So for those of you who read the previous version of this story, you know that Harry begins training Neville. This, as I expected pissed off a great number of you who tried to argue that Harry should spend his time training rather than wasting his time training Neville. Well as I explained in the first chapter that is not changing and I think explained myself very well and I won't be repeating myself. Either go back and reread my explanation on the first chapter or expect a very lengthy PM from me after your review.
But one thing I'd like to point out, this isn't your typical fic where Harry becomes the one-man army who takes on the Death Eaters single-handedly. Dumbledore didn't do that with either Voldemort or Grindelwald so I'm not doing that here. Magical battles aren't determined purely by who has more power or better control. A lot of things factor into a battle and no man alone can win the war but he can change it. Harry is the change, but he alone can't win, he needs allies and soldiers to follow him. Neville is the beginning of Harry gathering allies to his cause and he won't be the last.
There were many things Harry expected when looking around at the students of the Great Hall. For one, he expected a sombre mood at the knowledge that the most power powerful Dark Lord in history was back alive and waging his war against the world. He expected, to see empty sears as parents withdrew their children from Hogwarts, fleeing to different countries in fear of that very same Dark Lord.
Instead, the students around the hall were laughing and talking as if nothing was going on, as if it was just an ordinary year and that there wasn't a Dark Lord on the loose.
It was shocking, to say the least.
Harry didn't know whether to be happy that people could still live and find joy in the world despite the dark times ahead. Or whether he should be angry at how nonchalant they were about it. It was something that no matter how much he thought upon, he couldn't find the answer to.
As he moved towards the Gryffindor table, he ignored the few glances he received and even ignored the chattering of Ron. Much like how Harry couldn't decide how to feel about the lack of reaction from the students of Hogwarts on Voldemort's return, he couldn't decide how to feel about Ron either. Despite coming close to death last year in the Department of Mysteries, Ron had not seemed to mature in the slightest. It was good to see that he was still his same old self, unchanged by that experience. At the same time though, it was frustrating because it meant that much like everyone else, he wasn't preparing for the future.
In fact, he seemed more focused on Lavender Brown than Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Harry didn't really have much of a problem with that, Harry thought of Tonks and Fleur a lot of the time when really, he shouldn't be allowing himself such distractions. It was only natural for guys their age to think of girls. But every time Hermione or he has talked about the Order and the brewing war with Voldemort, Ron seemed quick to change the subject.
Perhaps he was scared? Harry didn't know but he knew that unless Ron shaped himself up, he couldn't rely upon the ginger anymore. His focus needed to be entirely upon training for the future and considering Dumbledore was forcing him to also partake in normal Hogwarts education, Harry wasn't in the best of moods.
He was impatient, frustrated and angry with the Headmaster for a multitude of reasons. All of it left Harry with little time nor care to try and get Ron to mature and open his eyes to how precarious their situation was. They were still friends and he didn't hate him at all, he just disliked the gingers inability to grasp just how dangerous Britain was becoming.
Until such a time that Ron could see that, Harry would distance himself from him.
Seeing an open seat by Neville, Harry sat down beside the Longbottom heir. "Neville." He greeted with a nod and the taller boy gave a nervous smile in return.
"Hey, Harry." He greeted back as Ron and Hermione took a seat across from them both. "How was your summer?" He asked and by the look in his eyes, Harry could see the true question in his eyes.
"I'm good, there's no use dwelling upon it." He replied with a smile and a nod. "What about you?"
"It was alright, I…I struggled with feeling useless." Neville said after a few moments of consideration. "Watching you fight side by side with the Order, it made me feel completely useless like I'd never be capable of doing anything to help." Harry watched with a keen eye as Neville clenched his fists tightly, while slightly thankful for the loud chattering of other students masking their conversation.
"Neville, all of us felt useless," Hermione spoke up attracting attention to her from the three boys. "I know all these spells, I spent hours of my time reading book after book, only to come face to face with the real thing and be completely outmatched. Unlike you, I had a wand that is actually my own and I could do nothing, if anyone was useless, it was me." Hermione admitted quietly and Harry reached forward placing one hand on her shoulder.
"Neither of you should feel useless," Harry said flashing Hermione a short smile. "I barely knew what I was doing and when V-Tom, appeared, I could do nothing but watch as he and Dumbledore fought." He quickly used Voldemort's, real name as to not attract any attention to their little group, by the looks on their face they knew who he was on about.
He knew that he had all three of their attentions and he hoped that saying this would at least snap Ron out of his little bubble of immaturity.
"They were so powerful, using magic in ways I never thought possible or heard of," Harry said and he could see the fear in all three of their eyes. "Dumbledore could do nothing but defend because I was in the way, every time he tried to attack, Tom would fire spells at me, forcing Dumbledore to defend. If I wasn't there, then it's highly likely that Tom would have been beaten, but I was there."
There was silence as they swallowed that feeling.
"So whether you were or weren't hopeless, all of us failed that night. Including me." Harry bluntly pointed out that the real aim of that mission was to save Sirius and at the end of it all, Sirius had died. "All you can do is just prepare yourselves for the future."
All three paused, sharing glances between one another. "Mate, we've still got another two years at Hogwarts." Ron began looking a little nervous and uncomfortable.
"Do you really believe he'll wait two years?" Harry bluntly asked and Ron went silent, fully aware that no, Voldemort had never waited before and would never do so. He wasn't stupid or blind to the truth, Ron just didn't want to admit it, but he was scared. Like Neville had said, he'd felt completely useless in the Department of Mysteries.
Much like Hermione, he thought that when it came down to it, he could do what was necessary and fight for what was right. Yet when the moment came round, he'd been absolutely petrified and became a liability. If it wasn't for the arrival of the Order, it's likely they would have all died that day and that terrified Ron more than words could describe.
He didn't want to experience that fear again, the feeling of helplessness. It made it all too real and Ron didn't think he had the courage to face that again.
Harry looked away from Ron, turning towards Hermione. She had gone completely still, her skin seemed to bleed of all colour and become a pale white. No words were said, her countenance was all the explanation Harry needed to know what her answer was. It was when he turned to Neville though that he noticed a shift in him, he'd always been nervous and easily scared.
He could clearly see that same nervousness and fear, but there was something else besides that. There was a determination burning there and it pleased Harry to see that there was someone willing to fight. However, before he could say anything, the doors to the Great Hall opened and in came a flood of First Years, led by Professor McGonagall.
One by one, the First Years were sorted, including a new transfer student named Niamh White who had been sorted into Gryffindor as a Sixth Year. She was a pretty young woman, with long flowing red hair and green eyes, a heart-shaped face and a petite figure. He was almost reminded of Ginny in a way, a slightly less tomboyish Ginny with a more curvaceous and busty figure, but still very much like youngest Weasley.
Then Dumbledore stepped up to the podium and the chatter that had once again begun quietened down instantly, that was the effect Dumbledore had upon the students and Harry could respect that, even if he didn't like the old man very much right now.
With a light cough, to clear his throat, Dumbledore looked out over the students of Hogwarts with a twinkle in his eyes. "Welcome, all to a new year at Hogwarts." He began, his voice resonating all over the hall. "As usual I have a number of announcements to make. The first, I would like to announce Professor Snape as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor here at Hogwarts."
There were a few groans from the students around the hall, mainly the Gryffindor table and big surprise, Snape looked completely unperturbed by this. That was if you ignore the scowl on his face, but that was always on his face so it made no difference.
Dumbledore continued on as if he had never heard them though. "As for the opening in Potions, I have asked my old friend and former Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn to take up the mantle once more." Much like they had done with Snape, the students clapped politely as Professor Slughorn looked at them all with a smile on his face. None of the students could tell what to make of the man, so their applause was only slightly higher than it was for Snapes.
"However, as we all know, Voldemort has returned." The vast majority of the student population flinched at the mention of the Dark Lords name. "As a result, I have seen fit to include a new course into Hogwarts that all of you are required to attend at least twice a week." Many students looked on interest, sharing glances in silent conversation. "It is a course focusing around self-defence and what to do in certain situations that would require you to fight and it shall be taught by Professor Flitwick, Snape and myself. Once again I would like to stress that this class must be attended by all of you at least twice a week otherwise punishment shall be given to those guilty parties unless you have a proper reason."
Harry took a moment to look around and was disappointed to see that despite a few anomalies, the vast majority once again completely ignored the fact that Voldemort was around and continued to act like children. It annoyed him, couldn't they see that their lives and the lives of their families were being threatened by Voldemort's very existence?
"Also, I have put rules 43 and 44 in effect that dictates that in extreme situations, Emergency Prefects are called in to assist with the teachers and already existing Prefects. As well as giving Prefects the right to hand out punishment that will later be reviewed by the Head of House for both that Prefect and the student in question." There were few looks of shock and uneasiness from some of the students.
"However, with all that said and done, let us feast." And then the food appeared much to the happiness of all the students.
"Can you believe it, mate?" Ron said after stuffing his face with food for a few minutes. "Dumbledore's gone mad if he's letting Prefects hand out punishments as they see fit." Harry looked away in disgust as he saw the food Ron was chewing in his mouth. "It's bad enough with Snape handing out detentions constantly and docking points, but Malfoy as well?"
"Ronald, don't speak with your mouth full!" Hermione snapped and Harry smiled at the sight of Hermione acting like her old self, it was pleasing to see. Even more so when Ron actually closed his mouth and stopped showing off his chewed food still in his mouth. "And honestly, it's not that bad. Have you forgotten that you're a Prefect as well?"
"She's right." Harry interrupted before Ron could retort. "Malfoy is far too scared to attract attention to himself like he used to."
The confused looks he received told him that no one understood what he meant. "I'm lost," Ron said. "You're telling me that Draco Malfoy, isn't going to abuse this to give you and every Gryffindor ridiculous punishments. We are on about the same Draco Malfoy here, right?"
"Yep." Harry popped his 'p' for extra effect with a grin on his face as he looked across the hall at Draco who had kept his head down and poked at his food. "Look at him." They did so and it was clear to all that he was not the same as he used to be. "He's terrified, he's a DE in Hogwarts under Dumbledore's nose. He won't do anything that will attract unnecessary attention to himself."
"He's a what?!" Neville whispers loudly, with narrowed eyes. "How do you know?"
Hermione looked at Harry with a frown. "Harry, I know your personal feelings on Malfoy, but you can't go around accusing people of being Death Eaters like that."
"I'm not accusing if I know it to be the truth." Harry shot back and Hermione looked at him with a raised brow. "You remember the raid on Diagon Alley that happened this summer?" They all nodded their heads. "Well it turns out that mere moments before that happened, Draco was seen walking into Knockturn Alley accompanied by hooded figures."
"That still doesn't prove anything," Hermione replied stubbornly and Harry shrugged his shoulders.
"Maybe." Harry leaned back with an easy smile on his face. "But would it make you change your mind if both Mad-Eye and Dumbledore think it to be the truth?" They looked at Harry in shock before they looked at Draco.
Knocking on the wooden door leading to the Headmasters office, Harry heard the elderly wizard telling him to come in before pushing it open. He looked around and noticed that the office despite being completely destroyed by Harry himself last year in a fit of rage, was completely repaired and looked exactly the same.
"Ah, Harry." Dumbledore indicated towards the chair across from him and Harry took it politely. "Lemon Drop?"
Curious at what the sweets that Dumbledore had a huge bowl of tasted like, Harry took one. "Thank you." And Dumbledore smiled at the emerald-eyed wizard while also taking one of the sweets himself. "Why did you ask to speak to me, Headmaster?"
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled and Harry felt a small brush upon his mental defences. He had been brushing up on them this summer with Remus who had some basic skills in Legillmency, but nothing great. If it was Passive Legillmency then Harry doubted he would have been able to notice it, and he knew for sure that if Dumbledore tried to read his mind then Harry wouldn't know until it was too late.
Masterfully, Harry cleared his mind and stared at Dumbledore blankly until the Legillmency probe withdrew. "Very well done, Harry." Dumbledore praised with a smile on his face. "I'm glad to see that you have improved upon your Occlumency skills."
"Yes, well I doubt that if you really tried that I would be able to stop you." The older wizard neither denied nor agreed with that statement and instead changed subjects.
"Well, onto why I called you here." Harry sat up straighter in his seat. "As you know, young mister Malfoy is a Death Eater and no doubt sent to spy upon you. I would like you to keep most of your skills on the down-low. You can show your prodigious talents if you wish, but keep as much of your skills secret."
"You want me to show no more skill than I did in my fight against Fenrir?" Harry deduced it instantly and Dumbledore nodded his head. "Alright, I'm not really bothered by that, but I'm curious. You know that Draco is a Death Eater spy or at least suspect it, then why are you letting him stay in Hogwarts?"
"Ah." Dumbledore smiled. "That, Harry is something you must figure out yourself. However, bear in mind that all leaders must make decisions that seem stupid to those that follow them. Something I imagine, that you will learn in time."
While not completely happy with the answer, Harry simply filed it away for later. As much as he didn't like the man, his advice was always sound and useful.
"Alright, but that can't be the only reason you called me here." Dumbledore nodded his head.
"You're right, how much sleep do you require? As I'm no doubt you're aware of, magic is very useful in allowing us to function for long periods of time without food, sleep or water and also helps to recover much quicker." Dumbledore informed.
"Four hours, give or take an hour," Harry replied. "It all depends on how much I've done beforehand, but four hours is about the average."
"Impressive," Dumbledore noted, he himself could go a few days without sleep, but that was only because he had more magic and greater control than Harry himself did. Yet at his age, he required far more sleep to function properly. "Very well, then, in that case, come down to the Room of Requirement after curfew. It will draw less attention to what we are doing than if you disappear for hours on end during the day."
Harry said nothing, knowing very well that sneaking out after curfew was not exactly a new thing for him, having done it numerous times throughout his time at Hogwarts. At least now he had permission to do it, but that may take all the fun out of it in the first case.
"Also, I'm well aware that you have no intentions to go to Hogsmeade." It wasn't a question. "I would like you to rethink that."
"Why?" Dumbledore looked at Harry with a hard look, reminding Harry that this was a man who had fought in two wars and had come out the victor in both.
"I would like for you to keep an eye on the students there."
"What about Auror's? Surely there are some stationed in Hogsmeade already?" Dumbledore nodded his head.
"Correct, there are Auror's stationed at Hogsmeade, yet most of their forces are focused on combatting Tom's and from what I have concluded from the reports, they are being led on a wild goose chase across the country." Dumbledore sighed tiredly. "My Order has their own lives and jobs and so I cannot spare to station any at Hogsmeade in case of an attack."
"What about the teachers and other faculty members?"
"They will of course be also stationed in Hogsmeade, as many as can be spared. However, Hogwarts is the most secure place in Britain and Magical Europe. If this falls to Tom then he will have an impenetrable stronghold from which he can stage all of his attacks from." The elderly wizard leaned back into his chair. "Should an attack come, then it needs to be defended."
"So you want me looking over the students, while you sit here defending the castle?" Harry asked rhetorically. "Sounds to me like you're in the safest place out of all of us."
Dumbledore's eyes narrowed and his magic buzzed in the air, pressing down upon Harry's shoulders. "Do not doubt for a second that should Hogsmeade come under attack that I will not be there, because I will. However, a leader does not bring all his forces and resources to bare on a minor skirmish. Remember that."
While still not happy, Harry stiffly nodded his head. "Can I leave, Headmaster?" With a nod, Dumbledore watched Harry storm out of his office with a thunderous expression on his face.
Fawkes trilled sadly, landing on the desk and Dumbledore reached round to stroke his Phoenixes head. "It seems that Harry still has a long way to go, he is not yet ready to take on the mantle of leader. He's too rash and too stuck in the belief that a war can be won without casualties on both sides. That will need to change if he is to fight in this war as a key player."
Everything around him felt surreal. All his senses heightened to levels he'd never experienced before and he felt powerful. Sensations like these were ones he had only dreamed of many years ago and yet now they were reality.
'And to think that the biggest threat to my plans is the very one to gift me with such an opportunity.' Fenrir thought, rising from where he laid upon the table. As he did, Fenrir let his hands clench and unclench into fists, just enjoying the feeling of his muscles containing power beyond anything he had ever imagined.
Smirking, Fenrir pushed himself off the table fully and grabbed hold of the jacket he had hung up near him. Draping it over his shoulders, Fenrir strolled through the dark lab in which he found himself within.
Passing by tables filled with bubbling jars of liquid and dissected body parts. He trailed one clawed finger over the outer edge of the books resting upon the bookcase. Eyes trailing up and down the edges and taking in everything within the room. It was not his first time here and like always, they were drawn to the most eye-catching feature.
Positioned at the back of the room stood numerous containers easily large enough to fit a person within them. They glowed with a greenish hue, the liquid within still and the bodies that floated there, torn apart and barely alive.
There were three in total.
Each of the people inside missing limbs, skin rotten and pulsing with black veins. They each were horrifying visages to look upon but also were incredibly vulnerable. 'All it would take would be to pull this plug tube here.'Fenrir thought, looking upon the large tube that split off into three, connecting to the top of each container. 'And they'd all die. All the knowledge they possessed gone and leaving me with all the power.'
As soon as that thought passed through his mind, Fenrir dismissed it completely. 'But there's still more they can give me. There has to be because I'm not strong enough yet.' Fenrir was a xenophobe, he hated and despised everything and everyone that was now a Werewolf.
These three before him were not Werewolves, they weren't even wizards and Fenrir doubted that at this point they could even be considered alive. Normally Fenrir would just kill them and be done with it, but he wasn't stupid enough to make a mistake like that. He had attached himself to Voldemort and his Death Eaters because he wasn't strong enough to oppose the Dark Lord.
Even if he brought the full might of his pack against the Dark Lord, Fenrir knew defeat would be his. So he chose the path that gave him the highest chance of survival, allying himself with Voldemort until such a time that they no longer had a need for one another.
Voldemort had revealed these three to Fenrir, providing him with some enhancements. All done to make Fenrir and his werewolves a more useful and dangerous fighting force but not a threat to the Dark Lord himself. If it wasn't for Fenrir smuggling these three to safety and blowing up their original lab, Voldemort would have killed them after the raid upon Diagon Alley. His followers too afraid to admit that they had no clue whether they were dead or not and so, reported to the Dark Lord that they were to save their own skin.
'No loyalty amongst them, not like there is amongst the Pack.'
He now had three beings that could make Fenrir stronger and were indebted to him. They knew and he knew it and Fenrir was going to use them for all their worth. Fenrir wasn't stupid, he hadn't lived this long without having some measure of intelligence. Not only that, but Fenrir had recognised these three for what they were, an opportunity.
'I'll let you three live for a little longer.' Fenrir smirked, claws scraping down the side of the glass as he turned away. 'But once you've served your purpose, then I'll remove you. Voldemort had the right idea to get rid of you, luckily for you, I got to you first.' Fenrir had no intention of giving all his werewolves the enhancements he was undergoing.
No, that would only invite more challenges for him. Instead, he'd take the best for himself, then get rid of the source of information entirely. That was the only way to ensure his position as the strongest Werewolf.
Unknowing to Fenrir, as he made his way out of the room, three pairs of eyes opened up, watching him go.
"Ah, Harry, I'm glad you made it." Dumbledore greeted kindly as Harry entered the Room of Requirement. The room itself took on an appearance similar to that of a large expanse of open fields. It was a beautiful sight, especially with the clear blue skies and the shining sun.
"Headmaster, Professor." Harry bowed his head towards Dumbledore and Professor Flitwick who were stood side by side.
"Mister Potter." Professor Flitwick returned the head bow with one of his own.
"So what are we doing?" Harry asked Dumbledore, taking note of the change in Dumbledore's clothing. It was no longer that brightly coloured robes that he usually wore, but instead what looked to be battle robes.
"We, Harry will primarily be improving your style." Harry looked between the two, not quite understanding why they needed to improve his style. Sure in his fight with Fenrir it had been sloppy despite the fact that he knew all the stances as a result of the Grimoires however, by sparring with Remus he had managed to improve his style.
"I don't get it."
"Filius." Dumbledore indicated for the half-Goblin to take over, who did so with an eager smile.
"You, mister Potter have two very distinct styles that on paper are completely different. The fact that you are attempting to combine the two together is nothing short of revolutionary and very ambitious of you. Very few have accomplished what you are intending to do." The diminutive professor shook his head to stop himself from going on a tangent. "Anyway, the first style you use is very reminiscent to your fathers in which you use Transfiguration to put your opponents off-balance or lure them into traps."
Dumbledore hummed in agreement. "A very gifted duellist your father was. Always setting up runic based traps and then luring them into said traps. Or luring them into ambushes or tight alleyways that had the effect of not only negating their numbers but making his Transfiguration much more devastating."
Harry nodded his head, while internally filled with a sense of pride for his father. In tight spaces, his father would be able to transfigure the walls into whatever he wanted, vines, spikes, etc. Should the Death Eaters follow him then they would be walking into a trap.
"Yes." Professor Flitwick continued as if he had never been interrupted. "Then there is your granduncle's style, a style that is very similar to your own I believe, Albus."
"It is one of my preferred styles, yes." Dumbledore nodded his head. "The style we are talking about it something most are incapable of using simply due to them needing vast amounts of magic and a great deal of control to limit the excess magic used in a spell."
"So, what does this style do?" Harry asked.
"It's very simple, using long and powerful spell-chains, powerful and complex pieces of Transfiguration and just basically, overwhelming your opponent with brute force. This is a style that Tom himself uses as you no doubt remember." Harry nodded his head because he did. He remembered watching the magic that they used and was incapable of imaging anyone capable of using what must be extremely taxing spells and pieces of magic.
Filius cleared his throat gaining Harry's attention. "These two styles individually can be very dangerous, together, however, well I think that you'll become one of the most dangerous duellists in the world." That fact was something that made Harry smirk. "However, it is a matter of making this style instinctual."
"Yes," Dumbledore spoke up. "I have watched your duels with Remus and while you are very skilled, you take a second or two to think over which route to go down. Do you lure them into a trap or do you overwhelm them?" Harry clicked his teeth in annoyance as he realised what Dumbledore was getting at.
In a normal fight, every second one fighter took to think over a possible attack, was an opening that an experienced opponent could use to finish the fight. Openings that Remus had not taken and allowed Harry time to think.
"Now, normally a wizard or witch when fighting must train their body to be able to instinctively fight while their mind studies their opponents and their weaknesses. Occlumency is extremely helpful in this regard." Filius added. "So, you will be duelling with Dumbledore and myself, making you not only get used to two very different styles but also forcing you to make your body instinctively avoid spells and fire your own back while your mind studies our weaknesses."
Harry nodded his head and moved back a few spaces, while Filius moved to the side, all the while Dumbledore stared at Harry with his wand held loosely in one hand.
'So Dumbledore is my first opponent.' Harry thought as his mind went other than what he knew of Dumbledore's style. 'I'm fucked.' He came to the conclusion almost instantly as he remembered the magic that Dumbledore had thrown around in the Ministry of Magic. He didn't have nearly enough magic or experience to combat spells of that magnitude.
"You need not worry, Harry," Dumbledore said in his grandfatherly tone. "I will not do you any serious harm however, you will feel pain. I have found in my many years that it is a great motivator."
Narrowing his eyes, Harry watched Filius fire red sparks into the air and then fired off a small, yet powerful spell-chain just to test the waters, all the while running to the left as to not stay in one place.
Dumbledore masterfully conjured numerous rocks into the path of the spells all the while his eyes tracked Harry. The young man in question only saw a broad swish of Dumbledore's wand before he was flung backwards, his body erupting with pain as his vision went black.
Dumbledore watched as Filius moved to enervate Harry with a frown. 'It seems that Harry has a very long way to go before he is ready.' He was pleased to note that while frowning Harry got to his feet and prepared himself once more. 'Yet, he is not shying away from the pain or the experience of losing. That is good.'
Harry was sore, plain and simple.
It had only been a week since he had started his Sixth Year at Hogwarts and already this year was shaping up to be completely different to any other. Then again, none of his five years at Hogwarts had been normal, so why would the sixth be any different?
"You've improved," Dumbledore noted, walking towards him without even a mark upon his clothes. He looked as clean and untouched as when they first started, it would be hard for anyone to believe that mere moments ago he had been engaged in a fast-paced duel. Though looking back on it, Harry found that to be much easier to believe considering each of their duels seemed to end as quickly as they began.
"Doesn't feel like it." Harry grouched with a frown. "I can't even last a few minutes against you."
Dumbledore smiled, pleased to see that instead of being disheartened, there seemed to be a fire burning within Harry's eyes. "That's because I'm not holding back. I may not come at you with the intent to kill, but if you're not careful Harry, each of the spells I use will seriously harm you."
He didn't have much time, the curse was ravaging his body and spreading. It was a curse Dumbledore had never seen before and one that all he talked to had never discovered before. But each expert and Master he met all said the same thing after running their own analysis, it was something they couldn't cure. For a normal wizard or witch, they wouldn't last any more than a week before they died. Dumbledore was alive purely because of the vast amounts of magic and control he possessed.
The Potions Snape was providing were more magical supplements that would allow Dumbledore some freedoms to utilise magic but it wasn't perfect.
He enjoyed teaching, he enjoyed watching students grow. It brought a sense of pride to him, a small rush of joy that couldn't be found elsewhere. The way Dumbledore was teaching was not fun, there was no coaching the finer points of magic, no exploring together as master and student.
No, the teaching Dumbledore was giving was not the type of teaching he enjoyed. It was rushed, it was painful and it was cruel. Only the most determined of students would endure the training Dumbledore was putting Harry through.
Every spell he fired was used with as much magic as Dumbledore would have used against Voldemort in the First Blood War and back in the Department of Mysteries. His chains were complex and dangerous, Transfigurations both overwhelmingly powerful yet also small and tricky, subtle and dangerous. Dumbledore was duelling Harry as if he was Voldemort and it forced Harry to adapt or die.
Dumbledore existed purely to be the mountain that Harry would climb. Every second longer that Harry lasted was a sign of Harry clawing his way up just that little further. He wasn't here to teach in the conventional sense, Dumbledore was here purely to show just how far Harry had to go and forcing him beyond his limits.
Every time Harry responded with great strength, Dumbledore responded with tricky and subtle magic that forced Harry to react differently. Only to then be forced to defend against an overwhelming attack. Every time Harry tried to be tricky and subtle with his magic, Dumbledore responded with brute strength. He forced Harry to adapt and change, to understand that performing one meant preparing against the other. If he didn't, Harry would lose and Voldemort would win.
"May I propose something that may help you?" It was rhetorical and Harry knew it. "I have found in my own personal experience that teaching is a great way to improve one's own skills. When trying to teach someone, you force yourself to explain it in a way that covers all necessary points, but in a way that's easily understandable. It, in turn, increases your own understanding of that very same principle.
Harry looked at him with a raised brow. "Are you asking me to teach someone? What's the point? I'd be wasting my time no one in this school has any intention of acknowledging Voldemort's even alive let alone fighting a war. I'd be wasting my time and effort which could be spent better improving my skills."
"Is that what you believe?" The response Dumbledore got was not words, but purely a look. Harry had come to Hogwarts this year, fully intending to use his position as a Prefect and Gryffindor Captain to gather allies. He was able to study the people around him, look for things that could prove useful and there were some. But they were all like Ron, too afraid to admit the truth and what that could mean for them.
It was pitiful.
Harry could understand why, Ron despite the problems in Fourth Year, had stood by his side a great deal. Even now, with Harry spending less and less time with Ron and others, committing himself fully to training, Ron didn't act jealously. In fact, Ron full understood why Harry was doing what he was, he'd give Harry little nods and at times would just have a laugh with him back in the Great Hall.
That alone told Harry that Ron while having his faults, was a loyal friend.
Yet his biggest fault at this time was that he was afraid, unknowing where to find the courage needed to overcome that fear. That wasn't something Harry could give him and he knew that Ron needed to find it for himself and it was the same for others in Hogwarts.
"It is," Harry replied simply. "You may like to spend your time uselessly teaching others. But I only have one goal in my life and that's to win. I'm going to kill Voldemort and unlike you, I'm not going to wait till thousands of lives are lost before finally showing up in the war."
The dig at perhaps the biggest stain upon Dumbledore's character earned a reaction. Even Flitwick who was looking over his notes paused but never said a word. He didn't need to as a buzz filled the air and Harry instantly felt a crushing weight press down upon him. Eyes widened in shock at the feeling of it, face pulling into a grimace.
"You may not like or trust me, boy." Not Harry, not my boy, but purely boy with a certain venom in his tone that Harry had never or believed to be possible from Dumbledore. "But you will not speak to me in such a fashion again. You agreed to be my apprentice, to learn under me and I will be owed the proper respect as your master that I deserve because contrary to what you believe, you are far from ready to fight a war."
Despite the weight upon him, Harry managed to strain his neck, looking up defiantly and with a glare. "Do you truly believe that you alone can win a war? Don't be such a foolish and naïve child. Wars are not won by one man alone, it requires trust, it requires teamwork. It requires soldiers willing to lay down their lives for what they believe in. You are not even a man but an immature child throwing a tantrum for not getting his way."
"You need allies to win a war, people willing to follow you to the end of the Earth and even to the depths of Hell. Without that, you will find yourself betrayed and alone, dead in the ground before you even begin. As you are now, you have already lost." The glare on Harry's face intensified. "You can't even speak his name. You forget, Voldemort is but a pseudonym. I have given you an instruction and you will follow it but if you intend to keep being stubborn, allow me to show you what a real war is."
It was not an offer though it was phrased as one. Dumbledore was demanding and the earlier display had left Harry stunned and bewildered. His defiance was still there mentally, but physically he moved and followed.
So another chapter is done and with it, Harry arrives at Hogwarts. Now this is where things change a little, when first writing this fic I was heavily influenced by Movie Ron who is nothing like Book Ron. Book Ron has his faults, I'm not denying that, but the one thing he is in the books is a loyal friend whose mistakes are properly explained and make sense. Friends argue but ultimately, Ron has in Harry's most dire moments, been there for him. That's no different here, I'm not going to needlessly bash characters like I did previously. I didn't do it for Bill this time round and I'm not doing it for Ron either.
In this book it's no different, but much like Hermione, he is suffering from a little PTSD though nowhere near as severe. Now as you've also seen, Neville isn't instantly Harry's student and instead, in the final part, Dumbledore suggests teaching as a means to help improve Harry's understanding of magic. This is how it begins and trust me, it will be effective for Harry and it will provide him his first ally.
We got a little more insight into Fenrir, the three figures who have helped him evolve are grotesque beings who Voldemort believe are dead. Instead though, Fenrir managed to get them to safety and continues to let them work upon him until they no longer serve a purpose. But he is planning to betray Voldemort in the future.
The biggest thing I think to take away from this is Dumbledore himself. I made this clear in Moody's bit of POV when talking on Dumbledore, but he's not your typical evil manipulative or morally good messiah that is prevalent fics. He's neither good nor bad, he's a purely grey character perfectly capable and willing to do both good and evil acts without a moments hesitation. From this point on, you'll be seeing just how far Dumbledore is willing to go and you'll see just how dangerous and terrifying a figure he was and still can be.
Anyway, let's get on with the questions:
WhiteElfElder: Yep it will and that's the whole point. Harry has shown himself to be very naïve and gullible at times and this is an instance of that. But it's also down to Ulgrat saying exactly what was necessary to get Harry to not trust him, but at least sympathise with him. So it's a mix of the two and unfortunately like you say, his actions are going to come back and haunt him in the future.
WinterRain36: No, the Horcrux is gone and therefore Dumbledore doesn't need Harry to die anymore. Instead he needs to train Harry in order to be able to combat Voldemort. Previously he never did because well what's the point in training someone that's just going to die. But now that's not the case.
Spider of Dreams: At this point in time, neither. Both sides of Goblins need him and Ulgrat got to him first. This isn't your typical fic where Goblins name Harry a friend of the Goblin Nation and help him out in every way they can. No, in this fic the Goblins have their own agendas which may at times align with Harry, others with Voldemort and also directly oppose them both.
Svenion: Don't because if you do, then the future will become confusing. The Goblin scenes explain the situation within the Goblin nation and showcase the beginnings of ripples that will come out of that. If you skip them then you'll be confused as to why certain things have happened, who certain characters are and what happened to others.
Fairy-tail lover605: I'd say more like Bending from Avatar and Magic from The Beginning After The End.