Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, it belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Currently rated T, but will change to M as time goes on for graphic violence and adult situations.
Chapter 1: Memories of a Time Since Past
"Hello my little Harry," a woman with fiery red hair and beautiful green eyes smiled at me. I knew her face. I saw it whenever the world was not dark. "How's my little man?"
I didn't really know what she was saying, not everything, but the feelings of warmth I felt when she was near made everything else not matter. I would giggle when she would make funny faces or play with my hands and tickle my feet. Every time I saw her, I was happy.
"Mum! Mum!" I giggled and laughed. So did the woman. She liked it when I called her mum.
As she continued to play with me, I saw something around her neck, dangling and swaying as she moved. It was round, and big, and shiny.
I wanted it.
As if responding to my want I felt something well up inside of me. I didn't know what it was, but I had felt this way a few times before. I knew what was going to happen.
The pendant lifted itself around the woman's neck and made its way to me. I held out my hands and grabbed a hold of the shiny round thing, smiling as I began to chew on it.
The woman gave a surprised gasp, but I wasn't really paying attention anymore. "James! James you have to come here and see this!"
A little ways over from us the door that led to the room opened and in walked a man with messy raven hair and brown mischievous eyes hidden behind a pair of wire frame glasses. "See what Lils? Is something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong, but our little Harry just had his first bout of accidental magic," Lils said excitedly.
James walked over to the two of us and looked at me. Blinking as I saw this new person that I knew in front of me, I stopped gnawing on the shiny thing long enough to look up at the man, before going right to back to my previous activity.
"You sure he did accidental magic Lils? I mean, magic at his age is completely unheard of. He's not even one yet."
"I know what I saw," Lils said firmly. "Watch this."
She gently pried the pendant out of my grip. Seeing my new toy gone, I reached out with my hands to get it back, but Lils moved it out of my reach.
For a moment, I thought about crying. That usually got me what I wanted. But Lils who liked it when I called mum and James who liked being called da didn't like it when I cried. They always got very sad. I didn't like it when they were sad, so I didn't cry.
I still wanted the shiny though, so I held out my hands again and reached out for that warm feeling that let me to lift the pendant again. The pendant, once again slipped from around Lils' neck and floated into my hands.
James blinked, opened his mouth, closed it, then blinked again. Finally, he said, "um…Lily, I don't think that was accidental. It seemed pretty deliberate to me."
Lily scoffed, "now who's sounding far-fetched. A one year old using wandless magic? Really James?"
James rubbed the back of his head, "well maybe this is natural for him. After all, the prophecy said he would defeat the Dark Lord. Maybe he's just super powerful." As if someone flipped a switch James began to gush and wiped crocodile tears from his eyes, "I'm so…proud…my son is going to be more powerful than Merlin! Just wait until I show him the ropes and get him all ready to go to Hogwarts!"
"James Potter! I will not have you teach my child to be a Delinquent like you and your Marauder friends!" Lily said in a scolding tone.
James was instantly cowed, "yes, dear."
The scene began to change, Lily and James disappeared and I was alone.
Shouting reached my ears.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
"Fool, you think you can defeat me without your wand? Avada Kadavera!"
The door burst open and Lily rushed in. Seeing the woman, I smiled and got to my feet.
"Mum!" I held out my hands. "We play now?"
But my mum did not play with me. Instead of coming over to pick me up like she usually did, she began pushing large objects in front of the door. I watched, curious. What was she doing? Was this a new game?
Only after she had put every big object in the room in front of the door did she walk over to me. I smiled and held out my hands. "Mum! Mum!" She smiled at me and gently rubbed my head. "We play now?"
"I'm sorry, Harry," even though mum was smiling, I saw that she was crying.
"You sad? Got boo boo?"
Mum sniffed a bit, her head shaking back and forth. What was going on? Why was mum crying?
Only a few seconds after mum came in did the door burst open, exploding and sending all of the objects that had been previously used as a barricade away. In walked a very tall man with very pale skin, dark hair and dark eyes. I didn't know him. He wasn't unca padfoo, moon or wormy. Who was he?
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" Lily pleaded as she turned around to face this man.
The man merely laughed and stalked forward. "Stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now…" he hissed. His voice sounded kind of like this one snake that I spoke to that lived in our flowers. Except that snake sounded nice. This man did not sound nice. He sounded cold.
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead!" she begged.
"I won't tell you again, stand aside!" the snake-man ordered.
"Not Harry, please…have mercy…have mercy…" she was sobbing by now. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't understand. Why was mum crying? Why did this man want her to move? Did he want something from me?
"Stand aside!" the man all but roared at Lily.
Something seemed to change in the woman once she realized that the snake creature would not be swayed. Lily turned, putting him back in his crib despite his gurgled protest. When he looked into her eyes he saw something different, they had been afraid before but now they were smoldering. She turned back around and glared defiantly at the Snake-man, "no."
"Foolish girl," the man pointed the odd stick that mum, dad and the others used to do their magic. "Avada Kadavera!"
A flash of green light hit mum. I watched as she fell to the floor and went still.
"Mum! Mum!" I called out to her, but she did not answer. She just continued to lay there, not moving.
"Mum! Mum! Mum!" I felt scared. Mum wasn't saying anything. She wasn't getting up. She wasn't moving at all. What was wrong with her? Why wasn't she moving?
The man walked over to me. I looked up at him and felt both scared and angry. Mum wasn't moving because of this man. That green light he created caused mum to stop moving!
"You hurt mum!"
"Yes," the man laughed, amused. "I hurt mum. And now, I am going to hurt you to!" The man raised his stick at me. "Avada Kedavra!"
The green light shot from his stick and hit me. It hurt. It hurt a lot. And I cried. I cried for mum, and dad, and unca padfoo to make the hurting stop.
No one came. All I could hear was the man laughing at me, then a shriek of outrage followed by a cry and then nothing. My world turned dark.
Brilliant green eyes snapped open and found themselves staring at the white ceiling they had grown up seeing for the past ten years of his life. The room was dim, the only light source being the small trickle of sunlight that streamed in through the blinds and let him know the sun was beginning to rise. Seeing how the day was starting and he would be unlikely to be getting back to sleep anyways, Harry James Potter sat up in his bed with a heavy sigh, his hands going up to message his forehead.
It was that dream again, one of the many that haunted his sleep. This was nothing new to Harry, while his meditation allowed him to clear his mind and lock his memories away during the day so they wouldn't bother him, there was nothing stopping them from coming out during the night when he fell asleep. It was an unfortunate side effect of sleeping, all mental functions, including any defense he crafted within his mind shut down while sleeping.
Memories. Those were what he saw every night when he shut his eyes and allowed the sand man to claim him. Unlike most people whose dreams were often inconsequential, unusual, sometimes downright silly, and rarely remembered with any clarity, Harry Potter always remembered his dreams, they were of things he could never, would never, forget.
The reason for this was as simple as it was complex, Harry had what was known as Eidetic Memory, that is, he had the ability to perfectly recall anything he had ever seen or done with the same clarity of vision as if the event being remembered happened just a few seconds ago. Every sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste that he had ever had the pleasure or displeasure of experiencing was locked away within his mind never to be forgotten. It was as much of a blessing as it was a curse.
Turning his head and opening his eyes, he looked around the room that had been his since he was six. It was small, the smallest room at the Dursley's household on number four, Privet Drive in Surrey. Originally it had belonged to his cousin, Dudley, and was used by him to store all of his toys and junk that he never used or had broken but didn't want to throw away. It was only after Harry had, come into his own so to speak, that he had ended up getting the room for himself. Dudley hadn't been happy about that, neither had his parents for that matter, but there really hadn't been much they could do about it either way.
Despite it's small size, it was not lacking in quality materials. His bed while small, was made from a rich rosewood and had a dark, forest green bed spread. Next to the door was an armoire, and over to his left, right under the window, was a desk and chair, all of which were made from the same rich rosewood as his bed. These amenities had taken quite a bit of his hard earned savings from the various jobs he did over the summer to buy, but he considered them worth while investments, especially when taking into account what he had been forced to use before.
Deciding that it was time to get up and start his morning routine, Harry slid out of bed, his bare feet hitting the soft carpet. His left hand came up and waved over at the armoire, while he walked over to the desk. As Harry slid open one of the drawers, the armoire rattled for a moment, before the doors opened up on their own accord. Likewise, the two drawers on the bottom of the piece of furniture slid open as well.
Harry's hand reached into the desk and pulled the sports watch he had bought for himself a few weeks back. He didn't put it on just yet, instead setting it down on the desk and turning a moment after the armoire opened, seemingly of it's own accord.
Several articles of clothing came out from within the standing closet, a pair of black running shorts, a white sleeveless shirt, socks, briefs, and a pair of black running shoes. They floated over to Harry, who grabbed them one-by-one and put them on. Only after the last article of clothing had been placed on his person did he grab the watch and attach it to his wrist.
He looked down at his watch, checking the time. It was four o'clock in the morning, meaning it was unlikely that anyone else in the household was even awake at the moment. That was good, it meant Harry wouldn't be disturbed when he came back from his morning exercise. With those thoughts in mind, Harry made his way outside.
The air outside was crisp, cool, and refreshing. The perfect atmosphere to work up a good sweat, Harry decided as he locked the door and began going through his morning stretches, bending over and touching his toes, twisting his torso from side to side, stretching his arms behind his back and over his head. He was a bit stiff this morning, no doubt this came from the particular memory that had chosen to haunt his dreams last night. It took a bit longer to limber up because of that, but that was alright, he had woken up a little earlier than usual anyways.
As soon as he finished his stretches, Harry hit a button on his watch to start the timer and began his run. Harry made his way to the park, varying his speed from a light jog, to a full out sprint, going from a straight line, to zigzag patterns. He always liked to mix up his work out routine, sometimes just jogging, other times sprinting, and sometimes doing intervals like he was now. It helped keep his body from getting to used to his workouts. When Harry got to the park he began the next part of his routine, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, squats, and suicides. By the time he had finished his body had the pleasant ache of someone who had worked their muscles arduously.
This was something Harry did almost every morning. Five days a week he would wake up in the morning and worked his body through exercises. Sometimes he would push himself to the brink, doing everything he could to break past his physical boundaries, other times, like today, he would only do what he considered a light warm up. He couldn't afford to let his body turn into a swollen bruise due to his plans today. After finishing his work out, Harry headed back home at a light jog.
Physically, not much had changed in the Dursleys household. The living room was almost identical to the night when Harry had been dropped on the Dursley's doorstep. Only the photographs on the mantelpiece really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-colored bonnets – but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large blond pig-faced boy riding his first bicycle, on a carousel at the fair, playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother. Like all things except Harry's bedroom, this room showed no sign of him even living there.
That was fine with him, he had never truly considered the Dursley's to be family in any case. There was more to family than just relation by blood.
Harry soon entered the bathroom, disrobing from his now sweat covered clothes. He turned on the shower and soon stepped in. Rather than start cleaning himself right away, Harry pressed his palms against the wall and let the water hit his back. It was cold, starting out at least, but soon warmed up to the point where the room began to get covered in steam. After about a minute or two of simply letting the now hot water run down his form, Harry grabbed a bar of soap and began cleaning himself off. With his free hand, he gestured towards a bottle of shampoo, which lifted off the lip of the tub and floated towards him, stopping only after it had moved above his head. The small lid opened up and began to poor a dollop sized drop on his head, before settling back down in it's original spot. After he was done cleaning his body, the raven haired youth quickly worked the shampoo in his hair into a fine lather before rinsing it off. Soon after he finished cleaning, Harry turned off the water, stepped out, grabbed a towel, and began drying off. It was while he was doing this that he caught his figure in the fogged up mirror.
At nearly eleven years of age, Harry Potter was slightly above average in height. His body was very lean, and likely always would be, but where most children his age were just skinny, Harry's form was possessing of hard, whip corded muscles. Everywhere he looked he could see the outlines of his muscles, including the beginnings of a six pack. It wasn't as defined as some of the more athletic boys that had started puberty, but it was well above that of any child his age should possess.
Harry knew the reasons why, of course. Or at least, he had a theory on why he had more muscles than a child his age should be capable of getting. But without any true knowledge on the subject, he didn't dare put his theory to the test.
Aside from his rather impressive physic, for a ten going on eleven year old anyways, Harry had several scars that were on his back and chest. Most were nothing serious, his uncle had rarely done anything that could cause physical evidence of the damage he use to do, but there were a few on his back that he got from lashings with his uncle's belt. Of course, there was also the prominent scar on his forehead shaped in a lightning bolt, the scar he got when his parents died.
He shrugged thoughts of his scars (Battle wounds, Harry often joked) off a second later and got into his room and changed into a set of snug black jeans, a green shirt that matched his eyes, and a pair of converse shoes.
He spent the next half an hour sitting down on his floor, in a cross legged position, with his eyes closed and his breathing slow and controlled. Harry usually did this every day in order to help clear his thoughts so he could think without being inundated with random memories. It didn't keep them away, but meditation at least ensured that he would not be bothered by them. When he was finished the clock read six on the dot.
Finally finished, Harry made his into the kitchen. He grabbed several bowls and two pans from a cupboard, some eggs, milk, cheese and butter from the fridge, and flower and sugar from the pantry. He turned on the stove, put the two pans on different burners before placing a spoonful of butter on each. He started placing the ingredients in the bowl, cracking the eggs and mixing in the flower and milk, adding the sugar and some butter. As he worked in mixing the ingredients into a fine batter he hummed a little to himself.
He had learned to enjoy cooking in past five years, and had taken several cooking courses over one of his summers. His love of cooking was really one of the only reasons he still made breakfast and dinner for the Dursleys when ever he was home.
Once he was positive there were no clumps in the batter he moved over to the pans, the butter had melted and he made sure to spread it out evenly over the surface. With that done, Harry got out another bowl, cracked six eggs, added some salt and pepper, and whisked them enthusiastically. He always made something different for himself, not really interested in the less healthy food that his relatives seemed to enjoy so much.
Once the butter had melted and started to brown Harry poured the eggs into the frying pan and stirred it with the flat side of a fork. When the sides started to set, he lifted the side and pulled it into the center, repeating this until half of the eggs were set. He spooned three tablespoons of double cream onto the eggs, then liberally sprinkled it with some Balderson's Cheddar cheese and put it under the grill. He popped two pieces of toast into the toaster and moved over to the other pan and flipped the pancake on it. The sound of the door to the kitchen/living room caused him to look up from the eggs and pancakes he had been cooking.
"Aunt Petunia," Harry greeted with a curt nod. His relationship with his aunt was probably the strangest of the bunch. Neither of them liked each other, Harry may not hate the woman like he used to when he was younger, but he greatly disliked her and knew that she despised, or at the least, very much disliked him.
Of course, her feelings for Harry were so mixed in with other emotions that Harry could sense, but not make anything of that he was often left confused. However, Petunia was also something of his go-between for him and the other two Dursleys, who only spoke to him when absolutely necessary. Because of this, things remained somewhat cordial between them. Though Harry was sure part of the reason she was cordial was due to fear.
"Good, you're making breakfast," said Petunia in a stiff and formal voice. "Try not to burn anything; I want everything to be perfect for my Duddy's birthday."
That's right, Harry thought to himself. Today was Dudley's birthday, it was rather hard to forget about that, mainly because it was rather difficult to miss all of the presents that were practically hiding the table they sat on top of. It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention a second television and the racing bike. Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was beyond Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise – unless of course it involved punching somebody. For the first six years of Harry's life, he had been Dudley's favorite punching bag. Of course, all that had changed when he had come into his magic. Now the pig-faced boy was even more afraid of him than his aunt.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," Harry said in a humoring voice. They both knew there was nothing she could do if he decided to be rebellious.
Petunia sniffed, nodded, and headed back towards the stairs to get Dudley. Harry had nearly finished making breakfast by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel – Harry usually wondered how many branches his cousin hit when he fell from the fat and ugly tree.
Harry put the plates of pancakes, eggs and bacon on the table, which was difficult as there wasn't much room. He went back and grabbed his own food from under the grill, his toast, and sat down to eat. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.
"Thirty-six," he said, looking at his mother and father. Harry was impressed that his cousin could count that far, he used to only be capable of counting the number of fingers on his hands. "That's two less than last year."
"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mommy and Daddy."
"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face. Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, moved over to the counter top to eat in case Dudley turned the table over.
Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger too, because she said quickly, "And we'll buy another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that alright?"
Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work for him. Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty…thirty…"
"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.
"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right then."
Uncle Vernon chuckled.
"Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.
There were a few moments of silence as everyone ate, and Dudley opened his presents. When they were finished, Harry took the plates away. As he grabbed Aunt Petunia's plate she fixed him with a look, "I do not want you here while we are at the zoo today."
Harry understood what she was really saying. Harry was never allowed in the house when no one was there; they did not trust him enough to leave him alone. "I plan on going to the Dao for a while, and then I'm going to head over to the library and meet up with Lisa," said Harry.
Petunia snorted, Vernon looked disgruntled, and Dudley looked constipated. When Harry was seven years old, he had found a small Dao that taught a variety of Chinese Martial Arts. It had taken various levels of violence threatened and a demonstration of Harry's magic by levitating several knifes and floating them around the three Dursley's before he was allowed to go. Dudley had wanted to go as well, but ended up quitting because it was too much work. None of them liked the fact that he went there, but could do nothing about it as Harry paid for his time there himself.
"Very well," said Petunia, while Vernon muttered about how 'freaks' shouldn't be allowed to learn how to fight.
Just then, the doorbell rang – "Oh, good Lord, they're here!" said Aunt Petunia frantically – and a moment later, Dudley's best friend, Peirs Polkiss, waked in with his mother. Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Or at least he was, before Harry decided to intervene every time he saw them about to start their bullying, whether they still did that when he wasn't around was unknown.
Not more than a few minutes later, the Dursleys and Piers were gone and Harry was walking to the Dao. Along the way he offered a small wave to Mr. Fig, a woman who owned several dozen cats and had, on rare occasion babysat him when he was younger, as well as a few other people in the neighborhood.
Because Harry paid for everything that was his, he had offered to mow the lawns of the residents of Private Drive for five pounds an hour. While quite a few people had not trusted him, in no small part due to Petunia's gossiping about him being a horrible, demented child, Harry had found several people who had agreed to his offer, and pretty soon word had spread and he was mowing the lawn of nearly everyone on the entire block. Petunia had been pretty burned up about that since most people had discounted her words because Harry always made sure to remain respectful. It had been a long time before the horse-necked woman had gained her credibility with the other gossiping women of Privet Drive after that.
Half an hour later Harry reached a small, inconspicuous building that looked somewhat run down. The only reason anyone would have been able to recognize it as a martial arts Dao was the sign that showed two people in combat above the door.
Harry opened the door and entered.
The inside of the building was a simple looking room. At the front there was a small desk with an old, worn out cash register on top of it, there was a book case standing against the wall next to the desk forming a ninety degree angle, and was holding various books on combat, pressure points, acupuncture and medicinal plants. The area beyond the desk was covered by a large blue mat, on one side was a mirror that ran along the wall, on the other side were several stands that had swords, staffs, Kusari-gama's and even a scythe on them. At the end of the room was a hall with four doors.
"Ah, Harry, I was wondering if you would come in today," said a small, old Chinese man. Standing at a little shorter then Harry himself, Master Chang Wei did not strike an imposing figure. In fact, most people would have found his stature to be quite humorous. However, Harry did not let the man's size fool him. Despite being over seventy years old, Master Wei could beat Harry six ways to Sunday with one hand tied behind his back, hopping on one foot, while blindfolded. He had done it plenty of times in the past and could still do so now.
"Today is Dudley's birthday," said Harry, shrugging his shoulders. "I figured I would come here and see if you were up for a spar Master Wei."
When Harry had first found the Dao, he had been an enraged youth who was not only not afraid to threaten violence against his relatives, but had no compunctions on following through with his threats when his demands were not met. There had been several instances where Harry would use his powers to throw his uncle or cousin through a wall in order to get his way. That was part of the reason neither Dudley nor Vernon talked to him, and why Petunia feared him.
It was Master Chang Wei who had seen what the young boy was becoming, took Harry in and taught him that rage and hatred would not help him in life. When Master Wei's point had finally sunken in, Harry had been horrified to realize that he had been treating his relatives exactly how he had been treated. The very notion that he was becoming the very thing he hated had disgusted him so much that he had done his best to change, and vowed to never become like them.
It had taken Harry nearly a year of meditation, contemplation, and getting pounded into the dirt while being told "Martial Arts is not just a way of fighting, but an art and an oath. An art that allows one to express themselves in movement, and an oath to never use combat and violence unless it is the only way to defend yourself and the innocent" by the old Chinese Martial Arts master before Harry had been able to move truly past most of his hatred of the Dursleys. He still didn't like them, and probably never would, but he wouldn't let himself be ruled by hatred. He was better than that. He was better than them.
"Same as every year, then," Said Master Wei. "Change into your uniform, and meet me on the mat."
"Yes, Master," said Harry, bowing before he went into the locker room that one of the doors at the end of the hall led to. He came back bare foot and wearing a simple white gi with a blue belt, only three steps down from a black belt. Harry was not only a quick study, but worked very hard to earn his rank and was considered to be something of a prodigy. Of course, that was only by the standards of the other students, according to Master Wei, he was a clumsy fool with no coordination and lacked the finesse needed to master the fine art of combat. Than again, Master Wei said that to everyone he taught so it didn't bother Harry too much.
"You know the routine, Harry," said Master Wei as Harry stood before him, looking straight ahead as was proper.
"Yes, Master," Harry dropped down on his feet and knuckles and began doing push-ups, counting in the basic Chinese number system until he reached a figure that Master Wei was satisfied with, that number being one hundred and twenty.
"Up!" Commanded the old man, and Harry kicked his feet up so that he was performing a handstand. It didn't take long for Harry to stabilize himself and find his balance, he had been doing this for so long now it was almost second nature.
"One hand!" Harry's breathing began to get heavy as he lifted his right hand so that he was standing on his left. When Wei commanded "Left!" he switched hands again.
"Bend!" said Master Wei. Harry let out a small grunt as his feet moved over his head, and where he feet were previously facing away from the wall, they were now planted firmly on the ground facing the mirror as he formed a bridge with his stomach pointed to the ceiling –
– only for Master Wei to kick his feet and knock him to the ground several seconds after the bridge had been formed, saying, "your form is not sturdy enough. Your form must always be like a wall, unmovable and strong. Were your form sturdy that little tap would not have been enough for you to fall."
"Yes, Master Wei," said Harry as he stood up, knowing better then to contest the small man. The last time he did Harry had gotten beat worse than usual.
"And now we spar."
Harry got into his opening combat stance after hearing Master Wei's words, left foot forward, right foot back, legs spread shoulder width apart while his knees were bent ever so slightly. He stood on the balls of his feet, prepared to shift or push off them at a moments notice. Along with his stance, Harry could feel a heightened sense of anticipation for the upcoming spar, the same feeling of adrenaline rush he always got when sparring with the diminutive master.
The fight, if one could call it that, was not so much of a fight as it was a beating, a beating that Harry was on the receiving end of. While Harry was actually quite talented at hand-to-hand combat, Master Wei had decades of experience over him, and from what he knew the man was a former soldier who had participated in the Vietnam war when he was only seventeen years old. Even with all of Harry's prodigal talents, he was simply no match for a man who had looked death in the face and survived overwhelming odds.
"I believe we are done for the day, young one," said Master Wei to a panting Harry. The young man was hunched over and taking in large gulps of air as if the stuff was going out of style. At least he wasn't laying prone on his back and nearing unconsciousness like he sometimes was after getting the crap kicked out of him. "Go wash up and head home."
Harry did as told, using the communal shower in the back to wash and get dressed in his street clothes, only instead of heading home, he went to the library.
Even before Harry had found the Dao the library had been a sanctuary for him. The story's that were found in books allowed for an escape from the realities of his life, the hardships he had endured and the scars it had left on his psyche. Harry had always been a fast study, in school he had learned what was taught long before the other students. During recess he used to spend his time in the school library, reading anything and everything he could get his hands on. Before Harry had really started coming to in his martial arts, he had been very anti-social, often spending all his recess and lunch in the library reading. When he had exhausted all of the books in the school library, he had asked a teacher, and been given directions to the public library, which was not that far from Private Drive or his school.
The library was not the largest in the world, with Surrey only being a small city the library reflected that size. It was still big enough that Harry doubted he could read everything in it before he managed to leave the Dursley's for good.
Grabbing a book, one that held historic battles of the Roman Empire, Harry made his way to the back where several comfy couches were for reading purposes. When he reached the reading area, he saw that there was somebody already there. A petite, cute girl around his age with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a look of slight impatience on her face. The girl looked up when she heard his footsteps and a smile lit her face.
"Harry!" she squealed, drawing a glare and "Sh!" from the librarian, which she basically ignored as she latched onto Harry in a hug.
"Lisa," Harry greeted with only the smallest of sighs as he returned her hug with one of his own, albiet, much less affectionately. Long time dealing with the girl had pretty much given him a handle on how to deal with her, but that didn't always make dealing with her any easier.
Lisa Crawft, he had met the girl somewhere around three years ago, about a year after he started his martial arts training. He had found her being bullied by Dudley and his friends for some asinine reason. At the time, Harry had still been a somewhat troubled youth. Despite his training with Master Wei, he had been quick to anger. Seeing Dudley picking on someone had reminded him of all the times his cousin would hit him, and he had seen red.
After what could have only been described as a beat down, Dudley had ended up with a broken arm, two broken fingers, and a bruised torso, and the only reason he had not gotten worse injuries was because a passing teacher saw them and broke them up.
The Dursley's had not been too happy either, but they had not been able to do anything due to their fear of him. Master Wei on the other hand had found out and made his displeasure quite clear. Harry still shuddered when he thought about his teacher's punishment.
In spite of the violence he had unleashed upon his cousin, Lisa had become enamored with him. The next time he had seen her at school, she had latched onto him, proclaiming that he was her hero and had proceeded to follow him around whenever classes ended. Harry hadn't been too pleased by that at first, but later on learned to accept it. He had even discovered that there were benefits to be had by her befriending him.
One of the many benefits was that people found him more approachable, this allowed him to learn how to interact with others. He would never befriend any of the children he went to school with, they were just too different, but that didn't mean it wouldn't be good to learn the inns and outs of school yard politics, which is the basis for how humanity interacted with each other as a whole.
It didn't matter how intelligent or driven someone was, without knowing how to properly interact with others one could only go so far.
Moments later the hug ended and Lisa pulled back, a scowl marring her face. "You're late," she huffed, crossing her arms over her chest and sending him a mildly annoyed glare.
"Sorry," Harry apologized with a shrug as he walked over to the couch Lisa had been sitting on. "I got caught up in my spar with Master Wei." As he finished speaking Harry sat down and opened the book to the first page. Lisa stared at him for a moment longer, before sighing and moving to sit down next to him.
"Honestly, I don't understand what a bookworm like you actually finds so fun about getting beaten up on by an old man," Lisa said, causing Harry to shrug once more. She was a girl, so of course she wouldn't understand what drove him to master his martial arts, nor could she understand the thrill he experienced while in combat. It was something most females just didn't seem to grasp, he noticed. There were plenty of benefits he gained from his martial arts training as well, a strong mind and body being just two of those things.
His thoughts were interrupted when Lisa leaned over his shoulder to look at the book he was reading and crinkled her nose.
"Ugh, history Harry? Really? Don't we read enough history at school?" she asked, her voice a tone of disgust. Lisa was never one for heavy reading like him, and what books she did read had absolutely nothing to do with anything school related.
"I like history," Harry replied without missing a beat. They had debated his choice of literature many times, and it always ended up the same, Harry not willing to give into Lisa's words, and Lisa shaking her head in dismay at his choice of reading material.
The last time they fought over what he read it had been when he found himself immersed in a book on psychology.
"I know you do," Lisa said with a tone of resignation. She perked up a second later however, and held out the book she had been reading. "Still, wouldn't you rather read something like this?" 'This' as his friend so eloquently put it was a book with a purple background covering. What really drew the eyes however, was not the color of the background, but the cover. On the cover were two half naked people, a man and a woman, their lower halves covered only by some kind of sheet. The male was on top of the woman, his hand resting against the lower left side of her back, while her hands were tangled through his hair. It was a rather erotic image, and unfortunately was not that unusual a covering for the books Lisa read.
It was titled Seduction of a Highland Lass.
"Why would I ever want to read something like that?" asked Harry, honestly confused. Why anyone would want to read some trashy romance novel about fictional characters that wouldn't be out of place in the Conan the Barbarian Comic books he had read once was beyond him.
Lisa didn't seem to like his tone and huffed. "You just don't know a good story when you see one. This isn't just some trashy romance novel, it's an epic tale about..." At that point Harry began reading his book and made it a point to pretend he was no longer listening. It was unfortunate, but with his eidetic memory, every word the girl spoke would still be imprinted into his mind, so all he could do was pretend and hope she got the hint and stopped talking.
She did, about five minutes into her rant on how amazing her story was, Lisa noticed that Harry was not paying attention to her. She scowled for a moment, but seemed to decide not to try and claim his attention by doing something drastic, not only because it would get them kicked out but also because it was unlikely to work. Instead she huffed, and opened her book once more to begin reading.
Time wore on and Harry immersed himself within the history of the Roman Empire and it's tragic fall. Contrary to what Lisa may think, the book in his hand was not a history book, but a romanticized tale that nonetheless gave an accurate description on the fall of Rome. It was a rather intriguing story, combining accurate historical knowledge with vivid details and epic battles. Whoever wrote the book had obviously done their homework.
It was only after an hour or so had past that Harry was drawn away from his book by the feel of a weight settling on his left shoulder. He turned his head to see that Lisa had fallen asleep, her book having fallen from her hands into her lap, her head resting against his shoulder as she leaned into him.
Unbidden a very small smile, very tender smile came to his face. He would not tell anyone this, especially Lisa, but the girl truly was the only and best friend he'd ever had.
A part of this, he knew, was due to his feelings on the matter of friendship. By the time school started after the coming summer, it was very unlikely that he would see any of those people again. What was the point in befriending someone when you had no intention of keeping in touch? Another reason was simply because none of his acquaintances had anything to offer, Harry saw no benefit in befriending them, and thus, decided it would be best to keep them at arms length.
Of course, it wasn't like befriending Lisa carried any great benefits either. However, the girl had managed to worm her way into his heart by stint of sheer stubbornness. She had simply refused to let him continue on alone, and somehow, someway, had managed to endear herself to him.
Not that she would ever know that. Harry was sure that if Lisa found out about his thoughts, she would never let him live it down.
If You're rereading this, you will know that I did not change a whole lot. Most of my grammar is still the same. The only thing I changed was the beginning, which is now first person rendition, and I fixed it so that instead of calling Master Wei's school a dojo, it's now called a Dao.
You don't have to let me know what you think of these changes, but I do hope you enjoy them.