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Harry read from his textbooks every day under the purview of Alexander, the wind spirit in the skull. Harry carried it to the library where he sat and read. When he had questions he asked of the skull. He learned the nature of the blood wards which surrounded the mansion. They'd keep out anyone with hostile intent with enough power to vaporize them. It also had a threshold to keep out ghosts and the fey of the wilds.

He learned that the fey couldn't lie from the skull. Not that they chose not to. That they were absolutely unable. The creatures of faerie were weird. There were trolls and red caps and all sorts of other creatures. Wind, water, lightning, fire, and earth spirits of all natures lived in faerie.

Transfiguration seemed simple enough for the six year old to understand. The nature of changing things from one form to another. Even summoning animals from objects. They weren't alive. They didn't have a soul. But it was possible to make animals from nothing. From air.

Charms were fascinating. Changing colors and levitating objects. There were better things too. Making happiness solid. Making misery content. The magic of emotions made real. And better things besides.

Defense was Harry's favorite. Shielding yourself. Attacking others. If Harry had the power of defense on his side against the darkness then...then… Dudley and Vernon could never have touched him. Bludgeoning, beating, breaking, bashing. Setting things on fire or torching them with lightning. And there were creatures too which could do all kinds of obtuse magic.

Potions was similar. It could change things, emotions, lights, feelings. You could do all sorts of things to a person with potions. A person could do all kinds of things with magical ingredients. Dumbledore had mentioned dragon's blood which Harry was sure would be perfectly puissant. He hadn't read about dragons yet.

He practiced basic arithmancy but the mathematics was so far basic which worked perfectly enough for Harry. He had never practiced math before and he had to start basic to get anywhere.

Then he would practice his actual spell work in the afternoons with Dumbledore. Dumbledore taught Harry how to focus his will to levitate objects and summon fire and force.

"Incendio." Harry murmured by the fireplace. Nothing happened. If he had a match he would sleight of hand it and try to light the fire that way. But he didn't. He had only his wand. The wood felt cold.

"You must focus your will. Imagine the wood taking light. It is imperative that you imagine."

"Incendio." Nothing took alight.

Harry growled in frustration. Dumbledore scolded him lightly for his impatience. Harry took it with a nod. Getting frustrated would get him nowhere. He sighed and closed his eyes. He tried to imagine the wood catching fire. He focused himself and grounded himself. He felt the chill of his wand in his hand. It was a bit distracting compared to the heat of his would be fire. He pushed through it and imagined the heat.

"Incendio." The wood caught up in a little blaze. Harry looked up at Dumbledore to see his kindly smile. It looked a little proud. Harry blushed and looked away. It felt good. Harry had never really felt that way before. He never had his uncle approve of him. He never had his aunt love him. But this… he could do this.

"Sir, I was wondering." Harry began.

"Of course."

"You called yourself the Merlin. What is that?"

"It's a title. A job. A responsibility. Given to me by the White Council. Its a leadership role and I am frequently looked to for advice considering my mastery of the arcane. I am expected to make decisions and I get a vote on the senior council. One of several. The Gatekeeper is another member of the senior council."

"So… you're powerful? Even for a wizard?"

"I am indeed if I may be so bold. One does not become the Merlin by collecting bottle caps."

Harry nodded. "And this pentacle you gave me. What does it do?"

"Why it can be a light in the darkness and has several protective enchantments to it. To help keep you safe should you require it. I don't anticipate you will need it any time soon but it pays to be prudent."

"And sir…"

"Go ahead," Dumbledore beckoned.

"You knew my parents." There wasn't a question in that. But it still stood.

"I did. Your mother was a talented witch. Your father was a rather excellent duelist and transfigurer. I was wondering when you would pursue your family through me."

"I know that they died when I was young but I don't know how or why."

"They were killed by a dark wizard named Voldemort. He came for you and your mother and father died protecting you. I suspect he gave you that scar upon your forehead."

Harry's hands reached up to brush the lightning shaped scar. He pondered that. "Sir, that explains how but not why. Why did they die?"

"Ah. Why did Voldemort come for you and your parents? Well Harry, and I beg you for your forgiveness, I shan't tell you. It is better, I feel, to allow you to be a child. Rather than force such unnecessary employment upon you. I will tell you one day. When you are ready."

Harry frowned. He wanted to know now. But getting upset with the old wizard surely wouldn't show him as ready. So he stifled such feelings and buried them deep.

"What happened to Voldemort?" Harry asked.

"Most believe that he was destroyed that night. Indeed you are quite famous here in Britani for it. There isn't a young witch or wizard who doesn't know your name."

"Me? Famous?"

"Quite so. As well as in parts of France. You have quite a name to you."

Harry frowned again. He wasn't sure he entirely believed Dumbledore but Dumbledore hadn't lied to him yet. He had instead shown Harry the ways of magic and truth. Even the things he kept from Harry he hadn't exactly lied. He outright told Harry what he was keeping from him. Even If Harry didn't like having things kept from him he would probably appreciate being lied to less.

And Harry was good at determining when he was being lied to. He wasn't sure that would extend to the old wizard but it may.

"Is that all your questions for me? Young man?"

Harry nodded. "For now."

"Just so. I am happy to have a curious pupil. I'd be quite off put if you were dull."

Harry ate his lunch quickly and went back to practicing magic. He tried in vain to make a feather float and reduced several to ash.

"Too much, Harry. You are pushing too much magic into the connection. Try and calm yourself. Clear your mind," Dumbledore beckoned.

Harry still struggled with it, however. He could not for the life of him make a feather float without reducing it to cinders. The six year old eventually grew so frustrated that Dumbledore suggested he take a break, not unkindly. Harry accepted. Dumbledore took Harry for a walk around the mansion and surrounding hills and forests. He took Harry to meet an old woman who lived nearby. A woman named Arabella Figg. She had a couple of cats and Harry bent and stroked their fur as they walked around him.

"This is your new apprentice?" Figg asked.

"He is indeed. Harry?"

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Figg." Harry shook her hand.

"Such a polite young man." She gave him a kindly smile. She offered Harry a toffee candy which Harry accepted and put into his mouth to chew. It tasted good. Harry never got sweets while he lived at the Dursleys.

Dumbeldore took him all over the small villa and as they walked Harry asked the older wizard questions about the spells he was learning. He was too young to understand the mathematics behind the spells but he had a knack for making connections.

"Harry I'm afraid we won't be staying here overly long. It is my place to travel from coven to coven. Do you know what a coven is? Young man?"

Harry shook his head.

"It is a place where witches gather their strength. My own power is not truly tied to a place though I have homesteads across Europa. I am, at my core, something of a free spirit. I go where the weave commands along with my business. You shall become used to traveling as my apprentice. And you shall have to learn to speak multiple languages as a matter of course."

"I speak German and English," Harry cut in.

"So you do. But what about Iberian? What about French? You will master more with time as well as old Latin. You must to truly be a wizard."

"I understand sir. Where are we going first?"

"France for Beauxbatons. It's a rather large coven school. The largest in France. I have business with Madam Maxine and I'm afraid that your guardianship and education waits for no one. Do you feel that? Harry?"

Harry paused. Shadows were lengthening in the evening sun. The sun was going down. Birds were stopping their chirping and laying down to roost. Animals were going into their homes. Others were coming out to hunt.

"The sunset? Sir?"

"Just so. There is a power to the setting sun. And the rising sun. The new day and the birth of night. I shall teach you what these events truly mean. It is more than a fiery orb going down over the relative horizon. Go out into the wilderness away from the hustle and bustle of civilization and listen to the animals change roles. The hunters come out. Shadows lengthen. Ghosts and spirits shift. Then, come morning, they must bunker down again. There is power in this which can strip away magic or strengthen it. The new day ends spells and the twilight is the perfect hour to cast them. The weave beckons."

"What is the weave sir? I've read that it's where magic touches our world but I'm afraid I don't entirely understand." Harry wondered.

"The weave is. It is the nucleus of creation. All powers drawn on it. The fire of the sun and stars. The distant hum of alien worlds in faerie. The beasts of the nevernever are formed from it. We touch on the weave. And with our mastery and study can cause it to shift and turn. That is magic. The weave is all that ever can be."

Harry nodded along. He thought he understood a little better but it was still nebulous. Dumbledore talked about the weave like it was an old friend. To Harry it seemed more like a kind of god but lacking any real consciousness. Perhaps in time he would understand it better. But for now it was just too alien.

They returned to Dumbeldore's mansion. One of several across Europa. Harry resolved to not get too comfortable. They would be on the move soon and it was for the best that he be ready when they did.

They ate dinner together.

That might not sound like a grand thing in and of itself. But Harry had always eaten alone at the Dursley's. Sharing a meal… It was comforting. It's one of the great acts of man. Eating together was something people and families had done since time immemorial. Harry had always been denied that. But now eating with Dumbledore he felt light as air and whole hearted.

"Tonight at midnight you shall brew a potion, Harry. One to allow you to pick up the French language when we travel. There is no shortcut to learning a language. You must struggle. You will find yourself lost and adrift. I can guide you but you must take the steps on your own. The potion I have in mind for you to brew won't translate everything for you. Instead it will allow you to make connections and bridge gaps in understanding on your way to comprehension. By now you must know the essence of potion brewing."

"Yes sir. Six ingredients. One for each of the five senses and then something for the mind. Perhaps a seventh to power the creation if the ingredients lack energy on their own."

"You have an excellent memory Harry. Well said."

"Sir, I have a question about potions. And… and the mind. What is the mind?"

"Ah. Intrigued by the inner mysteries, are we? Harry? The mind or psyche represents our consciousness. It is connected to the minor planet Psyche. Spells involving the mind are at their zenith when Psyche is aligned. A doorway and a butterfly's wing. Harry, the mind represents our ability to choose. Our freewill as mortals. It is nothing less than the sum of our collective actions in this world and our memories."

Harry still didn't understand. "Then what's a soul?"

"Everything else. What are you left with when your mind and body are stripped away? The soul. You are your soul Harry. In contrast you merely have a mind and body."

"It doesn't sound like much," Harry murmured absently.

"No? The soul is a massive thing. It is, simply put, everything about you which can't be quantified. It is everything else."

"This potion I'm to brew… for the mind… What ingredient is for the mind?"

"Care to take a guess?" Dumbeldore questioned.

Harry paused and considered that. What would be for the mind? "A book?" He hazarded.

"Very good Harry. Sartre's Being and Nothingness burnt to ash and finely added. A wholesome choice."

"How do you know which book to choose?"

"Something French as a start. Surely you can guess why. Something complex and deep. Something wholesome and complete. Of course any book may do just fine. But for a more potent potion a more potent book is required. As you learn more you shall see and choose which book may be best. And you will in time read Being and Nothingness. Just as at some point you will read Nitsche and Decartes. Philosophy is key to being a wizard."

After dinner in the twilight Dumbledore led Harry to the Alchemy laboratory where a cauldron sat in the middle of the room. There were ingredients lining the walls and several tomes on shelves. Under Dumbledore's careful instruction they started with milk as a base and added sweet honeycombes. With his magic Harry incinerated a copy of Being and Nothingness and added it to the brew. Jazbay spices were added along with a magical strain of mint. At Dumbledore's word Harry lowered the temperature of the brew and began to stir six times clockwise and a seventh counterclockwise while dye made from blueberries was slowly combined with the egg of a songbird.

The final ingredient was spiders silk, thin sheets cut from a greater whole and blended together. The aroma of the potion was fresh to Harry's senses and he had the feeling it would taste better than the blend Dumbledore had given him for his injuries.

"Now levitate it, Harry. Into these flasks." Harry paused. His levitation spell always faltered and burnt the feathers to a crisp. If he failed now he would burn up his potion. He took a shaking breath. He drew his wand and felt the chill of the wood. With a low murmur he drew some potion from the cauldron into the flasks Dumbledore provided. When all the potion was withdrawn Harry slumped. His shoulders down. He was breathing hard and sweating. But he had done it.

"Very good Harry. This ought to last us for our stay in France."

Harry bobbed his head, too exhausted to speak. He merely took in Dumbledore's words.

"While in France you shall attend classes with the witches there. First year classes ought to suffice and challenge you. I shall be too busy to teach you each day and the instructors there are first class. Beauxbatons will challenge you, Harry. But I suspect you are up for the task. I shall have my business during the days but at nights I shall make myself available to you. And, of course, you shall have Alexander. I suggest you take the time to explore their library. It was donated to the school after Grindelwald burned down the old one by my good friend Nicolas Flamel. It is quite rich. Now, off to bed with you. We have a busy day come morning and traveling is often hard on these old bones."

The six year old nodded. He understood. Learning a language while keeping up with classes was going to be a real challenge. Not to mention all the other students would probably be older than him. He wasn't sure he'd be able to get along with them but he would try his best. He never had many friends but he'd like that to change. Perhaps the French school would be a good place to start. He was young and full of drive, however. He didn't want to disappoint Dumbledore or himself. He had the potion to back him up. He had time to grow. He was still so young.

He climbed the stairs to the second floor of the mansion where his room was. He undressed and washed himself down with a cloth before dressing in a nightgown. He climbed into the soft feather bed his master had provided and fell slowly, dizzyingly, to sleep.

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