I don't own anything related to the Harry Potter franchise
I wrote this story over half a decade ago along with the Zelda story I'm submitting. This is a very vanilla story and it has plenty of fluff, but it can also be quite a bit more angsty than anything I write nowadays. I have to edit the hell out of this before releasing it, because everything that I wrote back when I was a teenager was… chaotic.
Author's Note Part 2:
This story has several chapters submitted on another site already, but since formatting them all to work on this site takes a surprising amount of both time and effort, I will submit a chapter once a week until I've caught up to my most recent. For more information, check my bio.
Chapter 1 - Explosively Emotional
Freedom from the Dursleys was the happy thought that Harry focused on, as he yelled out the incantation with everything he had. Both his godfather Sirius Black and an earlier version of himself were sprawled out on a nearby bank of the Black Lake, where they were being toyed with by a massive swarm of Dementors. With every moment that passed, the two struggling figures were being drained of their lifeforce and were that much closer to a fate worse than death.
As Harry focused his entire will on the spell that he was casting, a few extremely important facts continued to swirl at the back of his consciousness. Fact number one was that he, Harry Potter, was the mysterious figure who had saved both himself and his godfather just a few hours earlier. The second fact was that he'd managed to save them by creating an absolutely massive Patronus Charm, the very same Charm that he was currently attempting to cast. The third fact was somewhat obvious and yet extremely important at exactly the same time. He was going to have to pour every ounce of power that he had into the spell he was currently performing, because to do anything less would be a death sentence. A nice try would get him killed and a good effort was just as bad.
It was do or die time... literally.
With the words of the incantation still echoing throughout the clearing, Harry forced every ounce of his magic down through his wand and out into his spell. He channeled his magic with a reckless abandon, pouring his heart and soul into the process to an extent he'd never even contemplated in the past. He pushed and he strained and he willed the spell to work, but there was a problem and it was becoming increasingly obvious over time.
As Harry continuously tried to force his magic into the Patronus Charm, he was beginning to feel an obstruction between his magic and his wand for the very first time. Under normal circumstances, if a spell was too powerful for Harry to perform, then the spell would simply fail and that would be the end of it. This time however, Harry continued to force more and more of his magical power into the Charm without giving up, which was allowing him to feel some form of blockage getting in the way. In fact, the harder he strained to push his magic out through the blockage the more the connection between him and his wand was beginning to feel like a bottleneck.
It felt like Harry couldn't release his magic into his wand, despite the fact that he was willing his body to do so. Was the problem in his wand? No... That wasn't it. His wand had never failed him in the past and it was still in excellent condition. Was he trying to use more power than his magical core contained? No... That wasn't it either. Now more than ever, Harry could actually feel his magic boiling within his body, as if it was bucking and raging to be released.
Dammit! Now wasn't the time for this! With a growl of fierce determination, Harry disregarded all of the questions growing in his mind in order to focus on the task at hand. He gave up on the whys of his current situation, he banished his uncertainty, and he cast aside his fear. Right now, he didn't have the time for even the smallest variety of hesitation. With clenched teeth and white knuckles, Harry poured his entire will into pushing his magic past the blockage. He would make the spell work! He would save his family!
Over the next few endless seconds, Harry's body began to tremble as he started to feel as if he was short circuiting. What started as a hot prickling along the nerve endings of his arm quickly grew to feel like a strong electric current and a green glow started radiating out of his wand hand. As the sensations grew in intensity the hair on his forearm crisped to ashes and his skin started turning pink from all of the unnatural heat he was putting off. Then, even as those things were happening, a second green aura coalesced at Harry's feet, where it began swirling up his body like an updraft made of ambient power.
As the magical updraft grew in strength, Harry's messy hair was buffeted around, and his robes started floating weightlessly around his body. Finally, with a loud snapping and sizzling sound, all of the air around Harry's body rippled outward and the chaotic magic condensed to look like a bright green comet trail that was flaring off of his body. Something big was happening. Something immense, wild and unpredictable was taking place, and it was changing the very landscape around Harry's body.
The teenage boy standing within the volatile outpouring of magic never even noticed.
In his current state of absolute focus, Harry was completely oblivious to any of the events happening both in and around his body. He wasn't paying attention to any of it… Instead, his entire world and everything in it had become extremely small, specific and focused. He'd cast aside everything else but a desperate need to force his magic passed that bottleneck and the tension that he could feel building up inside of it. His focus was so singular in its intensity, he never even noticed the wild maelstrom of magic that was swirling around his body. He also didn't notice when a thick but translucent green light began to emerge from within his torso, only to sink back inside of him over and over. The radiant green light bucked, strained and bubbled out of Harry's body, burning random patches of his skin within an uncontrolled wellspring of chaotic power.
From a place located deep within his consciousness, Harry's magic repeatedly broadcast a sense of extreme danger and nearly panicked desperation. It screamed at him that he couldn't hold anything back because he was fighting a life or death struggle. Despite the fact that he'd never felt his magic attempting to make contact with him before, Harry felt the connection and recognized it for what it was. His magic was crying for help from the depths of his very soul.
With a long, low growl of absolute determination, Harry poured every ounce of magic he contained into both his spell and the bottleneck that was stopping it. As he became increasingly in tune with his magic, he was willing to burn himself to cinders if it meant completing his task. Over a single timeless moment that seemed to last forever, the magical pressure buildup grew exponentially, along with the searing heat centered within his body. Where at first the lava-like heat had centered mostly in his hand, now it was all over his body, as if he were burning himself alive with his very own magical essence. Then, finally, when the tidal wave of magic that Harry was channeling felt like it was going to tear him to pieces, the barrier finally burst!
Instantly and with a deafening crash of sound, Harry's magic rushed out from within his body to fly out in every direction. It was as if his magic was hundreds of tons of water that had been contained inside something as small as a coke can. In a single instant, a perfect dome of brilliantly bright, green colored magic, exploded outwards and away from Harry's body, leaving him standing in a crater of crushed earth and debris.
As the dome of power exploded outwards, a black and smoky wraith was forcefully ejected from within Harry's scar, only to be launched directly in front of him. The wraith screamed its fury, as it repeatedly tried to fly back towards Harry, but an ongoing stream of magic continued to push it back and away. Then, as the dome thinned out and spread, a translucent green shockwave continued off into the distance in every direction.
When the shockwave hit Hermione, who was standing just a little over eight meters to Harry's left, it knocked her clear off of her feet and about three meters through the air.
In the split second that followed the explosion, the Patronus Charm that Harry had been failing to cast all year finally succeeded. The tip of his wand became the epicenter of a laser light show of dazzling white light, as an absolutely titanic Corporeal Patronus was launched into the air.
The Patronus emerged from the wand at the speed of a bullet and immediately moved to defend its master. The massive stag slammed into the screaming, furious, wraithlike monster, instantly vaporizing it as if it was made of nothing but cobwebs and dust. The wraith didn't even manage to slow the Stag Patronus down as it continued to gallop towards the attacking Dementors.
After flying across the water in less than two seconds, the stag smashed into the Dementors like a high speed bowling ball through pins. It was violent enough that Harry could have sworn he saw some of the Dementors disintegrate during every massive impact of its horns. Then, when the Patronus began circling the two newly unconscious people on the other bank of the Lake, its aura was so large that it managed to create a full dome of protection. Finally, the Stag started radiating huge bursts of bright light outwards that carried a sense of pure joy and saint-like benevolence.
In response to the brilliantly lit Patronus effect, the Dementors screeched and wailed as if they were being tortured. They were also physically blasted away from the white light as if they were being hit by a fly swatter. Soon enough, what Dementors Harry could still see floating across the water, retreated en masse into the Forbidden Forest.
In the peaceful silence that the Dementors left behind, Harry could finally feel all of the damage that he'd managed to do to his body. Very abruptly, he gasped and dropped to his hands and knees, as his body released copious amounts of steam into the cool night air. At just a glance, Harry confirmed that his entire body was scorched with what looked like electrical burns or something similar. At first, he could only groan into his hands, as the damp grass cooled the skin of his forehead. As more time passed by however, Harry began to feel a little bit better and he hesitantly took a second look at his arm.
What Harry found this time was a welcome surprise to say the very least…
Upon further inspection, his burns weren't quite as bad as they'd initially looked. After stretching and flexing both his hands and his arms, Harry was pleased to find that he still had full mobility despite the red rawness of his skin. As his body's condition continued to improve, Harry suddenly felt capable of movement again, so he immediately turned his attention towards finding his friend. It didn't take long. Hermione was at the edge of the clearing, propped up on her elbows, coughing for breath and staring at him.
One thing was immediately obvious to Harry. If Hermione was seeking any kind of explanation from him then she was destined for disappointment. The fact of the matter was that he'd been looking for exactly the same thing from her. At this point, he was seriously hoping that his most scholastically inclined friend knew what the Hell was going on, because he didn't have a clue. Unfortunately, after taking just a single look at Hermione's visibly confused expression, Harry realized that she was just as lost as he was.
In the end, Harry just shrugged his shoulders in a defeated fashion as he drew his glasses off his face. "I have literally no idea what just happened," he finally admitted in a somewhat sheepish tone of voice. "What part of all that did YOU understand?"
"Almost nothing," Hermione groaned back, as she finally retrieved some of the air that had been knocked out of her.
"Good. I appreciate the solidarity," Harry grumbled, mostly to himself.
It may have been the adrenaline or the near brush with death, but Hermione giggled and then laughed hard at Harry's immature muttering. He just sounded so sulky after having done something so incredibly, unbelievably impossible! When Hermione finally calmed down again and managed to push herself back up to her feet, she dusted herself off and then crossed her arms in a huff. "Harry, seriously. This is nothing new and you know it! Nothing ever makes sense when it comes to you... Look, I want to obsess over what just happened just like you do, but unfortunately, we don't have the time. We need to go now, Harry. We only have a matter of minutes to be at our next destination."
"Uh... Okay then. Fine. We'll freak out later. Good plan. I'm pretty sure Buckbeak's just over that rise there." Harry pointed at an outcropping of rocks in the distance.
Nodding her understanding, Hermione started jogging towards both Harry and the outcropping that he'd just pointed at. Then she very suddenly stopped in place, as she shivered from head to toe. It was only as Hermione approached Harry's side that she started to feel something extremely out of the ordinary…
It felt as if Hermione was walking up to a very strong electrical current, except that it wasn't really a physical force. Then, as she stepped even closer to Harry's side, goosebumps started forming along her skin and she knew exactly what she was feeling. Anyone who'd ever been around an extremely powerful wizard knew what this particular sensation was, but Hermione didn't know what to make of it…
An aura shroud at this distance, and with this much power?
The sensation Hermione was feeling was that of amazingly strong magical power saturating the very air all around her. It felt as if she was walking through a powerful wizard's aura shroud, but with one or two important distinctions. The aura shroud she was standing in wasn't being forced out by a wizard who was trying to intimidate her, but rather the magic was free floating and lazy. Looking over at Harry, Hermione saw that her friend was just standing there and cleaning his glasses.
This was... odd...
"Harry," Hermione began, in a somewhat strained tone of voice. "Can you dial down on the aura shroud please? You don't need to force out that much power anymore."
After replacing his newly polished glasses, Harry turned back towards his friend with a confused expression upon his face. "Umm Hermione. I don't understand. I don't have an aura shroud. I've never had one... I'm not powerful enough for that." Harry was completely confused because Hermione was saying nonsense with a completely serious look upon her face. One thing he did know for sure was that he didn't have an aura. Even while hugging him in the past, Hermione had never sensed a magical aura around his body.
After taking a very deep breath, Hermione moved a few steps closer to Harry, where she stared him in the eyes. "Harry, listen... At the very least I don't think anyone at Hogwarts has ever completely destroyed a Dementor before... including Dumbledore. I'm tired of you marginalizing yourself. Sure, your grades aren't the best in the school, but then you turn around and make the fantastical look merely difficult. You are not a weak wizard... In fact... I'm beginning to think that perhaps you're a little closer to Merlin's side of the spectrum..."
After looking around the clearing in wonder for a few more moments, Hermione snapped out of her daze and pointed at her friend. "Besides. Are you trying to tell me that you don't feel a huge cloud of your magic just free floating around you all willy nilly? It feels like I'm neck deep in your personal space, and I'm still three meters away from you!"
During the moments that followed, Harry checked himself out because Hermione was right and there was something else there... At first he couldn't quite grab ahold of it. He knew that something was different, but he had no idea how to observe it within himself. Then, very suddenly, he felt his perception stretching outwards in profoundly bizarre ways, and the entire world around him seemed to open up. Crying out, Harry cradled his head, because now that he could feel it all, the new sensations and extrasensory perceptions were almost overwhelming in their intensity.
Holy Gods!.. He could feel! He could move! He could interact with the world around him!
Without even being able to explain it, one thing was immediately obvious to Harry. Up until now, his essence, his soul, whatever it was that made him who he was, had been tightly compressed. Not only that, but since he'd always been in that state for as long as he could remember, he'd never noticed that something was wrong...
Now that the intense squeezing feeling was finally gone, Harry felt... light. He felt unencumbered. He felt as if he could move easier, not physically but magically. Then, as he closed his eyes and paid attention to the right things, Harry could actually feel Hermione's aura within the range of his ambient magic.
A wizard's range of ambient magic or "aura" usually only extends about half a hand's length away from their body. If you get this close to a witch or wizard then you might be able to feel (some more than others) another person's magical presence or aura. A wizard's aura shroud is widely considered to be a far more intimate level of closeness than mere personal space, because to invade it is to begin feeling the truest essence of the person. Suffice it to say, if you find yourself within someone's ambient field of magic "aka" their aura shroud, and they don't want you there, it's considered extremely rude.
And Harry Potter was currently smothering Hermione Granger within his aura from every direction…
A gasp escaped Harry's mouth as he suddenly realized just how gigantic his newly released aura shroud was, as well as the awkward implications that such a thing might have on his social life. "How is any of this possible," Harry barked, while staring at his hands for answers. "Hermione. What's going on?! It feels like you might as well be sitting on my lap for Gods' sakes!"
Hermione could only nod at her frantic friend's words because, point of fact, that's exactly how it felt. "Harry... I do understand your concern, but we're both just going to have to get over it for now. We really do have to get moving." Forcing herself to move past the awkwardness of the situation, Hermione ran up and grabbed Harry by the hand. Even then, she felt like she might start blushing any second.
Less than a minute later, Harry and Hermione hopped on Buckbeak's back and flew off into the night.
In the end, Harry and a still rather skittish Hermione, returned to the Hospital Wing just in time for the three hours the time turner granted them to come to an end... In fact, since they were right on schedule, they encountered Headmaster Dumbledore just as he was exiting the room.
For the first second and a half, Dumbledore didn't look the least bit surprised to see the two teenagers just standing there in front of him. It was only as Dumbledore finished closing the door behind himself that he began to look confused.
"We're back," Harry quickly announced. "And we were successful."
Dumbledore briefly grinned at that news, but then he began to look confused again. Drawing in a rather deep breath, he pierced Harry with a stare. "Harry... Exactly how and why are you channeling so much of your magic into the air like that?" Dumbledore was dumbfounded by what he was feeling at the moment. He was over a hundred and forty years old and he'd never felt anything like the mass of ambient power that he was currently standing in.
Well... at least not from a human...
Harry looked at Hermione, who looked back at him and then they both turned back towards Dumbledore.
"Well. We kind of had an... adventure again," Harry replied, in a somewhat sheepish tone of voice. "I ended up having to perform some very intense magic and I've been stuck this way ever since." Turning towards Hermione, Harry gave her a wry grin. "I'm lucky I've got someone like Hermione watching my back. She managed to stay on task even though she felt like I was being a right pervert to her."
Despite his cavalier tone, Harry's expression contained a very real apology and Hermione didn't miss it. She nodded her understanding at her friend before turning back towards Dumbledore. "Harry's telling the truth, minus the pervert part." While smiling at Harry again, Hermione crossed her arms in a very stern don't mess with me pose. "His aura shroud feels more like a rather comforting hug."
The two teenagers smiled at each other again, before suddenly breaking down into several hard fits of laughter. Truth be told, their Hippogriff ride had felt a little too intimate for either of their comfort, but with those words they'd managed to successfully move on. They both knew that they were all but family so it would take far more than this to cause them issues.
As the two Gryffindors continued to joke around with each other, Dumbledore took the time to perform a little passive Leglimency on the two of them. His aim was to discern their real thoughts on the aura shroud that Harry was generating. As he'd suspected would be the case, neither of the teenagers had a single clue what had happened to Harry and they were both looking to him for answers. With that much figured out, Dumbledore pulled his focus back into himself. He didn't have to be a mind reader to know that Harry and Hermione had a story to tell. "Okay you two... How about you come back to my office? I'd be interested in hearing about your exciting night in the hospital wing."
Harry and Hermione nodded enthusiastically.
When Harry, Hermione and Dumbledore were released from Dumbledore's Pensieve, the two teenagers stumbled several times and almost fell to the floor. Entering and exiting Pensieve memories felt a lot like using the Floo to travel and neither of the Muggle raised teens were any good at it.
After Harry and Hermione recounted what they'd done earlier in the evening, Dumbledore had asked if he could witness their memories for himself. They'd all just re-watched Hermione's version of Harry's actions from several different angles. Now that they were all back in the here and now, they walked across the room and fell into their respective seats like marionettes with their strings cut.
Dumbledore and Harry dropped to their asses a little harder than Hermione did because they we're both stunned by what they'd just witnessed. Oh sure, Harry had been the one performing the spell, but he'd been entirely consumed by getting past the blockage that was stopping him. He'd only been peripherally aware of the spectacular light show that had taken place around his body, and until now, he'd barely noticed the black wraith that had been ejected from inside of his scar.
Looking down at the skin of his arms, Harry noted that the blisters and redness covering his body were healing with an unnatural quickness. His clothing was still pretty much ruined though...
Slowly turning towards Harry, Dumbledore gave the boy a very meaningful look. "Harry... I think we need to investigate all of this in the Hospital Wing with Madam Pomfrey..."
Nodding his head in complete agreement, Harry slowly rose back to his feet. At this point, he was more than ready to get control of his aura shroud. He was magically brushing up against Albus Dumbledore, and it was giving him a case of the willies.
As the three of them walked back towards the Hospital Wing, Harry's carefully controlled sense of optimism finally began to fail him. By the time they arrived at their destination and took their first breath of sterile, medically scented air, he was beginning to feel a sense of impending doom. The sensation grew that much worse when they finally walked into the Hospital wing only to have Madam Pomfrey come flying out of her private alcove looking rattled in the extreme.
Looking down at his feet, Harry rubbed a hand along the back of his neck. Madam Pomfrey had just reacted to his presence while he was still a little over six meters away from her. The fact that she'd already felt his shroud could only mean that the problem with his aura was getting worse, rather than better. His shroud was even wider than it'd been an hour ago!
After taking one long look at young Harry Potter, Poppy Pomfrey pointed back towards the bed that he'd been laying in just an hour earlier. "Sit, now."
After obediently nodding his head, Harry continued to stand where he was, with noticeable hesitation plain to see upon his features. "Ummm Madam Pomfrey. I'm really feeling quite alright at the moment. Truth be told, I feel like I've been wearing enormous Iron manacles around my magic until now. As awkward as I know this is, I feel like I can breathe right now. I feel like I can feel for the very first time in my... in my entire life. I... I agree that I need to stop touching everyone, but..."
With no way to really explain how he felt, Harry looked down at his feet again. He was feeling extremely conflicted at the moment...
After clucking at Harry's nervous expression like a mother would, Madam Pomfrey put her hands on her hips in a very stereotypical fashion. "Harry... Right now, standing three meters away from you, I feel like you're rubbing against my body... magically speaking of course. It's too much for an old widowed witch like me to handle, so let's find out what's going on with you, shall we?"
While blushing a vibrantly bright red, Harry realized that Madam Pomfrey was right. He couldn't keep invading other people's personal space just because his current lack of control felt good... He needed to man up because doing the right thing very rarely meant doing the comfortable thing.
Walking across the room, Harry took a seat in his traditional bed and then looked back at the elderly healer. "Thank you Madam Pomfrey, and I apologize for the trouble." Laying back on the mattress, Harry stared despondently up at the ceiling. He was far too frustrated with all of this to make nice with anyone anymore. In fact, now that nothing else was occupying his attention, Harry started getting pretty upset that his life can't ever just be normal.
"It's no big deal to me Harry," Hermione injected softly, from where she was sitting on his left. "It's not like I haven't hugged you before anyway." When her words failed to comfort her friend, Hermione grabbed at his cheek and forced him to look at her. She had a plan. Even if Harry wouldn't cheer up for himself, he WOULD cheer up for her... "Listen, Harry... Can you cheer up a bit for me?... Your magic isn't as comfortable as it was before..."
Until his friend brought it to his attention, Harry hadn't noticed the difference that his mood was making within his shroud. Hermione was right. He could immediately sense the change that had taken place within his magic. His aura was obviously reflecting his negativity in how it felt to those around him. It felt chilly and grating at the moment, as it projected his negativity out into the world.
Harry couldn't have that. He refused to allow himself to foist his upset feelings upon his friends. Very suddenly, he decided that if he absolutely must surround everyone in the room with his aura, the very least he could do is channel some positivity into it. Over the next couple of seconds, Harry focused on how lucky he was to have Hermione in his life, warming up his aura quite a bit.
Almost immediately, Dumbledore and Pomfrey looked more at ease, while to Harry's surprise Hermione sank to her chair like she was taking a nice hot bath.
"Oh Harr, that's quite nice. Feel free to think I'm amazing some more," Hermione whispered, as she leaned back and closed her eyes.
Harry smiled as he projected a sense of how much he'd enjoyed seeing her as a half-human, half-cat hybrid, complete with ears and tail, via polyjuice.
Hermione suddenly blushed a deep red as Harry somehow made himself understood. She never heard him say a word but she was under the impression that Harry was extremely amused by something very funny/cute that she'd done in the past. Despite her somewhat unjustified feeling of embarrassment, she was happy that her friend was happy again.
As the two teens kept each other occupied, Madam Pomfrey approached Harry's bed, so that she could perform a medical diagnosis spell. The Examorbus spell is designed to impart information regarding anything of significance that has been altered within a wizard's body or core within a certain amount of time. A huge portion of what it takes to be a good Healer is whether or not a person is gifted at the simple charm that she was about to perform. Indeed, the charm itself is quite easy to complete. It's the ability to accurately interpret the various information the charm imparts into the mind of the caster that is the truly difficult part. Poppy Pomfrey was one of the best Healers alive and was frequently asked to diagnose people from all over the world from her home base here at Hogwarts.
As she completed her Examorbus spell, Madam Pomfrey motioned for Dumbledore to join her. Then, when he stepped close, she tried to whisper into his ear, but in her excitement she was far too loud to keep a secret. "Dumbledore… That thing that you told me to ignore is completely gone."
Dumbledore immediately nodded with a look of relief upon his face.
After that mysterious statement, Madam Pomfrey returned her attention back to her diagnosis spell. Over time, she began to look more and more upset at what she was finding.
As more and more time went by, Madam Pomfrey's increasingly unhappy expression started freaking Harry out. The fact that she was losing her composure made him want to jump out of the bed and shake the woman for answers. He didn't. He controlled himself. Madam Pomfrey was focused on her spell, so he forced himself to stay still and out of her way. Instead, Harry continued projecting funny and or embarrassing Hermione memories towards his best friend in order to try to stay upbeat.
At this point, Hermione looked insane, because she kept blushing and or laughing at irregular intervals, as she was affected by his shroud.
By the time four minutes had passed, Madam Pomfrey was starting to turn a ghostly white color, causing Harry's nerves to be stretched to their limit as a result. His hands clenched tightly at his sides, when suddenly he caught sight of tear tracks running unnoticed down her cheeks. Madam Pomfrey just didn't do emotional. The fact that she was crying was a sign of the apocalypse if ever he'd seen one, and he suddenly feared whatever it was she had to say.
When Madam Pomfrey finally found the root cause for Harry's current condition, she tore her eyes off of the boy, so that she could glower at the Headmaster instead. "Dumbledore you senile old goat! The boy lying next to me is both a miracle and an impossibility! Ohhhhh, yoouu have some explaining to do, and you're going to do it now! Harry was given an Eramus Servientus potion, Dumbledore! He was given a permanent Bondage potion as a baby! Your meddling should have gotten Harry killed by the time he was four years old!"
At first Dumbledore looked completely stunned by Madam Pomfrey's words. He was legitimately shocked, which caused him to look back and forth between Harry and his Healer several times in rapid order. Thankfully for everyone involved, the man's confusion didn't last very long. After just two or three seconds, the bewildered look slipped off of Dumbledore's face, at which point he began to look absolutely livid instead. He visibly boiled over with rage as he straightened and stared right back at his Healer. "I tasked a man that I trusted with giving Harry a simple accidental magic bind. The potion he was supposed to give Harry would cease to exist by the time he was four or five years old... I did not ask him to completely strangle a baby boy of his magic!"
Dumbledore was losing it big time now, and his magic was flaring all throughout the room.
As the Headmaster's rage-fueled aura was projected out into the room to commingle with his own, Harry learned several different things at exactly the same time. Dumbledore was waaaay more emotional than anyone would ever have been able to catch just by looking at his carefully bland appearance. Hell, Harry could actually feel the man magically repressing and controlling his own roiling, bucking emotions. If Harry had to guess, he'd say that Albus Dumbledore... paragon of virtue and light in the magical world... was trying to stop himself from committing murder!
Next, Harry sensed that the Headmaster owned two wands. One wand was in his robe pocket like normal and one was resting in a secret holster around his right thigh. Harry could also tell that the man was obscenely strong (obviously) and his body was literally riddled with defensive magics. While Harry had absolutely no idea how it was happening, he was picking up an uncontrollable flood of information through his magical senses, and it was being channeled into him all at once. In fact, as more and more information was forced into his mind, Harry began having trouble focusing on the here and now.
With all of the extrasensory distractions being foisted upon Harry's overburdened mind, he was having trouble organizing his thoughts in any helpful, structured way. Soon enough, Harry had his hands on his temples again, because there was way too much new and he couldn't keep up. Lots and lots of new... New information, new feelings, new emotions, new awareness of the living things around him, and new senses that he couldn't begin to name let alone interpret. In a moment of desperate need, Harry yelled out into the completely quiet room.
"Headmaster! You're overwhelming me with information right now! I need you to restrain your magic!" Dammit control yourself, Harry berated himself over and over... He didn't have time to continue unraveling like this. He needed answers ASAP, so he couldn't afford to be completely consumed by Dumbledore's aura.
Dumbledore's out of control anger was halted right in his tracks by Harry's amazing pronouncement. Over the next couple of seconds he strangled his magic back into his body and then turned towards his student with a serious expression on his face. "Harry... What did you mean by what you just said? Your magic is picking up information for you?" Dumbledore was completely flabbergasted for the fourth or fifth time in just a little over an hour (he was losing track).
Crossing his arms across his chest, Harry gave Dumbledore his most no nonsense look. "No. Not this time Dumbledore... I think we should start at the beginning. Why am I an impossibility and why should I be dead?!"
With a nod of her head, Madam Pomfrey walked over to Harry's side and sat down at the edge of his bed. "Harry... When you were an infant it appears you were performing a lot of accidental magic." She stared at Dumbledore, waiting for confirmation, and then she sighed when the man reluctantly nodded his head. "It sounds like Dumbledore asked a colleague of his to create a common potion that would've kept you from accessing most of your magic. It's only purpose would've been to contain some of your magic, until you were out of infancy and more in control."
When he realized that the story was going to be told whether he liked it or not, Dumbledore stepped forward and crouched down next to Harry's bed. "Try to understand Harry... You were going to be living with the Dursleys, and they don't appreciate magic. You were floating, turning things blue, and Vanishing vegetables. You were a magical terror of a baby. Of course your parents were extremely proud of it all, but Petunia and Vernon would've put you in an orphanage the very first time it happened. I wanted to give the Dursleys a chance to love you like the family that they are. That's the reason why I asked an associate of mine to brew a potion to bind your magic for a few years. It seems I seriously misjudged the man's character."
At this point, Dumbledore's teeth were about to shatter from the way he was gritting them.
For Hermione's sake, Harry kept his aura light even as his reply to Dumbledore was not. "Headmaster... If you thought that those... people... would ever come to love me... then your associate wasn't the only person you judged poorly."
Dumbledore blanched, then started to say something in his own defense, but he was interrupted when Madam Pomfrey stepped in front of him.
After physically pulling Harry's attention away from Dumbledore, Madam Pomfrey turned to give the Headmaster the stink eye over her shoulder. While the man definitely had some explaining to do, now wasn't the time. Harry's anxiety was slipping into his aura and Pomfrey needed to explain the situation so that he'd calm back down. Turning back around, Madam Pomfrey locked eyes with her charge and prepared to explain a great many things.
"Listen carefully, Harry," Pomphrey demanded as calmly as she could. "The person who brewed your binding potion created a very rare variation that's both extremely illegal to make and far too immoral to administer. He gave you a potion called Eramus Servientus. This potion is used on extremely strong and dangerous magical beasts to permanently bind their magic inside their cores. If it's used on a wizard... any wizard, then they're immediately rendered into a squib if not killed outright from shock."
As Madam Pomfrey continued her explanation, Harry found himself becoming more and more confused. "Uhhh. Madam Pomfrey," he began slowly, with intense levels of confusion written on his face. "I know I'm not the best student in my year, but I'm not a squib either. If I focus hard enough, I'm definitely capable of performing magic… How can I be?..."
For perhaps the first time since she'd performed her diagnostic spell, Madam Pomfrey smiled, as she patted Harry softly on his shoulder. "Harry... That's exactly why I just said you're a miracle… You shouldn't have been able to use magic at all and that would've been the ideal outcome for an adult wizard. Circumstances are much, much more dire for any poor infant administered that particular potion... There's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to be blunt... Harry Potter you should be long dead."
At Harry's blank look, Pomfrey rubbed his hand and gave him a soft, warm smile. "Let me try to explain, Harry. First of all, wizards aren't merely people with magic inside of them. Wizards are their magic, period. Magic isn't just something we can access and use, but rather it's incorporated in our very souls, incorporated in our bodies, and it's just as vital to us as our life's blood is. Unlike muggles or non magical creatures, wizards NEED their magic just to grow and develop as they age. A normal wizard is completely saturated in their own magic as they grow older, which is the reason why we're so comparatively healthy, strong and long lived. I can't even begin to explain the wide variety of ways the binding on your core has stunted and damaged your body up until this point."
Madam Pomfrey shook her head and looked at the floor as she continued. "The common Accidental magic potions that are usually given to babies only suppress extra magic that can lead to inconvenient accidental spells and such. Those potions leave behind plenty of magic for the babies in question to develop at a normal pace. What you were given, Harry..." Madam Pomfrey shook her head again and wiped away a stray tear. "You shouldn't have been able to grow at all, have normal useful organs, develop the brain you have, the coordination, thought, all of it. You should've died a mass of undeveloped organs and tissues by the age of three or four at the most."
Hermione was beginning to cry at this point, so Harry took the time to project how much he loved her for punching Malfoy in the face earlier that night.
While Harry's efforts to cheer her up were well intentioned, all he'd managed to do was make Hermione feel worse. Harry was such a good, kind person, and he always had to suffer like this. The injustice of it all was making her cry, and Harry's kind attention was just fuel on the fire.
While it didn't look like it was working, Harry tried to stay positive as he asked the question that needed asking. "So, then... How am I alive?"
For the first time in a very long time Madam Pomfrey wasn't a hundred percent sure. She had a theory of course, but it was just so fantastically improbable. Either way, the boy deserved an answer and she was going to give it to him. "Harry... I am a very qualified healer. I'm not just some ordinary school nurse, Hogwarts pays me extremely well to be here, because I have seen it all and I have done it all... That being said... I cannot definitively explain how you're both alive and as highly functioning as you are. The best I can do for now is a theory, which will need to be verified over the next few weeks. My theory is this. You have a very adaptable magical core, unbelievably versatile magic and more power than any ten fully matured adult wizards put together. I also think you may have more potential for wandless magic than Merlin did..."
Dumbledore's face quickly swiveled toward the elderly Healer. "How do you know this?"
Madam Pomfrey gave Dumbledore a frustrated look at his interruption. "Like I just said, I haven't confirmed anything yet. I only have a theory because it's literally the only way Harry could have lived past infancy. I think Harry's magical core refused to just give up. I think it began straining against the bindings, creating a series of small, fast repairing leaks time and time again. These leaks wouldn't have lasted long enough for any noticeable amount of magic to get through at any one time. Under normal circumstances only trace amounts of magic would've been released every time a leak was created. For that reason, I believe Harry's core was pushing and straining to create those leaks at max power twenty-four hours a day, all day, every day."
Madam Pomfrey turned back towards Harry as she finished her explanation. "Harry... What I've described would be the only way your core could provide enough magic to keep you both alive and developing."
As Harry digested everything he'd heard so far, Madam Pomfrey rubbed a comforting hand up and down his back. She wasn't finished her explanation yet, not by a long shot, but there was no need to overwhelm her charge.
A few moments later, when Harry appeared to understand what she'd already explained, Pomphrey turned back towards Dumbledore. "The next impossible thing toddler Harry accomplished would be what he did when he finally managed to force his magic out of the bindings..."
Pomfrey turned Harry's chin to her and addressed him directly. "Harry... Just because your magic leaked out of the bindings and was free of your core, doesn't mean it could've achieved anything alone... At that point it would've become separated from your magical core by the bindings. The magic would've become completely directionless with nothing to guide it, becoming what is commonly referred to as ambient, free floating, magic... Any of the magic floating directionless around your body would've needed to be manually or "intent ordered" into acting on your behalf. I personally believe magic is somewhat sentient, but for the purposes of regenerating and developing your infant body it would've needed real intent based directions from a wizard. What I'm about to say is a fact and is one of the irrefutable laws of magic. Your magic would NOT have just leaked out of your core and fixed you for no reason. Ambient magic just doesn't do that... EVER. You would have to have been willing the magic to do the things it did to keep you alive. I can't begin to explain how you were able to do it Harry. You, as an infant, through will power alone, forced the separated, directionless, ambient magic floating in and around you, to do very specific jobs as you grew up. You subconsciously, wandlessly, willed magic that was separate from you, to continually repair your bones, hair, organs, skin, brain, heart, the list goes on forever and you only would've been three years old at the time! I tend to believe your young age and ignorance actually helped you survive it all. You didn't know that it was supposed to be impossible... All you knew at the time was that you were in excruciating agony and you needed the pain to end."
When Madam Pomfrey turned back towards Dumbledore again, her face held nothing but a hundred percent certainty. "If Harry can't completely master wandless magic, then no one on earth can." Turning back towards Harry, Madam Pomfrey took a very deep breath. "Harry. This is going to be a very uncomfortable summer for you."
For the length of Madam Pomfrey's explanation, Dumbledore had been staring at Harry as if he was a zoo animal, but at the Healer's newest warning his head snapped towards her, with an audible crack of his neck. "You're not saying?..."
"Oh yes," Madam Pomfrey replied, with the exact same certainty as before. "Just like how a magical child grows much faster once free of even the weakest magical binding, Harry here is about to experience some extremely rapid development. Harry, I mean no offense when I say this, but you're a fourteen year old with the physical maturity of an eleven year old."
Harry could only nod his head because what Madam Pomfrey was saying was perfectly obvious to everyone.
After patting Harry on the shoulder again, Madam Pomfrey rose back to her feet. "Well, I'd wager that by the end of the summer, you'll look sixteen at the very least. I need you to understand this, Harry. Whether or not you're physically here (she gestured to the Hospital Wing). This summer I own you, body and soul. You will follow my every command. You will eat like a madman, take my disgusting magical health supplements and work out religiously in order to ensure you develop correctly. You'll need to do all of these things despite the fact that your body is going to pain you like Skelegro is being forced down your throat every morning. Harry, I know very well that you're tough... but this summer, I'm going to make you cry."
Pomfrey smiled at this point and patted the side of Harry's face. "I wouldn't even bother if you weren't worth it."
Dumbledore started trying to interject...
With no warning whatsoever, Madam Pomfrey rounded on Dumbledore with the ferocity of an alpha predator. "NO! The boy's situation is not under control Albus, you old fool! This is no time for Harry to be starved, beaten and locked up in his bedroom Albus! I will quit your service if you push me on this!"
Hermione gasped and her hands flew up to her face.
At first Harry was shocked that the Healer knew all about the Dursley's particular form of parenting, but when he really thought about it he shouldn't have been. He'd been a patient of hers often enough in the past and his many, many scars weren't exactly... subtle. In that moment, while Madam Pomfrey was flying to his defense, he grew to love the woman like family.
For the last three years, Madam Pomfrey had spent the lion's share of her time completely livid with Dumbledore over Harry James Potter. She was a professional so she could easily see the signs of terrible abuse every time the boy was in her care. She'd informed Dumbledore immediately after meeting Harry for the first time, but Albus had said that it was under control and necessary for the boy's own protection. Gods only know what nonsensical plan Dumbledore was referring to, but Pomfrey was determined to finally make the man see reason.
Turning towards the stubborn old Headmaster again, Pomfrey gave the elderly man her most no nonsense look. "Look. There's a second reason why Harry can't go to his muggle neighborhood right now and it's more immediately pressing. Harry has to retrain his magic all summer starting immediately. As things stand now he has zero control over his magical aura-shroud. Even though his shroud isn't actually all that dangerous, if Harry steps foot in a Muggle populated area of Britain, he'll destroy the statute of secrecy almost immediately."
Dumbledore couldn't help himself. He looked at Poppy curiously.
Rolling her eyes at the Headmaster's willful ignorance, Madam Pomfrey gestured towards the old wizard with both of her hands. "Oh come on Albus. Isn't it obvious? Even you would find it almost impossible to project an aura shroud like the one Harry's currently releasing. Keep in mind I'm talking about maintaining this level of shroud for mere moments, not the casual way that Harry's filling this room. It's completely absurd how widespread and hungry Harry's magic has become and I'd wager it's a direct result of him surviving the binding. In order to get literally anything magical done, including living and growing, Harry's core has had to push magic outwards like it was the end of the world, all day, every day! Now that the bindings containing his magic are destroyed, this has become Harry's new normal."
Madam Pomfrey gestured expansively at the cloud of ambient magic that they were all just standing around in. "Harry Potter has no idea what it even feels like not to be forcing out every scrap of his magic, at full power, at all times. The fact that he could get out of bed in the morning, walk, talk, go to classes, focus in those classes, play Quidditch for Gods' sakes, it's all remarkable beyond measure."
Everyone in the room took a moment to fully digest just how incredible it was that Harry was alive, intelligent and sane. They all collapsed where they were, exhausted because of what they'd just learned. Dumbledore, Hermione and Madam Pomfrey just sat there, feeling like they were magically rubbing up against Harry.
After a few quiet moments passed, Harry projected to Hermione how much it'd meant to him when she'd had his back during second year. When everyone else in the school had forsaken him as the so-called "Heir of Slytherin," Hermione had been the only person who didn't shy away.
While Hermione didn't know the exact memory that Harry was thinking about, the fact that he cared about her was obvious. Over the next couple of seconds, she found herself smiling and sobbing at exactly the same time.
Turning back towards Harry, Dumbledore shrugged in an expressive way. "Well... There's three more days in the school term Harry, but I'm sorry to inform you, you're going to be staying here (he gestured to the ward). I'll find some Occlumency books for you to study in the meantime. They've just become extremely important to you, if you ever want to exist normally amongst your peers..."
"Occlumency," Harry repeated, without any recognition in his voice.
"Yes," Dumbledore replied, in a rare businesslike tone. "Occlumency is a brand of magic centered around controlling your mind and your thoughts. At a basic level it's only intended to protect your thoughts from mind reading. In the wizarding world mind reading is called Leglimency. At Occlumency's most advanced levels, you can build a Mindscape and attain broader control of your body, memories, emotions and most importantly for you Harry, your magic." Dumbledore laughed, even as he shook his head. "Well, at least you'll be motivated Harry. Unless... You don't want to walk into the Great Hall and magically rub up against all of the girls, in every house, all at once, do you?"
After turning vaguely white at the prospect, Harry laughed and shook his head. "That sounds extremely dangerous sir."
"Exactly," Dumbledore replied, with a smile.
For the last few days Harry had been quarantined like a leper in the Hospital Wing of the school. During that time, no one had ever bothered explaining to him where he'd be spending his summer. At first he'd fantasized that he would be sent to stay with his Godfather Sirius. Too bad the man was still the number one fugitive in the entire country and hiding out Gods only know where. No, it seemed that Harry's presence wasn't welcome anywhere at the moment, so he had no idea what Dumbledore was intending to do with him. For obvious reasons the situation was less than ideal and Harry resented the fact that he was being kept in the dark... again.
There was a bright side however. For the entire length of time that he'd been kept in the Hospital Wing, Harry'd been meditating and building the foundations of what would become an extremely well-Occluded mind. After reading no less than five books on the subject, Harry'd decided that if he had to sit around then he might as well be constructive with his time. At the moment he was a captive audience, so he was thankful that the Occlumency books were as interesting as they were. There was also the fact that Harry in particular would get a lot out of this particular branch of magic.
In the past, whenever Hermione accused Harry of being both mercurial and broody he'd never been able to defend himself... He couldn't. He didn't have a single leg to stand on... His poor emotional control paired with a shite childhood wasn't doing him any favors in that regard, and as a result he'd never been what anyone would call the life of the party. Now that he'd read all of these Occlumency textbooks, Harry knew that there was actually something he could do about his lack of emotional maturity, and the prospect had him excited.
Hell, just a few days earlier, Harry saw for himself the benefits of attaining powerful Occlumency through Dumbledore… His Headmaster had used Occlumency to reign in a peak of anger so intense he'd never seen anything quite like it.
Harry had a definite feeling of having SEEN Dumbledore's anger, and not just through the man's rather obvious facial features. Harry began to think that his magic was going to provide him a lot of information, if he could ever get control of it. There was also a more obvious and immediate reason why Harry needed better control of his emotions. He was currently broadcasting them out into the world through his magic, and affecting the people around him in negative ways… and he refused to allow this to continue…
Harry would not, could not allow his moodiness to infect the people around him like a black cloud all the damned time. With that thought in mind, Harry curled his feet under himself again and began the breathing practices recommended in all of the Occlumency books. He found himself centered with relative ease, after many, many failed attempts, and he began attempting to seek out his magical core...
Cracking open his eyes, Harry saw that Hermione had come to visit him again. She was in on the secret regarding his magic, and didn't seem to be overly bothered by the intimate environment his magic created. Harry had always known that Hermione was down for a hug, so he went out of his way to make sure that's what his shroud felt like for her. As his friend sat down in the chair next to his bed, Harry projected what it felt like to receive a Hermione hug (legendary). While generating the emotion in his shroud, Harry was momentarily lost in the memory involved and a small wry grin spread upon his face.
Hermione arched an eyebrow at Harry's grin. "I don't think I like the thought that just went through your head, Mr Potter."
Grinning at his best friend, Harry had to concede that Hermione could see right through him like no one else he knew. "I just remembered that you were the very first person to ever hug me, and then I realized just how ironic this whole situation is… For the most part, I still find myself shying away from casual affection, and yet I'm invading absolutely everyone's personal space, to throw around big, unwelcome hugs."
In the end, Harry's joke was completely ignored in the face of something far more important. Hermione hadn't known until just that moment that she was the very first person to EVER hug Harry. She didn't actually intend to react so strongly to this new information, but the question spluttered out of her mouth unbidden. "Ever, Harry? your relatives never… in eleven years?"
After shrugging dismissively, Harry eased back against the bed's headboard and nodded a little more seriously. Truly, he couldn't even imagine any of the Dursleys trying to hug him, and the very idea of it gave him a case of the shivers.
At Harry's confirmation, Hermione collapsed into the chair next to his bed, completely blown away. She briefly thought about hugging her friend right then and there, but Harry was finally revealing some of his life to her, and she didn't want to scare him off. Without moving a muscle, she drew in a very deep, calming breath, counted to five, and then smiled at her friend as if his life wasn't completely heartbreaking. "I'm impressed you told me all that Harry. Is the Occlumency training helping you?"
"Well, no. I don't think there's a convenient magical solution that has me spilling my guts," Harry replied, while gazing up at the ceiling. But then he propped himself up using half a dozen stolen pillows and grinned aside at his most studious friend. "The truth is, I've been meditating like twelve hours a day for the last three days. I'm feeling pretty damn centered at the moment."
Both Harry and Hermione grinned at that because yeah, that would definitely do it.
"I do feel like I'll be good at this Occlumency stuff pretty soon though," Harry offered in an offhand manner. "Just before you entered the room, I was aiming to encounter my magical core. I think I felt it nearby." Shrugging his shoulders, Harry waved his hands noncommittally. "I guess when it comes to magic, I can say something vague like 'I felt it' and it might actually mean something huh."
"Not in Arithmancy though," Hermione countered, in an amused tone of voice.
"Hermione, back to what we were talking about before," Harry ventured. "I was thinking…"
"Go ahead," Hermione said, still acting nonchalant. She pulled out a book and settled it on her lap.
"Well I think I might adopt you as family, Hermione..." Harry wasn't looking over at Hermione right now because despite his casual tone he was feeling a little bit embarrassed. "My family sucks, so I'm going to steal you from yours."
"Okay then, I'm your sister. I demand full disclosure."
Harry arched an eyebrow in question.
"Tell me all about your life," Hermione explained, while looking up from her book with a serious expression. "Tell me everything, and I'll be your sister for life through anything. I know you think your upbringing makes you weak, but once you train your Occlumency, you'll see that it's exactly the opposite."
At first, Harry nodded his understanding, but then he shook his head. "I'm going to train my Occlumency first then. Afterwards, I'll get back to you. I'm still going to call you sis whether or not you give me permission or not though." Harry smiled up at the ceiling again because yes, yes he would, and he was already feeling pretty damned good about it.
Hermione smiled even as she shook her head. "Well, I had to try, didn't I?"
Smiling softly at his best friend, Harry put a hand on her forearm. She was right after all. Hermione did try and she never ever quit, it just wasn't in her nature. "I appreciate how you've always tried Mione. I know I need to talk about it at some point, but it's all just so messed up and awful... I'm not quite there yet sis, but when I am I'll let you know. Self-awareness doesn't always make you strong it seems."
Smiling back at Harry, Hermione took her new nickname in stride. Harry really did love her like family, and she could feel that much in his shroud. On the other hand, she thought her friend was selling himself short. "Harry... I think strength is a relative thing where you're concerned. You bounce back and forth on that front from one second to the next. You'd sacrifice every ounce of yourself until there's nothing left to save your friends... Making yourself vulnerable, sharing your life and feelings is another matter entirely.
While Hermione's words made him feel just a little bit embarrassed, Harry still ended up nodding his agreement. He'd put himself in danger for his friends without any hesitation several times in the past and they both knew it. Exposing himself emotionally on the other hand... Well, that felt all but impossible and scary in a massive way.
Turning his body towards Hermione, Harry leaned a little closer to his newfound sister. "Actually, Poppy told me something two days ago that's changed how I look at my shyness and introversion. She explained that I might be an isolated person like I am as a direct result of the bindings that were on my core. She said that up until three days ago, I'd never magically "felt" anything around me before. She implied that the binding of my magic would've made me feel like I was all alone in the entire world, even while I'm completely surrounded by people. I know I can feel you now and it's making me feel… emotional."
Hermione extended a hand to hold Harry's. "I've always been with you Harry."
Squeezing his sister's hand in return, Harry smiled. "I knew that Mione, I just never felt it."
Looking up at the wall clock, Harry saw that it was almost time for the train to leave back to London. As reluctant as Harry was to see his friend go, he pointed at the clock to inform Hermione of the time.
At Harry's prompting, Hermione looked at the wall clock and then blanched in alarm. "You're a lifesaver, Harry. I need to hurry to the Entry Hall! I was distracted because you've become the most relaxing reading environment on the face of the planet." Giving her brother one last smile, Hermione scrambled to pick up all of her assorted books and quills. Then, when she was packed and ready to go, Hermione turned her attention back to Harry. "As soon as you know where you're going for the summer, you will owl me won't you?"
"Of course," Harry replied, as that much was completely obvious.
Later that evening, after Hermione left to catch the train, Harry was meditating again, in an attempt to reach out for his magical core.
Despite the fact that he hadn't found his core just yet, Harry was still extremely surprised by his current level of improvement. According to all of the books that he'd read so far, his thoughts should already have rudimentary shields in place just because of the meditation practices he'd been performing. Of course the barriers he'd built until now wouldn't be enough to stop a skilled Leglimancer, but they should allow him to feel it when someone is rooting around in his head.
That much wasn't the most dramatic achievement of the last couple of hours however…
At this point, Harry's consciousness was drifting around inside of his spiritual center. He'd managed to reach such a profound state of meditation; he was free floating deep within himself and looking around. There was a problem that was keeping him from advancing however… He was supposed to be on the lookout for what other people claim looks like a light off in the distance. He was wondering just how you'd tell where to go when the whole damned place is blindingly bright...
Harry was suddenly grateful that he was alone within his own spiritual center, because he was feeling pretty damned embarrassed... As it turns out, he'd found his core a long damned time ago, it was just absolutely enormous.
With this new realization, Harry was able to successfully embrace his center and move on to the next step.
Very suddenly, Harry found himself standing in an empty, rock strewn plain, with overcast skies and very little else to catch one's attention. Despite the grimness of his current surroundings, Harry knew not to be upset at what he'd found. This was what he'd been aiming for after all. He'd been meditating for days to clean up all of the trauma and emotional clutter that was waiting for him inside of his head. If he hadn't done all of that ahead of time, he probably would've hated the garbage heap he'd have found in here instead. It probably would've looked like his cupboard back at the Dursleys or something.
So now Harry had found himself in a kind of desolate but relatively clean environment... excellent! A person's Mindscape when they first see it usually has some emotional significance to the person, which is why most people generally build around it as a central figure or a core. Harry had read all of Hogwarts's books on Occlumency and had come to the conclusion that for the best results, you should build from the bottom up.
What Harry really wanted to do first is organize his memories and emotions. Too bad a book called MIND over MATTER said that doing so was a bad idea. According to the book a defenseless and orderly mind is just an easily read and exploitable one. What that meant was that Harry needed to get Hermione to defend her mind as soon as possible. Her brain was like a computer, so she was probably the most easily mind-read person on the face of the planet.
Harry's idea was to start with the very basics, but in new and creative ways. His plan was to make a vast sphere encompassing everything for as far as he can imagine… Since he was muggle-raised, Harry had no problem picturing the world as a sphere and that was what he was going to try and do.
From what Harry had been told, he had an absolutely gigantic magical core so there shouldn't be any harm in aiming for a much larger than normal Mindscape. He wanted his Mindscape to have absolutely enormous shields, under which he'd have a lot of space for further development. Then, as time goes by, he'd add layers of defenses inwards at his leisure.
To start with however, Harry was going to keep things simple. He pictured a rock globe beneath his feet approximately the size of the Earth and with a similar density. About a minute later and for seemingly no reason, Harry knew deep down that the deed was done. It was time to move on... Next, he imagined an unbelievably vast sphere completely encompassing his new world. This sphere was made of five-meter thick stainless steel and was as high as the ozone layer on earth.
Almost immediately, Harry's mindscape became pitch black, causing him to smile in triumph. The darkness let him know that his efforts were getting results. After picturing a radiant ball of light, Harry made it travel across the sky relative to real time on earth. It wasn't a real sun, but rather a humongous warm light attached to the inside of his steel ozone layer. Soon enough, his imagery worked once again, and he knew it because suddenly Harry was standing in a sunlit field.
As hard as it was to believe, Harry had pulled off the fantastical. Defying all common sense, and every book he'd ever read on the subject, he'd officially succeeded in creating an entire planet to use as a Mindscape. "Just try to find my important memories," Harry growled, with a somewhat feral smile on his face.
Despite his successes so far, Harry knew that he'd need to be methodical while bolstering his metallic barrier shields. While he knew that the barriers were in place, he wanted to confirm their strength for himself. According to all of the books on the subject, building defenses is the easy part. Checking the defenses for weaknesses and firming them up is the hard part. Over the next minute and a half, Harry mentally designated portions of his planet with latitude and longitude lines, so that problem areas could be marked and located later. Next, Harry pictured a vast army of Fawkes lookalikes as a workforce. He had a mental picture of them all flying around and checking his defenses. When next he opened his eyes, Harry found himself standing in front of hundreds of thousands of phoenixes.
"Okay Fawkes," Harry began in a loud but friendly voice. "I need you all flying patrol and checking my defenses. If you find a weakness in the barrier or anything else that might be troublesome, mentally prompt me and I'll deal with it."
For a few moments following Harry's instructions, the entire clearing was basked in the beautiful sound of thousands of phoenixes singing. Then, the moment ended and the phoenixes were flying off in every direction.
Okay. Let's see what I can build for myself now that it won't be completely defenseless. Harry looked down at his feet and smiled. The best part of having an entire planet to work with as a Mindscape was that the very earth at his feet could become a natural defense against intruders. With that in mind, Harry decided to steal some security ideas from the real experts, the goblins.
Out of nowhere, a hatch opened at Harry's feet and he started descending into a newly revealed underground room. After taking the time to make the hatch an extremely large yet inconspicuous looking boulder, Harry closed the hatch and then headed down the rest of the stairs. The room he found himself in wasn't large or ostentatious because it didn't need to be. It was just a small whitewashed room with a single elevator in the back wall.
Standing in front of this elevator, Harry took his time imagining what he needed in his mind. He poured his entire focus into creating an elevator shaft going straight down for over five-thousand kilometers, until it was near the planet's core. Even as he worked, a grin formed unbidden on Harry's face, because he appreciated how literal he was being. The planet's core was also where he'd housed his magical core, and the idea was just as amusing as it was cool. The lion's share of Harry's memories and emotions would be organized at the bottom of this elevator shaft, below multiple levels of protection and fail safes just in case. Then, when he was ready, he'd travel even deeper to gain control of his magic within the planet's core.
Over time, Harry started getting mental prompts from his Phoenix army to strengthen or thicken areas of his ozone layer defenses. He was relieved to find that he could firm up these areas to the Fawkes army's satisfaction without too much effort and the progress was extremely satisfying. For perhaps the first time in his entire life, Harry felt like he was gaining control of his own destiny and circumstances. In fact, Harry was finding this whole process just as empowering as it had been to find out he was a wizard.
While smiling at his own out of character optimism, Harry bounced on his toes and shook out his hands. "Okay, it's time to finally get my brain sorted out. Bring it on."
Around midnight, a very miffed Madam Pomfrey brought Harry out of his meditation. She was frustrated with him for sitting cross legged on his bed all night when he had perfectly adequate covers.
What this meant for Harry was that it was time to attempt a state of meditative sleep. The books he'd read so far stated that if he practiced, he could go to his Mindscape in his sleep, and there'd be very little difference then when he was awake. According to the books, entering his Mindscape in his sleep would increase the quality of his rest and he could also get some work done while he was at it. He'd also read that if you're magically powerful enough, your perception of time would even move slower while inside your Mindscape. Harry didn't think he was being arrogant when he assumed that time within his Mindscape was going to end up moving quite slow indeed.
Smiling up at the school Healer, Harry apologized for his poor sleeping habits, lay down under his covers, and fell asleep while utilizing his meditation practices.
The next day was officially the first day of summer vacation, which of course meant that the school was completely empty of students. Now that he wouldn't be magically rubbing up against everyone, Harry was really looking forward to some freedom from the Hospital Wing. When he woke up just before breakfast it was to find Madam Pomfrey standing over him and carefully scrutinizing his body.
"Harry, have you noticed that your scar is a little less red and angry? It looks like it's already beginning to fade." Madam Pomfrey's question was asked as she poked and prodded at him with her wand. This had become a daily ritual since three days earlier, so her charge didn't make a fuss about it.
The truth was that Harry hadn't been paying any attention to his physical body for the last couple of days. He'd been preoccupied with his emotional and spiritual well-being rather than his looks, so he hadn't noticed his scar at all. Now that it was being brought to his attention however, Harry was happy to hear that he'd stand out less in public places.
Smiling cheerfully, Harry rose out of bed and gave the elderly healer a good morning hug. For obvious reasons, Harry hadn't been able to hide how important Madam Pomfrey had become to him. His aura screamed 'family' to her, and although his feelings of attachment had surprised her at first, she'd soon started treating him as such in return. After pulling away from the hug, Harry slowly drew a hand along his scar. "No, I hadn't noticed Poppy. To be honest I've been focusing more on my interior than my exterior for the past few days. I've been building a Mindscape."
Poppy, as Harry had started calling her, looked startled at first, but then she arched an eyebrow in her curiosity. "Am I to believe, Harry, that in just four days' time you've advanced your Occlumency to the point that you're developing a Mindscape?"
Harry smiled mischievously even as he shook his head in the negative. "I'm not making just any old Mindscape, Poppy. It's a world... It's an entire damned planet."
"Language Harry," Poppy replied automatically, in a low voice. Truly she hadn't really even noticed his swearing. She was far too busy staring at him as if he had two heads. "Harry... That kind of scope in a Mindscape would take an ordinary wizard half a century to build. They'd have to build outward from a focal point and it'd be extremely demanding to accomplish."
While Harry was well aware of how things would work for a so-called "normal" wizard, he also knew that he just didn't fall under that category anymore. Neither his thoroughly ingrained low self-esteem nor his desire for modesty could deny the reality of his current situation. Case in point, what he was about to describe to Poppy was about as far from normal as it is possible to become.
"Well... I did build my Mindscape out from a focal point, just like you described Poppy. I just did it all at once and very, very quickly. My focal point right now is just an empty field, in the middle of nowhere, on a facsimile of a planet... Using the idea of a planet as my inspiration, I've created an ozone layer made of ten meter thick high grade stainless steel that I'm using as my Occlusion barriers. I figured that there's no such thing as overkill when my goal is to protect both my mind and my magic. I was even thinking of having an armada of star wars and star trek spaceships orbiting my planet. It sounds like fun..." Having completely forgotten about Poppy in his enthusiasm, Harry was happily monologging his plans all by himself.
For a little over a minute, Poppy just stood there, as Harry Potter described the most fantastically absurd Mindscape in the entire history of wizardkind. When he was finally finished rattling off his future plans for orbiting laser platforms and Ocean bottom Military bases, she shook her head and palmed her face with her hands.
An entire damned world indeed…
A very long time ago, Poppy had come to understand that it was best to just go with the flow when encountering situations beyond mortal understanding. With that idea in mind, Poppy decided to return to business as usual, which of course meant medicine. Walking over to a table, Poppy returned with a large bottle filled with a vile green looking liquid. "It's time Harry... Drink this." When she caught Harry's look of foreboding, Poppy's face became extremely stern in response. "Listen carefully Harry. I can't stress enough how much strain your body's going to be put under this summer. You are going to need way more than just the average nutrition to fuel it all."
Despite the look that had slipped onto Harry's face, he hadn't actually intended to give Poppy a hard time about taking the potion. He was no stranger to aches and pains but he'd noticed his body beginning to feel a little tender yesterday afternoon, and he had every reason to believe that it was going to continue getting worse. Without another word, he stepped forward, took a hold of the green sludge, pounded it down his throat with a noticeable wince, and then waved at Poppy for her continued attention. He knew he needed to be as honest as possible if poppy was going to help him get the best results. "Truth be told Poppy, I think it's already started. I can feel the beginnings of strain in most of my joints, but no really significant pain quite yet."
With a small jump of extreme surprise, Poppy launched towards Harry and grabbed a hold of his shoulders. "Wait! Are you serious, Harry?! You're already feeling strain on your body!? Holy Gods! We need you up and feasting as soon as physically possible! If it's happening this quickly, you're going to be getting noticeably taller and thicker with every day that passes.
"Okay, I understand, but why do you think my growth is happening this dramatically?" Harry didn't mind the idea of growing and healing, but at the same time he was already feeling pretty tender and he didn't like the alarmed look on Poppy's face.
"Start getting dressed and I'll explain," Poppy replied, with a look of barely concealed impatience on her face. When Harry didn't immediately move, she refused to continue talking until he started throwing on some of his ill-used and poorly fitted workout clothing. "Here's the deal Harry. Yours is a simple and yet extremely rare situation. Now that your magic has unlimited access to your body, it's running roughshod all over you because it doesn't like what it's found. Right now it's making up for all the delays and damages its absence has caused you throughout your life. Up until this point, you've manually, albeit subconsciously, grown and maintained your body, but even though you've managed to survive that doesn't mean you're anything even resembling healthy. Your entire body is about to explode with physical changes, and trust me when I say that there'll be nothing the least bit subtle about it. We need you extremely well fed and then you need to start a running routine ASAP. I'm concerned that you're going to be off balance if you don't train, because of your new height and body shape. There isn't much I can do from a magical standpoint, to counteract the fact that your center of gravity will be changing drastically this summer."
Nodding his head, Harry looked up at Poppy as he tied his shoes. "Sounds rough. I assume then that I'll be camped out here this summer (Harry tried but failed at keeping the hope out of his voice)."
"I haven't been informed of any alternative plans," Poppy allowed with a small but triumphant look upon her face. "What I do know is that you're never going back to Privet Drive ever again." When Harry completed several overjoyed fist pumps in the air, Poppy kept to herself how hard she'd had to fight to keep him from going back to his relatives. That Dumbledore was a real piece of work. Internally, Poppy fumed at the man... Blood wards my ass… Finding out that Harry's hard won magic had been fueling protective wards around an entire house and family all those years had pissed Poppy off like nothing she'd ever heard in her entire life! How was the boy supposed to spare the magic for that kind of grand undertaking when he was fighting for his own survival and trying not to become a vegetable!
When Harry caught the elderly Healer going all maternal on him again, he walked over and pulled Poppy into yet another hug. He really was completely overjoyed and he knew exactly who to thank for his newfound freedom. "Well then Poppy. You own me, just like you said. I'd do just about anything to stay here with you for the summer. Do you have the facilities for working out? I've always liked the idea of weight lifting, but it's never been possible with my body type and housing situation. I clocked how much slower time is in my Mindscape, and I've got it up to three times faster in there so far. I can probably create an obstacle course and run it in my sleep using whatever body type I have at the time."
For the second time in less than ten minutes, Poppy was completely floored by the latent magical ability of the boy standing in front of her. A normal mindscape might make it up to one and half times faster, but that's only if you're an absurdly strong wizard like an Albus Dumbledore. After she spent several silent moments recollecting her calm, Poppy turned back to Harry and smiled. "After you complete a lap around the lake, I'll show you one of Hogwarts' best kept secrets. It's a utility room that can become whatever you need it to be. The only reason I even know about it is because I've worked here for fifty-seven years, and I stumbled upon it by mistake. Before that though. Let's go harass one of the school elves to take care of your food for the summer."
After taking a half dozen steps towards the door, Harry stopped in place as a smile formed on his face. "Dobby," Harry quietly called out.
A small body was now firmly wrapped around Harry's right leg, hugging him as hard as it could. "Great Wizard Harry Potter calls Dobby," he exclaimed, in what sounded like total rapture.
"Hey there Dobby," Harry offered, feeling a little awkward but happy to see the little elf. "I didn't expect to see you so fast. Where are you staying these days?"
"Dobby be staying at Hoggywarts," Dobby called out joyfully. "Thays say that free elfeses are welcoming here."
Harry smiled down at Dobby again, both because he was safe and because he was nearby. "That's great to hear Dobby. Poppy here claims I'll need a very large diet for the summer with a lot of different elements involved. I'll need triple servings of fats, proteins, carbs and vegetables of all varieties. Judging by my projected growth we're really concerned that I'll end up deficient in essential stuff like iron, protein and calcium. Do you think you can help me take care of all that Dobby?"
"Dobby be serving Great Harry Potter Sir," the little elf exclaimed, while completing a bunch of very muggle looking fist pumps. "I be overjoyed sir!" Turning back towards Harry, Dobby suddenly adopted a bashful look upon his face. "I be wanting to ask you something as well, great Harry Potter Sir."
The little elves' new nervous demeanor was quite the surprise, so Harry kneeled down to get closer to his level. "You've always been there for me Dobby. How can I help you?"
"I be overjoyed beings free sir, but eyes not the healthiest of elfeses because of it. Dobby fear bad masters and was waiting for trusted wizard to be ins need of an elf." Dobby looked up at Harry with perhaps the most sanity he'd ever had in his little brown eyes. "Would great Harry Potter Sir bind Dobby to his service?"
Out of a reflexive dislike of servitude, Harry almost immediately rejected Dobby on the basis that he should be free. At the very last instant, something Dobby had just said stopped him in his tracks. Leaning even closer towards the little elf, Harry's face started reflecting concern. "Dobby... Is being free bad for a house elves' health?"
After slowly nodding his head, Dobby looked at the floor and clicked his heels together bashfully. "House elves be gaining their magical power and abilities from masters sir. We be magical creatures sir and without Master's magic we start to waste away... Right now, Dobby taking what he can straight from castle Hoggywarts, but he is not bound to the headmaster. It is not best arrangement for Dobby's health sir."
After hearing all of that, Harry didn't have to think long before he made up his mind. "Dobby, if I bind you to my family I want you to call me Harry and remain a close friend of mine. Do you understand?"
Immediately, Dobby's eyes started leaking huge amounts of tears but he nodded solemnly.
"Tell me how I would bind you to my service Dobby," Harry ordered, while smiling at the little elf.
At Harry's words, Dobby started bouncing around the room with a completely ecstatic look upon his face. Then, when he finally collected his calm again, he scampered back to Harry's side and began his explanation. "Just hold on to Dobby's shoulder and channel some magic into him. Eyes be doing the rest, healing Dobby's body and declaring that magic is Dobby's master's."
At the mention of healing, Harry took a really careful look at the little elves' body. Sure enough, he did look a little more run down and shabbier than he had just a year earlier. There was no need to hesitate anymore. Dobby needed the help and there was no reason not to give it to him. Dropping both of his hands onto Dobby's shoulders, Harry looked the little elf in the eyes. "Dobby you've been a good friend to me. I would very much appreciate having you in my family." With that said, Harry started channeling his magic into the elf with an ease that he'd never felt before. While he was momentarily startled by the immensity of it all, his magic sang happily as it rushed out of him and into the little elf's body.
In no time at all, Dobby's body started glowing, and then as the process continued he began trembling violently under Harry's hands. Under normal circumstances Harry would've let go in alarm by now, but his magic seemed to be screaming at him to go on for just a few seconds longer.
Off on the sidelines Poppy shook her head as she stared at the hugely exaggerated power transfer happening right in front of her eyes. She rolled her eyes at the grandiosity of it all, because she, like most wizards, knew exactly what a normal binding was like. Under normal circumstances, all it would've taken to bind the elf was enough power to fuel a Wingardium Leviosa. What Harry was doing right now was not a normal binding ritual...
After several more moments spent channeling a large amount of power directly into the elf, Harry's magic was finally satisfied and he started easing his hands away from Dobby's shoulders. Just before he let go however, he felt some of the power he'd released rush back throughout his body. The magic appeared to create a connection of some kind between master and servant that left both Harry and Dobby staggering away from each other.
After regaining his balance, Dobby the house elf shook out his body and then looked himself over in a moment of complete amazement. He was taller, healthier and younger than he'd ever been in his entire existence. He also looked somehow more... dignified, graceful, if that's a word that can be applied to a house elf wearing a tea cozy and mismatched socks. Another immediately noticeable change was that Dobby had a capacity for complex, abstract thought that he'd barely even known existed before...
When Harry's new house elf finally looked back up at him, he was surprised by how sharp his friend's eyes had become. Before the elf even said a single word, it was obvious that he was far, far more intelligent than he'd been just a few moments earlier.
Despite his newfound intelligence, Dobby opened and closed his mouth several times as if he didn't know exactly what to say. Finally, he took a very deep breath and smiled. "Harry Potter Sir has just flooded me with thousands and thousands of times more power than was necessary for such a binding ritual." Laughing softly, Dobby shook his head as he rapidly pieced together a more human grammar set. "Suffice it to say, we have a very strong bond Mas... Harry, but I'm also... more than I was. Not only that... I have taken in your history Harry... Your deeds and bravery are inside of me now... Thank you... Harry..." By the end, the elf was choking out his words through an outpouring of tears, and he was very clearly overwhelmed with emotion.
Nodding his understanding, Harry patted the elf softly in the shoulder. "I'm happy for you Dobby. Now, onto the next order of business. How do I change up your uniform without freeing you by accident?"
While he offered a somewhat watery smile in his amusement, Dobby didn't look surprised in the least that Harry was being so accommodating. "I would suggest you just tell me how you'd like me to look and I will take care of the rest."
Once again, Harry nodded his understanding. "Any elf that serves with the Potters will wear a uniform. Black is probably best, official looking, comfortable, complete with a house crest if I have one."
In response to Harry's ignorance, Dobby smiled in a rather rakish way. "Harry... It appears I know more about your family history than you do. You, of course, have a family crest as well as a family history dating back to before Merlin himself." Over the next few seconds, Dobby laughed at both his new brain capacity and the fact that for the moment at least he was more knowledgeable about the magical world than his master was. Then he beamed at Harry again because the boy was so inherently kind. "Oh Harry... I'm going to enjoy making and owning a uniform. I can wear my colorful socks without clashing or tarnishing your family's honor... It'll have to wait however because I must first make sure that you're well fed."
While he hadn't actually intended to supercharge Dobby when he'd completed the binding, Harry couldn't help but smile at the elves' newer vocabulary and intelligence. "Take what time you need to design the uniform to your satisfaction."
"I will do so sir. Now, do you want to dine up here or in the Great Hall?" The elf looked like the question was merely rhetorical as he was already preparing to leave.
"I'd like to be out of this room as soon as possible," Harry exclaimed. "The Great Hall would be perfect."
With a snappy salute, Dobby nodded his head and then was gone. Unlike when other elves Apparate, there was no pop to even signify that he'd left the room.
For the Gods' only know what time that morning, Poppy was left just staring at Harry while shaking her head. "Hermione was right. Nothing is ever ordinary with you Harry. That was a very good thing you just did for Dobby. Now let's go. I want you using your body as much as possible, as soon as possible."
Three Weeks Later...
Biting the bullet Harry dropped himself into the bath along with an inarticulate gasp. As the ice swirled around his body, Harry was forced to grit his teeth to keep them from chattering. "A magical world," he breathed to himself. "Magical healing and charms for every ache and pain imaginable. Still... Both the common cold and growing pains are an unsolvable problem?"
Well... Contrary to all of his bitching, Harry was actually allowed to take two pain potions a day. Any more than that however and they'd start interfering with the rest of the magical tonics and fortifying potions that he was forced to ingest every single day. The only problem with his current pain potion intake was that two of them were nowhere near enough, even when taking into consideration Harry's more than impressive pain tolerance.
Slowly but surely over the past couple of weeks, Harry's body had officially transformed into a torture rack of different aches and pains. It felt like every time he sat down, he was lurching and vibrating with new cell division and rapid growth. If the process didn't hurt like a shot to the balls taking place all over his body, Harry would've been pleased that he no longer looked like a ten year old. He officially looked eleven now... Too bad he was really almost fourteen.
Well, whether Harry appreciated the discomfort or not, he was growing fast and that was for the best.
As it turns out, movement and adrenaline is a good way to ignore a person's aches and pains, so Harry was almost always moving these days. For the fifth day in a row, Harry had just finished his ten mile run around the Black lake in record time, and he'd most likely break his newest record again tomorrow.
Now that he was finished with the running, Harry was due in the Room of Requirements to lift weights for the rest of the morning. The activity was a good distraction, but it also meant that Harry was tearing up his muscles in new and creative ways on a regular basis. Despite the fact that ice baths suck, Harry found himself taking several of them a week, in order to soothe constantly torn and rebuilt muscles.
Appearing completely unprompted to save the day like a superhero, Dobby suddenly handed Harry a dark brown smoothie. At first the elf had been completely silent while performing the elves's form of Apparition (teleportation). It was only after Harry was nearly startled off of his feet a few times that he'd started entering rooms with a small but cheerful popping sound.
Dobby smiled as he watched Harry enjoy the smoothie that he'd invented. "I think I've perfected it with this one," he announced, while gesturing proudly at the drink. "It should taste more like a normal gym goer's protein smoothie than the liquid death that it actually is."
About a week earlier, Harry had expressed how much he hated Poppy's magical Nutrition tonics, and doing so was one of the best things he'd ever done…. While at the time, he hadn't actually expected Dobby to do anything about the problem, the elf had immediately dedicated all of his new and prodigious intelligence towards improving the tonic's taste. As Harry took a sip of the new and improved magic/body fortifying tonic, he sighed in satisfaction. It was delicious. "It's official, Dobby. You're a genius and I have no idea how I ever lived without you."
When the graceful elf bowed, he somehow conveyed all of his newfound confidence, without drifting too far into arrogance territory. "You forget Harry. I know your life thus far. I'm surprised that you're walking and talking, let alone capable of being concerned about the taste of anything. I will never allow your life to resemble what I found when I studied your past in my memories."
The elf looked completely vengeful for a second, to the point that Harry wondered about the Dursley's continued health.
"It appears I have an apology to make by the way." Suddenly Dobby looked nervous, which had become out of character ever since the binding.
Canting his head to the side in his confusion, Harry gestured for his house elf friend to relax. "Apologize for what Dobby? You've been a fantastic help to me."
Very suddenly, Dobby looked like he might just cry or maybe even hit himself, despite the fact that he was no longer in the habit of punishing himself. "I... I had the best of intentions and it was hard to work within the bounds of my old master's orders, but... I wasn't a help to you last year. Quite the opposite in fact. I was a hindrance to you on several different occasions..."
Reaching out, Harry took a hold of Dobby's shoulder because he understood what his friend was referring to and he didn't want him to worry. Dobby was talking about the floating cake, the barrier at Kings Cross Station and the rogue bludgers hunting him down during one of last year's Quidditch matches. Over the next couple of seconds, Harry stared into Dobby's eyes to impress upon him how serious his next words were going to be. "In all honesty, Dobby... I forgave you long ago for all of those things, for one very important reason. You are one of perhaps three people that I've met since coming to the magical world that have only ever acted in what you thought was my best interest. There was no way that helping me would benefit you and yet you tried to do so anyway. I saw you hurting yourself every single time you came to see me, and I could never hold those events against you. You're a valued friend to me Dobby..."
Tears were slowly leaking down the elves face, as he nodded slowly and seriously to his new master's words. "I didn't have the intelligence at the time to better circumvent my old master's orders. I am glad I will be better capable of serving you... Harry."
Harry was extremely pleased with both Dobby's attitude as well as the fact that he was calling him Harry now. On the other hand there was a problem with Dobby's last statement that he needed to address. "Dobby... I expect us to have an open exchange of ideas from now on. There will be no need to circumvent me. Just act as you think is necessary and then explain the whys to me after the fact. Are we understood?"
The house elf smiled and bounced around in his enthusiasm. "Ohhhhh, Harry. I'm so fortunate to have you."
After cheering the elf in return with his smoothie, Harry drained the drink in one large chug. He smacked his lips exaggeratedly and lay back in the water for a few more seconds to ease his shoulder pains a bit. "And I'm lucky to have you, my friend. I'm freezing to death now, do you think you can pass me a towel?"
After his bath, Harry quickly made his way towards the room of requirements. As he entered the hallway it was hidden in, he ran into a man that he hadn't seen in quite a while.
"Harry, my boy! I was waiting for you here. I have a new article to add to your already burdensome daily schedule." Dumbledore was leaning against the wall exactly where the Room of Requirements would open.
While walking up to his Headmaster, Harry smiled in greeting and rolled up his sleeves. "Okay sure, but first I want you to test out my Occlumency shields." Truth be told, Harry had been waiting for a chance to try out an intrusion attempt for at least a week now.
"Are you sure Harry? The usually enigmatic Albus Dumbledore was unable to hide the surprise from entering his face. "Surely it's too soon for you to have built up any true defenses."
While his first instinct was to laugh like a lunatic, Harry just smiled guilelessly instead. If Dumbledore's mind was blown than it was his own fault for underestimating him. "Well... I have been working pretty hard on this after all... Humor me please?"
After nodding his head with just trace amounts of condescension on his face, Dumbledore became serious and stared into Harry's eyes. After about ten seconds spent like that, he shook out his head, smiled, nodded, and agreed that yes the boy's shields were strong... "I'm extremely impressed Harry. Passive Leglimency is useless to me now. Care to try the real spell?"
Without a trace of hesitation, Harry nodded his agreement.
After pulling out his wand, Dumbledore pointed it between Harry's eyes. "Leglimens," he quietly intoned.
Harry immediately felt Dumbledore's consciousness free floating in space outside of his mental shields.
Ten seconds later, when Dumbledore's consciousness finally returned to his body, he looked at Harry with a completely stunned expression on his face. "Harry... Was I orbiting a completely shielded planet just now?"
With his prank a success and a mischievous smile on his face, Harry nodded towards his Headmaster. "Yes sir. As you just saw, I have a very large Mindscape. I imagine it'd take a Leglimancer quite a while to find anything of note in my mind, and I'd be causing them pain the whole entire time." Harry was extremely pleased at this point and there was just no way of hiding it. Then he remembered something that he needed to consult his Headmaster about so he wiped the self-satisfaction off of his face. "I do need your help with something though. I keep finding a wormhole of sorts inside of my barriers that I've repeatedly had to close off. I don't know where it leads to except that I know it's not of my making. I currently have it suspended inside the center of a small black hole, inside a stainless steel vault, inside several more creative traps. Containing it isn't the problem. It just refuses to disappear completely sir."
For just a split second Dumbledore looked extremely troubled, but then the expression was gone and he was smiling again. "I completely agree that we'll need to look into the matter Harry. In the meantime however, I'm going to take you somewhere off Hogwarts's property to meet a friend of mine. I met him while I was doing some organizing for an event taking place at Hogwarts this year. His family's situation is rather unique. So unique in fact that they may be able to help you with the rather incredible aura shroud I'm standing in. While he wasn't using a lecturing tone, there was still a mild sense of rebuke in Dumbledore's words.
Sighing his understanding, Harry looked down at his feet and shrugged in a defeated fashion. "Headmaster, I've been trying a lot of different things so far, but I've had no luck whatsoever at keeping myself to myself. I've been building my Mindscape lately and I'm almost ready to sort my memories into a more useful form. All of the books I've read so far agree that true magical mastery in your core is dangerous to attempt until you've first mastered both your memories and your emotions."
Dumbledore looked impressed at first, but then all of the sudden he looked very sad instead. "Harry... I think that process is going to be extremely hard on you in particular. To properly sort out your memories you are essentially forced to relive them. I am sorry that my negligence allowed it to happen, but I've become aware that your life hasn't been an easy one... We all know how you react to Dementors Harry... This will be of several magnitudes worse than that..."
"Oh... Crap." Harry hadn't really thought about how he was going to have to interact with his awful back history if he wanted to master his memories. As the true scope of what he had waiting for him truly dawned on him, Harry began to feel a sick sense of impending doom, as well as an intense desire to avoid the task altogether. Then, he suddenly realized just how badly he was freezing up, and his hands squeezed into white knuckled fists at his sides.
Shaking his head at his own weakness, Harry resolved himself to doing whatever it took to gain control of his life. Then, when he looked back up at his Headmaster, it was with a deadly serious expression upon his face. "Headmaster. I won't be welcome in magical society or any society, the way I am right now. I gather you just felt me lose my nerve and then pull myself back together. I cannot, I will not continue broadcasting myself to the world like this!
Smiling gently down at Harry, Dumbledore patted the boy on the shoulder. "You're a very special boy Harry. I don't think I've ever met someone as brave in all my years... Now, if you will follow me to my office, we have a Floo trip to undertake."
To Be Continued
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