Seeking under stones

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. John F. Kennedy

Fast reading has come a long way in the last few decades. Howard Berg, being the epitome of the discipline, was worldly acclaimed as the fastest reader alive, at a whopping 25.000 words per minute, there were almost no books that the man couldn't read in under an hour. Harry may not have been on that level, but still, 4.000 words per minute is still nothing to scoff at. It was not a surprise then, that after merely 3 weeks of knowing about the existence of the wizarding world Harry had more than three dozen books stacked in several piles in the desk of his room at the Leaky Cauldron and even more in his trunk.

The Targets of his hunger for knowledge varied, from moldy history books to colorful fairy tales and from complicated theses that for now flew over his head, to fashion magazines. Harry's objective was to understand the world as much as he could before going to Hogwarts where he knew he would be under harsh scrutiny

"Although it has been discussed that the presence of a divination teacher at Hogwarts is superfluous at best, useless at worst, with several board members trying to erase the subject from the curriculum, all the attempts have, without a fault, been blocked by the ruling headmaster."

"Although we may find the usefulness of the subject questionable, we must remember that this was one of the first disciplines to be taught at Hogwarts, the founders themselves deemed the subject to be worthy of study and at the risk of being seen as a worshiper, I can't help to believe that those great men and women wouldn't add an entire field of study to the curriculum of their institution with the intention of "filling hours", if nothing else we should attempt to question what values are we ignoring and what could have those wizards and witches of old times see that we do not today"

"Interesting" muttered Harry rising his face from the last tome that captured his attention. and directing his sight to the more streamlined but, oh so much poorer version of what he was reading just now. "Hogwarts a History" read the title, originally a periodistic work done by a small team to publish "All that could be known about Hogwarts", the finished product had been censored so much that at the moment of the final publishing, only the bare bones of what it had been remained, covered of course by an obscene amount of propaganda. Yet the authors eventually found people willing to pay good money for their work, and even if their intention hasn't been to sell it in a back alley in the black market, at the end they did it; if only to spite the men and women who sought to ruin the work of their lives.

That was how the tome ended in Harry's possession, the book had changed hands in the grey and dark parts of society because it dared to show wizarding society at anything else than a fairy tale, the man who sold it to him, was certainly of those that leave a deep impression.

: : :

Harry walked in Diagon Alley in what he called his "Dark Wizard garb", is rather remarkable how donning a black hooded robe can make you appear evil and mysterious, his reasons for doing so were pretty simple, he needed to go to Knockturn Alley and he figured even if child-sized, someone with a dark robe capable of producing flames with his bare hands wasn't likely to be bothered, after all, is not like anybody could be sure he was actually a child.

It took some time to find what he had come looking for, people who traded ancient books and knowledge were actually pretty tricky to find, usually most of those things ended up in the government or in some dusty library owned by an old family. Still, there was a market for it as long as you know how to recognize the duds and the scammers.

There were the easy ones, those that promised that their maps would help you find the buried treasures of the pharaohs or the lost secrets of Mesopotamia, those Harry dismissed without a thought. then there were the tricky ones, those that showed without pomp, old and legit looking documents and manuscripts, but Harry fancied himself somewhat of specialist as far as historical studies went. It was in the details such as a relatively new word seemingly inconsequential as long as it was not written in a 6 centuries old treaty or a history book that made reference to events that would not be known by the world at large until several years after the supposed time of its writing.

It took Harry several days to arrive to a dim-lit but neat store. It didn't have many wares, just some nick nacks and some old looking diaries that had names he couldn't even identify. the thing is, they were perfect, no detail was out of place, no incongruity with the time period it claimed to be from.

Since arriving to the wizarding world and reading everything he could get his hands onto, Harry had come to a worrying realization. It was practically impossible to get your hands on a History book that was not covered in embellishment or censure, now Harry was pretty used to such things after all even in the muggle world it was pretty hard to get your hand in reliable historical information, but still at least there was accessible as long as you knew where to look, Harry was halfway about to give up for the time being when he found the store.

The store was pretty much what Harry had been looking for, testimonies and stories of ancient witches and wizards without propaganda. Just chronicles about either the boring days of a 17th-century ministry worker or the war diary of a wizard that fought in the goblin rebellion of the 15th-century, is not that Harry was particularly interested in some random person's life, rather he wanted to know what spells were commonly used in those times, which ideologies were commonplace and accepted, what was the level of education of the common masses, everything was relevant when trying to understand a historical period.

It had been 4 consecutive days of Harry going to the nameless store to buy more diaries since the shop owner seemed to replenish the 10 or so that he always bough, when an amused and exasperated voice talked to him

"Having fun with those, lad?" said a deceptively well-dressed shop owner

"... somewhat, they are pretty interesting if you know what to look for" said Harry after a brief pause.

"hoo... And what are you looking for?" asked a now intrigued man

Harry didn't answer immediately, instead, he studied the man that owned the unconventional shop. The man was rather robust in a way that it was hard to distinguish if it was fat or muscle, the clothes he wore were very subdued in color and design but deceptively good as far as material and craftsmanship was concerned, he wore a black ring with a serpent engraved in it that Harry first thought was a Head of House ring but it didn't have a jewel so it couldn't be. His eyes shone with what could only be recognized as intelligence and curiosity

"The truth" answered Harry

"Ah, but a man's lie could be another man's truth, so, what kind of truth are you looking for?"

Harry though a little bit before answering "The kind of truth that makes sense, the kind that doesn't contradict what I know and can prove"

The man's face shone a creepy smile that showed his teeth "So, could I be right thinking that you are looking for Trust?"

It may have been the way he said it, after all, he wasn't exactly looking for trust itself but rather trustworthy information but Harry was clever enough to infer that his word had a nuance, unfortunately, he still didn't know enough about magic to know what could that mean, so he decided to take the gamble.

"Yes, I am looking for information I can trust" answered Harry with a weary expression

"Good! come over, I have some things that may interest you; if you have something to ask, don't hesitate, as long as your pockets are full and loose I'll answer, this is my trade after all" And that would be the short story of how Harry Potter, boy-who-lived extraordinaire and Rickman Strayder, information broker; met, and how Harry was able to acquire quite a number of books and documents that are normally out of the reach of normal people

A/N: So, I'm back, real life and all the usual excuses... This chapter is pretty short by my standards, but I think I need to actually put something out to get back my motivation, so there it goes.

Also if you read this fic before 1/29/2020, you should probably go back and read at least the prologue again, I pretty much reworked the entire thing since it was just a placeholder and honestly, I would probably no read a fic that started like that nowadays, I also made some other changes and edited a lot of typos and other errors throughout the fic