AN – For some reason this chapter has been sitting on my computer for ages and only needed a quick check through before I could post. Sorry for the delay! On a more positive note I only have three more scheduled exams left (Monday afternoon, Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon – next week!) Good luck to anyone else who is suffering in the next couple of months!
EDITED 02/06/2014 – After reviewing this chapter again I hope I've made things a little clearer and added several parts that hopefully make it smoother. As always thank you for your feedback.
I'm sorry if I disappointed some people with the content of the last two chapters, but you don't have to read it should the story no longer head in the direction you are liking.
Chapter 15 – Wisdom and Strength
"So this is the diary?" Shiro hummed taking the simple leather bound journal from Jinora. "Despite looking so innocuous I can feel the wrongness of it." He passed it quickly to Lieu with a shudder who considered it determinedly.
"I will fetch the next one." He declared, unthinking as he passed the diary to Harry who was beside him.
Harry took it, as he spoke flipping through the pages slowly. "But that's at Gringotts, you have to be either family with a special dispensation to access their vaults or sneak in. There has never been a successful theft from Gringotts ever."
"There has never been a theft from Gringotts that wasn't agreed on beforehand." Lieu smirked turning to Shiro to talk about the many jewels that had been taken from the bank in the 15th century and had caused a goblin rebellion, not realising the flipping pages of the diary sped up without Harry's intent, fuelled by a source-less wind.
Harry felt a pull at the base of his spine and his sight darkened around the edges.
Jinora cried out as Harry slumped sideways in his seat, Lieu and Shiro reaching out speedily to catch him before he fell, but no matter how many times they called his name or gently shook his shoulders, Harry did not wake.
"What did you do?"
Harry opened his eyes to see Tom's face above his own, the young Dark Lord's face panic stricken and wide eyed.
"I – I don't know…"
"You destroyed my Horcrux!" his voice was almost a shriek, the pitch much higher than it usually was. "No – not destroyed it! You've absorbed it you stupid boy!"
Harry blinked, his head feeling as though there was cotton stuffed in his ears. "I didn't mean to." He grumbled pushing himself up onto his elbows and rubbing his eyes. "It just sort of happened." As Harry looked around he saw his past lives huddled at the base of the large tree.
"What are they doing?"
Tom rolled his eyes. "Come and see." He waited for Harry to haul himself to his feet and led him over to the group. As they parted so Harry could join them what he saw made his mouth gape open unattractively.
Sitting on the floor was a young boy looking no older than eight, his dark hair combed neatly about his head and a solemn expression that reminded him too much of someone else he knew.
"That's you!" Harry exclaimed.
Tom looked at him grimly. "Yes," he grit out, "that is me."
The boy's form flickered and almost seemed to be transparent in some place. It was odd to see the bark of the tree through the boy's forehead.
"This soul piece is unstable though it hasn't taken root yet like he has." Korra said eyeing Harry seriously. "We could try to force him out."
"Or I could fix it." Tom looked at Harry. "While you may have absorbed another portion of my soul it has the potential to unbalance your energy completely, lest I absorb it myself."
"-Of course you'd want to do that, you cretin! It'll give you more power!" Korra growled.
Tom rolled his eyes and looked at Harry. "It's your decision, Potter. Live or die."
June 14th (1995)
Although the muggles didn't know it, there were dark times ahead. Their wizarding counterparts however, did, but staunchly refused to acknowledge it until 1995, one year after the resurrection of the Dark Lord Voldemort when he had appeared at the Ministry in an attempt to capture the prophecy that spoke of The Boy Who Lived and himself.
He had not managed to make it down to the Hall of Prophecies as Dumbledore had arrived with his stupid group 'The Order of the Phoenix' and proceded to not only drive his Death Eaters back, but sent Rabastan and Rudolphus Lestrange stumbling back through the Veil! He could not risk more of his followers, being so few as they were, and they made a strategic retreat to the Atrium.
Unfortunately it was already filled to bursting with press and Ministry officials. Voldemort had snarled angrily at Dumbleore and grabbed Bellatrix before he tore apart the wards and disapparated.
August 9th (1996)
This time he wasn't making the same mistake.
He had snuck into the ministry using his followers with inside knowledge to enter the building unseen and the Department of Ministries undetected. This time he was alone. This time he had succeeded.
The pale, sickly looking wizard plucked up the small glowing orb, a prophecy, spoken one Halloween night 17 years ago to Albus Dumbledore and began to listen, his mad eyes widening and twisted smile stretching ever wider as he listened to the prophecy in its entirety.
The one with the power to defeat the dark lord approaches
Born to those who thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies
A serrated soul filled with strife shall become whole in light
Friend to lifeless crimson, dark ones and silver skins
Against his foe he suffers and all shall be consumed by the darkness irreversible
The dark lord shall mark him as his equal for neither can live while the other survives
In his absence misery will thrive.
Voldemort raised his wand and shrieking with cold jubilant laughter, brought the shelves crashing down around him in one violent slash of his wand. The pale ghosts of seers strained upwards from the shattered glass their voices raspy and haunting, creating a chilling cacophony of sound.
At the destruction of the thousands of prophecies he felt his wards shift as witches and wizards entered the ministry, their magical signatures spilling from the direction of the entrance, panicked and confused. Voldemort left to greet the wizarding public, a cruel smirk on his face. He'd give the papers something to report.
Voldemort appeared in the atrium in a cloud of dark smoke, pleased that there was no Dumbledore to duel him. "A new age is dawning," he said over their terrified gasps at seeing his new body, thin, pale and snakelike they shrank back in fear and revulsion. Oh he would give them something to fear. "All those who oppose me will have their magic bound and any hostility will be met with lethal force. Surrender now and greet the new age peaceably." He held out his hands in what was ordinarily considered a placating gesture, but it seemed mocking.
Two (foolish) Aurors stepped in front of the journalists and the almost cationic Minister Fudge who was trembling with fear (still in his nightshirt and long johns – why hadn't he resigned already?) to send stunning spells his way. Voldemort clicked his tongue.
"Tut, tut, tut. Foolish of you to reject my generous offer..." Quicker than any of them could comprehend the Dark Lord fired a strong blasting spell at the two Auror's. The floor split and shards of tile and concrete rocketed upwards in a shower of jagged rocks. The screams were music to his ears, feeling a spark of glee as he watched the chaos around him. Not one of them had thought to even attempt a shield. Pathetic.
With the prophecy in one hand and his wand in the other Voldemort disapparated, tearing through the weak wards and out of sight, a satisfied grin on his face as the screams of the injured echoed in his wake. Now, to free those who'd been captured over the past year.
Dumbledore would rue the day he set eyes on Tom Marvolo Riddle.
September 7th (1997) -
Hogwarts was like everything he had imagined and more. The towers reached towards the sky, sharp and made from dark grey stone. The moon which was approaching its zenith cast a silvery glow about the grounds turning everything to shades of grey. It was the middle of the night, the wind cool and fresh against Harry's skin and he breathed in deeply, feeling the welcoming magic of Hogwarts wash over him.
Had he been born an ordinary wizard this would have been his second home from the time he was eleven. Unfortunately, or fortunately, he had been given other gifts and therefore needed different tuition.
The letters sent from Hogwarts to him every year only increased the wistful longing building in him to see the castle and walk its halls.
He had received his seventh letter to Hogwarts with the usual booklist attached a few months ago. It would have been his last year at Hogwarts, and, just as he was about to throw it away, Lieu had come up beside him and snatched it out of the air.
"Are you disappointed?"
Harry supposed he did feel disappointed, for what could have been. He could have bought his first wand and boarded the Hogwarts express with his brother (or without was more likely). He could just imagine the train leaving the station and smiling and waving out the window at his parents and uncles Sirius and Remus…
"That settles it then."
Harry blinked and looked up at Lieu who was smirking.
"Heritage is very important as you know, I think, and I'm sure your other trainers will agree, it's time you paid a little more attention to your wizarding side."
"Alright, enough gawping, you've got exercises to do."
Startled out of his musings Harry nodded jerkily and began to wade into the freezing water of the Black Lake. He continued on until the water was reaching the middle of his thigh. He waited as his Waterbending Master joined him in the water.
"Feel the currents around your body." Harry closed his eyes and allowed his hands to trail in the water beside him as he listened to the soothing quality of Master Emira's voice. "Centre yourself and feel the moon's pull on the water around you. Let the power fill you…"
Harry felt the moon's power swell and pour through him, he felt as though he could do anything. Like fire bending which was strongest during the day when the sun was at its peak, Waterbending was strongest at night when the moon was full.
A year ago Master Jinora had gone in search of Harry's water bending teacher herself, after their emissaries had failed, and brought her back herself. Neither woman looked happy at the fact they were together, Master Emira with an expression so sour she could have become a lemon.
Master Emira was short with a slight build, tanned skin and thick dark hair that was pulled back in a ponytail. Like many of the vampires who lived in the compound they were young when they were turned and smooth skinned, their eyes sharp and bodies filled with a feline grace that was deadly as well as beautiful. However unlike his other instructors, with whom Harry felt safe and secure with, Emira made him tense and wary. She looked no older than twenty-seven and seemed to dislike Harry fiercely if her ever present scowl was any indication.
In all the time he had known her, Harry had not seen her bend any water whatsoever.
"Get into position. Begin."
Harry went through the motions, flowing from one stance to another, his arms strong and steady, feeling the pull of the water all around him as he lifted and twisted the element up, over and around his body in great long whips of inky black liquid turned silver under the full moon.
Emira watched and listened to his movements, correcting his form and demanding improvement, she never smiled, her face stoic as she watched him through ruby coloured eyes.
Harry was grateful for the cool water surrounding him as sweat poured down his back and made his fringe stick to his forehead unpleasantly while he moved through his exercises.
"Alright, that's enough. Stop before you drown in your own sweat." She said tersely, waving him to return to the bank by the small stone structure Harry had built. It was a stone tent he had formed using his bending to house them till morning, the doors to the castle having been warded hours ago and the staff unaware of their late arrival. He didn't think it fair to disturb them at such a late hour and doubted anyone would thank them.
The next morning, rising with the sun and a liberal covering of cloud, Harry and Emira made their way towards the castle gates. They each carried an enchanted leather satchel holding the few belongings they'd brought with them, although able to hold much more should they need it.
Harry felt as they crossed the outer wards, the tingle of magic washing over his skin and racing down his spine, unable to resist a shiver.
Emira rolled her eyes and muttered "amateur."
Dumbledore was waiting at the gates for them with a genial smile and arms open in greeting. "Ah, Harry my boy so glad you made it! And you would be Harry's instructor Miss…" he cast his cheerful smile Emira's way, to receive an expressionless nod in return. He had been pleased at Harry's letter, finally accepting his place at the castle.
"Mira will do Professor Dumbledore." She told him.
"You're just in time for breakfast too. If you could follow me we'll be there in a jiffy." he clapped his hands and twirled on the spot, his brightly coloured robes swirling after him as the gates swung open and closed behind them.
Dumbledore kept up a small stream of chatter as they walked up the long drive to the front gate, calling a house elf called Winky to take their bags to their assigned rooms.
He gave them a wide smile and led them across the grounds to the large doors leading to the entrance hall, passing several sleepy looking students and to the Great Hall, offering them seats with the faculty at the Head Table. "Breakfast doesn't finish until half past eight and classes start at nine so we have plenty of time to introduce you to the rest of the staff and have you settled in before they start."
Platters were piled high with many different tasty treats which Harry eyed longingly between his introductions to the Faculty of Hogwarts. He managed to finish a bowl of porridge, two slices of toast, a crumpet, fresh fruit slices and a tall glass of orange juice. He let out a blissful sigh, smiling at the chuckles of Professor Sinstra and McGonagall whom he'd already been introduced.
Harry grinned at them, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and food is made to be enjoyed." He pulled a snooty expression and turned his nose up in the air, dropping it with a smile as they laughed.
Harry nibbled on grapes and fresh strawberries as he waited for the Headmaster to finish his breakfast and take himself and Emira to their rooms. He made sure to nod and share a few smiles at those in the Hogwarts student population that were awake enough to take in his presence.
"Right," Dumbledore said as Harry and Emira followed him out of the hall, "your rooms are on the second floor in the Eastern Wing. It's not too far, I chose them myself – it's good to be able to air out some of the guest rooms. In the fifteen hundreds they used to host the students of foreign schools and those on exchange programmes." He sighed wistfully and began to share bits and pieces of history about the castle, introducing them to the figures in the paintings that lined the walls.
Harry was pleasantly surprised at the comfortable living area that separated two bedrooms, a study and bathroom.
"I trust this is to your liking?"
"Very much headmaster," Emira nodded giving the headmaster a polite smile though it did not reach her eyes, "thank you for your hospitality."
Later that night at dinner Dumbledore stood and silence descended upon the Great Hall, smiling at the students as though there was nothing he'd rather see.
"Thank you – I have a small announcement to make. We have two guests that will be joining us this year, Harry Potter—" whispers broke out like little hissing fires across the room but Dumbledore continued none the less, "And his tutor Master Emira." Dumbleore gestured to the right of him, the gazes of the students following to rest on the two people sat between Professor Flitwick and Professor Snape, quite unlike anyone they had ever seen. The two stood before nodding and sitting down again, Harry Potter looking much more cheerful than his tutor. Her beautiful, although rather bored, countenance was vastly less interesting than that of her young charge.
Harry Potter was tall, broad shouldered with long dark hair that was tied back in a band at the nape of his neck. His skin was smooth and tanned he bore a wide welcoming smile and emerald green eyes that sent many hearts fluttering, lips pouting and hair a-fluffing. Instead of the typical black robes many wore, Harry Potter looked handsome in his navy shirt, dark jeans and black shoes drawing more than one admiring glance.
Harry was just tucking into his dinner, a delicious roast potato speared by his fork and halfway to his mouth, when the now familiar voice sounded in his mind.
I find myself…content.
Oh do you now? Harry replied, determined to carry on his tasks as normal. Luckily none of the teachers had tried to engage him in conversation yet. He found it difficult to have two conversations at once.
Hogwarts has always felt like home to me.
Harry had started hearing Tom in his conscious state after he had first touched the diary. That in itself had been a mistake. The piece of Tom's soul that lived inside him had reached out for the fragment that had been sealed into the book; the close proximity of the two severed pieces had temporarily removed the protections on the diary allowing the fragments to merge.
While Tom's presence in his mind had become stronger it was much more stable and, murderous tendencies aside, he was normal. Sometimes.
It was a few days after this that he began to hear Tom's voice; when he was training, resting, reading, eating. At first his speech was made of faint mumblings, but it soon grew clearer. He'd pop up with scathing or sarcastic and witty remarks that had Harry biting the inside of his mouth to stop himself from bursting into giggles, his tutors looking at him strangely every time he did so.
I have to admit, Harry replied silently, that Hogwarts is much better than I anticipated. It feels alive almost.
Hogwarts is sentient. It comes from a long period of magic use in the walls and grounds. Not to mention the wards, runes and foundations when the founders built it. Hogwarts may even protect itself and the inhabitants should it ever come under attack if there was no acting headmaster or he died…
We are not killing Dumbledore, he's nice.
He's a manipulative old coot and I hate him.
Come now, he's not infallible Tom, no one is. Although he could have taken a keener interest in the students home life—
I refuse to speak on this matter Potter. Eat your vegtables – and stop making that face! – You're attracting far too much attention as it is. People might start to think you odd.
This time, Harry did laugh.
Still here guys, just very busy...