Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. It belongs to J.K. Rowling. I make no money from this endeavor.
A/N: As always my thanks goes out to those of you who take the time out of your day to read this, and to those of you who kindly take the time out of your day to review.
The thesaurus is your friend.
I don't think I have stated it outright, but the posting schedule for the rewrite is twice weekly, chapters going up on Mondays and Thursdays. We'll go to a weekly schedule with Monday postings after the rewrite, maybe, maybe more if I can get the buffer very full, like ten or so chapters ahead.
Speaking of, the buffer count is sadly still two...
Chapter 11: Trial by Fire
Harry crawled out of bed, scratching himself. It was Monday. He had always disliked Mondays, but that had faded with the unholy hatred he now held for Octobers. He'd go back to being surly with that day of the week as soon as he figured out how to do away with his most hated month of the year.
Neko was sleeping on a fluffy cushion underneath the four-poster. Given that it was an ungodly hour in the morning, Harry got ready to face the day. At least there was never a need to fight over bathroom space at this hour. Glancing at his clock, he made a mental note of how long he was asleep. He was down to only needing two hours of sleep.
Washed and in a fresh set of clothing, Harry idly thought about the fact that he would never have to shave. And prompted by the fact, he pulled a linking book on anatomy out and started reading. He'd been able to wrest some control of his musculature, but he wanted to make sure he didn't screw anything up. He was not going to drag himself into the hospital wing and try to explain it to Pomfrey.
He had had a hard enough time when a bludgeoning spell he had been practicing with had backfired.
That and the fact that the reason why Tonks couldn't walk through a room without tripping over something was the crap she did to her center of gravity, changing all willy-nilly. Why she continued to do it, he had no idea... Its like she wanted to be a walking disaster area.
God, this book was almost as bad as some of the ones he had ready on crystalline structures. At least it was better than some of the more wordy physics texts he had read.
Most of those in years above him were mildly peeved that he made it all look so easy... The fact of the matter was that the amount of time he put into reading, rereading, contemplating, considering, and reading again, would make even the most insane of Ravenclaws blanch. Yes, he had more time when he did this in his mind. Yes, he had a photographic memory to make the initial reading go even faster. Yes, there were very few things about casting magic that actually gave him issues (he grumpily though about the Patronus he had been working on on his own, he'd go to Sirius or Moony for some help as soon the the Winter Holidays started if he didn't make any breakthroughs by then). Part of what made the rest of them look like fools was indeed the fact that he had already gone over it.
But he'd be damned if they said he wasn't working hard at his schoolwork. Yes, he had his homework done before everyone else, and yes, it only seemed like maybe five minutes for each assignment. He worked for hours on end in his mindscape lovingly crafting each and every single paper. Yes, he got all of the spells as soon as they were assigned in class, and yes, he often did them sub-vocally. He spent all the time he had before curfew working himself into various states of magical exhaustion. Yes, he made the entire class look like children when Sirius had the Defense classes square off with paint spells. He'd been doing it for over a year, and he had had martial arts pounded into him by a raving psychotic.
In fact he was still getting it pounded into him. If the training dummy had actually been sentient, Harry would have called it a sadist.
And then there was the fact that he was still studying for his non-magical education, and the most of the subject matter in those books would make a good three-fourths of his housemates scratch their heads in ape-like confusion.
Furthermore, there was the fact that he was the one that the first and second years came to when they needed help, and he did it with a smile, words even Crabbe and Goyle could understand, and by speaking to each and every one of them by name.
Even before he had started needing rather inhuman amounts of sleep, he had been one of the last to bed, and one of the first to face the day. He had actually started upgrading his walks to brisk jogs, and some had started looking at him like he was a freak. He had come to the conclusion that magic had made people lazy. He was not going to let himself fall into that trap. Period.
He had maintained a desperate edge ahead of Dudley growing up, aided and abetted by his magic. He was not going to let that slip because he could now control his magic.
He briefly considered filling every bed, save those belonging to Nev, Fred, and George, with corn snakes. He grimaced and remembered that everyone knew he could talk to snakes. He would be found out instantly. Instead, he had a rather amusing idea.
He had grabbed breakfast in the kitchens. He didn't want to be the first to breakfast... And now he was sitting on an cushioning charm anchored at a comfortable sitting height, watching the Great Hall from under his invisibility cloak.
As the Lions started hauling themselves into Hall, many trying not to look anyone in the face, Harry was glad he placed the silencing charm around himself. Everyone from the third year up seemed to have decided tie-dye was the best thing ever. Not a single member of the house had the standard school robes, and not a single set of robes looked alike.
Strangely some of the first and second years were disappointed that they didn't have robes like everyone else. They must have felt left out. Harry would probably never explain how people behave in groups, save for a pair of axioms that at least gave him some rough understanding.
A mob is only as smart as the village idiot.
A group only moves as fast as its slowest member.
Which would probably explain a good portion of why he hated large groups of people. Evil is really rather rare.
Stupid grows on the goddamn trees in most of the world.
It was nearing the end of the day. Harry, in tie-dyed robes himself (it wouldn't do to be caught because a prank that affected the rest of Tower didn't affect him), was idly weaving about the defense classroom. He'd practiced the paint spell to the point that it was completely non-verbal casting, and he was even managing to point cast it ten percent of the time.
Anyone that actually managed to hit him ended up looking even more colorful (that was the Gryffindors, with the majority of the Snakes, he aimed for the face. The last hold outs had stopped targeting him sometime in mid-November. God some of them had been really thick).
Charms had been the usual decent class. He always managed to gain a few insights from Flitwick. Arithmancy had been even more boring than usual, since he had forgotten his linking book for that particular class in his dorm, and he had nothing to really focus his mind on. Remus had been particularly amusing with the ongoing tales of some Roman Battle Mages. The legions were brilliant, and their spellcasters even more so.
Remus had said something about training manuals they had had, and that there were a lot of incomplete versions floating around. Harry had made a mental note to go look in the master library ledger.
Now that he had gotten the rest of the class off his back, Harry started trading shots with his godfather, a feral grin lighting his face.
The day before the Holidays, Hermione cornered him. Again. She looked exhausted. That fact combined with the few disappearing acts she had pulled, and the obviousness of her temporally impossible schedule, and he could only help but think, 'who the hell would give one to a thirteen year old'.
But then he started twitching, as she practically browbeat him about his apparent slacking off. Again.
Nervous breakdown or not, he was going to set at least one person in this Tower right about his work ethic, and my, my, Hermione had just volunteered.
Harry took a deep breath, and pointing to a chair, yelled, "Hermione, shut up, sit down, and listen!"
The other third year meeped, and put herself in the chair gestured at. Harry pulled his wand and threw up his now standard bevy of a dozen privacy charms.
"Hermione, what are the two things that I am always seen doing in the common room?"
"Reading and staring into space..."
"Reading textbooks, beginning of fifth year textbooks, among other more difficult things; and using my Occlumency to go over what I have already read. And you do remember how the books went over that time inside a person's own shields is far more subjective?"
"So do you think that it is quite possible that I am actually thinking very hard when I am 'staring into space'?"
Again, a nod.
"Now, as for why you are taking your mental breakdown out on me, I am not the moron who gave a thirteen year old a time-turner. Who in their right mind would give an obsessive compulsive like you a dangerous magical artifact like that just so that she can take all the electives? It is insanity! I swear you should just drop Muggle Studies. The reason you gave for wanting to take it is a fallacy. You know damn well how purebloods view the Muggle world. Now if you dare question my work ethic again, I'll get Alistair to resort me at the soonest possible juncture!"
Dropping the privacy charms, he stalked off for the boys' dorms. At the door, he stopped and turned, "And just so you all know how I ended that little rant, the next person to question how hard I may or may not work, well, let's see how well the Gryffindor Quidditch team does when its seeker is resorted into Hufflepuff! Understand?"
Harry walked away from the room in the deserted section of the north wing that he used to practice his spellcasting, dusting frost from his robes. Almost everyone in Gryffindor had plans for this Christmas, and as grateful as he was to his guardians, he had heard horror stories about how hectic the Express was during the Winter Holidays, and he really didn't want to test his temper.
There was also the fact that sometimes he just had trouble relating to Nicolas and Perenelle. He had quite a bit more fun being around Padfoot and Moony, even though he enjoyed what the elder magical users taught him. And since both the Marauders were trying to get caught up on paperwork and grading assignments, Harry had decided he would stay at the castle again for Christmas.
Harry was limping his way toward Sirius's office (damn Master Shu, and damn his training dummy), glad that the Marauder had finally agreed to giving him lessons on the Patronus after Harry had threatened to make his underwear sing 'The Song That Never Ends'. Harry only used earworm pranks when he was irritated, and always as a savage opening shot in prank volleys that put even the worst the Marauders did when they were working together to shame.
They blamed it all on the fact that Harry had apparently inherited his mother's vicious temperament.
Neither of the pranksters wanted to know where he had gotten the two hundred gallons of treacle. They had long stopped asking about his propensity for using the substance. And what the hell was with the rhino that one time, they did not even want to know.
Harry pulled a treacle tart from his pocket and started eating it as he knocked at Padfoot's door. The door opened.
Sirius looked tired. And bored. More so than usual. It probably was a good thing. It meant he would quit rather than have the curse drive him out. Unless the curse was using the paperwork... And that was a disturbing thought. Yes, paperwork was one of the more vile things in existence, but it was only supposed to be the weapon of the bureaucrat. If others learned to wield it...
The end was nigh.
"Pup, I have no idea what you are so upset about. You are making a rather respectable Patronus. Yes, it's a cloud of silver mist, but for a third year after a few months of self-study? Bloody hell Prongslet, you are not supposed to be perfect."
Harry grunted, and idly wondered what he was doing wrong. He'd used any number of memories (save from those before Halloween 1981) and all he could get was... this. And he didn't want to use the memories he was avoiding. They hurt too damn much to even think about, let alone bring to the forefront of his mind.
So Harry shot his godfather a dirty look and made his way back to the mostly empty tower.
Christmas followed shortly after.
Hermione got some more Occlumency texts. When she came back from break rested and a little saner, she would have probably started pleading with him to try and teach her. Hopefully this would cut her off at the pass.
Neville got copies of most of his Herbological notes from the summer, cleaned up, proofed, and bound in a journal that would be able to withstand a heavy beating.
Luna, with her love of animals got three zoology books, and a promissory note to take her and her father to the London Zoo.
Fred and George were gifted some lab equipment. Mostly of the safety variety. Since they seemed to share a brain, losing brain cells from explosions was a constant danger.
People in return got him books. Books he already had access to. He appreciated the thought.
The one exception was the gift Sirius had gotten him. His new broom, which he insisted on delivering face to face.
As Harry ripped the wrappings off the oddly shaped package (why did no one ever put brooms in boxes? Seriously, it would make things so much easier), and he gasped.
"Bloody hell Sirius. When I saw the brand in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies and it said 'price on request'... that sort of thing means damn expensive."
"Yeah, pup, but I owe you for Christmases and birthdays starting from Christmas of '81 to your birthday in '91. This is to make up for a decade of missed spoiling from having a rich arse godfather."
Harry chuckled as he beheld the Firebolt before him.
As people slowly filtered back into the common room after the end of the holidays, most saw something they had never expected, Harry was neither reading nor meditating. In fact, he was lying down on a couch, holding a what the muggleborn would recognize as a Rubik's Cube. The purebloods were just confused at what he was doing.
Also give the fact that there was a small mound of scrambled cubes and three or four solved ones, they figured this for just more insanity of his. After all, everyone knew Potter to be insane.
And so, over the next month, they watched as it became apparent that Harry had cut back, drastically, on the amount of work he had been working on, in favor of playing with his strange colored cubes.
When Hermione sat down next to him in the common room one night, when he was idly working on a cube that had dimensions of four blocks a side, she said, "What happened to the hard work?"
"I was being a hypocrite. I pointed out that all you were doing was work, and seriously," he paused to put up privacy spells, "you need to give the time turner back. You're turning enough to go to class and get your work done, but not enough to be able to back that extra time up. You need more time to eat, sleep, and relax with the more work you do, and are not many time turners that exist that are strong enough to go more than," he paused for a minute as a look of deeper concentration crossed his face and he bobbed his head from side to side, "Eight hours, and those tend to be made with dark methods. But I digress, I've been taking January easy, and I'll go back to something roughly resembling my prior pace, but I'll still take time to work on various puzzles."
"That is something else I've been meaning to ask," she said as she scrunched up her nose, "Where'd you get them all? You stayed at the castle over the Holidays..."
"Oh, the rules state that students staying on campus during holidays can leave if they have supervision. I threatened both Remus and Sirius with thirteen separate pranks involving my favorite of all foodstuffs. They took me to London on three separate occasions."
"Ah. I'm not even going to ask what it is with you and treacle. I am however going to say it is a bit unusual, and leave it at that." She looked about as there was a loud bang and a pair of indignant shouts.
Harry, quickly dropping his privacy spells, raised his voice without ever looking in the direction of the incident, "And that, Fred and George, will teach you to stay out of my things. Just because you failed to get in my trunk does not mean I was willing to let it slide."
One of the twins was now wearing a large chicken suit, with a large cardboard sign with the letters KFC. The other was dressed in a immaculate white suit, a white goatee, and white hair. That chicken place Remus had taken him to had been really good.
Sighing, Hermione turned back to him and said, "There was one last thing I wanted to talk to you about, Harry. I saw a bunch of Hufflepuffs cornering you a few times over the past few weeks..."
"And they were trying to figure out the validity of the threat that I leveled at Gryffindor before the Holidays. And yes, I was serious. And yes, I could get myself resorted into Hufflepuff. And I told them that. I told them if anyone in my own house questioned my work ethic again, I would no longer owe Gryffindor my loyalty. Because respect and loyalty are earned, not given. Remember that Hermione. You still have a few... issues regarding authority figures."
She blushed and got up, no longer looking at him. She then strode off toward the girls' dorms. Harry shrugged and continued working on his puzzle. They were actually very relaxing, while also being decent practice at performing Occlumentic techniques while doing something.
Standing outside of the Transfiguration classroom a few weeks later, waiting for the class to start, Harry was staring intently at a rubber ball in his hand. A few people were wondering just why the hell he was having a staring contest with an inanimate object.
Then the ball floated upward a few inches, and remained there. Harry slowly grew more red in the face, and then he blinked. The ball fell back into his hand and he pocketed it, panting heavily.
He pulled out a Rubik's cube and started playing with it, his eyes flicking at all the people staring at that display of wandless magic.
"What are you all gawking at? I worked very hard to learn to do that, besides, it is only the beginning..."
The maniacal laughter emotionally scarred most of those present. Hermione and Neville just ignored him.
A week after the first Quidditch game of the new year (The 'Puffs kicked Snake butt, much to Harry's pleasure (and the bribes they were starting to levy to get Harry to switch Houses were starting to get a little scary, it's not often fourteen year-olds offer up their firstborn)), and Harry was idly sorting through the past few few weeks of information. He was starting to run out of new and interesting things in the most of the fifth year curriculum to play with, though a few subjects were starting to catch his eye.
Certain possibilities screamed for further development.
Aside from that, his mental defenses were starting to become a little unnerving. Even for him. And last week he had metamorphed himself into what he generally believed Ronald's and Malfoy's lovechild would look like and had pictures taken to taunt the pair with. So that is saying something. What, no sane person knows, but it is something at the very least.
But onto unnerving defenses, the mazes were starting to become more fluid... The already alien geometries of them twisting into further madness, and Alistair finally introduced the use of traps to maim and kill, though it wouldn't likely be a permanent death. What happened most often when a legilimencer was 'killed' in another person's mind was a very forceful and painful ejection that would leave them wide open for a counterattack in the physical world.
And mentioning traps, the ones currently in place would move in seemingly random ways, never remaining in one place too long. And the beasts, he had finally set a few of them loose in the defenses, and they had multiplied like goddamn rabbits.
And that vorpal bunny he had created had gotten loose and that was not going to end well for anyone.
And thinking of that the 'schematics' for its creation popped on to the desk for his perusal. Which was actually something rather new, and extremely disturbing. A few weeks ago, his interior recall had suddenly gone from 'ahh that's where I put it' to 'when the hell did it get in my hand'.
Eying the plans with distaste (he knew that bunny was either going to save his life at one point, or bite him in the ass (or possibly both)), he closed his eyes and shifted sideways, into his magical core.
It had taken this long to map his core, and be able to tell all of the different components of it apart at a glance. He wanted to be absolutely certain he knew what was what before he started shifting things about.
But then again, it was (at least in his eyes) a maelstrom the size of the freaking castle. He idly flicked his eyes about, seeing the seven vortices of energy that spun clockwise (three gold, three green, one white), the three counter-clockwise vortices (one each gold, green, and red), and the three crystalline pillars (all a pale blue).
Just what the hell was he supposed to do with this chaotic mess?
Harry laughed his head off as he remembered the Gryffindor/Ravenclaw Quidditch game. He had caught the Snitch inside of five minutes, and that was ignoring what his Sight and (hopefully) his Sense were screaming at him.
Seriously though, the Ravenclaw Seeker, Cho something-or-other, pretty face, sore loser. She was stamping her foot on the pitch and crying after the match.
He'd commit acts that would be considered sins against nature, humanity, and god, on his own person before he would ever think of spending time with the girl. He was ever so grateful that he had decided not belong to that particular peer group.
But then again, the Lions were starting to irritate him again. They never said anything to his face, but some of the looks and whispers were starting to get his paranoia up. And this coming from the guy who has placed wards around his bed to ensure the Twins remained out of his things.
Oh, and thinking of that, and Quidditch, he needed to prepare a little... something, for victory celebration of next month's game... But what to do... What to do...
The grin that lit his face gave most of the older students panic attacks. The first and second years were wondering what would make their favorite tutor so insanely happy. There was a slight stirring in the ambient magic and a few people could not help but hum a few bars of 'I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am'. Others wept. It was nearing the end of another winter term.
A clear, sunny day, and Harry was sitting under a tree, idly twirling his wand, humming a little tune. Slytherin had gotten a rather epic two hour beat down the day before; Wood denying the opposing Chasers every single attempt; the Twins playing an insane game of tennis with the Bludgers, causing all of the Slytherins to scatter every few minutes; Katie, Angelina, and Alicia working together flawlessly, making a complete fool of the enemy Keeper; and all aided and abetted by Harry, Chasers scattered whenever they managed to rally, Beaters charged during attempts to aim, and the Keeper unsighted during goal attempts.
There had been more than a few scouts there with their eyes on the sixth and seventh years, of which there was only one on the Gryffindor side, Ollie. And a number of them had been quite taken with the Gryffindor team, and had put forth offers for various teams' summer training camps for those that were sixteen or older. Sadly leaving Katie and Harry out of it
Thank god he would not have to play with Ollie as a captain anymore. Thank the heavens for small favors. And for upcoming pranks against the Snakes...
A grin split Harry's face from ear to ear.
A voice in his head giggled, and said, 'Oh it is going to be fun when it kicked off...'
He pulled out the blue Animagus journal and started reading the section that described how to find your form...
The next morning at breakfast, a song started playing, coming from everywhere, but nowhere in particular.
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home..."
And then the entire Slytherin house table started reenacting parts of a scene from the movie Beetlejuice. The entire hall watched on in sheer confusion as when the song ended, the Snakes started a conga line out into the grounds.
Harry, however, barely managed to keep a straight face. 'Must not laugh, for laughter shall land me into detention until two years after I take my NEWTs.'
Harry was idly relaxing, completely and totally alone, on the grounds on a late April late afternoon. Where as the rest of the castle was buckling down for exams, and every day a few more people were checking themselves into the Hospital Wing for panic attacks and stress induced illness, Harry was once more looking for spells that fell under a specific category.
It had been a few weeks since he had found anything really interesting, so he stuffed that book away and pulled out on on anatomy, before he started thinking of the sheer volume of spells he had found.
One would be quite surprised at the sheer volume magic that fall under the category of having a component with that particular element. Thank goodness for the pyromaniacs throughout history. This also made Harry wonder, since if fire is good, and explosions are better, just how many spells are there that made things go boom. That would be an interesting way to kill time this summer.
He turned a page in the anatomy book (he was running out of new things to learn about the human body too... Note to self, bug Padfoot about Black family notes on Metamorphs, maybe there is something new and different there), and was suddenly hit with a series of sensations that threw him into a hyper-alert state.
:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:. The Third Time Fated Strands Converge: The Vile Darkness .:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:
The temperature dropped precipitously, such that from one exhale being normal and the inhale of a pleasant spring day, to the next making a visible mist of his breath and a biting gasp of frigid air into his lungs. The hairs on the back of his neck stood straight up, joined shortly thereafter by the hair on his forearms. And most distinctly, an ice cold pressure started exerting itself on his mental shields, while the late afternoon sunlight seemed to fade to mid evening instantly.
He whipped off his glasses, dropping them into a pocket, while drawing his wand with his next movement. And started silently cursing himself for not being able to produce a proper Patronus. This was going to end very badly if plans 'kill it with fire' and 'uncork pre-Dursley memories' both failed.
He started swearing, he really didn't want his soul to end up as a snack for some filthy creature...
All across the castle, every last occupant could hear a female voice yelling as if raising an alarm... And how alarming the message was...
"DEMENTORS ON THE GROUNDS!"
His eyes flickered about, tracking three separate groups of Dementors, all of them closing in on him. Perfect. Just wonderful. On the one day, every other living being is in the castle, and here he is as far as you can be from an entrance to the castle...
"Fate hates me. That has to be it. I can explain it no other way. Fate hates my god forsaken guts. Bah, worry about that later... If only for the fact that I hope to be aware to worry about it..."
He then started running down the list of spells, and what a list it was. And it also gleaned him a few little known facts about fire magics.
First, that unless components are included to direct and sustain the flames, the fire will still have to do business with physics, meaning that the majority of magics for use are confined to short to mid range.
Second, unless otherwise fueled solely by the spell, the fire still requires the oxygen/fuel sides of the fire triangle to continue burning. The primary result of this is that using large scale fire spells in enclosed spaces is best classified as suicide. A secondary result of this is when using fire magics in areas with few combustibles, the fires made tend to die out quickly.
Third, there were always exceptions to facts one and two.
He pulled one of the exceptions to both facts out of his spell arsenal. 'Fire darts', maximum range, about forty-five meters, self-sustaining until extinguished, either by water or oxygen deprivation.
He fired off two volleys of six at each of the incoming groups, not stopping to check his handiwork until the last shot was fired, and he was coming back to face the first group.
As he faced them, he noticed three or four hits, and saw the struck figures had slowed, if only slightly. Given that the general heat of a fire dart was barely enough to light very dry wood, it was to be expected. Its original use was during medieval warfare to mark targets for archers during seiges.
But it worked as a proof of concept. Fire could hurt them.
The unwounded Dementors sped up, getting closer and closer to their first meal in months, though the only emotion they could feel from it was a grim determination.
Remus and Sirius had been sitting together in the former's office, going over stacks of homework and tests, with Sirius cursing McGonagall for roping him into doing this 'job'. He'd be tendering his resignation after the last final was graded.
He was also glad that he had finally pushed through the other paperwork he had spent the year toiling over. It would still be a few weeks to process all of it and get everything in motion, but if things went as expected... Well, it may very well be worth all of the non-school related tedium he had been through.
When the shout sounded through the castle, they both froze for half a minute, simply staring at each other. And, being the long time friends they were, and both being pseudo-guardians of a rather unfortunate young man, they reacted in the same way.
They both yelled, "Harry!", and bolted out the office door, knowing deep down that 'Fate's butt monkey' (as Harry sometimes referred to himself as) would be in the single most dangerous place.
He took a few deep breaths, knowing that if he was going to be able to do this, he'd have to pull out all the stops... and he only had half a minute before the Dementors entered the maximum range of his long range spells.
He flowed down into his mindscape, and shifted over to his core. He then kicked open his connection (a simple visualization of a bit of pipe with an iris valve and a crank wheel to adjust the size) to his magic as far as he felt comfortable. He knew if he opened it too far, his magic would 'burn' hotter and brighter, but it wouldn't last as long as he might need it to.
It had been one of the things he had spent the past few months working on, and he still wasn't entirely sure of his limits.
Besides which, he was fairly certain that if he started throwing his magical aura off into the visible spectrum, that may just drive the demons into a feeding frenzy.
'There, the first ones just entered my range. Well, here is to landscaping via incendiaries.'
Harry dropped into the position he had come to define as his own dueling stance. His feet were spread a decent distance, his wand hand kept low, the tip of his weapon tracing lazy figure-eights, his other arm held relaxed at his side, and his upper body held loosely. All of his muscles were relaxed, but ready to explode into movement.
He muttered to himself, "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war..."
The demons closed in on their prey, not caring that his eyes had started glowing like emeralds held up to the noonday sun.
And then the unnatural darkness became filled with firelight.
The surviving Marauders ran down the corridors of the school, making a mad dash for the nearest exit onto the grounds, one of the lesser known sally ports that let out near the greenhouses. They had to wade through the occasional group of students making their way to a common room, slightly panicked at the sudden announcement.
"We've gotten far too out of shape, Moony."
"I can't help but agree, Padfoot."
They finally burst through the doors, and started running for the once place they could be certain that Fate's most disfavored child would be. The point farthest from the safety any of the castle's doors offered.
Panting slightly, Harry finished up the current chain of fire spells, taking a quick tally of his handiwork. There were a few Dementors here and there that had visible portions on fire, and he thought that he felt a few that were retreating through his Mage Sense, but this many of the foul things were starting to clog what range he had been able to gain. It was like a bank of aerosolized oil hanging in the air.
He muttered a trio of attempts at the Patronus spell, all of them failing to get more than a strong mist. He grunted at this failure, and mentally shuffled for a few more memories to try for his next attempts, though he kept the last attempt active, and kept enough focus on it to wrap it around him. The chill of the dementors loosened on him, if only by a little.
The black cloaked monsters moved into mid range, and Harry smiled a feral smile, incanting the next series of spells. Hopefully he would start doing actual with the fire magics before the things moved into close range.
Besides which, he had started noting how different spells effected the creatures. Some that should have been devastating on a purely physical level were shrugged off, and others that were meant to be used solely for support purposes sent the things running.
He nodded to himself with a sudden decision. A few facts and observations were falling into place, and there may be one spell that would do the most damage... He'd do two separate spells that he wanted to give a try as they neared the end of mid range, and failing any major effect from those spells, he'd crack open his memories of his mother and father, and then start spamming the one bit of pyromancy he was now sure would work.
They kept running, adrenalin and fear keeping them moving when all their bodies wanted to do was slow down. When they finally came around to the far side of the castle, they were faced with a sight that both worried and confused them.
What appeared to be the almost half of the detachment of Dementors assigned to the school were converging on one point. They could see the frost along the ground near the things, and there were so many, they couldn't tell what they were trying to surround.
But as if to counter that, they could see some of the creatures fleeing, their black cloaks in flames. And with that rather obvious clue, because they had never heard anyone else put forth the theory that the Dementors were possibly vulnerable to fire. Harry was definitely in trouble and their worry kicked up a few notches.
They slid to a stop, unsure of what to do. If they sent out their own Patroni, they could just very well just force the Dementors closer to Harry. Then there was the fact that there were so many of the things that the spell may just fizzle out before it had any effect.
Sirius just grinned, seeing the lights that indicated a volley of literal spell'fire', and decided to add his own into the mix, with Remus catching the drift of the 'plan', and putting in a few of his own.
Tiring a bit, Harry let loose one last set of ineffectual attempts at the Patronus. He cursed, taking a few deep breathes. He was actually starting to recognize the emotions each memory represented.
Mild happiness. Fondness. A smidgeon of amusement.
A Patronus needed the deepest depths of positive human emotion. Joy. Love. Hope. Emotions he could only remember, remember in memories that caused him deep pain from the loss he felt with them.
There was nothing he could do about it though, so he muttered, "I'm probably going to need a therapist after this..."
He cracked open every last memory he had that he associated with his mother, pulling every last feeling he had of being loved to the forefront of his mind.
He felt the yard thick layer of ice crushing down on his defenses shatter outwards, the pressure on his mind disappearing in an instant.
The Dementors crossed from mid range to close range.
He smiled sadly as he felt wetness at the corners of his eyes, and then the first tears he could remember shedding in years fell.
Harry drew himself up to his full height, and drawing his wand back with a wide, backwards arc as he forced power into it, before roaring out the words,as he thrust his wand forth, "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"
Padfoot and Mooney skidded to a halt as they heard the spelled yelled out, eying each other with curiosity. Their jaws then dropped as a silver shape rammed into the circle of Dementors from the inside, knocking the demons aside as though they were rag dolls.
Seeing an opening, they both sent out their own Patroni, a wolf and a grim, in an attempt to buy Harry some breathing room.
Huffing out a weak chuckle, Harry let out a last volley of fire spells, gauging the results, and settling in on the course of action to take. The Dementors had slowed with his casting of what they believed was the only thing capable of harming them.
There was only one fire spell that Harry was in awe of. One spell that he considered a masterwork of spellcraft. Not that it could be considered a single spell by most definitions (or that he had very much experiance), being more along the lines of a binary spell that had many, many different primary and secondary components.
The first part was nothing more or less than a set what any muggleborn or raised would call a pilot light. Though there were a half a dozen separate ones of varying intensity. Ranging from barely hot reds, to blindingly bright and searing whites.
The second was a series of spell parts that could describe air-fuel mixtures, containment arrays (which were almost always will enforced), and shutoff commands. This allowed a mage with a good enough memory, fast enough hands, and quick enough tongue, to throw together a wide combination of fire attacks at the drop of a hat.
It had last been used before the Statue of Secrecy went in place, for the sheer reason that its name described its almost sole use.
It also had one other component. It was used as a purifying flame. If an area had a magical battle take place, and the earth itself became cursed because someone used some very black magic, it would be put to the flame with this spell, and all trace of the damage would be gone, burned away with all else.
His feral grin returned as he spoke the three syllables for the hottest pilot light, a violently bright white thing that seemed to flicker greedily for air. His eyes took on a manic gleam as he uttered the five syllables for the most volatile fuel mixture and the tightest containment he knew, while bearing his will down on the shape the fire would take.
As he pushed his magic down his wand, three loose rows of runes, already lightly etched into the wood from his previous casting, flashed into existence upon the magic focus, each row twisting ever so slightly to the right, ending at the tip directly above where the row adjacent started.
When the spell ripped free of the wand, a bright white bar of fire so thick it almost seemed solid slammed into a Dementor, lighting it up lack a gasoline soaked rag. It screamed in a voice that could only be described as unholy.
And Harry braced the wrist of his current wandhand with his other hand, and started to swing the beam of fire in an arc that would light up more of the demons, as a pair of Patroni started circling him.
Remus and Sirius stared wide eyed as they saw Dementors killed. They were frozen in astonishment for a moment. And so were the Dementors.
Then the things came to their collective senses and fled, turning and scampering as though they seemed to have just one mind.
The Marauders ran to Harry as he dropped to one knee, and his own Patronus returned to him. The lioness nuzzled his face before dissolving into a silvery mist. Harry turned to face the two pranksters.
All Sirius could say was, "Harry, why the hell are your eyes glowing?"
He didn't get an answer because Harry stopped fighting and let himself slip into blissful unconsciousness.
He woke up in the Hospital Wing. He hated the Wing. He looked around, no wand... no pants. Goddamn it.
Ever since he had taken to escaping the Wing as soon as possible, Madam Pomfrey had been coming up with ways to keep him in the Wing. The first involved taking his pants and leaving him with pajamas that no one would be caught dead in.
When he had started transfiguring himself something that he could wear, she had started taking his wand.
He grinned a maniacally.
"Time to work on wandless summoning spells."
Fifteen minutes later:
"You'll never take me alive, Madam Pomfrey!"
It was one A.M. and he was bored out of his mind. Two weeks left til summer holidays, and he had run out of things to keep him busy.
So here he was, pacing back and forth in the Common Room, idly twirling his wand, muttering, "What to do, what to do, what to do..."
His eyes caught on the runes on his wand. He'd been idly studying the runes themselves, but was having issues identifying them... but what about...
He grinned and pulled out his one of master ledgers and said, "Wandcraft. AND. Wandlore."
This should take some time.
The morning after the Leaving Feast had finally arrived. Reading the Daily Prophet, Harry just nodded to himself, and passed it to Neville.
Reading the headline story, Neville just shook his head and put his face in his hands. When Hermione opened her mouth to ask a question, Harry just took the paper and handed it to.
She read it and just got a confused look on her face, and said, "So..."
Harry held up a hand for silence and prodded Nev with his other hand, "Do you want to explain all, some, or none of it?"
Neville mumbled through his hands, "Some."
Nodding, Harry began "Do you remember why Nev and I were confined to the castle this year?"
"Did you ever wonder why the hell is this Black afterNeville?"
Again she nodded quite eagerly.
"Well, the crime she and three others were convicted of was using Unforgivables against Nev's parents. And that I believe is the minimum amount of understanding needed... at least that is what I think. Nev?"
"So, it would probably be best..."
Hermione broke in with a wan smile, "If I just dropped it? Can do..."
Harry blinked a few times in surprise. 'Well, what do you know...'
And all thoughts were interrupted as Sirius set off a rather loud spell, and in the following silence he yelled, "I cannot take the paperwork anymore. I quit!"
The train ride was, as always, uneventful. They played Exploding Snap, talked with a few of their classmates who dropped by (mainly Lions and 'Puffs (who were still bribing Harry to switch Houses), with a few 'Claws mixed in). They talked mainly about what they had planned for their summer vacations. Harry had no clue what-so-ever. Neville wanted to putter around his greenhouses. Hermione had some reading she wanted to catch up on.
Malfoy entered the compartment with a sneer on his face, and all he accomplished was to make an arse of himself, and got his robes turned chartreuse for his troubles. Before he managed to even say anything. Amazingly, he got the point and left.
Ronald decided to try where Draco failed, and was preempted with a curse that made him do the can-can. Harry turned his hair DayGlo pink and shoved him out.
One seemed to be learning, but the other seemed to have the mind of a concussed troll...
Walking into the Marauder's Manor with Neko in his arms, Harry made his way up to the bedrooms. He had written to Uncle Nic and Aunt Pen to stay for a few days before going to their home.
The top floor now had six rooms (and therefore that many suites) and he opened the door to the one adjacent to Tonks's. The room was tastefully painted and decorated in various shades of purple, which had Harry smiling slightly as he set the cat down on the bed.
"Clothing is where they obviously should be stored and I'm fairly certain you can find your bathroom. Dinner is at five."
He went to the door, pulling the morning's paper from his pocket, and putting it on a table near the door.
"Though I would like to eventually know why the hell you decided to follow me around Bella, I will say this. Welcome home."
As the door closed, the cat shifted into a woman of medium height, though she looked like someone who was recovering after a long illness. She had a rather cross look on her face, and yelled at the door, "You cheeky brat!"
Here Ends Book III
Interlude: Puppet-strings and Dissonance
Everything sharpened into crystal clarity. He saw the events that had driven him into exhaustion that late April, and alongside them played events that seemed to have only a parallel of involving Dementors. The evening played through twice, the first showed a loyal little weapon forged with the pain of nearly losing something so recently gained, while the second showcased said weapon showing just how clearly he wore his heart on his sleeve.
Right where anyone could destroy it.
While what he actually did showed the beginnings of an actual warrior.
And once more, he sensed a meddling old man who watched on, and did nothing when he could have simply pulled a few strings, and made the lives of all those involved brighter. But no, he had a Greater Good to serve, and damn those he thought must be sacrificed.
Harry felt a slight jerk to the left, heard murmuring, and forced himself to try and hear every word.
"... joking right? *Sighs* There are days..."
"... never read the Charter? Why did I ever..."
"... once! Once I would like Murphy to..."
"... life is of no concern to you, you nosy..."
"... last refrain, bring down the barriers..."
"... I really don't have a clue. I only know..."
Sitting up and pulling out a journal, Harry mused over what the hell he had seen and heard. Things were finally starting to become clear. And he almost recognized the voice of whoever was talking during the finally moments of the... whatever it was.
A/N2: Getting further ahead is hard, stuff keeps popping up in RL. Gonna keep trying though. What was written of book 4 in Sorting Hat's Stand is going to amount to eight chapters, so with the buffer of two, that is six more chapters in the rewrite.
This is what used to be chapters 30 through 32 of The Sorting Hat's Stand.
As of noon, 8 November, 2012 these were the statistics of those chapters of the story. (Word and Character Counts are by Open
Office Writer and do not include chapter titles, book headings, or author's notes, each section break however is four characters:
Word Count: 2,200 | Character Count: 11,936 | Hits: 46,500 | Reviews: 74
Word Count: 1,850 | Character Count: 10,178 | Hits: 41,662 | Reviews: 68
Word Count: 3,400 | Character Count: 18,817 | Hits: 46,415 | Reviews: 87
Word Count: 7,450 | Character Count: 40,932 | Hits: 134,577 | Reviews: 229
New Total Word Count: 8,346 | New Total Character Count: 45,897
(Hits and Reviews are recalculated at the posting of this chapter and so may not match with data previously given.)
Old: Word Count: 23,256 | Character Count: 125,989 | Hits: 308,218 | Reviews: 516
New: Word Count: 27,364 | Character Count: 148,556