Achieving Greatness – Chapter 1
AN2: Edited, mostly to get rid of Harry's psychic knowledge of his 5th year Occlumency lessons. Thank you, anonymous reviewer, for pointing that out!
Again. I was made aware of some bad math on my part when it came to Eliza's age (by SlytherinLover143, thanks). Just changed a couple of words, really, and Eliza is now about 21 - as originally intended.
And the journey begins!
You picked the losing side, Potter! I warned you!
A ghost of a smile.
I told you you ought to choose your company more carefully, remember?
'Malfoy should've taken his own advice.'
Now it was the last day of June and tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow he would be different. He kept working, kept sweating, but he was endless.
Why more magical people didn't exercise properly, he couldn't fathom. Why didn't he? He had been weak, but no more. His recovery-rate was amazing. He was hurt, aching and almost collapsing – but he could keep going. And in that sense, tomorrow would be no different.
Maybe that was just who he was, rather than what he was. He collapsed on the cold wooden floor finally, the chill soothing his back. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Feel the burn, up again. The burn is weakness leaving the body.
This is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary, he realizes. The will to go on, to keep fighting. To become more than what you are now and overcome whatever obstacle blocks your path.
They'll be the first to go, now the Dark Lord's back!
Voldemort was an obstacle. His Death Eaters were obstacles. Even the fucking Ministry of Magic was turning out to be an obstacle. But he would overcome.
Because he was Harry fucking Potter.
The sun went down, and so did he. Blissful unconsciousness. Tomorrow would be different.
BLEEEP BLEEEP BLEEEP
6 am. He felt like a new man. Boy. Whatever. The ache in his muscles was gone and he felt strong, so it was time to go.
Time will not slow down just because something unpleasant lies ahead. Lesson learned. That's why you have to make the most of the time you are given, and that's why Harry wasn't wasting another summer holed up in the Dursley household. He threw on some grey, non-descript clothes and grabbed his pre-packed backpack. Most of his stuff would have to be left behind, down in the cupboard underneath the stairs. Books and clothes could be replaced. Wand, invisibility cloak, picture album – those were necessary. Hedwig was with Hermione by now and his Firebolt securely left behind at Hogwarts.
Whatever comes, will come, but you can do your best to make sure it's not the death of everything you hold dear. The wait and see approach was no longer in line with Harry's philosophy.
His step was soft and sure as he slipped out the backdoor and immediately through the hedge into the neighbor's backyard, making his way towards the bus stop. Keeping his head down, no one gave him a second glance as he swiped his bus pass and settled down for the ride into London.
Breathe in, breathe out, feel the burn. The burn wasn't there, but the idea of it drove everything else from his mind. It felt good, he felt focused and utterly, utterly calm. What was that? His mind was blank on the surface now, but there was something more there, so he tried to look deeper.
By the time he reached King's Cross Harry hadn't made much more progress. He had gotten a blurry look at whatever was hiding beneath the surface of his mind. Some kind of structure… But nowhere near enough to tell what it was. Maybe next time. Another little mystery of being Harry Potter.
He started walking towards the Leaky Cauldron, but caught himself in time. Risky. As soon as anyone found out where he was, the jig was up. Dumbledore would haul him back home and this entire summer would be useless.
If not the Leaky Cauldron, then how? He needed access to his Gringott's account, the money he had on him wouldn't last more than a week and that was assuming he could acquire magical housing without getting recognized. Pulling the ballcap further down his forehead, Harry bought himself a muggle newspaper and proceeded to the corner of the muggle bookshop right next to the Cauldron.
Harry had been leaning against the brickwork of the bookshop, waiting and watching under the guise of waiting for the business to open for the better part of an hour when he saw a sketchy-looking fellow exit the Cauldron. Slowly folding up the paper, he followed at a distance, weaving through early-morning commuters and the like. The man kept wringing his hands and looking around warily as if he knew he was being followed, but Harry kept a cool head. A couple of streets down the man with the shabby fur coat and bandaged-up hands turned into a narrow alleyway.
Harry promptly crossed the street and when he drew up on the opposite side of the alleyway he dropped his newspaper. Bending down to pick up the paper again, he scanned the alley out of the corner of his vision. The man was gone.
Of course, there was a possibility he had simply apparated away, but Harry hoped that wasn't the case. He followed, and as soon as he stepped into the narrow alley, he felt something change. Proceeding with caution, he ran his hands along the walls of the alley, hoping for a clue. The alley turned left and reached a dead-end, a backdoor wholly blocked by a dumpster stretching the width of the alley. Strange, Harry thought, looking around. He noticed some odd markings and discoloration of the brickwork on the right side of the door. Regular graffiti or a passageway? Running his hands over the wall, he felt faint traces of magic in it. Wands out, y'reckon? Tap, tap, tap.
Nothing. Taptaptap. Taptaptap. Taptaptap. Having tried a multitude of combinations, Harry finally got a reaction. There we go…
A low rumbling sound filled the deserted alleyway as the brickwork slid aside, forming a passageway much like the one at the back of the Cauldron, revealing a much danker and darker part of wizardtown. Looking around the corner, back out at the street, Harry realized this whole alley was most probably under a muggle-aversion charm, the change he felt before.
This might be Knockturn Alley, or it might be another part of wizarding London Harry hadn't experienced yet. No time like the present…
Half an hour later, Harry had found his way to Diagon and more importantly, to Gringotts. Passing through the enormous bronze doors, he scanned to sparse crowd. Nobody of interest, so he slipped in and approached a free teller-goblin.
"Good morning, Grapplefang." Harry said, having glanced at the name plaque.
The goblin looked at him quizzically. "Can I help you, wizard?"
"I'd like to speak to someone about my vault, as – ah, my key is no longer in my possession. This matter requires the utmost confidentiality." Harry replied.
The goblin didn't seem to take the hint. With a sneer, he ground out, "And who are you, little wizard, to demand such discretion? To try to access a vault without a key?"
With a heavy sigh, he decided to take a chance, pushed up the ballcap and tapped his infamous scar for emphasis before once again covering it.
"Ah." The goblin looked momentarily lost in thought, "Of course, wizard, of course. Follow me."
Harry was momentarily stunned at the varying reactions, but soon rounded the corner and followed the goblin. Through a maze of corridors and two more doors he was lead before arriving at an office-door labeled 'Steeljaw'.
"Steeljaw is your family account manager, Mr. Potter. He should be able to sort things out." With a single knock on the heavy oak door, Grapplefang left Harry to stare after him in confusion once more. 'Family account manager? What family account?'
"Step inside and be welcome, Mr. Potter." A gruff voice announced on the other side of the door.
"Err, hello?" Harry said, sticking his head in. He was getting less and less sure of his loose plan the further into it he got, but going backwards was not an option.
"Sit down, Mr. Potter. Grapplefang sent a message ahead informing me of your situation."
Dropping into a comfortable leather chair in front of the impressively sized Steeljaw's desk, Harry blurted out, "Who are you? What's this about a family account?"
"You weren't aware of the Potter account, Mr. Potter? Your guardian, Mr. Dumbledore, should've informed you of the state of family affairs come your eleventh birthday." Steeljaw looked disconcerting, but Harry was vaguely aware that was probably the goblin version of concern.
"I haven't been told anything about a family vault. I haven't even been allowed the key to my own vault." Harry growled out, growing more angry with the headmaster with each passing word.
"I see." Steeljaw seemed angry himself. "In that case, I shall have to bring you up to speed. The Steeljaw's have had amiable relations with the Potter's for generations and have managed the Potter accounts through even through two rebellions to date." Pause. Steeljaw, which Harry now assumed was the goblin's surname, tapped a clawed finger against the desktop a couple of times, thinking.
"First of all, both the key-warded trust vault and the blood-warded family vault are, of course, yours. They total a small fortune, but I will get you a copy of the recent accounting to satisfy any further curiosity." Here Steeljaw paused as if to make sure Harry was following, so Harry nodded him on.
"They were both kept in stasis by order of Chief Warlock Dumbledore following your parents' deaths, awaiting your return into the wizarding world. Unusual, but not unheard of. However, upon reaching the age of 11 you should have been informed of their existence as well as the family legacy, being the Potter family Lordship and business.
"The Potter family have traditionally been enchanters though many, like your Auror father, have historically chosen not to take up the profession themselves, the Potter family still owns large parts of several enchanting-based businesses, for example a 20% share of the Nimbus Company and a 51% majority share in the Traverse Trunk Company, manufacturers though not retailers of multi-compartment trunks."
"Alright, alright… Hold up a minute." Harry was going into information overload. He knew he wasn't poor by any means, but this was a whole new level of crazy. Why had Dumbledore kept this from him? "I've got a lot of money and some business investments from previous Potter's. What's this about a lordship?"
Steeljaw slid a small, carved wooden box across the table that didn't look to have any way of opening. "The Potter's, much like the Black's and the Malfoy's are an Ancient and Noble Family within the wizarding world. This box contains the Potter family ring. If the ring accepts you, as it indeed should if you are the last remaining Potter, you will be considered Lord Potter; an adult in your own right, with premature access to the family vault and a voice on the Wizengamot, your society's legislative body and high court."
Harry was speechless. He had come here hoping to squirrel away some more money from his vault, his trust vault he corrected himself, without Dumbledore finding out and without attracting notice, this was something else entirely.
Idly, he picked up the wooden box and, with a gasp, promptly dropped it again as it sprang open upon his touch, revealing a thick golden ring with a stag-head emblem. Almost unconsciously he pulled it out an slipped it onto his left ring finger, feeling it and feeling it feeling him as magic coursed through his body.
"You're not dead. Marvelous." Steeljaw sounded somewhat disappointed.
Harry's eyes snapped up and locked onto the goblin's. "I COULD HAVE DIED?!"
"Only if you were not Harry Potter. Not to worry, not to worry – just standard impostor checking." Steeljaw replied with a sharp-toothed grin. "Now, would you like to access any of your vaults, Lord Potter?"
Harry drummed his fingers on the desk for a moment, collecting himself. "Yeah, I'd like to go down to the family vault, but first; none of that Lord-stuff when we're behind closed doors, y'hear? I don't like it. Call me Harry." Steeljaw looked quizzical, but nodded. "And since I am no longer in possession of my trust vault key, have everything but one knut transferred to the family vault. Is there a portable way to withdraw funds?"
Steeljaw seemed well-prepared, as he instantly slapped a money-pouch and a wallet on the desk. "One standard-issue vault-pouch to easily access up to 200 galleons at a time, up to a maximum of 1000 galleons a day. Any larger sums will have to be handled personally here at Gringott's. The wallet functions the same way, except with muggle pounds. As they are both keyed to your vault, the bloodwards extend to their use – I would not recommend asking a friend to withdraw from either of them. Shall we get going, Harry?"
Pocketing the items, Harry smiled at him. "Yes, please. Thank you Steeljaw, for clearing everything up for me. You'll be joining me down to the vaults?"
"I'd like to yes," Steeljaw replied. "Now that the Potter accounts are once again open and I can start additional investments at your leisure, I'd like to do a bit of personal inventory. And you're most welcome."
"I'm not sure exactly how much money I have, Steeljaw. Would ten percent of the current account balance be enough to make some solid investments?"
"I doubt I need that much, Mr. Potter, but I thank you for your vote of confidence. I'll have some papers brought down to the vault to formalize the agreement." A burst of magic sped away as Steeljaw's clawed finger touched the stone wall of the hallway.
At his touch, the door to vault number 31 grinded open, releasing a burst of stale air as fresh air flooded the vault.
"I'll have someone sent down to reapply the refreshment and ventilation charms, Harry." Steeljaw assured him.
Harry just nodded absently as he stepped into the vault; it was huge, larger than the Great Hall at Hogwarts to be sure. Mostly it was filled floor to ceiling with small coins of gold, silver and copper but as he walked further in he recognized that was not all that the vault contained.
Along the right wall there was an assortment of items Harry assumed had come out of the family profession at one point or another as well as a desk with some papers on it. Harry made his way over to the desk, looking over a strange collection of jewellery, outdated racing brooms and knickknacks on the way.
"These are deeds." He gasped out suddenly, turning to Steeljaw, papers in hand. "I own property?"
Steeljaw gave another toothy grin. "But of course, Harry." His face fell just as quickly. "Sadly, the Potter Manor and the cottage in Godric's Hollow were both destroyed during the course of war with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and are not fit for living. However… It might interest you to know that the Potter family owns two buildings of flats, one in muggle London and the other right here in Diagon."
"We're on the same page, you and I." Harry replied, "I'm in need of a place to stay and some serious magical instruction, Steeljaw. Again, utmost confidentiality. Could you arrange for a well-warded flat in the Diagon building, furnished and inwardly shielded from magical damage, do you think?"
"I'll do you one better, Harry. I'll also have a duo of our top curse-breakers and warders agree to a non-disclosure oath and fit to instruct you by the end of the week as well. Trustworthy individuals, I assure you. We goblins don't let just anybody work with our gold."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "How much is this going to cost me, Steeljaw?" That prompted a hearty laugh from the tall goblin.
"Oh, you do have some sense in you I see. Not to worry, the fees will be expensive – you're paying for the best here, Harry – but they will hardly make a dent in the Potter accounts. If you'd like, the sum can be subtracted from the ten percent you have already signed over to my control for investments. I do hope you consider yourself a worthy investment."
Harry laughed as well. "Yeah, yeah I like that. Make it so."
Late that same afternoon found Harry sound asleep on the couch of his new flat, three blocks down from Gringott's bank. It had been a stressful day by any man's standards and Harry, despite his conviction, was still not yet 15. Goblins were a very efficient people as long as there was money to back up your requests. During the six hours Harry and Steeljaw spent in the meeting, signing papers and exploring the contents of the Potter family vault, the formerly empty flat had been completely furnished and warded before disappearing from the memory of every worker, its location locked away firmly in Harry's mind by way of the Fidelius Charm.
Tomorrow Harry would truly meet the world as his new self. In his exploration of the Potter family vault Harry had picked up an assortment of useful item, the most prominent being a goblin-made mythril bracelet enchanted by one of his ancestors to carry a light shielding charm and a modifiable permanent glamour-charm. It would stop most low-level curses and jinxes, as well as project his chosen appearance to all senses of an observer as long as the bracelet was not removed.
Somewhat appropriately to Harry's mind, Steeljaw informed him that the bracelet carried symbols of Ahkram, the goblin God of War. Harry thought the rune-patterns looked like childish scribbling, but who was he to argue with an actual goblin?
Thus, the Harry sound asleep on his new couch was a straw-blonde, blue-eyed 20-something, a good foot taller and quite a bit broader than Harry's real form, going under the alias Marcus Carver.
The flat was large, but simply and sparsely furnished. It included a fully stocked kitchen, a living room with a large plain black suede sofa and matching pair of armchairs, a magically expanded training room for dueling and exercise and a bedroom with a king-size bed, the comfort level of which Harry had never before experienced. Which begs the question of why he had fallen asleep on the couch. He couldn't tell you if he wanted to.
The living room walls were lined with mostly empty bookshelves, something Harry was planning to remedy as soon as possible. At the moment they only held a collection of moderately suited spare wands from the Potter family vault and a few knickknacks Harry had yet to figure out the purpose of, along with the bloodwarded family grimoire detailing the discoveries and creations of their long-running enchanting tradition. Almost the entire family library had been destroyed along with the Potter properties in the last war, but luckily the grimoire remained.
A sharp series of taps on the living room window startled Harry awake, rolling out of the couch, his Holly and phoenix-feather wand flying to his hand from the newly acquired wand holster on his forearm.
Seeing the owl staring at him intently from outside the window, Harry felt mildly retarded. Steeljaw had said he would owl and Steeljaw had been made aware of the secret location. In retrospect it was obvious that an owl would still be able to find him. Shaking himself properly awake, Harry opened the window and untied the letter.
Curse-breaker Weasley and Warder Bane have both agreed to non-disclosure oaths as promised, and are both very talented individuals with quite impressive knowledge even outside their areas of expertise.
Meet them outside The Grimoire tomorrow at 9 am to set up a schedule for the following months.
Short and efficient. Steeljaw was and exemplary goblin, Harry had to admit, as he scribbled an affirmative on the note and sent the owl on its way. He wondered about Bill Weasley though… How would he react if he found out Harry was on the run? How would Bill react when he found out what Harry planned to do with the knowledge Bill would teach him? No matter. Non-disclosure oath in place, the worst thing that could happen was that Harry would have to get a new tutor. No big issue, but he decided to keep his identity concealed from his tutors for now. A tap on his glamour bracelet dialed back his age to around 17, a bit more believable age for someone in need of tutoring.
Having already more than an hour chasing the elusive structure in his mind after inspecting his new home, Harry set about running physical exercises to improve his fitness, strength and reflexes. Being able to use magic so early after his escape, and with his own wand no less thanks to the emancipatory clause of Lordship, had turned out advantageous.
Pushup, pushup, roll. Pushup, pushup, flip over. Situp, situp…
The fitness exercises were the same, but Harry had been worried he would have to steal the wand of someone over seventeen to be able to use magic, both for setting up his reflex and dodging exercises and for his upcoming lessons. Steeljaw had explained that the Passing of Lordship was recognized under the old wizarding laws and automatically detected in the Ministry Department of Records; as such the Trace had been lifted from his wand the moment he bonded to the Potter family ring.
… Situp, situp. As he rolled to his feet, he tapped his wand to the t-shirt and sweatpants he was wearing, exponentially increasing their weight, before resuming his rotation with squats.
The official record of his emancipation also meant that if nobody had noticed his escape from Privet Drive in the last 12 hours, then they certainly would soon. Harry had to assume someone would be keeping close watch over his files and Merlin knows what kind of security measures the headmaster had in place.
As a Lord of an Ancient and Noble House, Harry should be somewhat immune to Dumbledore's interference but the old man had not shown himself to be the most honest of individuals as of late, despite his status as 'Leader of the Light'.
An hour later, the clock approaching 7 pm, Harry collapsed in a heap on the floor of his training room, having done some dodging exercises with stinging-charm infused, animated tennis balls and target practice with the three animated bull's-eyes on the far wall. With a wave of his holly wand the tennis balls stopped battering and stinging his bruised body.
Touching his left forearm, Harry assured himself that his thrice-great uncle Charlus' yew and dragon heartstring wand was still firmly in its holster. Magic coursed through him at the touch – the thick and brutal wand responded almost as well as his trusty holly instrument – and having a spare never hurt anyone.
Harry gave his well-stung body and the multitude of off-target scorch-marks on the wall a dirty look before focusing inwards.
Breathe in, breathe out, feel the burn. He could call up the blurry structure to the forefront of his mind at a moment's notice now, but was still at a loss as to what it was. 'Try again, do better. Get a book, maybe.'
"Blood hell that hurts." Harry groaned in pain as he rolled back to his feet, heading for the training room shower.
Fifteen minutes later found him showered and dressed in the same grey castoffs, after a series of scourgifys and drying charms made them almost presentable. That wardrobe would need some filling, much like the bookshelves. Having discarded the ball cap now that his scar was well-hidden by the glamour, the wind felt good running through his hair on the short trip down the road to McDougals' pub and inn, in the style of the Cauldron though slightly less dirty.
Ordering a huge dinner to replenish his energy, Harry seated himself in a window booth and tucked in while keeping an eye on the people around the alley. He watched kids running around on the street, playing games he didn't know the names of and laughing, while adults strolled down the street with their post-work shopping in hand, chatting amiably without a care in the world.
'I want that', Harry thought to himself, 'I want to be normal and carefree, but I can't keep deluding myself. The time of sitting down for ice-cream with friends at Fortescue's and reading Quidditch magazines for the fun of it is past.'
He sighed heavily and shoveled some more pork in his mouth, suddenly reminding himself of Ron with the ridiculous amounts he was eating. 'I should send out some letters,' he supposed ', let everyone know that I'm okay. I'm doing this to protect me and mine, after all, not so they can worry themselves into cardiac arrest. Tomorrow.' He promised.
The Grimoire was a bookshop for those of eccentric taste in subject matter, that much was clear. It was to Flourish and Blott's what the Restricted Section was to the Hogwarts library. It was old and dusty, secret and forbidden.
The bell above the door gave a disproportionately loud gong-ing sound, announcing his presence as he stepped inside. His now-blue eyes swept over the shops interior, taking in the gloomy and musty atmosphere of the shop. Old, worn books that had passed many hands in their days, with only the bare minimum of modern works mixed in, and sorted in no apparent order.
There was a heavy feel of old magic in the air as he browsed shelf after shelf, his eyes and hands exploring the covers. He was an hour early for his meeting, but he had already been around the alley stocking up on new clothes, premade potions and the fifth to seventh year curriculum books. In any case, those purchases were necessities, but Harry doubted that a seventh year's knowledge would save him in his next confrontation with the Dark Lord or his followers. The Grimoire might be just the place to find an edge, an ace up his sleeve.
"… Intent and Influence by Anon, Blood, Magic and the Old Gods by Trenton Ravenclaw, Regarding the Consciousness: A treatise on the Mind Arts, author unknown, Morphosis by Joshua Harkness…" The gnarly old man behind the counter finished tallying up the books and eyed the youth suspiciously. "A bit on the heavy side for such a young man, innit?"
Harry smiled thinly back at him. "Knowledge is power, Mr. Grim, and I'm late for a meeting. What do I owe you?"
Mr. Grim brightened slightly at the remark, pushing the two stacks of books across the counter. "So few seem to realize that these days, Mr. Carver. You're getting yourself a good start on understanding the obscure magicks with this lot. That'll be 743 galleons and 4 sickles."
Harry's smile grew more pronounced, 'a good start'? That was nearly eight times the expense of his other shopping endeavors today combined, expensive nutrient and grow-accelerating potions not excluded. "I should hope so, at that price, Mr. Grim. How about we make it an even 700 and I'll be sure to take my business here when I'm in need of additional material or find myself with precious tomes I no longer need?"
The old man gave rumbling chuckle, piercing grey eyes re-evaluating him through circular spectacles. "You have good taste and guts kid, two qualities I appreciate. You have yourself a deal."
Harry shook the man's wiry hand, surprised at the strength of the handshake, packed up his purchases in his black three-compartment briefcase and bid him adieu.
Making a subtle exit from the Grimoire was not an easy thing to do; Bill Weasley and the tall, raven-haired woman with him locked him in their gazes instantly as he stepped outside. Suddenly Harry was nervous and felt himself starting to sweat – if anyone save Moody, Dumbledore or Voldemort could see clean through his enchantment, these would be the ones.
"Mr. Weasley, Ms. Bane." He greeted with a nod as he approached them. "I'm Marcus Carver, it's a pleasure to meet you both."
"Please, call me Bill. I don't need to feel like a middle-aged man for the next two months." Bill grinned.
"And you can call me Marcus," Harry grinned back. "How about you, Ms. Bane?"
"Eliza." She replied stiffly. "You're our client?"
"Gods, yeah. Steeljaw didn't tell you?"
They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Bill was carefree and amiable, dressed muggle-style in torn jeans and a worn leather jacket over a white tank top, trademark fang-earring in place, he seemingly saw tutoring as a vacation from his usual tomb-raiding.
Eliza Bane on the other hand seemed highly suspicious of the arrangement and gave the impression of carefully analyzing his every move – perhaps rightfully so, having been ripped away from her usual duties of ward-placement and upkeep and only told she was needed as a tutor for an anonymous, very important client of the bank.
Eliza looked a bit younger than Bill. Slim, her features sharp and her eyes piercing. Harry fought down the unpleasant sensation that his illusion was failing. 'All in my head.'
"I understand you're both prodigies in your fields, both recently completing your masteries?" Harry asked, leading them towards his flat.
"Yeah," Bill replied, "We took our masteries three years back, at the same time actually. Eliza setting wards and me tearing them to shreds – great fun!" He nudged Eliza with his elbow, winking.
Eliza gave him a small glare. "Hard work, too, we both spent a couple of days in St. Mungos for magical exhaustion after the competition got the better of us."
"Ouch." Harry grinned. "And only four years out from your NEWTs? Highly impressive. I hope to learn a lot from you both."
Eliza huffed. "The last year a Durmstrang is spent on post-NEWT studies, and I was only a year out at the time. Red-top here was a bit slow on the uptake, y'see."
"Hey, no need to get mean!" Bill's smile thoroughly contradicted the hurt tone of voice. "What is it you're hoping to accomplish this summer, Marcus?" He asked curiously, "You're, what? Going into your seventh year at Hogwarts? Shouldn't you be enjoying your time in the sun before NEWT exams drive you bonkers?"
"That… is probably a discussion best left for a private setting." Marcus replied with a smile as they stopped outside his flat-building. "Memorize this note." He unfurled a scrap of paper with his current address from his front jeans pocket.
As they both nodded an affirmative, he burnt the paper slip, and then led them inside and up the stairs.
"Welcome to my home!" Harry announced as he closed the door behind them, giving a sweeping gesture at the flat.
"Oh, eh… Cozy?" Bill replied uncertainly upon inspecting the Spartan surroundings. "Yeah, real cozy." Eliza looked a bit uncertain as well.
Harry laughed, "I just moved in yesterday, left all the old stuff behind. It'll get better with time."
He gave them the tour, which was basically pointing at different doors and announcing "Bathroom, kitchen, my bedroom," then led them into the training room.
Eliza gasped. "There is some highly advanced expansion magic at work here."
"Target practice?" Bill asked, pointing out the moving targets on the back wall. Luckily the wall had self-repaired the damage from Harry's training session the day before, leaving no evidence behind to indicate some of his more horrendous aiming.
"Yeah, I practice targeting while avoiding these," He picked up a tennis ball, "using standard bludger charms and infused stinging hexes. Really gets your blood flowing." He grinned sheepishly.
"So…" Eliza intoned slowly. "Back on topic, what exactly are you trying to accomplish this summer? Because this is some pretty hardcore dueling practice."
"Well… Listen. I don't need you to believe what I believe, but I'm pretty sure there are dark times coming and I need to be ready." Eliza looked like she was about to interrupt him, so he held up a hand to stop her.
"Death Eaters at the World Cup? That's a fucking sign if I ever saw one." Harry looked them both in the eyes, "So I need your oversight in case I fuck up and the utmost of your teaching ability while I try to become the very best that I can be."
Harry took a breath, preparing to launch into semi-fiction, "My parents were killed by a dark wizard a couple of years back while on vacation in Albania. I'm not going to end up like that if the shit hits the fan around here. I need to be good enough to take those bastards. You two are up to standards, but I'm not yet, and with regular schooling I don't know that I'll ever be. I need to be excellent."
"That… that's a lot to take in, Marcus." Bill answered, softly. "For what it's worth, I agree with you, and that's actually why I'm back in Britain in the first place. The desk job you pulled me out of was boring me to death, but I wanted to be close to my family in case things got ugly." Harry nodded to show he understood.
Eliza remained silent for a moment, uncertainty finally settling in determination. "You probably know that Durmstrang is fabled to produce nothing but Dark wizards," Here she held up a hand to keep Harry from interrupting, "and while Durmstrang is certainly more accepting of the grey areas and parts of the Dark, I feel it is almost an obligation to disprove that idiotic myth. If there's a war coming I'll be pretty high up on the recruit or kill list. You want to be a soldier, Carver? Fine, another good man on my side." She chuckled. "Assuming you're any good, that is."
"Glad to see we're on the same page." Harry smiled back at them, clapping his hands together. "Let's get down to business. Now, I've been homeschooled by my uncle for most of my life, so I'm not exactly sure where I'm at compared to the Hogwarts curriculum, but I do know that my Patronus Charm is killer and my dodging skills have saved my life." Raised eye-brows greeted the statement.
Harry led them back into the living room, starting to unpack the days shopping. "Don't ask. Anyway, I'll be working on physical conditioning, aim and dodging whenever I'm not with you – or reading anything useful I can get my hands on. Emotion-based magic seems to be my playground, but I'll be looking around."
He nodded to Eliza, indicating the books purchased at The Grimoire. "I'll be straying into the grey magic there, so your Durmstrang experiences might come in useful. What I need from you two is to get me up to par on combat and medical magic, focusing on utility, and supervision if I attempt anything dangerous – this won't be a walk in the park – as well as getting me up to at least a Journeyman level in Curse-Breaking and Warding. Curse-Breaking can get you out of a tight spot and into places you aren't wanted, a well-placed ward can decide a battle. Are you with me on this?"
For some reason neither of them could really put their finger on, both Bill and Eliza found themselves nodding, determined and inspired to help the young man before them achieve greatness.
There was a war coming.
End Chapter 1
AN: Randomly inspired by two body-building motivational quotes that I used in the first scene. I don't know if this will turn into a full story ever, ever, ever – but I'm going to try.
Constructive criticism is wanted, needed and awesome.
Pointers on story flow, characterization and dialogue are especially appreciated.
Please excuse any misspellings or grammatical mistakes, been quite a while since I wrote anything in English. Also, if I've accidentally written Harry when he's in the Marcus persona, do let me know so that I can fix it. Un-beta'd, in case that wasn't obvious.
There is a smattering of direct quotes (from memory) from the books, hopefully only pre-OotP in this chapter. There will likely be in future chapters as well, if I manage to continue. I'm like that.
Oh, and rating for safety. There will be blood.