," Rachael demurred. "Please sit. We can talk while we eat. So much more civilized."
Harry sat down and received a gracious smile as a reward. The food smelled wonderful and caused Harry's stomach to rumble.
"Please eat," Rachael said making a gesture with her fork. Harry picked up his fork and tried a bit. It was wonderful but he was still cautious.
"Oh, for the Creator's sake, Harry nothing here will harm you in the least. It is all safe. I give you my magical oath on it. I am here to help you, not hurt you."
Harry recognized the magical oath as valid from the reaction of magic around him even though she held no wand. "Sorry," he said as he took another bite.
"Oh, child, it is I who should be sorry. You have suffered so for Magic's sake! You were a beautiful innocent and the Dark One took that from you. Your parents were wonderful people. James was a bit of an imp but Lily quickly became one of my favourites. She had this inner radiance about her that I so loved. You have much of her in you.
"Fate needed a champion and you stepped forward. The cost to you and your loved ones have been great and you have so much further to go. I wanted to take this chance to talk with you."
"What do you mean I stepped forward?" Harry demanded.
Rachael sighed. "Harry, Fate does not select her Champions; they identify themselves. She made Her needs known and your soul responded before you were even born." Harry wound up to speak, but Rachael stopped him with a raised hand.
"Before you respond let me ask you a single question. You know something now of the problems this land now faces. I may not speak of it but the Dark One and the return of the Fae are but the tip of a much larger emergence. Someone must deal with it. A Champion must lead. Who else would you trust to play that role?"
The simple question brought Harry up short. If he could pass it to someone else who would it be? Images of his friends passed his mind's eye but they were quickly dismissed. Maybe it was the Alpha in him – or maybe what made him an Alpha – but he couldn't honestly see who else he would trust to see things through. Dumbledore maybe but he was getting old and something told Harry Dumbledore had indeed stepped forward as a Champion in his own time. Sirius? Remus? Padma? Ron? Hermione? No, he couldn't do that to them.
Rachael smiled as Harry stared as some vacant point on the wall. Harry seemed to come to some conclusion and turned to speak but Rachael spoke before he could. "That heroic refusal to quit or back down when people are in trouble – your saving people thing – is what made you step forward and accept this destiny as your own. Strip away the magical powers and other gifts and at the core you are still Harry James Potter. In the end, it is always the soul that matters."
Harry was struck by the simple truth he felt in Rachael's words. He still wasn't happy about his 'role' but the strange woman had given him something to think about. He looked up from his plate to find her smiling at him again. It was a pleased smile of a parent whose child had just taken a big first step on their own.
"Excellent! Now, no more whining about 'why me?' You know why, so no more angst! It grates on One's nerves." Rachael commanded in a teasing tone so it took much of the sting out. "Life isn't fair. You will have pain and loss but in your soul you know you have to stay the course. Embrace the positive. When Fate accepts Her Champions She provides the positive to balance out the negative." When she saw the doubt on Harry's face, Rachael laughed. "Trust me, you'll see it eventually." Harry liked her laugh. It was soothing somehow.
The two continued eating and soon finished their breakfast. Rachael slid her plate away before she started to talk.
"I know what happened in the Great Hall, Harry. It made one proud of the way you stood your ground and even prouder of the way you knew when to walk away. I do want to tell you two things. The first is that you shouldn't take their words to heart. They are young, scared, and fairly stupid. But it is not entirely their fault." Harry felt slightly betrayed by that last part. Rachael held up a slender hand to stop Harry's response. Then she continued.
"When the Dark One hit you with his curse it created a magical anomaly. Your mother had enacted a ritual to protect her beloved son. Her willing sacrifice even when offered her life over-powered the ritual. That protection is still with you and will be until your seventeenth birthday. And therein lays the problem."
"Excuse me?" Harry asked confused.
"Your mother's protection saved your life but the pure hatred of the Dark One's Killing Curse … damaged it. It made people willing to accept the worst about you or at best ignore you. It was similar to a Confundus Charm but it was supposed to effect people that meant you harm. Twisted, it made everyone ignore you or simply accept that you were fine. To add to this, your mother's sister and her family shaded it with their fear and hatred of all things magical. This causes people to accept the worst about you with very little thought. Unfortunately, the stronger the Dark One is the stronger the aversion and hatred are. With the Dark One's return to physical form it is very strong."
Harry felt shocked to know that actually was a reason why the magical world acted in such a bi-polar manner towards him. He was partially relieved but it still seemed like a giant excuse to him.
"What about my friends? Sirius and Kalina?"
Rachael smiled. "Ah, the gap in the magic. People that truly care for Harry Potter the person resist the magic. If they only care for the Boy-Who-Lived – the one that defeated the Dark One and not the person, then the curse is in full effect." She paused and allowed Harry to digest what she had just said.
"Bloody hell," Harry muttered.
"It's not all bad," Rachael supplied after a bit.
"How's that?" Harry challenged. "I've been beaten, ignored and slandered my whole life because of this magic."
"True," she conceded. "However, the magic also means those that support you truly support you, not the Boy-Who-Lived. Those that have been constant in their support can resist the magic. It also kept the original intent and causes many that would wish you harm to ignore you or underestimate you."
Harry had to smile at that first part. He'd always wondered about who he could truly trust. Being a celebrity made him question many people's motives. Rachael smiled back at him.
"When you accepted Fate's call a prophecy was made to announce the event," Rachael told Harry.
"A prophecy?" Harry repeated in disbelief. "An actual one? Not one of Trelawney's sherry-induced visions?" Rachael smiled a bit at that then simply shrugged.
"She is a damaged tool but some things come through. You see Fate doesn't give the words of a prophecy; the seer sees the events in a fashion. The words of the prophecy reflect the mental capacity and perspective of the seer. And actually, Harry, it was Trelawney that gave the prophecy before your birth."
"So, it at least was Sherry-flavoured," Harry quipped. Rachael giggled at that.
"Can you tell me what the prophecy said?" Harry asked.
"You have to get it from the one that was there," she answered. "Professor Dumbledore can tell you or visit the Department of Mysteries next summer. They capture the memories of the prophecies and study them there."
"I will do that," Harry answered. Rachael looked into Harry's eyes and seemed happy with what she saw there.
"Excellent! Now, my time here is limited so I must hurry. I will try to visit some other times when you are in this wonderful room. Which by the way, the Founders called the 'Room of Requirements'. They used it for designing the castle and by building the castle in this room, caused the real castle to be built outside. It is still how the house elves add rooms and move things around. But I never told you that." Rachael's smile had turned mischievous and her dimple was more pronounced.
"Now, in the bookshelves behind you is a selection of topics including defence, charms and such. There are also some of the best reference books on the Fae and other extra planar entities. Study them well for the knowledge will serve you well in the destiny in front of you."
Harry turned to study the books. He stood and walked over to review the titles he'd looked at briefly the night before. He turned to ask Rachael a question and was surprised that she was standing right next to him. He never heard her move. The woman wrapped Harry in a hug.
"Be well, my Harry. Remember, you are never alone and you are loved." Then she was simply gone. Harry looked around but there was no sign of her. Even the kitchen was cleaned up except for the small plate of the leftover bacon.
"No, Potter," Harry muttered in the empty room. "That wasn't freaky at all."
It had been four days since Mr Potter's disappearance and Minerva McGonagall was not in a good mood. Mr Potter was an excellent student and did not deserve the accusations and rumours that were levelled against him. She had only caught the end of Mr Potter's rant but she'd quickly taken the student body to task. Then she started on the staff that had witnessed the whole event and not intervened. The Aurors were not in her jurisdiction but she had words with her old friend Amelia Bones who was not pleased to hear of neither her niece's nor her Aurors behaviour towards Mr Potter.
The cat animagus trotted down the dark and quiet corridors of the school. It was past her assigned patrol time but she was feeling anxious and simply wanted to enjoy the cool night air. She loved Hogwarts but appreciated these times when the students were not around.
It was the soft sound of a piper that caught the feline's attention. Would one of the Aurors be playing this late? Some of them were on patrol but the rest should be sleeping, not playing music. The tabby moved off down the hall on silent cat paws.
She was near the entrance to Ravenclaw Tower when she saw eight ugly little creatures standing in an alcove. The creatures were about two feet tall and looked like distorted goblins. Each of the creatures was armed with wicked looking spears with some type of sharpened black stone at the top. One was playing a small pipe softly. It was very high pitched she realized and doubted she would have heard it in human form. Next to the piper stood a student she recognized as a 2nd Year Ravenclaw, Malcolm Board. The boy was fully dressed for the day and stood motionless and expressionless. That was when she realized what the 'boy' was.
It was a crimbil, one of the golem replacements for the abducted children. That meant these creatures were the Bendith Y Mamau that Mr Potter had warned them about and they were here to take young Mr Board.
The professor was still getting over her shock when the targeted Mr Board slowly walked into the hall. His movements were relaxed and casual but he seemed to be focused on following the sound of the music. He came to a stop just in front of the alcove before turning to face the Bendith. The crimbil stepped forward and reached out a hand to touch the boy. McGonagall overcame her shock and realized it was time to act. In an instant she released her cat form and her wand was in her hand with a spell on her lips.
A blasting curse caught the Bendith by surprise hurling three of them against the wall with a satisfying crunch. The remaining five reacted with incredible reflexes turning to face their attacker. The piper dropped his pipe to pull out his spear. But McGonagall had not time to notice as two of the others launched their spears at her.
The professor was a skilled duellist having survived several fights during the war with Voldemort but age had slowed her down a bit. She avoided the first spear that would have pierced her heart but the second sank deeply into her thigh. The stone head broke off leaving the black rock deep in her leg but allowing the blood to rush out. The pain was horrible. Minerva McGonagall looked up to see two of the creatures advancing on her with drawn knives of the same material. She tried to raise her wand but the blood loss was making her faint. She knew she would be dead shortly.
The Beast slammed into the advancing Bendith like a wrecking ball. A claw swipe ripped the throat out of one while the second was held firmly in the other clawed hand. That one was thrown back into the other three before they could bring their spears into play. The three of them crashed to the floor as the fourth one dodged to avoid. That one charged towards Harry with its spear extended.
The werewolf animagus snatched the spear with one hand and followed up with a backhanded smash with the other. The creature smashed into the wall and fell atop the three cursed by McGonagall. The remaining three regained their feet and yelled something in a language Harry couldn't understand. A shimmering portal appeared in the air. The three ran through and the portal disappeared.
Harry returned to his human form and quickly made his way over to his injured teacher. A cutting charm created a slip up the witch's leg so he could see. It was bad and his simple healing charms wouldn't be up to the task. She needed Madam Pomfrey quickly. A binding charm wrapped her leg in bandages to slow the bleeding. Harry conjured a pillow to put under her leg. He didn't know if it would help but it seemed that having her leg up above her would slow the blood that was already showing through the bandage.
"Dobby!" Harry called out. An instant later the elf appeared. Before the elf could speak, Harry ordered, "Go get Pomfrey here immediately. Then get Flitwick and Dumbledore." The elf was gone in a blink.
The Ravenclaw boy that Harry didn't know slowly settled to the ground and started to snore. A quick check confirmed he was sound asleep. Harry assumed he would come out of it and looked instead at the Bendith. He had killed the first one he hit and McGonagall had killed two with her curse. The remaining two were injured and still seemed unconscious. Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out several lengths of wire. He grabbed the nearest Bendith and shoved the wire through the creature's ear. It came awake with a scream before immediately passing back out. A few deft twists secured the wire in place. Another length was used to secure the creature's hands behind its back. This was repeated with the second creature. By that time, Pomfrey had arrived with Dumbledore in tow.
"What happened here?" Dumbledore demanded as the magical healer went immediately to work. Harry quickly explained the scene he'd come across and what he'd done to help his Head of House.
"You saved her life," Poppy said tersely examing the results of a diagnostic charm she'd cast, "but maybe not her leg. Those stone heads the creatures use are flaking off in the wound and making it hard to heal. I can't get the bleeding to completely stop unless it's all out. I need to get her to the Wing and get some help here from St Mungos."
Dumbledore called for Fawkes and the phoenix appeared in a ball of fire. The bird circled the area twice before landing on McGonagall's leg. A few tears were shed and the wound seemed to heal but then broke open again although the bleeding was less. Even Fawkes looked shocked.
"That's it," Poppy exclaimed. "That rock has to come out. Fawkes, can you take us to the Hospital Wing?" The phoenix let out an affirmative cry before flaming out again with the two witches.
Dumbledore looked shaken as he turned back to Harry. "And what of these?" he asked pointing at the Bendith lying on the floor.
"Three of them are dead," Harry answered. "These two are unconscious and I neutralized any powers they have."
"And how did you do that?"
"Cold iron piercing their skin," Harry answered. "More iron binding their hands. If they try to use their fae powers it'll burn them the more they try to use. I snuck out to a hardware store because it has to be natural iron, not conjured or transfigured." Dumbledore looked curious and wanted to speak more but that was when Flitwick arrived wearing a set of flannel pyjamas and carrying his wand. Three Aurors ran up behind him
"What happened, headmaster?" the Charms Master asked.
"An attempted abduction. Professor McGonagall managed to disrupt it and Mr Potter came to her aid."
"Mr Board was the target?" the small man asked. The boy slept on oblivious to the events around him.
"Indeed," the Headmaster answered. Then he turned to the Aurors.
"These two have been taken and rendered harmless by Mr Potter here. Take them into custody but do not remove the wire from their ears or hands," Dumbledore directed. "So long as these are in place, they have no power."
"If you have any cells surrounded by natural iron, that would help too," Harry added.
"And what of Mr Potter here?" one of the Aurors asked. "We were supposed to report any sightings of him." Harry started to bristle at the insinuation, but Dumbledore laid a hand on his arm to stop him.
"Mr Potter will be meeting with me in my office. I believe you have enough to do but you may contact him through my office." The Auror gave a nod and joined his partners in collecting the captured Bendith.
"I will take Mr Board to Madam Pomfrey," Professor Flitwick offered. A casual flick of his wand had the sleeping boy floating along-side him.
"An excellent idea, Filius," the Headmaster said. "Please let me know when your student wakes up. I will be most interested in hearing of his experience." With a nod of acceptance the wizard was off with his student floating along behind him.
"Please come up to my office, Harry. I believe we have much to discuss." Harry nodded his agreement. The old wizard gestured with his wand and transfigured the Bendith bodies into blocks of wood before calling some elves to clean up the area. Within five minutes there was nothing to indicate a fight had ever occurred there.
The walk to Dumbledore's office was silent; neither wizard looking to talk where others might hear. The gargoyle guardian leapt to the side with Dumbledore's approach and they proceeded up to the office. Dumbledore moved not to his desk chair but to one set near the fireplace. Harry took the other open chair next to him. It was subtle but Harry caught the message this was not a meeting between headmaster and student.
"Tea?" Dumbledore asked.
"Water, please," Harry answered. Almost immediately a cup of tea and a glass of very cold water appeared on the small table between them.
"First, may I say 'thank you' for assisting Professor McGonagall tonight?" Dumbledore said. "From Minerva's description it is doubtful she would have survived another attack."
"I was trying to pick up their scent," Harry explained. "I never picked one up but I heard the sounds of the fight."
Dumbledore looked curious. "Do you have their scent now? Can you track them?"
"Mostly. Their scent is similar to Professor Flitwick – part human and part goblin, maybe with a little something more thrown in. It might sound weird but their scent was 'cold' somehow; like snow." A disturbed look came to Harry. "It makes me wonder what they are using the children they take for."
"Indeed," the professor agreed. "I have done my own research on these creatures and there are too many conflicting tales to draw a firm conclusion. It does not seem though it is for … feeding purposes so I maintain the highest hope that we shall recover our two missing young witches safely." Harry could only nod his agreement.
Both wizards sat quietly for a moment with their drinks. Dumbledore was surprised how calm Harry appeared. After the events only four days ago he half expected Harry to appear and destroy his office in a fit of rage. This Harry was calm, but it was the calm of a predator waiting to pounce.
"It is good to see you well, Harry," Dumbledore offered after taking a sip. "I apologize for not keeping more control that night. I am most unhappy that the staff present did not intervene." Harry nodded his acceptance of the apology.
"It was a rough night all around," Harry replied. "Dobby got me set up somewhere safe that I could work off my energy."
"And will you be returning to class tomorrow?" There was a pause before Harry replied.
"I honestly don't know." Harry took a drink of his water and considered his thoughts. "I've learnt a few things that make me a bit more tolerant of what happened in the Great Hall. Merlin, it put a lot of my life into a new perspective, but that doesn't mean it'll get any better. I'm considering withdrawing from Hogwarts and going abroad for the rest of my education."
Dumbledore paled at the thought of Harry Potter leaving Hogwarts. Harry was a major symbol of the nation. Losing him to a foreign school would do significant damage to the school's image. If the reason why got out it would be even worse. However, the old wizard had to concede that it might be best for Harry's education to do so given all that had happened. Yet, there was another reason that thought of Harry leaving Hogwarts scared him. Something told the wizard that he would get one chance at this.
"Harry, there is something you must know before you make any decision," Dumbledore said. "Before you were born there was a prophecy made about the fall of Voldemort. I can show you a memory for the exact wording but it identified someone that had the power to defeat Tom. It also provided a way of identifying that person. In the end it came down to two children, yourself and Neville Longbottom. The final identification came when Tom gave you that scar. He 'marked you as his equal,' as it were. According to the prophecy, you are the only one that can stop him."
Dumbledore was mildly surprised when Harry merely nodded as though the Headmaster had merely confirmed something the boy already knew. In his unease at Harry's stoic acceptance of hearing of the prophecy, Dumbledore revealed a bit more.
"Harry, everything in the prophecy that identified the focus points to you. You, Harry James Potter, are the only one with the power to stop him and eventually your destinies will collide. If you decide to leave and pursue your education elsewhere it may delay it for a while but it will happen. But it will result in many more deaths here in Britain."
Harry nodded at the Headmaster's words. Albus could see the boy considering his role. Then Harry said, "Of course, maybe I am supposed to leave to get training; maybe work with the Packs. Then fight Tom. Staying here untrained might give Tom the edge and cause him to win. Tricky things prophecies. I've been reading a bit about them the last few days." Harry paused and sipped his water. Then he looked at Albus with a small wry grin.
"I guess the silver lining is I don't have to worry about sleeping with my Mum." The comment shocked the old wizard. Harry had known about the prophecy! How?
Harry stood up. "I will contact Sirius tomorrow and have him come. I want to see your memory of the prophecy but I want him here." Harry paused. "Remus too. He is my Second."
"That would be acceptable," Albus said. "I would suggest keeping this information just between us. The fewer people that know, the better." Harry shrugged.
"I will tell my friends and family. They need to know so they can make informed decisions. I trust them. Besides, Tom knew enough to target me and I doubt Neville's family was attacked two days later by accident.
"Good evening, headmaster." Then Harry was gone.
Albus sat looking at the door in shock for some time after it closed.
Harry passed two patrolling Aurors but neither made a move to confront the Fifth year. They merely nodded acknowledgement and kept walking. In Harry's eyes that was a huge improvement.
Heading back to the room he still thought of as the holodeck, Harry was going through an intersection when he heard someone called his name.
"Hello, Harry Potter."
Harry turned towards the sound of the voice. Perched on a pedestal that normally hosted the bust of an ancient wizard was the figure of a young woman. A pair of torches mounted on the wall on either side of her burst into a soft white light; not fire but a magical light. With the additional light, what Harry saw one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. With Kalina, Padma, and Fleur in his life, that was saying something. She wore a simple but elegant dress that looked like black silk that came to mid-thigh and left her arms bare. Her limbs looked supple and strong but were pale. Her hair was long and dark but had highlights of a light purple. Her facial features were elegant and expressive. But there was an odd cast to them that said this person was not wholly human. Her position on the pedestal managed to be demure and provocative at the same time. Even with the Beast and his occlumency, Harry felt a pull of attraction that beat the Veela attraction.
"And who are you?" Harry asked.
The woman smiled. "You mortals are far too free with your names. But you may call me Lea." The voice was clear and beautiful but also cold.
"Short for Leanan Sidhe, maybe?" The woman laughed.
"Yes, so I've been called. I wanted to meet you after you ruined my little game tonight," Leanan Sidhe admitted. "I have not yet ascertained how you learnt of my arrival in your little school but I heard the talk of it. No matter, the test will go on. But since you knew, I couldn't resist. I so wanted to meet you, Harry James Potter."
Harry shuddered at the Unseelie Fae's use of his full legal name. He hadn't given it to her but it was enough for her to convey some of her power. Fortunately, it was not also his full magical name.
"What test?" Harry asked.
"Why our test of you, dear boy. Thomas Marvolo Riddle let lose the power to rip open the boundaries between our world and this one. So long since I've walked this ground – so ripe, so innocent. But we watched that fight in the graveyard. Two champions battling; blood and bodies …" The Fae shivered in a blatantly sexual fashion at the talk of the fight Harry barely survived.
"My Queen ordered an investigation of this time," Leanan Sidhe continued. "The Dark Champion was gone too quickly, but you, we were able to follow. And such a wonderful place you brought me to! Such rich hunting ground!" The voice was still cold but now is was also cruelly anticipating pain and death.
"Hello, cousin," a new voice said. "Hello Furry Potter." Without losing sight of Leanan Sidhe, Harry turned to see Luna approach.
"Halfling," Leanan Sidhe hissed at the sight of the 4th Year Ravenclaw.
"Luna?" Harry asked with a whole bunch of questions in one word.
"I saw Harry playing with your servants so I knew you would be around somewhere. Plus the humdingers stopped their singing. I missed it. Will you go away so they start again?"
"Harry Potter must play out the game," Leanan Sidhe answered in a glacial tone. "The Queens have ordered it."
"Oh, I must send Paula a copy of the next Quibbler. She'll enjoy it." Luna commented absently. Leanan Sidhe's face took on a darker cast. But then she turned to Harry and smiled.
"We shall have to continue this conversation later, Harry James Potter, when we are not interrupted. But for now, the game continues." And then she was just gone and the magical lights faded out.
'What is it with me and weird, beautiful women dropping in to chat?' Harry wondered as he turned to his spacey friend.
"Luna?" he asked again.
"Oh, hi Harry," Luna said. "I see you met my cousin. Be careful with her. That bitch is crazy. Bye-bye!" Then she was gone skipping down the dark corridor.
Harry could only watch and wonder when he'd fallen down the rabbit hole.
A/N2: Luna and Rachael kind of just wandered into the story. I love Luna. I never know what is going to come out of her mouth. Thoughts on who Racheal is?