This story has quite a history. First, my life has left me kinda tasked with finding time to write. Then I found this story covered in dust from back when I read my first HP book: Goblet of Fire, yeah, that's right, I'm one of those suckers who didn't jump on the JK bandwagon when it first started up, sue me. Books were the bane of my existence back then and still are. Anyway, this story, as badly written all those years ago as it was, did not age well but I'd got the story stuck in my head and so I decided to focus on getting it out of my system. I don't plan on dropping Fox and Vixen but to be honest between the Writers Block, getting the chapter written the way I wanted it to turn out, and finding time to do so, with this story constantly popping in my head I finally said 'screw it'. Hopefully you readers out there will enjoy it and hopefully, I can turn it into something more enjoyable to read then some ninth-graders fantasy.
So, to begin a brief synopsis. After the story of Harry Potter's defeat of Voldemort, the world goes on into the next generation. However, the world turned to hell as Harry Potter finds himself alone and immortal in the future of his own making. Nearly a thousand years later and years of suffering Harry finally achieves his goal of creating a ritual that can kill him. When that ritual fails, however, Harry, with a new-found resolve to live, will use everything at his disposal to stop his future from happening again, while devoting himself to everything he loved. With a knowledge of magic a thousand years in the making and experience forged over years of combat, Harry, in the weak body of his youth must build himself, and those around him, up in preparation for the war to come. This time, Harry will devote himself to protecting the world of Magic and the lives and happiness of those he loves.
Relationships: Harry/Hermione/Ginny (for sure)
Possibly others as I write it out. So yes, this is a multi-relationship HP story. Call it a harem if you want. In short, Harry will have at minimum two girls, and multiple encounters. Possible a few one-offs.
Key things of note in this story: So, before you start calling Gary Stu/Mary Sue or whatnot, keep these notes in mind as some things may not be written in the future.
Harry Potter will be overpowered in comparison to those around him. For most of the characters in the story, none of them have lived as long as this Harry has. Harry has essentially 1000 years' worth of combat experience and exposure to magic. While he has forgotten most of the spells he learned in life, magic in this story is 80% intent, 19% 'magic' and 1% wand/hand waving. For someone as determined as Harry, a great deal of his actions will be subjective to his will. I'm not changing this since a) I think the notion is cool as hell b) at its heart it's written (book 1 anyway) by my 9th grade self c) a lot of the stuff Harry does seems to be plot armour related and as I hate generic plot armour, I'd rather it be solved by subconscious magic plot convenience. Don't like it well too bad, I suck at writing and I'm trying to improve, bite me.
Secondly: WARNING: Magic is will, life, and power. The strength of magic is decided at birth, but its growth is determined by its use and exposure. The more magic is used the stronger it becomes and because magic is the lifeblood of a wizard or witch that will mean love and the act of love have strong connections to magic. Yes, this will be lemony, although for the first book it will be fluffy seeing the age limit. If you don't like that stop here and don't read. Some scenes will involve those of under-age; however, this is under modern-day notions. Back in the day entering puberty meant you were an adult. In Japan, once you turned 13 you were considered of Age. In medieval times some got married as young as ten and even nine. In my own experiences I witness kids even younger than that exploring their sexuality so again, WARNING, there will be lemons and fluff as the characters explore and react to their magic. If that is smut to you, again call it whatever you like, note there will be actions that some people take offence to.
A great many details originate from the first book so instead of wasting away my life trying to rewrite it, I'll simply say I am making no money from this and all characters, plot, and scenes that originate from JK belong to JK. In the end, I left most of it to keep the familiarity with the original run through of Harry's experiences. These similarities, however, will split off well before Book 2 so either enjoy or ignore as I continue to reread and rework some of the old stuff here.
Now without further ado, I present my continuations of Harry Potter's journey in, Harry Potter and the Return of the Last Lord
Update:: Beta'd by Real Swede and Scottken
Book I :: Chapter 1 :: Prologue - The End of a Life
Seven soldiers scrambled through the trench-like paths of the crumbled highway. The once-great monolith of concrete now gave way to ash, soot, vine, and withered flora.
The soldiers, weary and tired, radiated panic through their actions as they rushed to their intended objective location. The cavities and tunnels of brick and mortar surrounding the highway forged by the collapsed and ancient towering skyscrapers of London provided plenty of cover for the rushing soldiers. The ash clouded skies and looming shadows of the ruins of the once marvellous city of London, aided them in their desire to remain hidden.
A single soldier's hand flew up, and the men behind him froze in place, statues beneath the rubble. Two signals were sent out through their headsets in the form of white noise. All seven stiffened further, a few risking their hearts to stop functioning. Not breathing, not even moving they remained still as even their sweat stopped out of fear. The sound of a large, massive bodied serpent slithering around them could be heard from the empty city as debris and rubble was pushed to make way for its imposing bulk.
A whisper came from the leader of the squad echoed through their headsets. A single word caused all six who heard it, to stiffen in life-ending dread.
The mighty serpent's shadow was within view, approaching them from their rear.
Carefully positioning themselves in a prone position amongst the rubble they kept their heads down lest they catch sight of the mighty creature's gaze of death. Should any one of them find themselves so unfortunate to spot its royal yellow eyes, their death would not alert the creature to the position of their squadmates by falling to the ground.
The echoes of the slithering serpent slowly made its way past them, inching along as if in search of something. No, someone; prey. In the seconds that past, the soldiers felt years of their lives draining from them. It was agonizingly slow, tauntingly so, drawing out the wait. It didn't take long before it became bloody apparent why it was taking so long.
Springing to life from the rubble the soldiers screamed out in frustration as one of their men became a victim of the serpent's bite. Rounding up its head the beast came crashing down on the soldier unlucky enough to have been spotted.
"Quick! RPA's, hurry!" The commander shouted amidst the chaos that ensured. Mounting the rocket launcher-like cylinder to his shoulder two harpoon-like rods launched outward as the leader of the squad fired at the serpent using its shadow to aim.
Like a well-oiled death machine, the other soldiers fired their rockets as well. Six harpoons lined with rockets and steel wire fired out piercing the snake's skin with barbed carbon-based alloys along with the grounds behind them. With a flip of a second switch beneath the trigger, the steel cables roared as a motor within the launcher screamed out pulling the cables taught and pinning the serpent to the ground. Its movements inhibited, it flailed about violently with its tail in a mad attempt to break free. As its tail thrashed about,it caught two of the roaming soldiers in the chest, breaking the arm of one. The commander bit his tongue in frustration, three down, more than a third.
The commander noticed and quickly rushed to them cursing. Of course, the two who held the explosives needed to take down a basilisk would get knocked out. God forbid military procedure work for once he grumbled. 'It's simple' he thought sarcastically to himself 'Step one: pin it down so it can't look at you or reposition. Step two: use heavy tasers to temporarily stun it, immobilizing its bodily movements. Step three: force explosives into its mouth to kill it.' Three easy steps, it wasn't like his team was being assaulted by a god-damned giant serpent of death or anything.
The plan was off the seat of their pants anyway, so it wasn't going to go by procedure anyway. His squad unfortunately no longer had working tasers and the ones with any explosives strong enough to harm the damned serpent just fell victim to that fact they had none.
In his rush to rectify the situation, he missed the audible snap from the snake breaking the bindings that held it. Before he could tell what had hit him, he found himself flying through the air by his arm. His mind lacked the speed necessary to process what was happening and only his training kept him from opening his eyes. The pain was overwhelming but it told him he was alive, so there was no reason to open his eyes and tempt fate because of simple, or rather life-threatening, curiosity.
His arm burned as if sulfuric acid had been spilt into his bloodstream. From the sensation alone, the commander knew he was done for. It was well documented by many an unfortunate soldier. The serpent free of its bonds had its fang piercing his arm and now flung him around in the air as it writhed in fury.
Just as his arm felt like it would be ripped off, a sudden crowing of a rooster echoed around them reverberating off the stone and mortar. Just as suddenly as it had begun its attack, the massive beast fell flat dead, motionless and devoid of magic; the sound of morning depriving it of life.
The adrenaline pumped angrily in his veins, his mind still reeling in confusion. 'What was that sound? Did it kill the beast? How?' His mind remained muddled by adrenaline. Pulling his arm out from the massive fang he began to search around to see where the rooster's cry originated from.
"Close your eyes. Even dead a basilisk's eyes can still petrify." A sharp but gentle voice commanded.
Doing as the voice said the men kept their eyes closed as someone moved into action, unseen by them.
The commander's eyes tightened at the command as it meant one thing. The stranger was a wizard. This was not a good thing. Opening his eyes could mean instant death, keeping them shut meant he would be unable to retaliate. Unlike the shadow of a giant snake, a wizard's was much smaller and harder to follow.
"It's now safe to open your eyes." the voice said. Cautiously the commander opened his eyes. Seeing it was safe, a kick of the wireless signalled to his men. At the confirmation, the remaining soldiers opened their eyes and gazed towards the mysterious man. He looked young, too young for his apparent voice. No older than 30, yet his voice sounded aged and ragged. The voice of an experienced general. A black cloak draped over him covering most of his features. No wand visible, and a single large black bird of prey roosting on his shoulder. The commander knew nothing of this man, which did not bode well for him. The more mysterious and unarmed a wizard appeared the more likely they were beyond the skill of a single squad to contend with. Tension bled into the rest of his body. His squad was wiped from their ordeals and moral low enough you could call foul.
Shifting his head, the cloaked figure turned slightly to the bird on his shoulder. "Sirius, will you?" he requested.
The melodious soul touching song of a phoenix cried out, as it took flight over towards the fang pierced soldier. Tears dropped from its coal-black eyes, landing achingly on his open wound. As it tended to his injuries the commander managed to get a close up look at the majestic bird of prey.
Its feathers were black as soot and its appearance seemed somewhat aged. Looking down at his arm the soldier noticed the pain receding and his wound healing. The tears were without a doubt those of a phoenix, however, its grim nature and appearance that reeked of death and mourning, betrayed the nature of the species. A bird that symbolises fire, life, and immortality, this creature, aside from its nurturing behaviour and song, did not carry that impression.
The bird then flew off to the two still downed from the snake's tail swipe; clearly to tend to his fallen brothers.
The wizard made his way towards the commander. "Commander Dudley Graves?" the hooded man asked. With a nod of confirmation, the wizard pulled back his cloak revealing shocking apparel. The man was decked to the brim in military wear, a more modern SA99 assault rifle. A ninth-generation version of their own crappy SA80's which were almost a millennium out-of-date. The uniform was that of a previous generation special forces advance recon troop. Advanced nano-weave carbon thread, self-patching fibre mesh, and in all likelihood, enchanted and modified beyond his wildest imagination. The gear of an elite soldier. Within the folds of his cloak appeared to be numerous vials, each held in miniature pockets that lined the interior of his cloak, potions most likely. He also noticed a first aid pouch on his belt along with spare ammo which seemed to have some kind of rune matrix engraved on each bullet. From underneath his hood, the man's face revealed to have several scars that had healed clearly with time. A broken pair of goggles which once pulled up from his face covered what appeared to be a lightning-shaped scar.
The man whose emerald green eyes seemed to sparkle and pierce his soul confirmed the assumptions that had begun to sprout in his mind. "I am Harry James Potter, Lieutenant-General of the Britain Special Forces Advance Recon Force as well as the last member of the Royal Marines WAS-909. I was of the assumption your squad wasn't going to make it here Commander."
Lifting himself, he was shocked but regained his composure. "WAS-909, wasn't that the Wizarding Assault Suppression Force that was whipped out eight years ago?"
Harry nodded, "Yes it was. Two of us survived the troop's assault on the dark wizard but the commander had succumbed to his injuries from a particularly vicious mental assault. I am the only remaining member of the squad."
Gesturing towards the outskirts of the city he pointed, "Where we need to be is over that way. Grab your five and get moving, we won't be safe here for long."
"Five?" Commander Graves quickly asked.
Not turning around Harry muttered within earshot, "Phoenix tears don't bring back the dead. Nor those who suffer a twisted neck. If I were you, I'd quickly end her misery. There are worse fates out here than death, especially concerning magic."
Just as Harry had said, Graves was greeted with the fact he had lost two more of his men. The first was dead the moment his torso was eaten by the snake, while the last woman of his platoon of 38 was suffering a crushed windpipe as her head looked violently out of place. With pleading eyes, Graves brought her peace before moving after the wizard. The shot rang a bit too loudly in his head, melding with the echoes of the previous six he had had the displeasure of sounding.
Several miles outside of the city they found a lone ship, its anchor stuck in the ground separated from its mother ship after years of neglect and rust. Placing his hand on the large steel anchor, Harry told the remaining five to do the same. Seconds later all six felt like hooks were pulling them from behind their navel, spinning them around and around they landed on the muddy ground with a splat. A nanosecond later the sensation hit his team again and did so four more times before they landed in a massive hole in what appeared to be a barren wasteland.
As the soldiers tried to gather their lunches, and not puke from the experience, one of Graves' men shouted with his gun drawn.
Reacting quickly Graves stepped between the gun and wizard. "Stand down Sub-Lieutenant, Shoot him and our missions a bust. Everyone who died will have done so in vain."
"What!? You mean this arse is the contact. This damn... Magic!" the Sub venomously spat out.
"Yes, he is. Now stand down!" Graves ordered bringing his gun up to par with the furious Sub-Lieutenant.
Placating his rage, the young man put his gun down. Letting out a sigh of relief Commander Graves turned to Harry. "The Vice-Admiral stated our mission was to meet up with you and defend you while you completed some kind of mission. That was supposed to be with a platoon of 38 soldiers. However, as you can see you have only five to work with. Upon contact, as acting-leader of this squad, I am to hand over command authority over to you."
Harry nodded in understanding, "That makes things easier actually. This way; follow me. Best get out of sight before the Dark Lord's forces sense us or the United Nations' Inquisition Squad satellites spot us. Follow me, I'll brief you when we're secure."
The gathering of six made their way north. A few minutes passed as they trudged their way through a barren land of soot, ash, and rubble. The only semblance of life were a few trees that sprinkled the land. They stood twisted and warped, leaning uniformly away from what was, clearly, a massive shock wave that struck them without remorse. They stood a twisted petrified a whitish-grey, glassy like amber and numerous enough that two hands were all one would need to count their numbers. Eventually after a few minutes passed Harry bent down and pulled back a dirt and ash coloured blanket that blended perfectly into the ground. Removing the blanket revealed a large trunk half-buried in the dead soil.
It was old, rugged and was so faded in colour that it gave the impression that a strong wind would cause it to decay into dust. With a short kick, the trunk responded like a trained puppy, opening itself abruptly and violently. Harry ordered them all to get in. With no shortage of arguments coming from the others, Graves ordered them to do as he said. Between their confusion, fear, and pride their commander's orders finally sunk in and their training kicked in with it. Reluctantly all four entered, with Graves just behind them, with Harry taking up the rear.
Graves had seen many things in his military career. The most shocking act of magic he ever witnessed was a single mage turning all the guns of the contingent he fought with into toucans. But this was something else. While that had left him speechless in shock, this trunk left him speechless in awe.
The suitcase was massive internally and brought to mind a blue telephone box that a few nerds he knew refused to shut up about.
It was filled to the brim with supplies, weapons, and what he could only assume were numerous potions and magical artefacts. Several doors stared inwards at him as he stood, amazed, in the centre of a round room. The words Dorm, Mess, Green, Prison, Medical, Storage, M. Storage, Ritual, and Memory were etched into each door respectively and left him contemplating whether they held actual rooms, or were some sort of gateway to other locations. Amid his shock, Harry descended the stairs and joined the five, drawing Graves out of his mental state. Graves watched as Harry made his way over to the door that said Ritual on it. When he had opened it a single hand gesture directed the five inwards after him.
They were greeted with a room that looked like the modern remains of ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs and symbols covered every inch of the walls, Runes and markings of all kinds interlaced the solid graphite walls which reflected themselves all around them like a room of mirrors. In the centre was a multi-ringed circle where no markings were present.
"This is a magic circle for a ritual of my creation. It is designed to allow me to send my current self back in time to the point where my magic first came alive within me, most likely at the time of my first bout of accidental magic." Harry explained. The five gazed at him, completely flabbergasted. Ignoring them he continued, "For the remainder of the 45 days this ritual requires, I will need to sit within that circle as it slowly eats away my existence to send me back. During that time, I will not need to eat, drink or sleep. I won't even need to breathe. However, the ritual circle will be left vulnerable as I won't be able to defend it. If the dark forces learn of this ritual and disrupt it, well... you're on your own." he finished morbidly.
Sitting down in the circle the entire array sprang to life with an eerie green glow. Looking back up to them from his cross-legged pose Harry asked, "Any questions?"
Harry Potter had left them dumbstruck. The man had simply proceeded with his objective regardless of their wants, wishes or orders. Graves was the first to regain some semblance of logical thought.
"So, you're just going to sit there while we guard you? Really? That's what we all nearly died for; what so many others died for?"
Harry was surprised at how little malice lay within the man's voice. His question wasn't accusative, simply cautious, inquisitive.
Harry shook his head in an honest response. "No. You all nearly died because you followed, in faith, the orders of your superiors who believed my words. Those generals and commanders thought that staking your lives on my mission was worth the cost and risk, believing that I could bring, hopefully, an end to this chaotic world."
The soldiers behind Graves cried out angrily at Harry's clear dismissal of their lives as well as the absurdity of what he was saying. Logic be damned, hatred rapt their words like flames to a log. Harry in his old age didn't care nor did it appear Graves cared either. Harry smirked at this as he listened to Graves who ended up directing the questions instead of his men.
The man clearly understood what it meant to join the military as a soldier; when you join, you no longer matter. What does matter are your orders and those standing behind and beside you. In their world, you had to trust the orders from above. Knowing too much got men killed, disobeying orders got men killed, fighting magic got men killed. However not fighting magic would mean everyone would die. When they enlisted, they did so knowing that their sacrifice was so that many more wouldn't die. This was not a world where socialism or ideals such as democracy could thrive. Time killed men. Debating took time, thinking took time, sharing took time. If anyone asked Graves, he would have admitted he had no idea how humanity was still alive. The world was hell and they let good men die so everyone else had a few seconds more to live. God, he hated this world.
"Why? From the outside, unless your enemies knew ahead of time where to look, no one would be able to find you here. So why have we come, why are we even needed?" Graves asked.
"Simple, you're not." Harry answered gesturing to the room, "While like this the circle is defenceless. If attacked the ritual would fail and vanish. My goal unachieved and the lot of you left to die at the hands of our attackers. The best chance of success requires that on the slim chance I am found that the circle is protected. You and your men are nothing more than a safeguard against the smallest of odds. Something your superiors and I agreed on. Originally, I wanted your team to create a diversion during this time elsewhere, drawing the attention of undesirables away from here. Your superiors, however, decided it was better to use a small force to guard me while I attempt my goals and not risk a large contingent on a suicide mission that had no direct means of defending me."
Graves glare tightened somewhat upon Harry. When his stern gaze was met with Harry's aloof one he asked cautiously, "And what is your goal?"
A chill filled the room Harry's magical aura flowed outward from him. The air, turned heavy and feeling thick and slimy like a cracked egg yolk, enveloped them and the room sparking no shortage of uneasiness among the occupants. It was a twisted and near sickening feeling that left Graves unnerved, sweating till the moisture perforated his thick uniform. Quickly his unease turned to fear as he saw the look of the wizard in front of him. Harry Potter, upon whose face appeared the gaze of a man seemingly possessed. Possessing a blissful smile like one who could see a long out of reach dream. A dream long since twisted with age.
"I... I wish to die."
Graves felt a twitch of pity within his soul. The look on Harry's face as he gazed up at him was one of blissful relief. The kind of face only someone who had suffered great torment and loss over and over again. The look of someone who never knew a good thing in his life. The look that only someone who had given up on all that life could have. He had seen it time and time again within the military. Soldiers who returned from missions and who had lost loved ones or comrades time and again in front of them carried the same blissful look when they passed away, usually from injuries they sustained in combat or from mental decay.
However, the feeling of unease he felt didn't fit in with what he knew. And it was shortly realized that he was unlikely to get an answer to that mystery either. By the time Graves broke out of his stupor, Harry was lost within a daze, even stranger still he was like a phantom, no longer solid, none of them could touch him. With nothing left to learn of gain from remaining in the glowing room, the soldiers who had lost so much to reach this point retired for the night.
As Graves fell asleep the last thought he had, aside from the conundrum that was Harry Potter, was what would happen after those 45 days had passed?
Two days would pass for Graves and his men before Harry seemed to regain awareness of his surroundings. Where before his sub-physical appearance was solid, his form had shifted to a more transparent one. While not pale white, his appearance was not unlike some of the ghosts Graves had encountered during his missions for the military.
During this time Graves conversed and associated with Harry for both himself and his men as a makeshift representative. Since his men hated magic to their core having experienced its hell countless times, he was the only suitable option having no real hatred for it himself. Though he did remind himself constantly that this was a mission and Mr Potter was their objective they needed to defend.
It was strange both Commander Graves and Harry. For Graves himself, he felt oddly drawn to the mystery of Harry Potter. Like so many before him, he was captivated by the majestic wonder that was magic. Harry's feelings on the other hand towards Graves were more along the lines of curiosity born of amusement. In all likelihood, it was something more but neither knew what exactly. Harry hadn't encountered a Natural that didn't despise him simply for being a wizard in such a long time that one could even call it a mythical concept for him.
As a reward or maybe as a means to simply pass the time, Harry took to the company of the young man with answers to almost every question he had asked of him. In all honesty, Harry himself wasn't sure of the reason and to be frank as he faded away, he didn't care.
During these discussions, the commander learned many things about Harry Potter. His knowledge regarding magic, his experiences, and most notably his history. A connection he made himself to which Harry seemed to not even realize about himself.
On the fifth day, Graves leant against the open door to the ritual room, just as he did the day before. He watched Harry as he sat calmly in the circle reading from what could only be considered a classic example of a grimoire. As he wondered where Harry had procured the text, having been unable or willing to leave the circle, Graves gazed, transfixing on the few details he could pick up.
The book appeared to be made of some kind of living skin, pale and hard as if it were iron the flesh like surface seemed almost alive, even pulsating. Its bindings and borders shone a brilliant golden red and as time went on shifted towards different colours. First a silvery green, then a bluish bronze to a yellow with a hint of black, before finally returning to its original goldish red. Both its front and back were bland and empty but every so often symbols would appear and take form almost becoming clear enough to identify before fading away like a ship upon rolling waves under a blanket of mist.
"What exactly is that? I mean, I know it's a book, but it just seems... off." Graves asked, no longer worrying over how to interact with Harry. To his mild amusement, Harry smiled and, like always, answered in his usual vague but clear way.
"This isn't so much a book to read as a book to remember. It's incomplete, so I'm filling in its last pages. Well, I guess you can say I'm writing in it."
"Writing in it?" Graves asked curiously. There was no pen or utensil present so how could he be writing? Harry chuckled at his confusion, although Graves knew he was doing it on purpose. When a question was asked Harry intentionally gave vague statements. It seemed like something Graves' old instructors would do. Leave an answer vague enough and it forced the asker to start thinking.
"Yes," Harry reconfirmed, "Although it's not a book you fill in with ink mind you. It's more of a mental exercise." Holding it up before Graves Harry looked at the tomb with a sliver of pride and pain. "See this artefact is one of four that myself and my friends made together. While they died before it was finished, I have been working on it ever since and have never stopped working on it."
Harry's emerald starry eyes quickly lost their sparkle, the slight glow that shone from behind them as he spoke of the tomb turned hollow and grim, dim to shine and shallow in hue.
"Even now I keep it on my person in hopes that I may by some miracle bring it with me, incomplete as it is."
"How is it incomplete?" Graves asked knowing if he kept playing twenty questions, he'd eventually gain all the answers he wanted.
It was no different than when Harry first became aware again that morning. Through several hours of questions, Graves learned of Harry Potter's intentions as well as why the brass, who unanimously hated wizards agreed to help him. Even at the expense of good soldiers.
Harry's goal was to send his existence back in time to when he was born. The risky gambit involved no shortage of dangerous magic and black rituals that in any small part were lethal to the average mortal wizard; guaranteed death to any Natural. If it worked Harry would be able to send himself back in time with his memories and experiences into his youthful self at the time he was born.
No one knew if this would work, of course, and even Harry stated it was unlikely he would retain his memories over that vast distance of time let alone his life. It was highly improbable the ritual would be successful. The more likely outcome being Harry Potter would splice himself, his very existence, across time and space. He would vanish from the world. Simply fading away into nothingness never to be seen, heard, or even thought of again.
In that case, it made perfect sense why his superiors in the military agreed to 'aid' Harry in his objective. It was a win-win for the military to assist him. After all, an immortal former Dark Lord who brought about nearly nine decades of death to wizards and naturals alike willingly vanquishing himself out of existence was a gift horse none of them would give a second thought to. On the off chance he succeeded in his task, well, no one would regret the end of such a cruel world. Such was the fear and worry the man sparked within the world and the hell they all lived in.
Even Graves found it hard to believe at times. Not just the fact the military agreed to this insane plan but that this aloof man was the nightmare that haunted the world for the last five centuries as The Hollow Lord of Death, known worldly as the Walking Death. Graves would never have imagined this man was that...that thing.
That thing from the annals of history that had been described as a man haunted, cursed and possessed. A man that waded across hallowed grounds seeking death and leaving a trail of it behind him. His name was given both due to the number of corpses left in his wake as well as the impossible immortality that he possessed. Wizards and Naturals alike feared to face him as none who crossed him even came out of the encounter alive. The keyword being crossed. Those who were cowardly and fled left behind documentation, miles long, on the destructive potential of the wandering wizard and how avoiding him at all cost saved them from an early grave.
In comparison to the current Dark Lord – more commonly called by its contemporaries as the Bright Lord – who sought out to wipe all those who opposed his views of justice on his path for the greater good, Harry Potter sought out only his objective, ignoring everyone else in the possess, neither engaging or actively seeking out the death of others. So long as you avoided confronting him, you'd likely live. In a way, there was a mutual contract between him and those around him. Let him do as he wishes, and he'll leave you alone. However, knowing what was 'avoiding him' was an enigma which cost many their lives.
Looking at Harry, Commander Graves found it difficult to believe that the man who was so much like an aloof professor was the same person as the man known as the Walking Death.
"This book... no, this grimoire, it is a memento from my closest friend." Harry continued speaking up and returning Graves' mind to the book in question. "She was a bookworm who couldn't stay out of my business and who loved learning more than anyone, well anything else," Harry replied with a look of utter pain and longing. Graves was shocked when Harry's expression quickly gave way to utter rage before just as quickly shifted towards a look of pain. Graves knew there was more to this line then Harry was willing to let on but didn't speak. Some instinct within him warned him to say nothing on the subject.
Harry smirked almost knowingly at Graves as he continued with but a second of hesitation in sweet recollection. "This was the fruition of her – no, rather our labours. A book that is a library, a tome that teaches as easily as one should write in it. A book capable of recording all that is true as well as the lies that are given. The last piece to its completion is the knowledge that will fill it and an audience willing to learn from it."
Harry smiled. "But that's not what you really wanted to know. It's something else isn't it?" Harry knowingly stated with a slightly mocking gaze. Graves was confused by what he meant, curious about the book he was reading and how he got it. It was the look that pierced his very soul that told him, somehow, Harry knew the one question that lingered in his mind.
"You want to know: am I the real deal?" Harry stated shifting his pointer finger from Graves, to his face, then pushing his thumb towards his chest.
Graves knew it was a rhetorical question at this point. Graves did not doubt that Legilimency was at play since that was exactly what he wanted to know, the question that itched and plagued the back of his mind. "Are you?" Graves asked without restraint now that caution was now of secondary concern.
With a feral grin, Harry answered, "There has always only been one Harry Potter."
Graves paused for a moment to study the wording of Harry's answer. Until now he didn't want to assume but as a history buff or nerd to some, the possibility did stick in his mind. All this magic, the tome, the skill and resources, plus the fact that this man was at least for a time the Walking Death meant that possibility was there.
If he lived as that nightmare for nearly 27 generations, then the possibility of him having lived longer was also real.
It didn't take him long to recognize the implications. Records of the Walking Death were well documented. He appeared as if from nowhere seven hundred years ago and again disappeared two hundred years ago. His reign of terror was still felt to that day. Yet throughout history – according to military records – ever since the late 20th century, the name Harry Potter had appeared time and time again throughout all the major events and incidences of the ages.
The first Harry Potter died in late December of 2097, having lived a fulfilling 117 years according to wizard testimony. However, if there was only one Harry Potter as this man was implying than that would mean – "you never died at the end of the 21st century, for all these years you've been –" Graves concluded.
"Well over a thousand years old based on records if not older still, yes," Harry said, finishing the thought.
Relaxing backwards in the air, Harry seemed to float as he nonchalantly muttered aloud, "It's truly a wonder how I didn't lose my mind when everything I love and care for died around me back then. Then again I don't remember much of back then not to mention the events from the past few hundred years."
Graves was caught completely flatfooted. In front of him was – if what he said was true – the Harry James Potter. The man who killed Tom Marvolo Riddle, lead the diplomatic assembly for the peaceful integration of Magicals and Naturals when the Statute of Secrecy came crashing down, educated Naturals on how to combat Magicals, the allied wizard who fought against the Bright Lord more times than anyone could count, and who became known as the Walking Death after vanishing for a century.
"Well, this certainly explains a lot." Graves uttered out finally realizing the full story behind his present mission. It wasn't to simply defend the object or last-ditch attempt effort. This was a send-off. Harry Potter, the sole wizard who – while no Natural would admit to it – saved and made it possible for Naturals to survive against the hell that was Earth. Without his aid and support, the fight against both the dark wizards and dangerous magical creatures that corrupted the world would have left them with a smashing one-sided extinction on their hands.
"This is why the brass sent you some support, a sign of respect and a message of farewell. Before you fade from existence." Grave concluded.
Harry chuckled at this as he retorted, "Maybe. Though if this ritual works my memories and self will essentially reincarnate in full into my past self. Ending with history itself changing one way or another. Who knows really? Perhaps they believe I'm trying to save the world. Really all I want, is for it all to end."
Graves nodded at this as he looked around the entire trunk that was now being called by his men "Death's Suitcase". It was funny to him. Once they learned that Harry was the Walking Death, they made it their mission to guard Harry Potter as physically far away from him as possible. This usually meant they were within the numerous rooms, exploring, or standing prone against the trunk's staircase as inconspicuous as possible. Between his curiosity and having to watch his men, Graves thought he was doing a good job juggling the two wishes.
"So, what will you do if you do manage to get sent back?"
Harry paused and thought about that for a second. His goal was to die. He was banking on the fact that the ritual he had come up with had the highest chance of him ceasing to exist. To say this was a ritual to send someone back in time was wholly inaccurate. The ritual was a method of destroying one's self completely from reality with a microscopic chance of having one's existence rooting itself to their person at or during a previous point in their life most likely at their weakest and most magical point. In theory, Harry assumed that would be his childhood during his first bout of accidental magic.
If the ritual succeeded; Body, Mind, and Soul, even the person's very magic would be completely erased, torn and shredded into the void. Not even the Veil under the ministry could replicate such a finality. Such was the torment of living for the current Harry Potter. Having lost all the love of his life, helplessly watching his world crumble and burn around him, and being completely powerless to stop all of it from happening, tormented him to the point of literal madness. Not even the pain he suffered during his early years could compare to the agony of being helpless as he watched everything be stolen from him by both war and time. At some point, it broke him leaving a dry patch in his memories where he simply faded into his mind. A time that led to him being called the Walking Death.
He wanted to die and to no longer suffer. So, then, what if... what if he was sent back. No, if anything his memories and magic would be sent back, not his physical self. But even so; if he was sent back, would that be a failure? What would he do? As he asked himself this his mind recalled all the good things he'd had in his life.
Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Fred, George, Neville, Susan, Hannah, Daphne, Sirius. A true smile lit up his face as their faces echoed with his thoughts. He recalled all of them, every last one of them. All those important to him and all who he had lost. But what affected him most of all was the memory of Hermione and Ginny.
Ginny and Hermione were the women he had loved. Funny how they both realized this in the latter years of their lifespans; long after the opportunity to make the most of it was lost. Ginny's memory quickly left Harry's heart-stricken in pain once more as he recalled their past.
Ginny had been killed just as the two lovers finally come to open up to each other. It was at this time the Light became a blight and triggered the darkest years of his, no, their lives.
The Muggle Awakening War. The bloody war that occurred when the Statute of Secrecy crumbled to dust, not 30 years after they graduated. It started as a small insignificant event that wizarding kind ignited quickly into an inferno. And the price was Ginny, who became one of the first casualties of the Light's war.
Making the reality even harder to swallow was Ron's betrayal of Hermione. In the wizarding world's quest to restore order and submit dominance over the situation, Ron had willingly sacrificed her family to the chaos to save himself and further the beliefs he held. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that would have happened, really. Ron had always been a bigot, but his betrayal had hurt both of them greatly. Ron had been the first to side with the Bright Lord, back then and in hindsight might very well have been the second causality of the war for Harry.
A tear trickled down Harry's face. He wasn't surprised by its presence on his cheek. He knew he had no more tears for the bastard who broke Hermione's heart, and his trust. No, he knew why he had shed a tear. It was the memory of Hermione and Ginny.
With his emotions once more wrangled back under his control, Harry looked up to realize that the soldier was no longer standing there. How long had he been in thought? How long had he zoned out into the sweet and tempting touch of long-lost memories? Left to his thoughts he found himself trapped in the endless loop so many had fallen into. That single question.
Graves awoke the next morning feeling slightly off. His entire world felt strange almost lopsided. Leaning off his makeshift bunk he made his way into the main room. He had left Harry Potter to his thoughts after realizing he was unlikely to regain his surroundings after calling out to him and waiting for five hours. Looking at the door, he realized that time was acting funky. To him, it had only been six days but judging from his watch they had already passed day eighteen and only twenty-seven remained.
Pushing that question to the side Graves refocused himself. Something strange was happening to the perception of time, but in the end, it didn't matter. If time was shortening, then they had less time to worry over their mission. On the other hand, bringing it up to his men would only cause problems. Looking down at his watch he stared as the minute-hand spun rapidly and then slowed before spinning up again. "If this is because of the ritual at least we know now that it will have some effect on time and space." He grumbled to himself.
Wondering where his squad was, he opened the door to the ritual room and was shocked to find that the black mirror-like room was gone. Even more to his displeasure and embarrassment, he found it had been replaced with a broom closet with two of his men inside. Well, it could have been argued that one of his men was inside, the other had just had her 'hidden' assets out to hang in his mouth.
With all involved flushing red, Graves slammed the door shut and pinched his brow. It wasn't against the rules or anything but very few people enjoy catching someone else getting laid. Not to mention hiding one's gender in the military wasn't uncommon, it still was a shock once it was found out. On the other hand, he was at least glad that should he return with his men, they could say that not all the women died on this mission.
Reaffirming the chaos of his thoughts and dispelling the images of the two with the creepy look Harry had given him earlier that week Graves opened the door once more.
This time he was greeted with the ritual room with Harry inside. Books of all sizes and several laptops were strewn about the room. The chaotic mess was something one would see in a library after a magnitude seven earthquake.
"What the hell?" Graves shouted in shock to which Harry who was currently floating in the air laughed.
"Morning to you as well."
"But this was... it just... what?" Graves managed to bumble out his shock, straining every muscle in his cheeks. Harry just laughed realizing what had just happened.
"This room is called the Ritual Room. It's modelled after a particular room at Hogwarts called, the Room of Requirement. While similar, the two are different but the premise is the same. Think of what you need or want, and the room will change to fit the need. Though this room of requirement has multiple rooms connected to one door so more than one person can use it at a time." Harry explained calmly.
"Unfortunately, this room can't create what I don't already have so the only things that can be accessed here are the items I already have. Thankfully for expansion charms, I own a great many things."
Returning to the spiral ring binder in his hands Harry continued his reading. A short study of the title left Graves more confused than before. From what he could tell it was a binder of economic stocks from the early 2000s.
"What's up with that?" Graves asked gesturing towards the binder. "I thought you had no interest in living?" Harry smiled, lifting it so it could be more easily read. "This? This is me making use of what time I have left on the small chance I fail."
Harry chuckled at the soldier's response. "Yes, should I go back in time, I plan to make the most of my new chance at life. Everything that was stolen from me. Everything I lost. The happiness I was never able to achieve, I'll take it all back. While I might change this future, it will be because I failed and made the most of it."
Harry paused, seeming lost and thought before a twitch of pain and desire echoed from his tone.
"What you said, it really hit me. 'What if?'. If I do essentially reincarnate and go back in time. I intend to live as I wish, as I should have. While some things can't be changed and shouldn't be, at least I won't hold myself back. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be rid of this cursed fate and get to live my life with them, free, happy, and in love."
When he finished speaking, Harry was practically radiating magic. To Graves, it was like meeting a new man. As he stood there, the warm almost motherly embrace of his magic that saturated the room consumed and enraptured him. It was a feeling of love and safety he had long since lost and forgotten.
"So, your plan is just to live your life for yourself and do nothing to change the future?" Graves asked to which Harry merely shrugged.
"This future came about because I followed the path laid out for me. If I live in search of the happiness I want, then by doing that this future will change on its own. No point going out of my way to change what will or won't change regardless of my actions. Just by knowing more about magic I'd likely change this future anyway. Knowledge is power after all." Harry explained rationally.
Graves had to admit that his logic made sense. If he chose to live differently from before then their future would also be changed. If his actions didn't change anything then the status quo would remain. No real negative to be had.
"So, what's all this then?" Graves asked gesturing to the mountains of books littered around the pulsating room.
"Well, you got me thinking. If I do end up failing, I might as well be prepared for that eventuality." Harry stated, boredom reverberating with every syllable spoken. "While I don't recall almost anything from my early youth, I do know that I lacked three basic things back then. Freedom of movement, my use of magic, and access to my family legacy."
Turning another page Harry grumbled out a sigh. "Since most of the magical records were lost long ago, I'm stuck relying on the muggle records."
"Muggle?" Graves questioned.
Harry looked at him confused by his questioning look before realization hit him. "Sorry, forgot. Muggles were the term wizards and witches used to describe non-magicals. Essentially, the equivalent of the term Naturals used by the military and me. I always found it funny since wizards aren't unnatural, just different since we possess the ability to use magic. Still, I like it more since it's not as degrading." Harry chuckled out before shuffling his hand through his hair in frustration.
"Bloody 'ell. Hermione was always better at this researching stuff." Harry complained.
"What? You suck at research or something. What's the matter, don't like reading documents?" Graves cheekily sneered.
Harry merely laughed with a raised eyebrow, "No, sucking is what your subordinates were doing in here six hours ago."
This got the rise Harry was looking for as he laughed at the slight blush over the Commander before he explained, "No, the trouble I'm having is getting all the information I need without knowing the scope of what I can or will need to do."
"What do you mean?"
Harry shook his head at the man's question. "I don't remember." With a wispy expression, Harry gazed blankly up at the ceiling. Between the over six hundred years that he had managed to keep track of before the sky was shrouded in an impenetrable cloud of ash and the numerous pieces of magic he had performed to rid himself of his painful existence; Harry could not recall almost any of his youth. Sure, major events he could recall but they were long since faded to obscenity.
For example, Harry remembered something big, something depressing happened in his second year, but he could not recall what it was. Most of his memories of his time at Hogwarts were lost. Harry knew why but never liked to admit that it was a poor choice on his part. At one point a hundred years back, after awakening from what felt like a long nightmare, he tried to erase all the painful memories he had, so he would no longer suffer their presence. What he didn't take into account was his skill in both Occlumency and Legilimency. The result was that he lost all of the details regarding major events yet lost none of the painful feelings associated with them.
And so here he was now, performing a ritual that was the accumulation of all his attempts to die reading up on world's economy of the 20th century in preparation for living his life to the fullest. The stupidity of the situation was not lost to Harry in the slightest.
Picking up one of the binders Graves scanned inside it and was surprised to find it was well documented. Dates, Stocks, Exchanges, business models, and corporations that had come and gone throughout the first hundred or so years starting with 1981. This was something he could get a handle on.
"Yo, Walking Death." he retorted. Though he knew that the dig was a low blow considering what he now knew about Harry, he continued, ignoring his feral glare. "I have a request. Why don't we make a trade?"
Harry was coloured curious, "A trade?"
"Yeah, I'll help you out with this 'muggle' research and you'll teach me about magic." Graves explained.
"You want to learn about magic?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Yes. For better or worse, we hardly know or understand magic." Graves stated before turning sheepishly. "Besides it's been a personal curiosity of mine since I was young."
"I, for one, don't want to live my life being ignorant of that which I'm fighting. Besides teaching me might help you in your preparation for your zero-hour. At the very least you can focus on any of the magical aspects you'd need to brush up on." Graves continued explaining.
Harry paused but nodded in understanding. With hooded eyes, he muttered under his breath, "You can't truly know your art unless you have first taught it to another." Thinking about it there wasn't any reason not to teach him. If his ritual did kill him successfully then he'd be leaving the world in its hellish state. At least if he taught Graves about magic then Naturals would have a chance of defeating that bastard and his following. Plus, he did need all the help he could get both in data mining these books and someone to help pass the time. Looking up at Graves the first sign of a genuine smile graced Harry's features. "Alright, you have a deal."
And just like that the days quickly passed for Harry as the two quickly became well acquainted. The deal was well worth it as it forced Harry to even confront topics up until then he had never really touched. Arithmancy, Divination, Alchemy, Ancient Runes, and Rituals, although arguably he was well versed in the latter due to self-study, he never formally learned it. And while Harry was well versed in the linguistics of runecraft magic, he was woefully under-informed about its origins and the use of old magic. His talents lay in Modern Runes of his creation and those he reviewed privately.
And so, with mere hours to spare, and the 45 days nearly complete Harry had prepared himself for the final moments. The culmination of all his magic and will. It was during the final moments of the ritual that Harry realized something. He had lived nearly ten centuries and yet as far as he could recall these last forty-some days had left him with hope and a goal. A will to live another day. No longer did he view the ritual as a high probability of success but instead a ritual where he would have a slim chance of regaining what he had lost. Staring at his near-invisible hands he realized that for the first time in generations he felt the will to live, that life was better than death.
Turning to his newfound comrades, who had helped him and whom he had taught magic to; Harry smiled. "Thank you."
Graves in these final moments was caught off-guard. "What? Why are you thanking us?" he asked a shared sentiment from the rest of his comrades.
Harry felt a small smile betray his inner turmoil and it showed. "For giving me a reason to live. To hope I don't die." Harry was suddenly struck with a realization. "Actually, I hate you for that –" he laughed, " – now I have this fear of dying and I'm already too far in, thanks a lot," he stated mockingly with a jovial grin.
Graves joined in on his good nature laughter as the end finally came. He watched the first wizard he ever truly knew vanish slowly before him, the ritual finishing its task as it had started, not with a bang or great flare but instead in a whisper. Like a spectre, Harry started floating about like the ghost ten days earlier and Graves would be lying if he didn't feel sad as he watched Harry shift from a normal human to that of a ghost to whatever he was now. Now he was barely visible and might as well have been a voice in the air. The room glowed a calming black-white light.
In light of the melancholy mood, Graves held back his tears. He never had a friend, not really. The war prevented it but here, right now, he had made one in the most unlikely of places in the form of the most unlikely of individuals.
"Safe travels my friend." he said, "In the end, we never did need to save your precious circle," he said jokingly.
"To you as well." Harry returned as his consciousness began to feel like it was being pulled apart. And like that Harry found himself pulled into a vast void. His feet fully materialized beneath him stood on what appeared to be an ocean. Calm and tranquil the water was like a mirror that reflected the void above him and stretched out beyond the horizon. Looking back down he saw himself staring back at him.
"Dad?" Harry said aloud in wonder.
Taking a step forward he moved towards the doppelganger. With each step, the Harry lookalike too stepped forward. With each step, the doppelganger seemed to get younger and this fact was quickly picked up by Harry. Yet he couldn't stop, he felt a strong desire, a wish, a need to reach him. Ten steps he was an aged man, 15 steps a young man, 20 a teenager, 25 steps, a child. Only inches away from what was now an infant hovering just in front of him, Harry raised his hand to the infant, who mirrored in kind. Almost touching fingertips, the child was practically unborn, bathed in a glowing gentle light which hid its features if any were to be had.
As their fingertips touched Harry felt a similar sensation to that of a portkey activating. In that instant, he blinked and upon opening his eyes realized he no longer was staring at a glowing white light that looked like a baby. Instead, he now was gazing at himself with the appearance of a young teenage Harry somewhere during his fourth or fifth year. His doppelganger smiled and then the two slowly morphed into an identical glowing light that took the form of an infant. Harry felt the tug of his body shift and slowly gained the sense of touch back as he morphed into that younger form.
Harry stared at the mirror-like image of his present form and wondered what this was. What was happening? As his mind raced, he found it becoming sluggish. His eyes felt heavy. No longer able to control his own body, his eyes closed in search of slumber. Harry was swallowed by what felt like a warm liquid. It embraced and gently cradled his small form. In the warmth, Harry felt his consciousness fade from him slightly. In his last moments he thought to himself with a sleepy grin.
"I wonder, should I consider this a failure or a resounding success?"