First and foremost I have no intention of returning to this story seriously. I was asked to update by a friend and I had to do some rereading to make this work. It might be another failure - like last chapter. It might be a smash hit. Either way Motion Sickness will remain my primary focus.
With that in mind I couldn't ask back my old Beta in good conscience and I am not looking for a new one.
People seem to follow this story a great deal but never leave reviews behind. I can surmise only a little from this. There is a majority of people that enjoy my work. However, people are happy to read my story but not to interact with it. Some majority of the reviews I receive are about Worthy of Magic and not this story. It was far too easy to leave this work behind, then. This story is well read, I do confess. We have well over one and half million hits and it has many follows and favorites. I have made my mark on the fandom in my own way.
In the end updating this story just doesn't bring me the satisfaction that Motion Sickness or The Pit of Despair provides. Even though they receive far and away less attention. It's more quiet.
Nothing in my life is the same as when I was writing this fic. I've been in and out of nearly a half dozen psychiatric hospitals. I have in all honesty lost the number and I don't care to find it again. It's hard coming back to this story. It was hard to reread it. I was in a different mind back then.
But I have rambled enough.
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Daphne and Gabrielle approached each other and bowed deeply. Daphne had earned her way up into the fourth year dueling. She was powerful and her spells were efficient. She soon earned the respect of her enemies. In this match, though…
In this match Gabrielle's powers for more direct assault would favor her. Daphne's talents were subtle and less suited for real combat. Daphne let out a shaking breath.
Even if she lost it wouldn't be like Harry would drop her for the veela. She reminded herself of that as she dipped her head low and respectful. That being said she would really like to win. She'd really like to take it over the veela Gabrielle.
She reached for her will when the referee whistled go.
"Incendio!" Gabrielle waved her wand in a crisp motion and gout of fire streamed forth from it's tip.
"Protego!" Daphne was already on the defensive, early in the match, sheltering behind a shimmering blue barrier. She'd spent hours getting the color right and making it just like Harry's. She hadn't known at the time such a thing was unnecessary.
The fire splashed against her shield and she returned with a bright "stupify!"
Gabrielle sidestepped and kept herself free rather than be caught shielding and flat-footed like Daphne had. Daphne reached out to the vineyard around them and the roses. She cast a spell on the vines that made the thorniest among them wave and lash out at Gabrielle. Flowers and all. Daphne incanted and the roses struck.
They burned. Gabrielle's power over fire burned away the whipping branches that approached her. Tongues of fire lapped from her body. Her arms and legs lengthened slightly. She became more lanky.
It was a partial transformation of the sort veela were capable of. It had its benefits and it was a sign that if nothing else, Gabrielle was taking this seriously.
Daphne let out a trail of spells in long chain, starting with the disarming hex and leading on to some other stunners. Gabrielle shield them and deflected the last one back at her and forced Daphne to jump to the side rather than be hit by her own spell.
Gabrielle flung more sorcerous energies down range. Mostly fireballs that bashed into Daphne's hastily conjured shield.
The veela waved her wand and one of the bushes shambled to life and approached Daphne in a lumbering walk. It picked itself up out of the ground and came loping towards her.
"Incendio!" Daphne summoned fire of her own and burned back the walking plant.
But it gave Gabrielle an edge and she knocked Daphne flat on her butt with a knockback jinx. Daphne bounced a little and knew that she'd be sore tomorrow from the force of that spell. The veela chased the knockback jinx with a disarming hex of her own but Daphne managed to direct a shield and she rolled back to her feet panting and sweating a little.
Daphne fenced back with a stunner but her repertoire of spells was much smaller than Harry's. Not just the power she could fold into them or the elegance of his dueling chains.
Harry might have been able to summon tiny points of light to do his bidding or even lightning like he was so fond of. Or perhaps even an aerokinetic spell which would bring Gabrielle down. Daphne had none of that. She had a decent number of spells at her disposal but nothing like the wide variety Harry had.
Gabrielle chucked another fireball at Daphne wordlessly and followed it with a disarming hex to boot. Daphne was forced to shield again and she was starting to feel it a little. It wasn't easy to spend all her time blocking and she would like to be able to dish out some damage of her own.
When Gabrielle's next spell came Daphne's way she reached out and deflected it. Then she turned it into a spell chain of her own, spitting energies forward and towards Gabrielle and causing the other girl to shield this time. The knockback jinx and a roar of stunners billowed from Daphne's wand.
Gabrielle's powers roared in a flare of flames that forced Daphne to jump back and shield herself. Another fireball flew her way. And another. And another until Daphne was pressed at the edge of ring.
Daphne pressed her wand through the next fireball and split it to either side of her. Sparks flickered to the right and left of her and lightning was her counter attack in much the style Harry might. The bolt flickered forward and tore up dirt before Gabrielle. This time the sparks were blue and were on either side of her, not Daphne. Another thunderbolt fired from Daphne's wand and caught Gabrielle and made her stumble.
It didn't actually catch her, however. Merely pressed her back and let Daphne step away from the edge of the ring. Daphne's lightning was nothing like Harry's. It lacked the power. It lacked the efficiency. His could make the sun seem dim with its intensity. Harry was like that. Always shedding his power like rain in a storm.
Daphne could feel the connection between herself and Harry. The place where their minds linked and Daphne could draw a little on his power. In one aspect they were partners. In another she was a servant and he was her patron.
There was energy in that connection. Daphne reached out a little and took it up.
Daphne hit Gabrielle with a wave of spells. She slung then with an energy that surprised even herself. Harry had this much power? For how long? How long ago had he truly outgrown her? With this sort of power what did he need her for? With just a fraction of Harry's might Daphne had turned the tide against the more powerful veela. Suddenly it was all Gabrielle could do to defend and hold shield against the onslaught.
Daphne hesitated and felt Harry press against her mind even from this distance. Pleasure coursed through the connection. It made her suddenly distantly numb in her body with a rush of endorphins that went straight to her head.
Daphne held her wand outstretched and felt her jaw slack and heat rush her face and other places - comfortable and private places. Her head rung like a bell and hit a note that hung in the air. The wind on her face felt hot in the French sun. The sun burned at her but she could hardly noticed it as that note was hit over and over again.
Her wand flew from her hand. She realized that her mouth had dropped open from the shock of it. Her jaw was stretched wide and she realized that she was just staring at Gabrielle with wide eyes and a fluttering heart.
Blood rushed in her ears with a dull roar. She lost the duel and Gabrielle was just staring right back at her with her eyebrows lifted in surprise. Daphne's wand was on the ground in front of her between them.
"What are you playing at?" Gabrielle demanded. "Why did you stop?"
Daphne licked her lips. Her mouth was dry and her tongue was numb. She felt almost as though she could hear Harry's thoughts. They were so close but she couldn't make them out. A quiet whisper in the corner of her mind.
"Well? I know you did something. That strength you found was borrowed. I could feel it. You borrowed it from him. Why didn't you use that power and finish it. Why didn't you finish me? You had me on the ropes, the duel was as good was won. Why did you quit?"
"I…" Daphne's voice quivered a little. "I became distracted…"
"By what? By him? I know I felt something." Was the Veela an empath or was it just the nature of her mind magic that allowed her to sense such things? Daphne was unsure.
Daphne licked her lips again worth a dry tongue.
"Yes," she murmured.
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"This is it?"
"This was your father's estate," Sirius answered. "His family's at least. The Potter's. I spent half a summer here with him once. We were fifteen."
It was rubble. Like most things that once belonged to the Potters.
Stones scattered and were still dark with ash. Harry could make out where the foundations had been built. There was just nothing on top of them. It had been blown away. Harry could spot white bricks as far as thirty meters from where they stood, he and Sirius.
"I've been working on rebuilding the family manor. Back in Britain," Harry muttered. "I haven't gotten to any of the other properties yet. My abilities to access my family funds while I'm still a minor are limited. I need to buy house elves for it but it's coming along. That girl, Daphne, is helping me with it."
"I went to that manor a few times. Your father hated it there. He preferred this place or the Scottish Cottage, at least in my experience," Sirius followed up.
"I have neither. I want to rebuild the manor."
"I understand. There might be some ways I can help you to rebuild. I'm sitting on money without much to do with it."
"I'd like to ask other favors from you," Harry fired.
"They're not favors. We'll be living together soon if Dumbledore has his way. Shoot."
Harry ran a hand back through his hair. "I'm told you were a foremost auror in your time. A duelist too. I could use the training."
"Ah." Sirius bit back. "Ah I see. I'm not what I once was. You might have to take it easy on me."
"I'm not anything," Harry countered. "Voldemort is coming for me. I need to be prepared to defend myself. You can help with that, if you're willing."
"I can show you some of what I know. It won't be any trouble," Sirius murmured. He bit his thumb as he mulled it over. "You defeated Barty Crouch Jr. That's something."
"I got lucky. He wasn't trying to kill me. He was trying to capture me. I don't know what for. Something for Voldemort, I'm guessing can't be sure exactly what for."
"I saw you fight the Tarasque. Can't fake that. You're better than you let on. You can fight. I'm not sure what all I can teach you. I promise to try though. Your father and I dueled all the time, it was just friendlies but it was something."
"I'd love to hear more stories about my father, too. Don't feel like holding back on my account once we live together."
"Trying to sweeten me up? Is that it?" Sirius asked.
Harry shrugged. "Not really. I don't know much about him. What was he really like?"
"We used to raid the kitchens at Hogwarts all the time. And here… well here we went after a couple of french girls. We tried to one up each other trying to impress them. Now I can't even remember their names. Couple of these muggle french girls, that's all they were. They were cute though."
"Sounds a bit different from me. I'm not super interested in girls. Just the one, really."
"That Daphne girl? Greengrass?" Sirius asked.
Harry nodded. "Just her, pretty much. There are others that flirt with me but it's just that. Them flirting with me. I ignore it mostly."
"Pretty much, huh? Mostly?" Sirius's voice had a teasing tone to it in part. "James started to be like that about your mother. Towards our senior years at school especially. Before that we were all over it. Chasing girls together."
"Anybody in particular I should know about?"
"Nah. Not really. Not besides your mother. I heard you got her brains for school and more."
"Professor Snape says the same thing."
"Professor Snape? So respectful."
"He's a decent teacher if you know how to handle it. He also saved my life a few times during my first year. I owe him."
"Well Lily would be happy to hear you treating him like that. James, I think, is rolling in his grave a little."
"Why?" Harry asked even though he already knew.
"Oh they hated each other. Loathed one another. Snape was Lily's friend though. Some jealousy to that, I think on James's part."
"He got her in the end. What was there to be jealous of?"
"Snape fancied her. Didn't you know? From day one, I suspect."
Sirius bobbed his head. "Oh yes. He was smitten with her. Totally and completely. Everyone knew it. Except I think Lily. She had no idea. She thought that they were just friends between them both. That's how it seemed, to me at least."
Some things clicked into perspective on Harry's head. The times Snape had looked at him with something soft in his eyes suddenly made sense; the gentle lecturing tone over a cauldron packed in ice snapped in his mind. The warning about Lupin's nature as well.
"Fascinating," Harry breathed. "And Pettigrew? You knew him as well."
"I did. He was… more your father's friend than mine but we were thick as thieves together. He was a friend. That was hard. When he turned on us I mean. One of the hardest things in the whole of the war. Now there's going to be another one. I…"
"You don't know if your strong enough? You don't know if you can do it again?" Harry asked him. He was in the man's thoughts. It was dangerous. Harry was flying close to the sun. But in a sick and twisted way he liked it. The fear and sadness was so tasty. It was so strong, so intense. He couldn't help but to drink of it deeply. His heart beat in his chest from the other man's panic. One of the most formidable sensations Harry had ever felt. He swallowed, his eyes nearly watering. He wanted to break out into a scream and run but from what? He cooled himself. Sirius felt like this all the time. It was twisted and sick but in a masochistic way Harry liked it. He wanted to shove his hand in a stove. He wanted to slit his wrists. Something, anything, a distracting real pain to ground him and release this. All of this pent up.
He couldn't live like this. He couldn't stop consuming it. Every moment felt like entirely too much. Suicide seemed the only option. Anything to let this end.
Harry pulled away from Sirius's thoughts. Piercing the man like an arrow on his exit Sirius gasped and stumbled. Harry leaned on a torn wall.
He gathered himself and reached down.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked.
"Yes… I… yes," Sirius took Harry's outstretched hand. "I don't know what came over me."
"Well let us hope that it has passed." A man could drown in that. Harry washed back upon his own shore in waves. He breathed freely. A man could become addicted to that. The rush of it- the deep feeling - it was so delicious.
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Harry was summoned by Dumbledore to his compartment on the train. It mirrored the old man's study in Hogwarts in many ways. Golden and silver instruments sat on a wide desk.
There was a small library on the wall beside Harry near a window which opened out to the green and purple sea. Rows of books lined the shelf. Personal favorites, perhaps? Or books stood by for quick reference if the old man needed them? It was impossible to say for sure. Why these books? Why these instruments? Why was Dumbledore hiding the truth about Horcruxes from him? What did Dumbledore gain from wielding one of the deathly hallows, besides the obvious. And if it was the obvious why had the old man given Harry the cloak.
It was unsettling. Dumbledore was turning Harry into a weapon made of magic itself against the dark lord. He gave Harry the cloak and so Harry became the ultimate assassin. But he kept the wand just in case Harry should get any ideas about which one of the two of them was master. Very clever, Dumbledore. Most ingenious.
"Do you know why I have brought you here? Harry?"
"The trial is tomorrow."
"It isn't a trial. There is no accused. It is a hearing."
"All the same. It's tomorrow."
"It is. And I have something very special to ask you, Harry. Though I know it may be difficult for you to do so."
"What is it, sir?"
"You will be asked about your stay at the Dursley's tomorrow. And when you are I must ask that you tell the truth."
Harry stared at the old man. The truth? He wanted Harry to tell them all the truth?
"But sir do you know what that will cost you?"
"I am quite prepared to pay the price of my mistakes. Young man, do you doubt that?"
Harry glared at the old man with heat. Dumbledore gave a little start. The tips of his fingers twitched.
"Allow me to rephrase, then. Do you know what the truth will cost me? So it's fine if my secrets are brought to light but not yours?"
"Harry…" the old man's tone was admonishing. "Whatever secrets are you referring to?"
"The horcruxes." Dumbledore jumped as though slapped. "The Hallows." The old man trembled. "Your friendship with Gellert Grindelwald." Harry finished. He didn't mind magic to know he had shocked the elderly wizard to the core. Dumbledore was speechless. Dumbledore was speechless.
"And there is me," Harry went on.
"What about you, Harry?"
"What am I?"
"I don't understand. You are a man. You are a wizard."
"Am I?" Harry asked. He laughed a little. "Or am I a magical creature?"
Dumbledore was stunned. His blue eyes flickered to Harry's green ones.
"Tell me the truth!" Harry stood up and shouted. "My secrets are fine to share but yours must be kept in the dark. What am I to you? You gave me the cloak. You turned me into a weapon to use against the dark lord. I'm just a tool to help leverage yourself over him. Why else would you give me the cloak?"
"To keep you safe. Harry, please. You aren't a weapon."
"You are lying to me," Harry accused.
Dumbledore's fingers quivered again. He gazed up at where Harry stood.
"Riddle me this: what is the nature of the connection between myself and the dark lord? Why did he try to capture me instead of just killing me? Why did he attack my parents? You keep so many secrets from me. You then have audacity to demand that I tell the truth? How dare you? When I am asked about my stay at the Dursley's I shall lie. I shall lie well. As you have taught me."
Dumbledore looked like Harry had reached over the desk and hit him across the jaw. He gaped at Harry.
"How long have you known?" Dumbledore asked him at long last.
"You have questions for me now? Be specific, Dumbledore. How long have I known what? That you mean to use me to destroy Voldemort? I suppose I have always known. It's obvious."
"Harry please. It isn't like that."
"It's exactly like that."
Harry stood over the old man with that and they were both silent for a long time. Dumbledore looked Harry dead in the eyes but Harry didn't flinch. He wasn't afraid of the wizard's gaze. Harry's mind was a fortress with tools no one else had ever conceived of in terms of mind magic. Weaponized despair and bipolar depression with psychotic features. If the older wizard made a move on his mind he would tear him to pieces.
But Dumbledore said nothing. He just had this look of terrible horror on his face. His eyes were wide and his jaw was slack. Lips parted but no words left him. He just looked up at Harry with something grotesque in the way his brows widened. His fingers kept quivering in perturbation and he was deep in his distress.
Then the wizard moved. His twitching fingers reached into his robes and pulled out the knotted wand slowly. Too slowly. Harry drew his own wand in a flash and pointed the tip between Dumbledore's eyes. The black tip glowed with green lightning.
Dumbledore just set the Elder Wand on the desk in front of Harry. Harry was stunned. It was done so slowly and with Dumbledore's eyes never leaving his. There was a soft clack of wood against wood.
"Harry please. I had no idea you knew. I know now what you must be thinking - why you think I have made you into a weapon, as you put it. Have a seat. I shall answer your questions. You are old enough. I had hoped to shelter you a while longer but you have outgrown any cradle. Will you kill me and take the wand? Harry?"
"I never wanted to kill you. I loved you," Harry whispered.
"You speak in the past tense."
"I don't know what to think. What am I supposed to think? I won't be sacrificed. I won't be pointed at the enemy. I don't even know what I am. There is a connection between myself and Voldemort that I don't understand. You do. You have kept it from me. Why would you do that if you weren't going to have me be blind?"
"I wanted to keep you safe. I wanted you to have time to be a child. Especially after what happened to you as you were growing up."
"You couldn't keep my parents safe from Voldemort. You can't keep Voldemort out of your school. What am I supposed to think?"
"Ask me your questions Harry. I shall answer."
"Voldemort came for my parents in particular. Why?"
"There is a prophecy. He believed that you were to equal him and he wished to destroy you in the cradle before you could become a threat. The prophecy is this: the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches; Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies; and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not; and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives; The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies."
"A prophecy? About me? And you never told me…"
"Harry, I beg of you-"
"Who delivered this prophecy?"
"She's your pet psychic. I knew there was a reason you kept her around. I always strongly suspected something like this. And my parents defied him three times. So he thought I was the candidate and marked me. The prophecy forced his hand and made him mark me. He chose me."
"Yes. The prophecy became self-fulfilling."
"Then what about the horcruxes? What do you know about them?"
"The diary was one. As you must know yourself. I know of no others save one."
"Then why haven't you destroyed it?" Harry demanded.
"Because it is you, Harry."
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