Chapter 34 - Return of the Sith
Please be aware that this is a repost of the chapter as for some reason it disappeared after posting it. (Attempt number 4...)
Many thanks to my new Beta, Trey of the Rebellion, who did brilliantly on this chapter. Hopefully I won't drive him mad with my work :)
Please note that the sections of speech within "[ ]" are in Aurebesh (Galactic Standard), not English.
Finally, after 5 long years, and as a Halloween gift (plus bonus birthday present to Firescouts mum), we return to Earth and Harry's story in the War against Voldemort.
As a slight note, today in the UK, Halloween is not only a full moon (the Hunters Moon), but a blue moon at that (the last full moon, the Harvest Moon, being on the 1st of October). Full moons on Halloween occur once every 18 to 19 years, the last time there was a blue moon on Halloween was 76 years ago!
2020 is such a weird year!
"So ends the famous Harry Potter," Tom Riddle's voice echoed around them. "Alone in the Chamber of Secrets, forsaken by his friends, defeated at last by the Dark Lord he so unwisely challenged. You'll be back with your dear Mudblood mother soon, Harry... She bought you twelve years of borrowed time... but Lord Voldemort got you in the end, as you knew he must..."
An icy cold burned through the child's body, the basilisk's venom turning the young and potent blood to sludge as it raced for the heart and brain. The Boy struggled to breath, as a numbness creeped through his limbs, more afraid than he had ever been in his life.
He struggled to think, his mind sluggish as thick mud as his world darkened around him. His numb lips barely allowed a faint grunt of air to pass as his attempt at an apology to his friends as the icy darkness reached out to claim him.
Fawkes rushed down, his talons biting deep into the boy's flesh as he hurried to save the Destined Champion. Tears that held an inner light entered the tainted wound, the magic within racing to repair the damage done.
Death consumed Life.
Rebirth fought Death.
The boy gave a final whimper as the venom reached his heart, stilling as it ceased to beat the black mass that filled it.
Tom laughed in joy at his victory, "So much for the Boy-who-lived!" He turned to look upon his host as he prepared to rip what was left of her essence from her flesh to forge his own. Much better than merely possessing the girl.
He shuddered at the image of going through puberty as a teenaged girl, no thank you. Straight to adulthood, or near enough anyway, as perfect and pristine as he remembered. Well, maybe a few adjustments would be required later, but nothing major.
Ignored by the pondering Horcrux, thin wisps of golden dust began to gather around the boy's body, forming from the very air, faint pulses of light rippled through the strands in pace with a distant but beating heart. Each wisp found a wound or orifice and began to flow into the body, ripples of fire rushed through the flesh, reforging it.
Skin tore open, bones shattered, and muscles ripped as the fire flowed through the ruined flesh. Bones reformed, straighter than before, healthier and ready for future growth. Muscles stretched and knitted together; years of damage repaired in moments. Skin rippled and rapidly healed, ragged scars became neater, the skin less taught, new scars formed over his body. A thin band of black runes rippled around his right ring finger, the flesh scorching and hissing as the sigils and runes burned their way into his form.
His scar tore open and black ink poured forth, hissing and spitting as if on a hot surface. Quickly it boiled away as a face screamed in agony on the surface, silent and alone, as it faded away, smouldering fragments burning in the air like ash until they became nothing.
A faint silver glow came into being beside the boy's head and a voice from far, far away whispered a single command in his ear before fading away. "Live."
With a rush of power, the gold dust was sucked within his form; life, death and rebirth found balance within his blood and burning green eyes opened wide as he sucked in a great lungful of damp and cold air.
Tom froze and turned back in confusion to look upon the boy who was snarling strange words in anger as he struggled to stand.
Harry finally staggered to his feet, his balance was out, he blinked and stared around in confusion as the world appeared to be covered in a hazy film, so distorted that he was nearly blind. Pulling the now useless glasses from his face, he looked around and examined the situation with now sharp eyes.
Cold and damp rather than the heart of hell he had forged in his wrath.
Pain rippled throughout his body, but he was used to that, he ignored it and moved on. Robes? These were not of suitable quality, and much too tight. Where was his armour? His lightsabers and wand? The young man staring at him looked weirdly familiar, as did the situation around him.
"How are you..."
"Shush." Harry whispered with a finger pointed at the man. Suddenly fascinated by his finger he raised his hand to examine it in full, back to palm followed by a roll of his fingers. Looking around in an almost drunk manner, he stopped as his feet hit the jaw of the great serpent he had slain. The silver hilt of the blood covered sword protruded from the toxic maw of the beast.
Harry raised a hand towards the silver masterpiece and summoned it to him through the Force.
Tom watched with confused surprise as he watched the hilt leapt into Potters open palm like a familiar broom. The sucking squelch and crunch of basilisk flesh and bone torn open by the passing blade, was both nauseating and distracting. The supposed to be dead boy appeared to be examining it with more awe than he did his hand, a finger running down its length, but never touching, following a pattern Tom was unable to perceive.
Harry meanwhile was looking at the blade with all his gifts, amazed at the intricate weaving of magic and metal, the enchantments imbued into the very ore during the processing. The Force singing in balance within it, the light burning to protect, the dark flickering to destroy its enemies and magic woven amongst the others to bind its purpose and form. It was an exquisite masterpiece of work and he was suitably impressed.
He watched as the enchantments fought the basilisk venom from damaging the metal, writhing around the venom and consuming its potent power, imbuing its abilities within the metal. An incredibly subtle form of alchemy, but impressive in its capability to adapt. If he could work out how to do that to Cortosis, now that would be a dangerous mix.
Blinking in surprise as he realised where and when he was, he looked around. Finally making sense of the prone form of the fan girl, Ginny Weasley, that damn book and Tom Riddles memory, he began to laugh. Swiftly it grew almost hysterical before quickly calming back down. "[Home. I'm home.]"
Tom snarled in anger and frustration at being ignored by his enemy, shushed as if he were a mere child, spoken to in a language he did not recognise, the boy even had the gall to survive the basilisk venom after killing the beast. He would be ignored no more. Raising the stolen wand, he began to cast, "Avad..." he began but suddenly staggered with a grunt as he felt an impact in his chest.
He felt that.
Panicked jade eyes met calm and curious emerald ones.
Potters head cocked to one side like a birds, as if watching an interesting specimen as it was being vivisected, the Sword of Gryffindor pinning the book to the floor under his hand, his open palm gently resting upon the swords pommel as gravity did all the work as the point of the blade slowly cut through the diary, from cover to back. Black ink began to spurt from the damage as a gash opened up on Tom's chest where a matching fluid began to float away, like ink in water.
Tom raised his wand once more, gasping at the pain and damage before dropping to his knees, the wand rolling away from his loose grasp.
Seeing the wand raising again, Harry slowly put a touch of pressure on the pommel, driving it deeper, the noise changed slightly as he realised that the blade was now biting into the stone floor of the chamber.
Tom looked up, clutching at the wound in his chest, gasping as if drowning, "I will kill you."
With a sad shake of his head, Harry softly spoke the final words that fragment of Tom Riddle would ever experience, "[No. You won't.]"
Harry then gathered his power and poured force lightning down the metal blade into the book pinned to the floor. The emerald light reflected from the water and the moisture covered walls around them, the silver blade, now gaining an oily sheen of greenish colour from the venom and force lightning.
The tortured screams echoed around the chamber long after the spirit had been torn apart by the energies unleashed.
Harry turned and stood over the young girl; his head cocked to one side as he tried to gather his discordant thoughts. "[Now. What to do with you? Either this is a truly pleasant dream as I'm dying. Or I'm actually home. I need evidence to know for sure.]"
He dropped to his knees next to her stirring body and rested her head in his lap, the moment her eyes groggily opened, he leant over to make solid eye contact, "[Let's make sure what happens in the chamber stays in the chamber, shall we?] Legilimens." He powered through her confused and torn defences to focus on her recent memories, brushing along the connected ones and frowned in annoyance at them, "[Hmm, looks like you've been a very naughty girl.] Stupefy. Obliviate."
Standing up, he looked around the chamber and then cast a chain of spells at several of the broken pillars and the dead basilisk. Nothing too powerful, but enough to give the impression of a battle and to wipe out the evidence of his cover up.
He took a deep but shaky breath to refocus, frowning at his lack of stamina. He would need to work on that.
Kneeling beside the girl, he hit her with a weak enervate before taking her shoulder and gave her a shake to finish waking her up, "Gin... Miss Weasley, you need to wake up."
Fawkes was leading the way for the group, his golden glow lighting their path as he flew between resting points. His light and soft crooning was both soothing and made Harry's skin itch, a likely sign of his darker aspects warring with the Phoenix's light. Hopefully that would pass or he would get used to it, flinching every time he heard a phoenix's song would get annoying before too long.
As they followed the bird, Harry conjured a scabbard and shoulder strap to carry the blade, swiftly followed by a sleeve that matched his hair colour, which he pulled over the hilt. A notice-me-not upon the scabbard soon followed and the sword faded from importance for others as he carried it.
Whilst Ron was mothering his sister, Harry swiftly slipped it on under his outer robes, letting the hilt rest behind his shoulder blade. Easy to dismiss as nothing important, it would help the charm do its work.
Harry stopped as he felt his feet touch the edge of a set of steps. Glancing around, he realised that he was in the main staircases, where he had automatically followed Ron and Ginny, who had, in turn, been following Fawkes. Behind the children walked the former Professor Lockhart, lost in his confusion and awe of the simple magics surrounding him. Harry's distraction with his spellcraft had left him on autopilot and he found him nearing the threat of being in Dumbledore's presence.
Dream or not, that could be bad.
From the discordant depths of his mind, Abaddon grabbed his internal focus and pushed the memories of events that would soon occur through his thoughts.
Why there? A meeting between distraught parents and the faculty should have occurred in the headmaster's office, not in McGonagall's Office. Dumbledore had been removed from his post; did they lock the office down until a new head teacher was chosen? That may be how it was mean to work, but Harry doubted it. Dumbledore would probably still be able to access the rooms if he wanted, there were few if any who could stop him doing what he desired. No, there was something else at work here.
Unfortunately, he couldn't see it yet.
Taking a deep breath, he skimmed over his mental defences and found them fractured and frayed by recent events. Delving deeper he found Abaddon trying to repair the damage his apparent return? rebirth? had caused. "Sithsp... Merlin. I'm going to have to get used to that again. What happened here?"
Abaddon looked up from forcing childhood traumas back into their metaphysical bottles. Whispers of Harry croakily begging his relatives for water in the dark stabbed at him as they fought their containment. "First of all, I believe that this is real. If this was a Force vision or illusion placed upon us, our mind would have been in order. Instead, our return has upset the balance and order of our mind. We tore apart the younger you's mind on… arrival? We really either need a word for it or to just forget it occurred. Either way there's a lot of trauma in here that you've already worked through and the sensations are too fresh and raw to not be recent."
Harry looked around the mess, he could feel the clutter slowly reordering in his mind as he watched the metaphysical representations move into place. Although, many things he had supressed or contained were now lose and would be troublesome to put back in their places, "How secure are we?"
Abaddon sighed, "We aren't. We're leaking all over the place, most of our mental structure has collapsed, it will take us time and focus to bring everything back to order. I can dedicate myself to the issues, but even then, it's a major undertaking. In the meantime," he opened a book and scanned over it. "You're about to meet Dumbledore. Avoid eye contact and omit facts. Never lie if possible, he will know. I will do what I can, but you need to keep your focus."
Harry sighed at that, "Fun. I'll do what I can, can you help keep me under control? I don't want to get into a fight with him right now."
Abaddon raised an eyebrow at that, "I'm a mental construct, not a miracle worker." He grunted at Harry in annoyance, "I'll see what I can do. It might be best for you to bypass him completely, throw off his prepared show. Now go, you're getting a funny look from your… friend? I never did work out the dynamics between you two."
Harry blinked as he opened his eyes to see Ron about to prod him in the shoulder. "What?"
Ron frowned, "Are you alright Harry? You just stopped and had a faraway look. Thought you'd fallen asleep on your feet or something."
He chuckled at that, and glanced quickly at Ginny. She seemed lost in her own nightmarish world at the moment anyway, "I'm just exhausted Ron. Come on, I've got a better idea. Let's get her to the Hospital Wing."
Ron nodded at that, "Yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. You look terrible mate."
Harry chuckled at the brutal honesty of the boy, "Thank you Ron," he motioned down a side passage, "Come on, this way."
Walking off, they ignored the confused croon from Fawkes as it waited for them at the top of the stairs, leaving the presence of the magical bird behind. It took only a few minutes for them to arrive at the Hospital Wing, minutes that allowed Harry to quickly prep a plan to disrupt Dumbledore's machinations.
He smirked slightly as he wondered how long it would take before Dumbledore either summoned or went looking for Fawkes.
Although, the very moment he heard the sharp intake of air from Ginny, he remembered why this might have been a bad idea.
He glanced to one side to see her pale face turn a shade of green at the sight of her victims just lying there in rigid poses upon the beds.
Seeing her about to vomit, Harry nudged her shoulder and gently turned her so that she threw up over her brother rather than the floor.
Ron's cries of disgust and horror were enough to summon the ever-watchful Madam Pomfrey, who was dressed rather casually compared to her usual uniform, likely due to the time of night it was.
Harry smiled at the sight of her, before his mind followed some dark flows of thought. How many years had he been in her reach and how many times had she reported the injuries and his health to the authorities? Surely, she should have done something. Or did she and was it ignored? There were too many variables and not enough data to make an informed decision. He'd shift that onto Abaddon to resolve later, when his mind wasn't so fractured.
"Mr Potter!" her sharp voice cut through the silence of the ward, "What in Merlin's name has happened to you?"
Harry smiled at her, "Nothing major Madam Pomfrey, I'll be fine. Miss Weasley here needs your attention more than I do."
Pomfrey huffed and pointed the group to a few empty beds, "Sit there, one to a bed and I'll check you over." She glanced at the gently smiling Lockhart as he happily waved a hand through moonbeams as they shone through the windows. "I take it he needs my attention as well?"
Harry nodded as he watched Ron gently place the terrified girl on the designated bed, trying to detach her grip from his arm and then giving up and sitting next to her. Quietly, he turned away to make sure they couldn't read his lips as he talked to the nurse, "He used Ron's damaged wand to cast a spell and it backfired. Ron was beside me for most of the night, so he's likely exhausted. But Miss Weasley has been hurt the most, she was under the control of an enchanted item and it seems to have affected her badly, if it had been physical, I would have classed it as at least attempted rape. It was all in her head, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't as real to her as it could be."
Pomfrey paled and winced, but nodded at that and focused her attention on him, "And you?"
A whisper in his mind, from Abaddon, warned him of where the information might go. "Mostly exhaustion, a few scrapes and bruises, nothing special."
She snorted at that, "Even so, go sit on a bed, I'll be with you when I've checked the others. Don't think I missed the blood on your robes young man. If you're this chatty and still walking, you'll live whilst I finish with the others."
Harry grinned apologetically as he started moving towards the designated bed, before he stopped and turned back to the nurse, "Actually. It might be best if you get support from Saint Mungo's and contact the Aurors for me. I want to press charges on Mr Lockhart, he tried to Obliviate us and who knows what would have followed. And you might need help with Miss Weasley, unless you have experience with enchanted items with mental attacks? Never mind the crime of the assault on her."
At her shocked blinks, he nodded to himself, "Thinking about it, it might be best to contact the Aurors first. We do have a teacher involved with a habit of wiping memories and the young daughter of the head of a department of the ministry. Could you imagine the scandal that could cause if that leaked to the press without an official investigation already happening? Never mind anyone accidently interfering with any evidence or before anyone else found out that I was involved in matters. The press would go crazy over that."
He tapped his lips in thought as he continued adapting his plans, "Perhaps we should also get Professor McGonagall to attend, she is the acting head of the school right now isn't she? And what about Mr and Mrs Weasley? What about everyone else's parents? For... sorry almost swore then. Could you imagine how they would react to everything that's happened this year?"
Pomfrey frowned at his comments, "Mr Potter, I'm sure that the Headmaster has everything in hand..."
Harry cut her off with a small but knowing smirk, putting a touch of the Force behind his words, internally raising an eyebrow at her resistance enhanced by an enchantment upon her, "The Headmaster who was removed from his post over the petrification's? The Headmaster who is not here? Can I ask why the Aurors aren't searching the school for Miss Weasley right now? She was missing was she not?"
Pomfrey blinked in surprise at the surety and the Force enhancement behind the young teen's questions, finding herself begin to move in response to his suggestions before she even thought about it. "Perhaps you are right Mr Potter. I'll make the calls immediately."
Harry watched in surprise at how easily she had bowed to his will once he had overcome the fortifications to her mind. He waited until the nurse left the ward and entered her rooms, before hurrying over to Ron and Ginny as soon as she was out of sight, "Okay, I know what happened to you Miss Weasley, I will explain it all to you later if you wish. But, you're safe now and I'll do what I can to make sure you get the help you need from your ordeal. Just tell the healers and Aurors everything you remember and I mean everything. Hold nothing back. They need to know so we can get the person who tried to kill you with that book. Do not forget to ask for your parents as soon as you can. Do you understand?"
She just stared at him for a moment as he waited for a response before, she jerkily nodded. Harry noted that Ron's ears were turning red and mentally sighed at how easily anger rose in the boy. An annoyance, but perhaps it could be used to strengthen him. "I am calling you Miss Weasley, to both set a layer between us at this time so that the Auror's don't dig too deep and realise I know facts that could hurt you. There is also the fact that you have never given me permission to call you anything else. We can talk about it later, but for now, you need me to act like this."
Harry then turned to Ron, "She needs your support, not your anger. Imagine how you would feel if you were stuck in a box filled with spiders for hours at a time. That would be nothing compared to how your sister feels right now. Keep calm, just answer the questions the Auror's ask and don't exaggerate or lie. With what happened and who is involved, we have to make sure we are protected. Now, we don't have long, so I need to prepare myself."
With that, Harry smiled gently to the children and began to walk towards the bed that had been seared into his memory.
Nothing in his experience had prepared him for the pain of seeing Her rigid form lying there.
He took a few deep breaths to regain his composure as the ache in his chest faded a touch, quickly he removed the sword from his back and stuck it under Her bed, using a sticking charm to hold it in place.
With the sword concealed, he sat in the chair that waited beside Her. Gathering what courage he had remaining, he hesitatingly, reached out a hand towards the one resting at her side, the cool touch of her rigid skin seemed to hammer his reality into place. Before now, he could have lied to himself and pretended that this was all a weird injury inflicted dream or force vision, one where he was willing to lie to himself over the details. But that sensation was something he would never forget. Where the image had been seared into his memory, the sensation of that cool touch had been branded upon his very soul.
He never wanted to feel it again, but he couldn't let go.
It took him three attempts before he managed to squeeze the words past his lips. "Hello Hermione," He chuckled slightly, "You have no idea how happy I am to see you. It... feels like years since I saw you last. I'm sorry I haven't come as much as I could, but you will be back with us very soon. Snape should be in the final stages of the potion as we speak. I know you are vaguely aware of what is happening, like a waking dream where you can't move and everything feels like it's wrapped in cotton wool, difficult to think beyond the basics. It's very much like being incredibly and dangerously drunk by the way."
He flicked his resistant wand to the mirror on the side table, temporarily enchanting it to play gentle music to lift the oppressive quiet. He blinked in surprise at the music, a memory of the first opera he had attended with Dooku, "There, something to alleviate the boredom for the last few hours, something to focus upon." He turned back to watch her, the moonlight bleaching the colour from the room.
"I have so many things to tell you, to show you. I can open your eyes to the truth of the galaxy, but I will not force you. Should you be willing, I shall guide and hold your hand as you explore. I will teach you everything I know, should you but ask me."
He leant forward to gently kiss her on the forehead, before he sat back down, never stopping from stroking her hand. "You're safe now. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I will not lose you again."
He finally allowed himself to relax for a moment, finally rest. Then, the tears began to fall, as understanding finally settled as to what he had lost in his long dreamed of return.
His friends, his Children, his work. Riyo. Ahsoka. Xora.
Even his original Hermione.
They were all gone.
This Hermione had the potential to be Her again, but he would change things, had changed things already, the ripples of those events would affect her, change her. Would this Hermione even love him? Would he come to love her as he did before? Would even that be taken from him?
Hearing sharp footsteps, he gathered his mental defences, reinforcing them against the trauma he was going through. He could mourn for them all later, now he had to be strong. Repressing his emotions was unhealthy but necessary right now. He could break down later in private.
A necessary evil… there were a lot of those recently.
Madam Pomfrey put a hand on his shoulder to support the young boy. "Don't worry Mr Potter, she will be fine. Professor Snape will be on his way within the next few hours to deliver the potion. I'll allow you to assist if you wish?
Harry hid his face as he wiped his tears before he smiled at her, "Thank you."
She nodded at the sincerity in his few words. Before blinking in surprise as if she had forgotten that she had called them, whilst the floo connection in her room flared to life and a few healers began to enter the hospital. Minutes later a group of Auror's arrived in their long coats and motioned for Madam Pomfrey to talk to them.
Harry smirked and squeezed Hermione's hand as he began to walk towards them as he noticed Madam Pomfrey getting agitated at their questions as she fought the enchantments wrapped around her mind to not think about certain matters.
"Gentlemen, lady," he nodded to the three Auror's, "Might I see your credentials?"
The female auror nodded at him, "Of course, I'm Senior Auror Savage, she showed him her badge in her wallet, before pointing to her two male companions beside her, "These are Auror's Proudfoot and Robards."
Harry nodded to them and examined their badges. Once he was done, she smiled and continued, "We were summoned to investigate a crime, but no-one seemed able to explain what it was, just that you were involved sir."
Harry frowned at her, "Sir?"
She looked confused for a moment, "Would you prefer Mr Potter? It's just a matter of politeness and respect to your family for what you did for us all. I apologise for any confusion."
Harry shook his head, "No. It's alright, I just wasn't expecting it, that and you haven't tried to look at my scar like your colleagues."
She chuckled as she glanced at her now embarrassed colleagues, "It's just a scar, a badge of honour for what you survived. Why would I bring attention to the physical mark that reminds you that you lost your parents that night? On that note, please accept my condolences for their loss, they were good people."
Harry blinked at her, his Force abilities telling him she was honest with her words and attitude, "You're the first adult to say something like that, so thank you." He sighed as he looked over the ward. "How much do you know of what's happened recently."
She glanced around at the ward, "Imagine I know nothing at all Sir. Please hold one second, Proudfoot," she turned and pointed at her fellow Auror as she gave him his instructions, "Get a report from the healers about all these children and… is that a ghost? Bloody hell. Just get started on that and I want a list of the victims of whatever's happened."
She turned to the other man and continued as Proudfoot left to get started, "Robards, contact Scrimgeour and the Boss. Make sure they both know we have what looks like a collection of victims of a serial or mass criminal, also request that they send an Unspeakable if they can get one. Once done, secure this area from outside intervention. No-one gets access unless approved by myself."
Nodding as the men went to start their work, she turned back to Harry and motioned to an empty bed and chair, pulling a muggle notepad and pen from her pocket, "Sit down Sir, whichever is more comfortable for you, I'll take the other."
Harry sat in the chair and Savage sat on the bed, "Now. Can you start with the beginning of what happened and we'll try and work out what crimes have been occurring without notifying our department? I'll interrupt if I need clarification."
Harry internally grinned as he nodded to her, "Of course Senior Auror, I'll go through chronologically as far as I can remember. So... I think the start of what I am aware of would be the planting of a dangerous and enchanted item in the belongings of the daughter of the Head of a Ministry Department."
Dumbledore was frowning as he entered the Hospital Wing with the Weasley's in tow. The School wards were still settling upon him once again and he had missed his 'guests' arrivals.
Nothing had gone right this night. Harry had fought the basilisk as planned, rescuing the Weasley girl in doing so. Lockhart had been broken by the curse on his position, Albus had hoped it would have happened faster than normal, but there was no use crying over spilt potion.
But now? Now, he had Auror's digging into things better left untouched. He had been careful with his enchantments; no news of importance should have reached those who could interfere. Now he had to use precious favours and influence to cover details up.
"Mr Dumbledore. I was unaware that you were on the grounds." The female Auror before him stated as she turned to see who was entering the ward, a quick and heated glance at the apologetic Robards who was following the group as they entered explained who had told the Auror to try and stop Albus from entering his hospital wing.
It took the time of a blink for him to speed his perceptions and review the woman's records in his mental stronghold through his talents with Occlumency, a fact that he was very grateful for when he recognised who he was dealing with.
Victoria Savage nee Forest, Half-Blood Hufflepuff, class of 1970-77. Alastor Moody has gone on record as being happy to work with her, her parents had been his mentors. Bribery was not an option. She had put a member of the Wizengamot in St Mungo's for attempted bribery of an officer of the Law and resisting arrest, the first time that had happened. The man still whimpered at the sight of her.
Threats were also not an option; they merely caught her attention and then you would also end up in St Mungo's for threatening an Officer of the Law and resisting arrest. Getting her placed on a desk job just gave her time to dig deeper and if she took after her parents, firing her would only remove any control others had on her and her activities.
Actually, attempting to kill her would just make things personal and that would be unpleasant for everyone involved. There were at least three suspected Death Eaters who died from natural causes in their sleep which were believed to be her work, as well as one death by beheading, but there was no proof she had been involved. And he had looked hard for anything.
To be fair, the beheading may have actually been natural causes with the Macnair family involved. Their dedication to sorting family feuds internally alongside their unhealthy fascination with axes had resulted with similar instances in the past.
As the world returned to its normal speed, he gave her a grandfatherly smile, "Headmaster Dumbledore, if you would Auror Savage, an unexpected surprise to see you here. I believed that you were posted in major crimes?"
She frowned at him for a moment, "I am indeed Headmaster, in fact, that's why I'm here." She then glanced past him and smiled gently at the Weasley's, "Arthur. Sorry, Mr Weasley, I'm afraid that two of your children have been the victims of several crimes. I was just about to send someone to your home to find you and bring you to Saint Mungo's."
Molly then cut in with terror in her voice, "What?! Two?! What's happened? Is Ginny alright?"
Auror Savage raised a hand and motioned for the panicking woman to calm down, "Mrs Weasley, your daughter is alive and with us right now. We need your authorisation to take her to St Mungo's for a thorough check, she's been through a lot and needs more help than she can get here."
Dumbledore frowned at this, "I'm sure Poppy can handle anything that's come up, I…"
Savage glared at him and cut him off with a tone that seemed to freeze the very air, "I'm afraid that this is not the case. Whilst Madame Pomfrey is a fine nurse, she lacks the knowledge and experience required. I would ask politely that you please do not interrupt us again. This is a matter between the Auror's office and the family of a Ministry official, it is now outside of Hogwarts authority."
She turned to focus back on the Weasleys before clicking her fingers as if just remembering something and turned back to Dumbledore, "My apologies, as the Headmaster, I regret to inform you that we have transferred Mediwitch Poppy Pomfrey to the spell damage at St Mungo's due to signs of mental tampering having occurred to her. St Mungo's has kindly offered to provide a replacement Mediwitch until she has been cleared, they'll be reviewing all her files with Auror assistance to try and understand why and when someone would have done such a terrible thing."
Dumbledore's eyes widened just a touch before he regained control, "I am appalled that such a matter has occurred. Please let the Aurors know that they will have my complete support to find any trace of an attacker upon her. I dread to imagine what could have occurred whilst I've been forbidden from my post."
Auror Savage nodded at that and gave him a tight smile, "Indeed. I imagine that will require your direct focus right now, so I will not hold you up any longer. With what we've found so far, I'm going to talk to Scrimgeour about being assigned to that investigation."
Dumbledore nodded as he smiled, continuing his grandfather routine with her, "I am sure your skills won't be needed, but we would be grateful to have them. If you would excuse me, I need to see what other damage may have occurred during my absence."
Savage watched as he backed off and returned to his office, she imagined that he would be hurrying the moment he was out of sight and summoning his deputy for an update alongside warning his pet Death Eater that the Aurors would be around. Turning back to Arthur, she smiled gently at him, "Sorry about that Mr Weasley, let's get you updated and then we can see what can be done about getting your daughter back to you as quickly as possible."
Harry grinned from his corner as he watched Dumbledore hurry away, it would put him on edge but it would distract him from looking too deep into Harry whilst Dumbledore scrambled to hide his secrets from any investigation that might occur. Now, he needed to deal with another loose thread before the opportunity escaped him.
He quickly hurried away with the sword once more on his back, trying to reach the route Malfoy would be taking as he exited the castle.
Finding a quiet spot near the entrance hall without paintings, he stepped into an alcove and put the sword to one side as he waited for the sharp crack of the man's shoes against the stone floor to get nearer.
Malfoy was too tainted to be worth bringing to heel, the slave brand on his arm too ingrained into his mind-set. Strike not at the man then, but at his family. Harry wondered how Narcissa would take Malfoys actions with her son in the firing line? It'll give him the chance to acquire Dobby later, and much cleaner than last time.
He leant against the cold stone of the wall and tapped his chin in thought, No. Dobby was Malfoys slave, he would not allow that to continue.
Finally hearing the sharp steps of the man's shoes, Harry let him just pass the alcove before he stepped out of the shadows and called out to his prey, "Mr Malfoy!"
Turning, Malfoy's sneer grew to near that of Snape on an average day, how Harry strangely missed that brutes' mannerisms. "Mr Potter, what do you want? I've urgent business that I must attend."
Harry smirked at him. "Oh, I know. But we have business of a much more urgent matter to resolve."
"And what would that be?" the elder Malfoy demanded as he maintained his sneer, a look that Harry now recognised Draco had attempted to replicate many times over the years.
"A few trifles," Harry said as he waved away the aggression as if it were irrelevant, "I would appreciate it if you were to give your son some much needed lessons on manners and etiquette. I also want you to leave the board of governors without making a stink about it and you will support the Muggle Protection act as it regards the muggles. I don't care about family heirlooms and the like, so you can resist that part. Oh, and I am in need of a House Elf, yours would do nicely, I think. Call it a gift to begin smoothing over issues between us."
Lucius chuckled darkly, covering his rage at the child's blatant arrogance and demands, "And why should I do anything of the sort?"
Harry smirked and moved to stand in a posture, ready to fight if required, a posture that caused Lucius to frown as he was sure he recognised it from somewhere. "Several reasons." He began ticking off said reasons using his fingers.
"One, I have secured memories of you placing a certain cursed artefact within Ginevra Weasleys books. A Penseive and Veritaserum should ensure that is looked at properly in a court of law, if not the court of public opinion. An item, a great honour and a display of trust that I know for a fact was given to you for safe keeping. Perhaps it was an attempted assassination via Slytherin's Monster of the Boy-Who-Lived, the enemy of your... disavowed master. And if not me, then perhaps... Susan Bones, niece of the head of the DMLE; the Weasleys, political opponents of yours; various children of Death Eaters and many more."
"Two, I have just had to kill the afore-mentioned sixty-foot basilisk that your actions released upon the school. A relic of the Founders, one which I could discuss matters with about its creator directly. You forced me to kill a unique source of information, ignoring its true purpose or military applications." Harry snarled slightly with his next words, "You made me kill something of mine."
His snarl shifted into a genial smile once more, "Three, I'm sure Rita Skeeter would love a personal interview about my recent adventures, especially the chance to hear my unbiased views about certain sections of society and their actions. I'm sure there are plenty of records for such a large sum of galleons being spent upon a team's worth of new brooms, then the sudden… donation of such items to the Quidditch team that your son suddenly became a member of. How… disappointing, I had expected more subtlety from one such as yourself."
Harry chuckled slightly and continued, "Four, I could always explain to dear Narcissa exactly the danger you knowingly placed your son in. I imagine her anger would be something to see. Bella was like that, to see prim and proper Cissy follow her path... Malfoy by marriage, Black by blood. The mental image alone does wonders at getting the old blood pumping doesn't it?" He looked up at Lucius in the eye and smirked.
"And finally, five, because you bear the Dark Mark and I said so."
Lucius looked down at the boy before him and felt his blood freeze at the comments he had made. Too much, he knew too much, but was it a bluff? Reaching for his wand, for a split second he pondered killing the boy. But the look in his eyes. He knew and was waiting for Lucius to make the first move.
Drawing the wand from its sheathe, he held it ready. "I will need proof you are who you claim to be."
Harry snorted in amusement as Lucius' wand snapped up to begin casting, but he was too slow. A flick of the boy's hand and Lucius impacted against the wall behind him. His bones creaking at the pressure exerted upon them. He blinked to find a silver blade with a slight green and oily sheen to its surface floating before his face, the rubies faintly glowing with the raw power flooding through the blade.
The Potter boy was standing a safe distance away, looking out of a window to the moonlit grounds below.
"Really Lucius? We have to play this game? Let me explain something to you." Potter didn't turn from his view but Lucius knew he was smiling from the tone in the boys voice, "I am not in the business of threats, if I promise something, it will happen. You may have been of use to me once, you may be again, but your son? His behaviour so far has been appalling and he relies upon your power to protect him. How long do you expect him to survive amongst MY House without your power behind him?"
He waved a hand towards the pinned man who was having trouble breathing with his ribs compressed as they were, "Oh, you could withdraw him from Hogwarts, send him to Durmstrang, but no-one would treat him with the respect he feels he deserves and you'll have the same problems, if not worse, they would eat him alive. Never mind the stigma of studying there in such a culture as Britain. Beauxbatons? I'm sure the return of the Malfoys to their ancestral homelands would be a matter of interest to certain factions, how long do you think he would last there? Months? Weeks? Would he even make it that long? No, he can go nowhere else without showing weakness or being slaughtered like a worm."
Potter turned to smile at the man. A smile that haunted Lucius' dreams still to this day. "So. I expect an answer by midnight tomorrow, no longer." Summoning the blade back to his hand he returned it to under his robes and began to walk away, letting Lucius fall to his knees as he took a deep breath.
Harry turned to look at Lucius with a raised eyebrow. The House-Elf suddenly standing before his Master.
Lucius removed a glove before throwing it to the Elf's feet. "As your master, I free you of your bindings to my House. You now belong to him."
Dobby's eyes followed the long pale finger to see Harry Potter. Smiling he gathered up the glove and offered it to his new master. Taking it, Harry felt the House Elf's magic spark and meet his own deep well of power. Something frayed within the Elf settled and Dobby's posture straightened slightly as he shivered at the sensation.
"An excellent choice." With a smirk, Harry threw the glove back to Lucius. "Welcome home Lucius. Expect my call."
Lucius shakily bowed before he retreated from the school grounds, Harry waited, a single finger motioning for the elf's silence until he could see the man in the distance, hurrying to leave the grounds below before turning to smile at Dobby.
"Harry Potter freed Dobby!" said the elf shrilly, now free to speak, gazing up at Harry with awe, the moonlight from the window reflected in his orb-like eyes. "Harry Potter is Dobby's Master now!"
"It was the least I could do, Dobby," said Harry, grinning from his memories of the energetic little thing. "I have some rules for you which we will discuss later. Just promise never to try and save my life again without discussing the matter with myself."
The elf's ugly brown face split suddenly into a wide, toothy smile.
"Now, I have work for you. I want as much information as you can on the Malfoys. I'm sure that you were told to never speak of such matters, therefore I would appreciate if you would write everything down and give me the information on the train back to London. Anything you can provide will be helpful in protecting us from them. Oh! And I require you to handle all my food and drink needs whilst I remain in this school, the same will go for Hermione Granger."
The Elf nodded energetically, "Dobby can do. Dobby will do!"
"Excellent," Harry smiled, "When I've returned to Privet Drive, I want you to wait until I'm alone in my room at night and we will discuss matters further. That is, unless I call for you before then."
With a bow and a pop, the Elf vanished, leaving Harry to return to the hospital wing to await Snape's potion.
Hermione blinked as the potion began its work. Some strange classical style of music echoed around the room, her lungs filled to release the scream held within, but it escaped as a whimper as she smelt Harry's scent beside her, the warmth of his hand around hers.
Harry smiled at her as she slowly turned to look at him, pulling herself up to a sitting position, "Are you okay? Sorry, that's a stupid question. I'm here if you need anything. Do you... remember anything of what happened?"
She looked at him and he watched the colours dull in her eyes as she remembered her experience as if she were still there, the moment burnt into her memory. "A strange smell, musty and old, almost spicy, but... dry. Then a flash of light catching something golden in my mirror before it felt so cold, then it became dull and numb."
"I couldn't smell or taste anything, there was no sensation from my skin." She glanced at him for a moment before focusing on her hands once more, the fingers never stopping at feeling things in her grasp, "I could only see a grey mist to start with until I began to see other things as I imagined things or hallucinated. I could only just hear things, it was immensely dulled though, like hearing things underwater. You know things are happening but you can't hear what exactly is being said. I could recognise voices, but not the words."
She bowed her head and focused nearly entirely upon her hands, constantly moving and entwining with each other, rubbing the cloth within her grasp. "I could hear you, not what you were saying, but just your voice. It was calming, it grounded me. It kept me sane in the... fog. I drifted in my mind, running over memories, good and bad. I went through my favourite films to try and keep focused, but they didn't really help and began to blend together."
She took a deep breath before continuing, her mind filing away details in her mental library to review later, "I then tried mental exercises. That took off the edge of the experience, something I spotted in an old book I skimmed earlier in the year, 'Clear your mind'. But you can only do that for so long. After a while you can't tell if you're thinking, dreaming or remembering, it all runs together into a mess. I think it must be like being in a coma or sensory deprivation, but I didn't hear the rush of blood in my ears or my breathing or heartbeat. It felt like torture. Trapped in my body, the silence only broken by hearing your own words in your head is not the same, I promise you that. When it was quiet, I wanted to just... scream... to hear my own voice. To hear anything."
She looked at him again, fire now ignited in her eyes. "There are three things you can do for me right now. First, did you stop it? Second, what's happened with school?"
"To answer your questions. One, yes, it's dead now as is the thing controlling it. I'll explain everything later." He gave her a knowing smile and nodded towards the aurors talking to the other victims, "Two, I have notes from all the classes for you to go through, I'll help you revise later. I need to raise the bar a lot at the rate things are going, so it will help me too. We can talk more later on that." He paused for a second in thought before shrugging and looking at her "The third?"
With now watery eyes, she looked down at her hands and then back up at him, the pain and anguish there for him to see. "Can you hug me? I need to feel safe. To... feel."
Harry gathered her gently within his arms and stroked her hair. "You never have to worry about asking me for a hug Hermione. Never."
Dumbledore sat back in the headmaster's chair, fingers steepled before him in thought, his mind rushing through tonight's events. Luckily, Minerva's report had told him nothing else had gone off script. Severus had whined about his issues once again, but there was nothing to worry about in the Snake Pit.
Unfortunately, things had changed in regards to Potter, he could feel it. At the feast, the boy appeared surer of himself and held a greater focus than before Dumbledore had been forced from his stronghold. He had been tempted to use Legilimancy on him, but held back, had the boy been possessed then it could have been disastrous. No, he needed to make a few tests first to find out, then adapt the plan as the results suggest.
Maybe, he could say a few words to provoke Severus into trying? If the boy was possessed, then Severus would likely be able to hide his true allegiances, especially from a young Tom. An older Tom would be more of a problem, but he doubted the fragment within the boy was the cause of the changes.
The details he had already acquired told him that the book was likely to be a Horcrux. An impressive feat for Tom to have achieved at such a young age, but understandable with how hungry he had been for forbidden knowledge. Not even Gellert had dared to even attempt to make such an item, but then again, Gellert had planned to complete his goals and leave the world in the hands of his heirs.
But how many Horcruxes did Tom make? The furthest any other had dared was three. Any more tore both sanity and humanity from the ritualist. They would become inhuman in appearance and manner, their minds snapping under the strain as their magic warred with their flesh as it tried to take on the shape of the fractured soul within. Each anchor tearing more away until little remained of the original individual. It was obvious in hindsight knowing that Tom had performed such actions, especially if you knew about the physical and sanity corrupting aspects as well. But if Tom had forced himself past that known limit, well he was the only one who would know how far he went.
For the rare few, enlightenment could be achieved through insanity.
He shuddered at the unwanted memory of some of the things that had once been people who had tried to walk that path. They had been nightmares to fight in his youth, and the things they summoned were at least as dangerous, but with age and experience, there were few that lived long enough to become a threat to him. That didn't mean that they were a pleasant memory, nor that they were gone.
Resting his elbow on his desk, he rubbed the tip of his nose in thought as he banished the memories once more.
Sighing, he nodded to himself, it may be time to begin preparing the spare. Better to have a backup plan, should it be needed.
He cast a Patronus, "Nous. Ginevra Weasley, Mind Healing for possession by dark artefact. See that you are assigned to her case. Ensure her future compliance. Investigate her memories of a diary, see if you can pinpoint its introduction to her life and report your findings."
Another flick created a second Patronus, "Aegle. Poppy Pomfrey, Mental Coercion. Potion Testing results are to be inconclusive due to traces of medical potions in her system. Imply possible self-administration and addiction of medical potions and their ingredients. Suggest these may have provided the results of mental coercion."
The third flick produced another silvery form, "Fletcher. Acquire illegal drugs and paraphernalia, focus on materials acquirable by a healer. Hide them at the personal Estate of Poppy Pomfrey. Casual checks are to miss them, but to be found with a decent search. I will reimburse your costs as usual."
A final flick formed a fourth, "'Derkaz. Possession of Minor' case at Hogwarts. Contain information. Ensure investigating Aurors are allies. 'Mental coercion upon a healer' case at Hogwarts. Ensure investigating Aurors can be guided and ensure full investigation of her personal quarters and her private estate."
Watching each of the four nod and disappear southwards, he looked at the bird on the stand. The death glare he received in response made him chuckle.
"Come now old friend, you know this is necessary." A sneering tone entered his voice, one full of hate at the words he would utter, one Severus Snape would have been proud of, "For the Greater Good of course."
The bird flinched and looked away, unable to maintain eye contact.
"I thought you would understand old friend, this is almost the same as when you came to me over Gellert. I'm just clearing the board earlier to minimise our losses." He sighed at that, "Never mind, you were always too soft for the necessities of the world. It's why I do all the dirty work for you."
The school year was rapidly ending and everyone had long fallen asleep. The students would be leaving soon, so Harry had few chances to attempt this without being caught. Using his long-missed Invisibility Cloak and the opportunity provided by his latest bout of insomnia, Harry now stood before the door to the Room of Requirement in the very early hours of the morning.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed it open to find himself in looking at his private office on the Hermione.
A stack of datapads waited for him, as always, on his desk and his favourite coat rested over the back of the incredibly comfortable chair. The armoured window framed the world of Yushan below and the chamber was lit only by the reflected light, the deep shadows hid the details of the room from him, but alongside the almost ingrained scent of oil and ozone from one of his Children, he could smell Xora's perfume floating in the room.
"This is stupid." Came her voice from her favourite seat in the corner. Leaning into the light, she frowned at him, her green scaled skin shining as the light caught it. He smiled as he watched her brush the lock of hair that always fell into her eyes back behind her ear.
"Xora." passed his lips in a reverent whisper.
She stood and walked towards him, looking down at his pre-teen form, frowning in her annoyance. "Harry. This isn't healthy."
"I don't care." Harry growled, "Everything has been taken from me, let me at least have this."
Xora snorted as she ran her hands through his hair and watched him close his eyes at the familiar contact, "That's a steaming pile of Bantha poodoo and you know it. We both know that I'm not real." She took his hand and placed it over her heart. "I am a creation of this room, I cannot leave this room, I have no heart to beat, no thoughts of my own. I am your perception of Xora, I know only what you do, no more. But even then, I know this is a bad idea. So, do you."
Harry growled and snatched his hand back from her, the rooms contents vibrating in his anger as he struggled to speak his mind, "I want... I need..."
Xora stepped close and pulled him into her arms, stroking his hair as she gently held him, "I know. I also know that you cannot wallow in the past, don't let this fester and twist you. Don't become like Snape, unable to see beyond his pain and memories."
Harry chuckled as he held her close, struggling to hear a heartbeat as he rested his ear against her breast. "No, I have no intention of being like him." He sighed as he gave up on his attempts to hear what isn't there. "I also can't promise not to come back."
Xora sighed and kissed the top of his head, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
Harry growled, "Don't quote that bastard, please."
Xora smirked, "I'll quote whoever I want, especially when the words have merit. Your parents would agree with me, all three of them." She gave him a hard squeeze and stepped back, brushing away the stray tears from his cheeks, "There is something I want you to promise me."
"What is it?" Harry asked as he gently touched the hand resting on his cheek.
"Live." she whispered to him, "Love and be happy. I haven't been born yet and won't be for a long time yet. I don't want you to miss any happiness because you are pinning for me and ignore what you wished for."
Harry snorted in amusement at that, before sighing, "Do you love me?"
Xora smiled and ran a finger over his lips, "Yes, even with how creepy the age difference is here."
Harry chuckled, "How long will you love me?"
Xora kissed his forehead, "Always."
Harry frowned at that, "That wasn't what I said."
She smiled at him, "I know, but you know it's the truth, even if I didn't say the words before." She turned him around and pushed him to the door, "Your final question will be, will I ever see you again?"
Harry's eyes widened in fear of her next words and began to struggle at the edge of the open door, "No. Don't say it."
Xora leant in and whispered her answer in his ear, "In this life or the next, I will wait for you to come back to me. Even if you have to take the long way around."
With a push, he fell to the cold stone floor of the seventh-floor corridor, "No!" He cried out as the door slammed shut behind him. He silently screamed and raged against the now blank stone wall, until his throat was hoarse and the tears would no longer fall, blood stained the stone as his fingertips bled from scratching at the immovable barrier before him.
He finally stopped with his forehead against the blood-stained wall and rubbed at his throat, pausing as the sounds of his rough breathing returned as Dobby stood there with a glass of water. Nodding thankfully at the small elf, Harry winced as he took the glass and drank the contents, sighing in relief as the pain faded. He glanced down at his fingertips to see them red and raw, but no longer bleeding.
Dobby frowned at the wall and with a flick of a finger, the blood was gone. "Master needs to rest now. Master Harry Potter has great things to do."
Harry chuckled and passed back the glass, "Thank you Dobby." He sighed and nodded, "You're right. You're both right. I have work to do." He carefully stood and rested a hand against the cold stone, "I miss you. I miss you all." Closing his eyes, he whispered a promise to Xora, "In this life and the next. I will return to you."
He closed his eyes and let Abaddon guide the pain and ache back into their metaphysical bottles, they knew it was dangerous to keep these feelings shoved away, but Harry had work to do. Work that couldn't be ignored.
Out of everyone in the castle, he had only sensed a few that held the potential to wield the Force alongside their magic. Many would be beyond his direct reach for the moment, but a few could be brought into the fold. With adequate care and attention, he could form his own faction in the school, years ahead of schedule. Lieutenant's to teach and guide others, to expand and win the war that never truly ended with his Parents sacrifice.
This time, he would rule behind the scenes. He had no interest in being bound to a desk for the rest of his life. With a deep sigh, the rising ambition and emotions once more, fell away to leave the core of the pain filled young man bound within the flesh of a boy.
He turned and began to walk back towards the tower and the bed that waited for him, pausing at the corner to glance back at the empty corridor. "Be careful what you wish for," he said as he turned away and continued his journey, "you might just get it."
It was the start of the last week of the school year and Harry knew he couldn't delay this any longer. He raised his fist and politely knocked on the door, waiting for the brogue of his favourite member of staff to respond with a simple command, "Come."
Smiling he entered and looked over the room, it was as he remembered it, but with a few less photos and other memorabilia on the walls than his fifth year.
She looked up at him with a faint smile, "Ah, Mr Potter," she pointed to a comfortable chair to one side, "Take a seat, I'll be with you shortly, I just need to finish this. Please help yourself to tea and biscuits whilst you wait."
Harry nodded politely at her and sat as instructed, pouring both of them a cup each and settled back to wait.
Less than a minute later she signed the document and moved to sit in the chair opposite him, smiling and nodding in thanks for the waiting cup of tea. "Thank you, Mr Potter, how may I help?"
"Not a problem Professor," He waited for her to take a sip and put the cup down before continuing, "I was hoping to change my electives for next year."
"Oh," McGonagall said with an eyebrow raised in curiosity, "And what changes were you hoping to make Mr Potter?"
Harry nodded, "I'd like to drop divination and take up ancient runes instead, I am also considering Arithmancy but I need to do more research on that before making a decision."
She nodded at that, "I would not complain at the change. Might I enquire as to your reasons for the request?"
He smiled at her before taking a sip, "While Care of Magical Creatures is useful to me, Divination I imagine will not be. I was convinced at the time to take the option as it was easy. This year has proven to me that I must prepare myself for what is to come as my enemies will not play nice if I lack knowledge, they will use that against me."
McGonagall nodded as she listened to his reasoning, "I approve Mr Potter, it is good to see you finally growing into the young man you are capable of being. Your mother would have been proud that you are taking your education seriously." She drew her wand and made a series of flicks and jabs towards her desk.
Within moments, a set of papers flew over and began ordering themselves before Harry, "These are the forms you require; I'll need them back before you go home for the holidays. If you don't, I cannot promise there will be space in the classes for you."
He smiled and nodded to her as he gathered them up and placed them in his bag, "You'll get them tonight Professor."
Harry reached out to the Force once more in confusion as he found himself at another dead end, it had been too long since he was last here, his trained ability to find his way was greatly out of practice. It always took him a week or two to get used to the new locations. If there was one thing he could have happily lived without, it would have been the way sections of Hogwarts moved around without warning. Sentient or otherwise, the building was a menace with changing its layout.
At least the classes tended to stick to the same areas of the school each year and didn't wander too far.
Shaking his head at his wandering thoughts, he looked up to find himself at a crossroads in the corridors, three doors to his right was a classroom he recognised. Finally! Now, he could get to lunch.
From behind him, he heard soft steps walking towards him, he watched as a very recognisable pale blonde with radish earrings walked past him, "Hello Harry Potter."
He allowed himself a smile at the airy and faintly Irish lilt of Luna's voice, something he had strangely missed over the years, "Hello Luna..." he began to reply before realising that he shouldn't know the first-year girl, he wouldn't know her until his fifth year, "Bugger."
Luna stopped and smiled gently at him, "Don't worry, I know you're not the Harry from before, you're the Old Harry. I can see your names echo in the burning stars." She stared at him with a disturbing intensity, "Harry Potter. Evan Jade. Vasuki. Darth Abaddon. Adas." She placed a hand over his heart and looked at him sadly, "Harry, son of Ademar Dooku."
Harry smiled at her with a flicker of pain at the last name, the name he kept in his heart, "It will indeed Luna. I owe you from then."
"Yes, you have, do and will." She sighed and stepped back, her fingers clenched tight at the fading warmth, "We are bound, you and I for forever and never. I can see only fragments of that story, but the echo of that song has been beating in my heart for as long as I remember. There are three debts you owe me. You have paid one already, you will pay another in the future."
He nodded and asked the question, "The third?"
"At the moment of my choosing, you shall give me something most wonderful and painful." she answered with a cold certainty.
He focused his entire being upon her in that moment and his eyes seemed to burn with their intensity, "I won't hurt you Luna."
She reached up and stroked his cheek, "You already have, you already will. It is a rare path where you do not."
He closed his eyes and sighed, "What is the third debt?"
She stretched up on her toes and whispered in his ear, "A kiss from Harry Potter. A kiss as if I were one of those in your heart."
He smiled at her, "You are already in my heart Luna."
She shook her head and smiled knowingly at him, "Not like that I'm not. Now go. She's waiting for you."
With a twirl and a small wave, she was gone and Harry just blinked at where she had been. "Well... Sithspit. This is going to be interesting."
Harry finished his page as he was rocked gently by the motion of the train; the carriage was a fond memory of his early years before things turned dark. He placed his bookmark in the book to keep his spot and looked over the others for a moment before nodding to himself as he decided to pre-empt issues in the next few years. "Hermione, could you do me a favour please?"
At her curious look, he smiled, "Ron and I need a quick chat, a private one." He raised a finger to stop Ron's questions as he continued, "Do you think you could go and find Neville and bring him here in about ten minutes or so?"
Looking between them, Hermione seemed curious but nodded, "Sure, I'll get him for you. Ten Minutes?"
Harry smiled at her, noticing a faint pink tinge to her cheeks as he did so, Force he had been so blind back then, although to be fair, Hermione could have given him a lap dance during the tournament and he'd not have known how to react, he blinked at the image of the older Hermione doing that as it came to mind and managed to bring his blush back under control after just a second of mental wandering, "Just ten minutes. Thank you, Hermione."
Once she was gone, he flicked his wand at the door a few times and it sealed with a squelch as the sound outside dulled and the glass darkened.
He smiled gently at the confused and worried boy. "You're not in trouble Ron, I just have a few questions for you, they're rather important, so I need you to think carefully before you answer, Okay?"
Ron nodded, "Yes, wh..."
"No Ron," Harry interrupted, "I have questions, you have answers, do you understand?"
Ron frowned as the tips of his ears began to turn red as he nodded, "Yes."
"Good," Harry smiled at Ron, getting him to relax with a gentle nudge of the Force, "before your first year, how many times had you gone to Kings Cross to see your brothers off to school?" He pulled a sheet of parchment from his bag and a self-inking quill he had acquired.
Ron scrunched his nose up in confusion as he pondered the question. "Um, for as long as I can remember, I remember Charlie's third year, he was so happy to be doing Care of Magical Creatures and was going to try for the Quidditch team, he had his broom with him."
Harry hummed in thought for a moment, "And how old is your eldest brother?"
"Bill? He's what..." Ron frowned as he started working it out on his fingers, "Twenty-two now."
"And how did you usually get to the Platform?" Harry queried as he noted a few of these details down on the parchment.
"Well," Ron continued, "we used the Floo or apparated a few times if we went with the Diggory's. Why?"
Ignoring his question with a slight smile, Harry continued, "Do you know if your mum finished her NEWTS at Hogwarts?"
"Yeah, we've all heard the stories more than once." Ron gave a slightly disgusted look at that memory, "Mum and dad were in the same year at school, they got together in their last year, you need your NEWTS to be head of a department, so if he did, she must have as well."
Harry quickly did a bit of maths on the parchment as he set up the timeline, "So, your mum went for 7 years and Bill started in... 1982?" At Ron's nod he continued, "So another 9 years there. No breaks other than between your mum going and your brothers starting. 16 years, and in all that time, you never went through the muggle side until your first year?"
Ron scrunched up his face in deep thought before shaking his head, "Not that I remember."
Harry put away the parchment and quill, sitting back in a relaxed posture, "So... Why did you go that route that year? What made it different, so important that you broke years of habit?" Harry raised a hand to stop Ron answering, "Yes, I know that was your first year, but why not do the same with your brothers first years?"
"I..." Ron's slight anger faded in the face of his confusion, trying to remember why they had gone that way, "I don't know."
Harry nodded as he sensed Hermione enter the end of the carriage, waiting for the ten minutes to end before she returned, the gentle and timid shadow of Neville's presence behind her.
"Okay last thing." Harry said as he leant forward, becoming Ron's entire focus as he asked his question, "This isn't a question that I want an answer to for now, give it to me when I see you after the holiday. Now, I have changed Ron, the Chamber, rescuing your sister and avenging Hermione made it obvious that I can't afford to slack off any more, I need to be strong, skilled, prepared for what will happen next."
He smiled sadly as Ron nodded along, "So I will be exercising, training and studying a lot from now on, it will be hard work and difficult, but that's my choice. This also means I need to make an attitude change; I will not accept betrayal; I will not forgive those who turn on me or knowingly lie to me. I am also going to try and make friends in other houses. Now, what I want you to think on Ron, is, what do you want?"
He made sure to maintain eye contact with the boy before him, "I remember what you said about the Mirror of Erised. Strength, wealth, power, and prestige? To stand tall and separate to your family? I can help you with those, but it would have to be your choice, your effort, your will to succeed. It would not be easy; it would be a lot of hard work. Think on what you'd fight to protect and think how far you are willing to go in that. My second question is can you handle the changes in me?"
He raised a hand to stop the boy answering, "No. Don't answer either of them now, think on it, because once you give me your answers, that's it, that's what I'll hold you to. Your answer will be a promise to me. Now, you have a lot to think on, why don't you go and spend some time with your brothers, they'll be worried about Ginny and could do with you there with them."
Ron nodded in confusion as well as accepting the Force laden suggestion, leaving a few moments before Hermione and Neville entered the cabin. Harry was sure he'd forgotten something, something important. Ah well, it would come to him later.
Hermione watched as Ron walked away down the corridor rubbing his forehead. "Is he okay?"
Harry smiled at her, "He will be, he just has to think on a few things." Turning to Neville, he smiled gently, "Hello Neville, I have a few questions for you and they might be a bit personal, so if you want Hermione to leave, just say, I'm sure she won't mind giving us some privacy if you do."
Neville glanced at Hermione nervously as he sat opposite to Harry, but shook his head, "It should be fine, thank you."
Harry grinned and patted the seat next to him as he looked at Hermione. "Excellent, now first of all, it might be personal, but why are you using a wand that is fighting you?"
Neville frowned, "What? This is my father's wand; Gran gave it to me to honour their memory."
Harry placed a frown on his face as he looked at the wand, "Honour their memories? I'm sorry Neville, I didn't know your parents were dead."
Neville looked away, "They… They're not. But they might as well be."
Harry looked at him for a moment, "So your grandmother gave you the wand of another wizard whilst they're still alive? No offense Neville, but I really don't like your gran."
Neville snorted at that, a flicker of fire in his eyes before it faded, "She's family, she's all that I have, the rest of them think I'm barely better than a squib."
Harry smirked, "Well I know that to be a lie. You're not a squib Neville, you never were. You merely lack confidence and the right tool," he pointed towards the young boy, "now cast lumos with your wand, think how it feels and what you have to do to cast the spell."
Neville, frowned in confusion but did as he was bid, "Lumos." The light was adequate, but wavered around the edges.
"Here," Harry offered Neville his own wand, "try it, just a Lumos, do exactly the same as with your own wand, see how it feels."
Neville's eyes widened at that in shock, "No. I couldn't."
Both Harry and Hermione blinked in surprise at the vehemence of his denial.
Hermione was the first to ask what was on both their minds, "Why Neville? Why can't you do that?"
Neville looked at them in confusion before realisation appeared in his eyes, "Ah. No-ones told you. Wands are very personal; they are an extension of you and your magic." He gestured to Hermione, "Would you allow a stranger to touch you without permission?"
"Ah." was said in unison by the two muggle raised, Harry nodded in understanding, "A social taboo, let me guess, only family should be allowed to do that?"
Neville nodded, "The only exceptions are healers for their patient's safety, teachers for discipline and within limits and law enforcement for obvious reasons. If someone is arrested or imprisoned, their wands are given to their next of kin to hold until they are released. If that isn't an option, then they are locked and sealed away so that no-one can get to them."
He glanced away out the window, "Many old families keep the wands of their ancestors and check if one responds to a young child rather than acquire a new one. Some believe that they are the previous wielder reborn or are meant to continue the legacy of their predecessor."
Hermione nodded in understanding, Harry distracted by her biting her lips in thought, "That makes much more sense. Thank you, Neville."
Harry smirked at Neville's blush at the compliment, "Yes, thank you Neville. So, your Gran believes that you are meant to follow your fathers' path, that clears up some of my confusion. But I trust you and you need to see what I mean. For... Merlin's sake, you should have seen my meaning in your answer." Harry offered his wand, hilt towards Neville, "I trust you Neville, take it."
Neville couldn't hide his shock as Harry continued to make his offer, a hand raised without thought to take hold of the wand as his lips tried to make a denial. The moment his fingers wrapped around the hilt, he shuddered and blinked, his eyes widened in awe at the sensation coursing through him. This felt right, like the wand belonged in his hand, like it was a part of him, a part that had always been missing. A wind stirred the room and its occupants as their skin tingled as if a storm was building. "Wow," he gasped, and with a wide grin, he pointed the wand upwards and forcefully said "Lumos." His power thundering through him, just as he always did to force a spell to work.
Sensing the rising surge in the Force, Harry's reflexes prevented them from being blinded as his hand snapped out with Force enhanced speed and closed around the tip of the wand. The inhabitants of the cabin stared in shock as it looked like Harry's hand was made of fire as the light shone like the midday sun in summer through his flesh, the bones barely noticeable in the fury of the light within.
Harry hissed at the pain as he struggled to absorb the energies unleashed, yelling "Nox", he forced the magic to cease, but only barely for the wand did not want to obey and Neville did not fight the counter spell. The wand and magic flowing through it, sang joyously in the Force within their grasps, playful and free, in the grip of those meant to use it, to complete its purpose.
"Thank you, Neville, I want you to do me a favour," Harry said as he hid his burnt hand within his robes as he sent the Force through it to speed up his healing, "Keep that wand, I can get another. Don't let your gran know and practice with it, you're using too much power, pull it back to a trickle and then find the balance you need."
"But if she finds out…" Neville stammered in shock and fear.
"That's simple," Harry said as he waved the fear aside, "Just don't tell her, let her see your old one, but use your new wand instead. Perhaps a minor glamour to hide the appearance of the wand, make it look like yours. At least until you're ready to tell her."
He sighed as he looked at Neville, as if wrestling with what he was about to say, "She is sabotaging you Neville, knowingly or unknowingly, she is holding you back. You are much more powerful than others believe."
"But..." Neville began to deny.
"No!" Harry commanded, "No buts Neville. You're strong, your magic cries out to be used and I want to help you achieve the heights you're destined for. Now, I will be doing more intense training next year, I'd like it if you would join me," he nudged Hermione beside him, "both of you. If you thought you were powerful now, then just wait and see what you could become."
Neville began to fold in on himself, his fears and confidence twisting around him, "I don't know Harry, I'm..."
"Neville," Harry interrupted again, "do you trust me?"
"Yes, of course I do!" Neville stated.
Harry smiled at the boy, "Then trust me Neville, what I have planned will give you just the boost you need to become the titan you are meant to be."
"It sounds like you expect fighting." Hermione said as she listened to the meaning hidden behind the words.
Harry nodded to her with a sad smile, "I do."
"I'm not a fighter Harry," Neville denied, "what help could I be in battle? I'm just..."
"Neville. You are just Neville, like I am just Harry." Harry interrupted once more, "But with some help you could be something more. If you don't think you can fight, then defend or heal, support those fighting. There are many ways of fighting Neville, not all of them are direct battles. Please," Harry offered him his hand, "let me help you."
Neville sighed and shook his head. "I'm nothing special Harry, I'm no hero, but I'll think on it. I can't promise anything."
"Thinking is good Neville," Harry said as he pulled his hand back, "my offer will always be open to you Neville, just tell me when you're ready." He turned to look at the girl beside him, "What about you Hermione?"
"Silly question Harry," she said with a smile, "I'll be right beside you all the way."
"Good, don't forget to bring exercise clothes next year then." he said with a smile.
"Oh?" Hermione responded with a wince.
"We are each a triumvirate Hermione, Mind, Body and Soul. Enhancing one affects the balance of the others; together they can reach plateaus beyond the mundane, even for magic. There are many arts and techniques which require greater than normal ability in one or more of those aspects, with effort, those doors can be opened to us." He paused to let that settle in her mind, "So will you join me?"
"I'm not one for sports and such," Hermione self-depreciatively said, "but I'll do what I can."
Harry laughed, "Hermione, your 'do what you can' would surpass most others best attempts. Now, what classes are you interested in taking for your OWLS?"
She gave him a nervous smile, "All of them."
Harry nodded as he pondered how to handle the third year, "Okay, that would be a lot of work, I'm not sure why would you spread yourself so thin? Can you explain your reasoning to me?"
As the children departed from the train at Kings Cross, Harry watched as Hermione gathered her things, grinning with a smile that lit up her face. One that he had always been jealous of, now that smile invoked pain instead of jealousy. Those left behind haunted his thoughts but he forced himself through them to make sure none of it showed in his face.
They walked together through the barrier, quietly chatting about their plans for the summer, Hermione promising to contact him as soon as she got home and found out where she was going on holiday.
Harry listened and smiled as he asked a few questions, until he saw her face change, the smile flickered for just a moment before returning with an edge of relief in her eyes. She waved to the adults as they approached and Harry took the opportunity this gave him.
He took a deep breath, "Hermione," he said and as she turned to him, he gave her a completely genuine and happy smile, opening his arms and gathered her in a hug, whispering into her hair by her ear, "I'll see you soon, keep safe." Trying to be as subtle as he could as he took a deep breath of her distinctive scent, lavender with a hint of something like vanilla but not quite. But he recognised it now as being the scent of old books in the library.
Harry felt her tense in shock for a moment before relaxing, almost jumping back at the start of a faint purr from her throat.
As she blushed at that, Harry smiled, before shooing her towards her parents with a smile.
Her father frowned at their interaction, his curly dark brown hair seemed almost black against his olive complexion, but where his was short and controlled with tight curls, hers was wild and free. His almost black eyes seemed to survey the boy who dared to touch his daughter, catching details from his clothing and appearance that seemed to confuse him.
Harry could immediately see an older Hermione in her mother, the same shade of chocolate brown eyes and brown hair, similar skin tone, but a little plumper than Hermione had been when she was older. Hermione had definitely inherited her mother's smile and from the gasp for air Hermione gave when released from the hug, she had inherited that from her mother as well.
Harry walked up to the family and offered his hand to Hermione's father who shook it, "Doctor Granger, " he then repeated with her mother, "Doctor Granger." He stepped back slightly to not intrude on the family's space, "It's a pleasure to meet you again. Especially after the unfortunate events last summer."
Hermione's father frowned but nodded at that, her mum however, just glanced between the children and raised an eyebrow in amusement at seeing her daughters face.
Harry blinked at the womans knowing smirk as she began to respond to him, flashbacks of Hermione getting him to revise something when he didn't want to popped into his head. He had hoped to have settled down such flashes of memory, but emotional triggers still caused him problems.
"I take it that you are Harry Potter then." At his nod, she smiled, "Good, I was worried you were the other one. I'd like to have a few words with him."
At Hermione's horrified look, Harry chuckled, "I would apologise for my friend, but I can't deny that he is an immature berk." He waved back towards the portal, "He's a pureblood who hasn't had his worldview shaken yet. Hopefully I'll be able to... fix that attitude next year, but it's going to be up to him in the end."
Hermione's mum smiled at that, "Good, oh, where are my manners, Doctor and Doctor Granger is too formal for a friend of Hermione's that she can't stop mentioning. You can call me Helen and this is..."
"Doctor Granger." Her father growled out as he kept looking between Harry and a slightly blushing Hermione.
Helen slapped her husband on the shoulder causing him to frown at her, "Menny, behave." She turned back to Harry as her husband rubbed his shoulder and tried not to look like he was sulking. "Sorry about that. You're the first boy Hermione's introduced and she's starting to get to that age. Menny is a big softy really."
"I am not a..." Menny began to say.
"Hush dear." She stopped him with a finger on his lips, "You're embarrassing yourself." He just kissed her fingertip with an amused look in his eyes.
Harry smiled at the pair as they interacted, "I don't mind at all, sir, Helen. I'm just happy to know that Hermione is loved and cared for. Although, I must ask, Menny?"
Hermione giggled slightly, "Dads name is Menelaus, Yaya is Greek and was a history teacher who is fascinated with Ancient Greece. Mum calls dad Menny for short."
Harry frowned in thought, "Menelaus, Helen." He blinked before smiling and giving a knowing nod, "Ah, that explains your name then."
Hermione cocked her head to one side and looked at him, "How so?"
Harry glanced at the adults who looked curious at his answer, "Well, most people would presume you're named after the character in Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale' but there were a number of Hermione's that I thought might have inspired your name when I looked it up. There was 'Letter to Hermione' by David Bowie in 1969 if your parents were fans, there was the true name of Minnie the Minx from the Beano and there was Hermione the daughter of King Menelaus of Sparta and Helen of Troy. I'm pretty sure from your parents' names I can guess the reason."
Helen snorted in amusement as Menny smirked and looked thoughtfully at his daughter, "Minnie the minx would be appropriate based on her early years, but I will admit that I got browbeaten into the name by my mother and luckily Helen liked it. And while it wasn't an expected answer from you, it just so happens that we're also Bowie fans." He glanced at his wife and they seemed to have a quick conversation with little twitches and various glances between their eyes.
Harry blinked at that in wonder, so that's what people were on about in how Hermione and he could talk without words.
Menny stuck his hand out to Harry, "Let me try again, Menelaus Granger, a pleasure to meet you Mr Potter. Feel free to call me Menny."
Harry smiled and shook the offered hand, "The pleasure is mine and feel free to call me Harry."
Helen clapped her hands in glee as Hermione smiled at seeing the two most important men in her life get along.
Harry frowned as he finally felt his relatives closing on them through the Force and turned to look in their direction with a frown, "Unfortunately, I have to go." He gave Hermione another hug and nodded politely to Menny, but as he tried to do the same to Helen, she just gently gave him a hug, whispering in his ear, "Thank you for looking after my little girl."
Once he was released, they gave him their goodbyes and gathered Hermione's things. The last thing Harry heard was a quick comment from Helen, "I like that one, you can keep him." and Hermione's shocked response of "Mum!"
Chuckling to himself, Harry took a deep breath and settled himself within the Force, his magic calming from its agitated state at the mere thought of being near those... beings. Force, he'd rather give a Hutt a hand bath than be in the same city as them.
Letting his emotions shift behind his mask, he turned and moved through the parting crowd, soon coming to a stop before the large angry Walrus and the horse-like remnant of his kin. The pig stared around the place watching for any of the other freaks to come near.
Vernon sneered and turned away, expecting the boy to follow. "Come on then boy, I don't want to waste any more time with you."
Vernon stopped and turned back to face the freak, growling his words, "What was that boy?"
Petunia went to say something before she recognised the look on the freaks face. She blanched at the image of Lily's smirk but managed to stop herself taking a step back in fear of what that smirk had always promised. She raised a hand and put it on Vernon's shoulder in an attempt to stop his likely verbal assault.
"I said 'No' Vernon." Harry stated, "Let's get a few things clear, shall we? We are going over to the cafe there, you are going to buy everyone a drink and maybe some snacks before we head back. We are going to discuss our futures. Is that understood?"
Vernon shook Petunia's hand from his shoulder as he glared down at the boy. "And why would I waste good money on the likes of you?"
The smirk turned into a Cheshire grin, a ghost from decades ago and Petunia gulped as the memories rushed through her mind.
"Very well, I was hoping for a civilized conversation. The stick first then." Harry sneered at the larger man, who was having trouble meeting the boys cold gaze, "You grab me, I yell loud enough to get security and the police involved. You hit me; I do worse. You yell, the police and security will get involved anyway."
He paused as he casually examined his nails in thought, "I wonder what will happen when I tell them about my first bedroom? I wonder what they would find there before you could clean it properly of the evidence? My new bedroom would also likely cause issues. How will they react when I tell them about how I was raised? What will social services say when they interview Dudley and they hear all about how he is raised in comparison to how I am treated? What will the neighbours say when they see the news or read the papers?"
He spread his hands as if imagining the front-page spread. "Dickensian Tale of Privet Drive. How secure will your job be with the criminal investigations that would follow?"
He let that settle into the walrus' mind for a moment before offering the carrot. "Or. We can sit, have a meal and talk as a family about the future. You have ten seconds to make a decision or I will."
Vernon grew more and more purple in rage as the questions came up. "You wouldn't dare."
Harry made sure that he maintained eye contact as he began to count, "One. Two. Three. Four."
Petunia saw the cold understanding of the truth in the boy's eyes. "Vernon. Let's just go and talk, what's the worst that will happen?"
"No," Vernon huffed, "The boys bluffing."
"Go ahead boy, let's see what happens."
"Nine." He waited a second and shrugged, "Te..."
Petunia stepped between them. "Stop. We'll talk."
Harry smiled at them as if he hadn't been about to try and destroy their world, "Thank you aunt, I'll just have a ham sandwich and a cup of tea please. Milk, two sugars." At that he walked into the cafe and took a seat at an open table, raising an eyebrow at his relatives still standing outside.
Vernon turned to Petunia about to rant at her when she simply put her finger on his lips. "He wasn't bluffing Vernon. We'll talk and work a way around this and put him back where he belongs."
Harry smiled at his family as the food was soon placed before him. "Excellent, you cannot conceive of how much I have missed a good cup of tea." He took a long sip and savoured the taste for a moment before focusing on the others once more. "Sweet Ambrosia. Now, we have much to discuss, don't we?"
Petunia nodded at him, "What do you want boy?"
"Straight to business aunt? I like that, no wasting time on unimportant things." He nodded in approval as he put the half-drunk cup down on the plastic table. "Very well. I am going to be living at your house in the room you have provided me. I will have no chores, nor will I take any of your food. I have a lot of work to do and will get something to eat whilst I'm out. There will be a few documents I will need you to sign," he waved the concept of signing documents aside as if it were nothing of importance, "nothing too major of course."
"In exchange for a carefree summer, with no interference from you unless I initiate it, at the end of the summer, I will endeavour to never darken your home again." He made sure to meet the adult's eyes, to see that they were actually listening to him, "You will be free of me. I'll even swear an unbreakable vow on it if you like? How does that sound?"
Petunia frowned at parts of the wording, "Unbreakable vow?"
Harry's smile was a tad vicious at that, "Just like it says on the tin, a piece of magic that will enforce the matter or it will consume my magic and likely my life for breaking the terms. We would need to be very specific about the wording of course, I would also need to supply a binding contract stating the terms with the Ministry of Magic. We wouldn't want the old goat interfering now, would we? As an added bonus, I won't even look into what is happening with the child support you have been receiving from the government for me, you can keep that and still claim it for me. I will not be using it."
Petunia winced at the reminder of the money coming into the household for Harry, "So, we leave you alone, you will leave us alone and you will not be returning to us next summer?"
"Almost. If all goes well, we shall never have to see each other again. I am so glad you understand." Harry said with an honest smile on his face at that, "Now, let's get something clear. I know you. I can predict the pitiful attempts you will take to counter me."
He took another gulp of his tea to soothe his throat, "You will fail. I already have details and records in place should anything happen to me, or should you decide to prevent my plans for the summer. Some of that is evidence which will go to various papers, the police and social services. Another set of information will find itself in the hands of the magical newspapers."
He swirled the dregs of the cup in thought for a moment, "Tell me aunt Petunia, how do you think the wizarding world would take hearing about my childhood in your care as well as your home address filling page one of every newspaper in my world? What do you think they will do to you? Do you honestly believe that Dumbledore will protect you from a mob like that?"
At seeing Vernon and Petunia's faces pale in understanding he nodded. "Good." He pulled a slip of paper from his pocket as well as a pen. "Now, here is one of those documents I was mentioning, sign this and then you can go home without me, I shall meet you there later."
Petunia clamped her hand down on Vernon's wrist to stop him saying anything as she quickly scanned the parchment and signed the permission slip.
Harry took it back and smiled at her, "Thank you Aunt Petunia. Now, have a good journey, I'll see you all tomorrow or the day after, don't worry about me, I'll make my own way back."
Petunia watched as the freak left before passing Dudley some money, "Go get a snack for the journey home Dudders, mummy and daddy need a quick talk."
Watching as he joined the queue, she quickly turned to focus on her husband. "He has us for the moment."
"So what, we do as the freak says?" Vernon snarled in impotent rage.
"Yes, we do as he says and then when he's sleeping, we grab him." She hissed at him, "He needs his stick to do magic, so we break that. Then we show him why it was a mistake to threaten us."
Vernon grinned, "I'll start by wringing that bloody bird's neck in front of him. We'll break him the very night he gets back. Make him tell us where everything is kept and destroy it."
Petunia smirked in a manner recognisable from Harry earlier, showing one of the few signs that she was related to Lily, "I think it's time Harry ran from home. This was the last straw, old freaks aside, I won't have him in our home any longer. We'll dump his body in a pig farm, let them clean up the mess."
"Brilliant," Vernon agreed, "it'll give us time to cover our tracks."
First of all, just to clarify matters, the Palpatine clone is just Palpatine's DNA and no-one else. It's something that I've expanded upon from the Legends version of the setting where Palpatine was trying to find a way to possess a younger clone of himself to effectively become immortal. This body was one of the many failures kept in storage.
In the novels, he keeps jumping between them as he burns them out with his presence and was trying to find an alternative way through using Luke and Leia. It's an alright storyline, but not the best. I believe they even did a comic series about it, but I'm not 100% sure on that front. It's the incredibly obvious source for a good chunk of the last Disney Star Wars film.
Also, the final fight was not on Mustafar, it was on the small planet Dar'Yaim that Harry glassed earlier on in the story, the place the clones were slaughtered and the Separatists built a base over. Mustafar is actually within the Jade Imperium's borders while Dar'Yaim isn't.
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Hikari Nova: Earth was never found by Harry or his faction, Yoda has been there in the Echoes sidestory, not that he realises it. Harry's droids never discovered it, they found somewhere else.
Plums: Harry has knowledge and training, a huge step up from where he was. And they do say that knowledge is power :) I am unsure as to using the Vong as an enemy for the star wars galaxy, I'll see how this goes first before I get anywhere near that.
Last Primaris: Time flows ever onward, no matter where and when Harry is in that flow.
Dezzal: I'm sorry you feel that way about my story. Harry might not receive rewards for his actions, but those he's left behind have their own ends to find.
Tony McNucklz: Skywalker escaped when the clones took him. He was less important to Montu at that moment than killing Palpatine or saving Harry. Harry had plans to finish him off afterwards, but that obviously went wrong.
red demon161: Punting Yoda would be the least of his problems if she found out the truth. Chion is everything Palpatine wanted from Dooku and Skywalker but was afraid to allow to grow. Naboo is actually within the borders of the Jade Imperium, he allowed her to be Cremated there as an honour for her actions. The Order that replaces the Republic is still going strong, that will be covered more in the sidestories that I am still writing.
Jostanos: Sidious is possessing a deformed clone. Harry returned to Earth. Voldemort is still on Earth.
Falco sparverius: Anakin was doing better, but ripples have twisted him in a messier way. Chion is playing her own game and has a bountiful window of opportunity while Sidious is out of the picture. Her mind games have compounded and altered Sidious' effects on Anakin.
Ariadne Venegas: Faking the relationship between Jade and Amidala was Xora sticking a blade in Anakins back for returning where Harry didn't. Not the best idea, but emotional ones on that scale rarely are. Sabe wanted Padme to raise her child, but Anakin would never let her go unless he was sure she was dead. So she sacrificed herself to give her sister the best chance she could. Padme's story is expanded a little in some of the side stories I'm writing. Tattooine was chosen by the Jedi as the memories of that place would be too painful for Skywalker to even consider going near. In regards to Tonks and Remus, I never liked that pairing, she will get a better story. Finally, what says he will stay in the HP setting.
Black Magic99: Same universe – different times. In the Legends continuity of Star Wars, the galaxy was shaped and partially rebuild by ancient beings, hence, he never found Earth as it wasn't where he left it. What he does with the altered timeline is what Im going to explore next :)
greye05: Yoda has been to Earth, as noted above, Harry's children found Yushan. A good portion of Harry's children are active at this point of the story, but don't forget that at the very start of things, Harry was displaced through time and space. I have the last scene of this story written and it is still valid with my plans for the plot, which may get expanded upon in a sequel once this story is done with. The side story will expand on whats happening while Harry is not there.
Gennastar: I'm sorry that you feel that way initially about my story. It was never intended as a propaganda piece for evil is the new good or similar. I'm glad you are now enjoying it.
DebaterMax: Darth Krait is an OC based upon some of the shenanigans I got up to on the Old Republic online game. I didn't realise that Darth Krayt was a thing until recently.
StonerMcWeedPot: Thank you for the chance, but fair warning, H/Hr is a long way through this story except teasers of it at the start and references through the story.
Thaliak: I'm sorry that you feel that way with my story. Unfortunately, some of the side stories were so big that I had to cut them but they will be in the side stories, Lux Bonteri and Mandalore is at 20k words on its own so far and I haven't finished it. It will include Bo-Katan, the fall of Mandalore and Lux's involvement in Onderon and Mandalore. My answer regarding the Palpatine clones is referenced in the AN above. The Rakghouls were initially on Taris in Knights of the Old Republic and the plague was expanded to be a Sith Alchemy weapon. Dooku's plot means that the plague was spread across the galaxy and released by Sidious without Sidious being aware of it. This change has resulted in small numbers being killed in the fights all the way up to entire worlds falling to it. Some ships are drifting with a converted crew and some space stations are now nests waiting to be woken from their slumber or the station to fail. Not a fun thing for scavengers and explorers to be on the look out for. All it takes is 1 rakghoul and the Plague could erupt again.