Hi, this is a little story I thought up some time ago and have finished now. I will post one chapter over the next weekends each. This is the prologue.
The story takes place around the third book and here Harry is a bit smarter and more observant than he is shown in Prisoner of Azkaban. He also uses his Slytherin side more than in the books.
Disclaimer for the whole story: Like always I own nothing of the Harry Potter universe, only the idea to this story.
Hope you like it.
Knowledge is Power – The Realization
It was two weeks into his summer holidays and Harry was thinking hard about his last two years at Hogwarts. Many things made him wonder what he had been thinking at the time. Before he had started at Hogwarts he would never have done things without a plan. He had learned the hard way that if he did his relatives would punish him. Calling attention towards yourself got you hurt. So he had learned to prepare. Sure he had got in many sticky situations, but nobody had ever been able to pin anything to him. While his aunt and uncle always blamed him for everything that was slightly unnormal going on, they never knew the things that he really did do.
Harry wasn't a totally underfed child because he had found ways to get a little food on top what they allowed him to have. There was no way that Aunt Petunia would notice if there was a little less food than before with Uncle Vernon and Dudley regularly going to the fridge getting a little snack. On top of that many gardens around the neighbourhood had berry bushes and some even trees that bore fruits like apples or plums. A few missing ones were never noticed by anybody. Especially not from the big ones in Mrs Tayler's garden. She was over eighty years old and the old fruit trees were overflowing with apples, cherries, pears and plums each season. As she was slightly deaf she didn't listen to the neighbourhood gossip and allowed Harry to eat as many fruits as he wanted to if he helped her with the harvest.
Of course Harry had delightedly agreed as it solved his food problems mostly. She also showed him how to boil down the fruits for preservation. Harry soon found out that if he helped around her house a bit, mostly her garden, he got some of the fruits as treats. So Harry had become proficient in getting enough food to get by. Last summer had been a problem because he had been imprisoned in his room, but even if the Dursleys thought of locking him in again, he had asked the twins to teach him lock picking the muggle way. No way would he continue like last summer.
He also had managed to get a few of his school books up here while the Dursleys were showing off their new car to the neighbours. What nobody, not even Ron and Hermione, knew was that Harry had taken a lot of consideration about his electives. Percy's advice of sticking to his strengths and interests had been the best one, as surprising as that was. Harry had gone back and asked the older boy what each class entailed. He was sure that Percy knew. The oldest Weasley currently at Hogwarts had gladly shared his knowledge with Harry. He had after all sat all the OWLs that Hogwarts offered and passed them all. A total number of twelve OWLs was outstanding. So Harry had decided to go with Care of Magical Creatures and Divination for now. He also would buy the book for Ancient Runes and see what Hermione's homework in the subject would be. He couldn't really decide which subject would be more interesting, but taking three classes would probably put a major strain on him and with Quidditch, which he didn't want to give up as he loved playing, and his catching up on the material of the first two years in the practical area once he was back at school, would take up lots of his time.
Harry had thought about how he had wanted to be the best wizard he could be before he started at Hogwarts. He had read all of his schoolbooks, because they had been interesting. But through his friendship with Ron he had become lazy. He wouldn't want to be like Hermione with her definitely insane study habits, but he wanted to do better next year. Knowledge was power. He had to realize that. If he hadn't known what a basilisk was and that its look killed, he would have died trying to save Ginny. Hadn't he known about the Mirror of Erised he wouldn't have been able to save the stone. But he also had realized that he had been stupid in both cases. While the adults hadn't been any help with things, he hadn't been really prepared. While most of it wasn't his fault, he could have done more.
He knew how to make most of a situation for himself. It was how he had grown up. He was sneaky as hell if he wanted to be. Hell, the Dursleys had never noticed that his report cards had been fudged since his third year at primary school. It had been easy. Dudley left his card lying around every time after showing it off to his friends. They always got them early in the morning and then the class would do a little something before the break. Sometimes it was watching a movie, sometimes playing a game. On the day the report cards were handed out there were no normal classes. Harry stayed back, took Dudley's card, went to the copy shop next to the school in his break, copied Dudley's and his report cards and returned it to the classroom before anybody noticed.
After school let out, of course while Dudley was taken by his mother in the car Harry had to walk home, he revisited the shop, with a combined report card. It had his name on top with Dudley's grades. He copied the rebuilt one so that nobody could see that it hadn't been one piece to begin with. As the director didn't sign each report card, they had him sign one blank one and copied that, nobody wondered about it. So he had his aunt sign his report card that wasn't better than Dudley's anymore. As he wasn't a show-off in class, Dudley never said anything about Harry's performance because he didn't know which grades his cousin really got. Harry kept his grades to straight B's while Dudley floundered around solid D's. There was no way he would let his education be sabotaged by them.
The old librarian had told him that knowledge was power in the world to those that knew how to use it. It was the most important advice Harry ever got. He couldn't believe that he had been messing around so much once he entered the wizarding world. Well, it wasn't too late for him and he hadn't failed anything so far. But he knew that he could do better. One thing he wondered about was how he could possibly manage it without overworking himself. There simply wasn't enough time for everything. That was why he didn't take Arithmancy as well. No matter, he would do his best in the classes where he could. And re-reading his schoolbooks would be the start. He didn't have anything to do here anyway, so he could use the time to review all of his books.
Harry was happy to have found such a good way to learn. Florean Fortescue was a fountain of History knowledge. Since he had run away from Privet Drive he had had all the access to magical knowledge he could have hoped for. Playing the curious youth wasn't hard. And he was a very famous curious youth. During the day he did his homework at the ice cream parlour, in the evenings he talked to Tom's patrons. It was very interesting what you could find out by simply letting old people talk of the past. There were so many things they knew and never had a chance to talk about for one reason or the other. Maybe because it wasn't that special to most magicals, but Harry with having been isolated from the real wizarding world wasn't bored at all.
He was told how the different ways of magical transportation really worked by a Ministry worker from that department. It would help him with his less than graceful floo travelling. A member of the Goblin Liaison Office talked about how you had to deal with goblins to not have them feel insulted. A member of the Magical Games and Sports Department talked about how professional Quidditch teams always scouted at Hogwarts and that Madam Hooch regularly recommended exceptional players to the scouts once they were at least fifth-years. A potions expert helped him get a better grip of the subject and could only shake his head hearing how Snape taught the subject.
Harry was all too happy to remember the information they gave him. It would help him in the long run.
He didn't really care about the Sirius Black situation while he was in Diagon Alley. While the man was reputed to be a dangerous Death Eater it was basically impossible for him to target Harry while he was surrounded by so many adult witches and wizards and had his invisibility cloak on his person. The cloak offered him so many opportunities to find out more about the magical world. He could sneak into places where children were normally not able to go to. He could overhear discussions of adults when they thought they were alone. And most importantly, he could get some less than perfectly safe books in a shop at the beginning of Knockturn Alley without being stopped heading there. He knew magic wasn't all black and white. But how would one know which spells were less propagated if one only looked through Flourish & Blott's? The shop, Obscurus Books, held a lot of, Harry called them Grey Books, knowledge that the common witches and wizards didn't learn because it wasn't completely respectable in the eyes of the Ministry.
Okay, that's to start things off, the next chapters will be longer. Till next week.