A/N: Longer summary at the bottom of his chapter for those wondering if this story is worth their time.

Warnings: Swearing and select adult situations, non-graphic in nature. Also in (much) later chapters there will be mention of a non-graphic rape of a female character. Nothing explicit will be described

Disclaimer: All characters and plot lines relating to Harry Potter are property of J.K. Rowling. This story is based on the magical world that she created, and I am immensely grateful for her imagination because I certainly don't have one to match

Harry Potter and Awakening Power

Chapter 1: Acceptance is the Final Stage of Grief

Jets of light lit up the dark space. He was running. Running as fast as he could and barely moving at all. He was the in the Department of Mysteries. Shouts and screams were heard but Harry's attention was captured on the raised dais. Slowly and with more grace than he had ever previously seemed to possess- Sirius Black fell. That once-handsome face frozen with a look of surprise as realization of what was about to come dawned on his godfather. Fear flooded Harry as he pushed and he pulled himself forward. Something was holding him back. He needed to get there. He needed to get to Sirius. He couldn't do it, it was too hard, he wouldn't get there in time...

And suddenly he had made it. The curtain of the veil fluttered invitingly and Harry ran through as if he were a drowning man who had finally reached the surface. The dark expanse he had expected gave way to a bright sky. There was green, lush grass and cool sparkling water. It was a lake. A small family sat beside it and Harry did not think that he had ever seen a more beautiful place or a happier group of people. It was the single loveliest place that he had ever been. Peaceful and content for the first time in ages, Harry never wanted to leave. It was a moment before he even realized that he knew the people by the lake. It was Lily and James Potter, and beside them a small child, no more than a toddler. It was himself.

Another person might have been confused but, instinctively, Harry understood. When we lose the people that we love a small- and at times barely noticeable- part of ourselves inevitably dies with them. He was seeing that piece of himself that he had been unable to recover until this moment- the piece of himself that had kept him from being fully whole. In the real world those missing pieces are painful and filled with bitter longing but here, the small family was nothing but content.

A tall, dark man approached James with a delighted but confused smile and Harry groaned with longing. It was Sirius. Harry was startled to see that Sirius was looking better than he had ever seen him in life. He had aged from the man in his parents wedding photo- but aged well. The haunting sadness that Harry had always seen in his eyes seemed to be lightening. His face was still lined but it seemed as if moment by moment all of the pain that he had suffered was slowly been lifted from his shoulders. He was gazing at his long-deceased friend with a look of elation, happier than Harry had ever seen the man in life with the sole exception of that brief moment in time when the two of them had believed that Sirius would go free and Harry would be live with him. Despite the pure pleasure in his expression, Harry could still see that the older man did not quite understand what was happening.

"Nice to see all of you again, Padfoot," James greeted his old friend with a warm smile. "I'm sorry that you've missed me all this time, but I hope that you realize now that you never missed anything here."

Sirius embraced James like a brother, tears leaking out of his eyes a bit before he finally pulled back and tilted his head in confusion, "I don't know what you mean, James. What do you mean all of me? You act like I've been here all along. How is that possible?"

James smiled, unlike his friend his eyes were dry. There was no conflict of emotions on his face. While Sirius appeared overwhelmed to be found in this new place, with his friend once more, James was calm and content. He shook his head and smiled as though it should have been obvious. "You're family, Sirius. A part of you was always with me. You must have known that I never left you all those years. The ones that love us never do, so why did you think for a minute that you ever left me?"

Sirius hugged him once more but Harry could already see an approaching serenity to Sirius. The same peacefulness that seemed to exude from James, and Harry rather thought that the longer one was here in this place that must be something like heaven, the more content you became. Harry watched as the years seemed to fall off of Sirius, leaving him handsome once more. For the first time Harry could see the man Sirius should have been if he had been allowed to lead a peaceful, happy life. Harry was frozen, staring at the two men in a combination of shock and longing- almost convinced that neither of them could see him. Until they turned to greet him.

"Harry!" James yelled, while he had greeted his oldest friend with the quiet happiness you might expect when you knew you had ages to catch up with an old friend after a long separation, he greeted his son with boyish excitement. Despite the man's obvious joy at seeing Harry, he made no move to come closer. "I love you so much, son. I have watched you. Every day I have watched you and I am so proud of the person that you've become."

Harry swallowed. He wanted to say something. He wanted to move and hug his father for the first time in his… was he dead? He wasn't sure and at the moment he certainly didn't care. He was with his father and his mother…

Lily's eyes were bright with unshed tears and she was staring at him with a hungry, desperate look, as though she could never look at him long enough. "You are such a kind person, Harry," his mother's voice was soft and gentle and so very warm. So different from her sister, who spoke with a shrill coldness. Her smile was bright and warm and it seemed to Harry that nothing in the world made her happier than seeing him in this moment. "You have rarely been shown or been given kindness but I see you offer it at every turn. One day I hope you realize how extraordinary that is."

Harry blushed, his father was proud of him. He had said it. No one had ever said that they were proud of him before. His mother had said that he was a kind person. They thought the best of him. But…there were times that he wasn't. The idea that his parents had seen everything. Every bout of anger, every lie he had told. He could hardly believe that they were standing before him with anything like pride in their eyes.

James gazed at him, his eyes serious and thoughtful. Harry suspected that the man knew exactly what he was thinking. When he spoke his voice was quiet but it was filled with understanding and patience. "We never expected you to be perfect, Harry, and quite honestly I think I would have found you quite boring if you were. Life's excitements come from our mistakes. From our regrets. I know regret can be a painful thing but no full life is complete without it. So, no Harry, you have not led a perfect life. But…you have led a good one. And most importantly, you care about people Harry. You protect them," he grinned at that. "If there was only one lesson that I was able to pass on to you in life before I died, I'm glad it was that."

Lily it's him! Take Harry and run…

The only memory Harry truly had of his father was of his death. Of his incredible sacrifice.

Tears were spilling down Harry's face but he was unashamed. Once again he wanted to move forward and embrace them. Feel them in a real and physical way for the first time but he couldn't. And this time he finally realized that it was not due to shock that he had not moved, but because he was physically unable to take a step forward.

Before he could question this development Sirius spoke and his words diverted Harry's attention thoroughly, "You're the best man that I know Harry, and believe me when I tell you that until I met you I thought that title had already been sewn up," his face sober and honest, his eyes flicked to James at the last comment but came back to him with pride. "I just wish that I had been a better godfather."

"You were the best-" Harry protested.

For the first time sadness graced Sirius' features, making him look closer to the Sirius he had known in life, "you give me too much credit." Harry shook his head, Sirius could never fully understand what it was that he had represented in Harry's life. He had filled a role that Harry had desperately needed. A role that would never be filled again.

But now…now it wouldn't have to be filled, would it? They were here, and they were together, and it was the most perfect place that he had ever seen.

"Harry you can't stay here," James said quietly, but with conviction.


"You don't belong here," his mother agreed.

"You mean a place that's bloody perfect? Where we're all happy and…and together?!" Harry yelled out, he was angry. It was unfair. Unfair that life was so hard but here…

"Life is a journey Harry and yours is far from over," Lily explained.

"You were so young when you died, all of you," Harry said quietly, looking at Sirius. The man had only been 36- it was strange but Harry had never given much thought to Sirius' age before. As a friend of his parents it had always seemed as though he was old enough, but now it seemed incredibly cruel to be sent to prison before his life had barely started and killed before he reached the age of 40. For the first time his godfather seemed absurdly young.

Lily shook her head, "death is never fair and our time was short but it was over. Yours is not."

"What if I don't want to…" Harry couldn't say it. He couldn't finish the thought that if it meant staying in this perfect place, with his family, maybe didn't want to live anymore. James smiled at him and it was at once sad and proud. "Because you do, Harry. I have watched you, my son. I have watched in awe of you as you have done the impossible again and again. I've watched you kill basilisks and battle dragons. I've watched you get embarrassed by the press and serve detention. I've watched you make friends and," James grin, "go on terrible dates," Harry winced, there were a few things a boy never wanted his parents to know about after all. "I've watched you win and I've watched you fail and in the end there is only one thing that you have never been able to do. It's the reason I'm most proud of you. Over and over again I would wait for it happen. Dreading it, expecting, and anticipating it…sometimes really wanting it. Wanting you to let go of all of that pain. I would wait because if it had been anyone else they would have done it by now, would have done it a long time ago probably, but you never could Harry." James paused and fixed Harry with a look of such furious pride that Harry felt his cheek's heat up with suppressed emotion. No one in his life had ever looked at him like that, and he had no idea what his father was talking about. James took a breath and seemed to back up for a moment.

"The first time the Dursleys locked you in that damn cupboard or sent you to bed without a meal. That first time Vernon hit you or the time that teacher blamed you the next day for fighting with the other boys when she saw your bruises…or better yet when she told you off for lying when you told her the truth and she didn't believe you and you refused to back down. You were forced to stay after school every day for a week but your story never changed. Your first year at Hogwarts. This whole past year against Umbridge- you never did it Harry and the idea never even crossed your mind."

"I don't…what are you talking about?" Harry asked, thoroughly confused. He could not see how any of those things related to one another. And at the same time, he was overwhelmed. His father HAD watched him. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

"Give up, Harry," Lily answered quietly but with a wide smile. "You never, ever give up."

Harry frowned at what his parents were suggesting. "You mean you expected me to…what off myself?" he said uncertainly.

His father smiled sadly. "No. I never expected you to go quite that far. Or at least I certainly hoped you never would. Although there were times when another might have done just that. But Harry you have to understand that there are so many ways a person can give up. They give up on their life, they close off their spirit, or they can give in to something that they don't want or believe in just to make things easier, even when they know it's not right. You could have toed the line last year. Any time you wanted you could have rolled over for Umbridge, or just called a bloody press conference and told the lot of them you had made it all up after all, and that Voldemort hadn't come back."

"But he did come back!" Harry argued.

James grinned and Sirius snorted with laughter. "That's my point Harry. You keep fighting for the right thing, even when it's hard, even when it feels like you're all alone. Umbridge never realized what she was really doing with you. She picked the wrong message. She told you to write 'I must not tell lies'- but that was engraved far more deeply in your heart than it could ever be on your hand."

"You trust yourself and you trust your instincts even when everyone tells you not to," Sirius added with his own look of pride in his eyes.

"You look for the good in people even when so many people have hurt you," James added again.

"You're so strong Harry and now I need you to be stronger than you've ever been before," Lily told him quietly, tears leaking silently down her face.

Harry swallowed, with the exception of Sirius' death it had been the only other thing he had been able to think about for days on end. "I have to…you mean the prophesy." He couldn't stay here, he had been impossibly selfish even to consider it. The prophesy made it impossible for him do anything other than continue his fight against Voldemort.

James cut across him quickly, his expression more urgent. "Harry, you need to ask yourself if this is your fight."

"But-" How could this not be his fight?

"I'm saying you ask yourself what you want to do. I have never known you to make a selfish or wrong decision when it's truly counted."

"I went to the Ministry," Harry mumbled, his eyes glued to the ground, unable to look Sirius in the face. But Sirius was quick to interject, "You went with the information you had at the time. And for the record, I'm damn proud of you kid. A lot of the Order was against telling you what was going on, Dumbledore most of all unless you count Molly Weasley. Now I'm not telling you that you should hold anything against them, Harry, because they wanted what's best for you. But honestly, I disagreed with them from the start. You're a smart kid, and a curious one, any pain caused by knowing the truth might have given you wasn't half as bad as being made to wonder. If anything I blame them- but not you Harry. Never you. If you had known about that prophesy, hell if they had just had you go collect the damn thing yourself from the start, Voldemort never would have been able to trick you. You did what you thought was right- and I will always admire that about you, kiddo."

James picked up the words next, "You made a mistake. Don't forget it. Learn from it. My son, it's time to let you in on an age old Potter family secret, one that we jealously hide from everyone else: we are not perfect. Shocking I know, I was quite flabbergasted when I found out as well." Lily slapped his arm but she was smiling at him with fondness. Sirius gave his usual bark of laughter, a sound Harry thought he would never hear again. "He was more like shell-shocked if I remember."

James smiled with genuine humility this time, "We all have faults and I think I've been dead long enough to admit that one of mine was arrogance. Harry, you need to decide for yourself what yours are. Others will try and tell you, but we only really grow when we recognize these flaws ourselves. And then you need to decide for yourself how to handle those flaws. Do you try to get rid of them entirely or do you try and embrace them and use them. You have proven to us time and again that you are a man to be proud of- I'm only sorry that you had to become a man so young."

Lily took a step closer to him but was still out of touch, her eyes were filled with pure love. "I'm so proud of you Harry and I love you so much more than you could ever imagine. Remember Harry one day we will all be together but your life is so much more than you can believe."

"Live your life Harry. Not as a tribute or an obligation to us or to anyone else. Enjoy it Harry- we sure as hell did," Sirius said, finishing with his famous bark-like laugh.

Harry nodded, "I love you," whispering the words aloud to someone for the first time in his life. And before he could be tempted to stay another moment, he turned and walked once again through the curtain of the veil. He woke up at Privet Drive covered in sweat, trembling slightly and gasping for air. Long ingrained habit kept him from doing any of this too loudly as his uncle never enjoyed being woken in the middle of the night and over the years Harry had learned to keep all but the most violent of nightmares quiet.

It was early but the sun was just starting to peak over the horizon. Harry sat up, his heart and mind racing from the… was it a dream? Harry was no stranger to odd occurrences but he had never experienced anything quite like that. It had been so real. Even now the details were as vibrant as if he had really been there. He had been dreaming about Sirius falling through the veil every single night since his godfather's death but never before had he actually made it through the divider between life and death himself. He had always been pulled back and then woken to the image of the startled shock on Sirius' face, forever ingrained in his memory, and then left to imagine the horror of his death on the other side. Had it been painful? Had he had time to be scared? There had been other dreams too, ones where Sirius had come back through the veil to blame him for his carelessness.

This was by no means an ordinary dream. Harry wasn't sure what to make of his parents and godfather's words. Was it merely his subconscious? He didn't think so. He had never once dreamed of his parents giving him advice before and somehow the idea of his own inner voice speaking through Sirius telling him not to blame himself didn't seem right either. He had begun to make his own tentative peace with his decisions to go the Ministry but his own mind would not have been presumptuous enough to speak for Sirius on the matter.

As crazy as it might sound, Harry knew that this was not merely a dream- it was something more. Although what it actually was, Harry did not know. Somehow he had spoken with his parents and Sirius and for once Harry did not question how it had happened. He also knew as surely that the dream was real that he would never tell anyone about it. It was both too strange and too personal. Instead his mind dwelt on one very specific thing his father had said to him. "You never give up." A couple of weeks ago Harry would have proudly agreed with that statement but since Sirius' death so much had seemed not to matter. He looked around his small shabby bedroom in distaste. He had thrown books, clothes and wrappers about haphazardly. He hadn't even bothered to change clothes in the past two days. He had eaten little and slept even less.

Although, Harry realized as he climbed out of bed, last night had been different. After a solid two and half weeks of getting little more than two or three hours of sleep of night, his body had finally rebelled. The night before he had passed out right after dinner and, incredibly, slept through the night. As he glanced at the clock-4:48- he realized that he had had close to 10 hours of rest.

He felt better. Refreshed. And for the first time since his return to Little Whinging he set about doing something other than aimless shuffling or staring at his own bedroom walls. He started with tidying his room. He collected the dirty clothes into the hamper, the trash in the bin and used some rags to wipe up the dust. He organized the papers and books on his desk and cleaned out Hedwig's cage thoroughly. The headlines were splashed with speculation about 'You-Know-Who', as well as a current predominating theory that Harry was something the Prophet kept calling 'The Chosen One'. After news of the battle at the Ministry as well as the revelation that it had all occurred in the Hall of Prophesy, the rumor mill of the Wizarding World had been busy connecting the dots- and Harry was afraid to say that for once the crazy theories were scarily accurate. Although no real details of the prophesy had been released in the paper, the general idea of it was certainly discussed- namely the fact that it was Harry that was the one that could defeat Voldemort.

This, of course, had led to rabid opinions on what should be done. Some wizards- particularly the Purebloods from the sound of it- objected to the fact that they all seemed to be placing their fate into the hands of not only a Hogwarts students that had yet to receive his OWL results, but a Half-blood at that.

Others seemed to think that Harry should be made to leave Hogwarts both for the safety of the other students and so that the Ministry could provide proper training for him in the 'evitable battle to come'. There was also a small but strangely vocal contingent that maintained that, with the backing of the prophesy, Harry already possessed the ability to defeat his dark opponent and that the Wizarding World as a whole should be catering to his ideas and strategies. A few of the fanatics of this group were even calling for him to be named an official advisor of the Minister of Magic- if not Minister himself.

Harry wasn't sure which theory he found more annoying but he was certain which one he found the most ridiculous. Consumed as he had been with his grief and guilt Harry had given surprisingly little thought to the articles but as he moved around the room, his brain seemed to kick back into motion for the first time. Depending on how the dust settled, he could be in a rather difficult position in the upcoming year. Now that the Ministry had been forced to acknowledge that he had in fact not been lying or delusional in his claims of Voldemort's return, they had recently become his biggest supporters. Shouting their praise for his courage in the past year, claiming to be grateful for the forgiveness that Harry had shown the Ministry that, oddly, Harry had no memory of actually giving. However, Harry had now had enough experience with the Ministry to know that this behavior would not last. Sooner or later the Ministry would make a move. He didn't know if it was going to be against him, or if they would try to gain control over him in some way but in those early morning hours as he listened to Dudley's arrhythmic snores as the dawn lightened into day, he knew that he needed to be prepare himself for an almost evitable confrontation at some point.

Despite the smallness of the room, it took quite a while to get everything in order. The room was even more cluttered than usual because the Dursleys had taken to using it once again as 'Dudley's Second Bedroom'. Dudley had progressed in the field of boxing, becoming an interschool champion. Scouts from University had even been coming to see him and seeing as Dudley had next to no chance of being accepted on his academics, Petunia and Vernon were thrilled that he was an 'athlete'. Harry's already tiny bedroom was now even more crowded with a treadmill and a punching bag. Dudley came in for about two hours a day to exercise, his expression growing darker at the growing mess of the room. Strangely Dudley had said nothing, even as the stale air in the room had begun to grow musty. Dudley would knock on the door and Harry would obediently leave for the duration of his workout, finding it too much effort to argue unnecessarily. In fact lately Harry had found that he could pass whole days without uttering a single word to the Dursleys. He was enjoying the quiet.

Now the room was fresher and the fact that the bed was actually made up, made the room look slightly less claustrophobic. It had taken longer than Harry had thought it would, as much due to his unusual thoroughness as it was to the size of the mess. But as Harry finished almost two hours later he realized that for the first time in as many days he was actually hungry. And it was with this thought in mind he made the decision to do something he had never done before- willingly volunteer to make breakfast for himself and the Dursleys. And after that… well it was time that Harry earned the respect his parents had seemed to have for him in his 'dream'. He was not going to give up, and for once he was even going to be prepared.

It was a new day and for the first time in ages, Harry was looking forward to it.

Extended Author's Note:

I promise long author notes are going to be common as I know many find them annoying but I figured I would give everyone an idea of what to expect so that you can decide if this a story you want to invest your time in because the outline of it is rather long.

This story takes place during Harry's 6th year and the summer preceding it. It will feature a strong and rather independent Harry but with an attempt to keep the character as canon as possible. He will not be super-powered magically nor will he suddenly have all the right answers or develop never seen before genius. I intend to make him focused on fulfilling the prophesy but he will make mistakes, be a teenager and perhaps fall in love a time or two.

The main plot will follow two different but intersecting threads. Harry balancing his life as a normal teenager with his friends and school and Harry stepping into a larger role in the war than was shown in HBP. There will also be a developing relationship with Snape. However- this is not a story about how Snape is really a nice guy or Draco has been a secret good guy along. This story is honestly a bit of flip on the general "Snape mentors Harry" trope which I find flawed on a rather fundamental level, despite some really well written stories about it. Snape is a great character, but pretty much a terrible person. He's so emotionally stunted that he basically a perpetual adolescent that has spent years bullying 11 year olds because he is still not over a grudge he holds against two dead men. The apparently widely belief that Harry would benefit from Snape's guidance (and in many cases Dumbledore and the rest of the Hogwarts staff go to rather outrageous lengths to orchestrate this relationship) is actually rather disturbing to me. As is the idea that Harry should forgive everything Snape has ever done or said the minute Snape first calls him by his first name in a story. At 16 I find Harry to be a more reasonable and not to mention a compassionate and better adjusted person than Severus ever manages to be and I wanted to write a story in which it Snape that benefits from Harry's 'guidance' so to speak rather than the other way around. That is not to say that Harry will have all of the answers, nor will be at all gracious when it comes to dealing with Snape. I want the relationship to be a slow burn- both sides pretty much hate each other and both are notoriously stubborn. Needless to say this far from a Snape adopts Harry story.

Love interests: He's sixteen so a girlfriend does not necessarily mean that it will end up happily ever after. I want Harry to date around, experience the perils of first love and find it again- but there won't be multiple relationships at one time and No Slash.

***This is the first story I'm posting up so I would appreciate advice or criticism but please be respectful and keep in mind that I'm crier ;)