Harry lay on his bed, consumed with misery. He had nothing left to resist with. No one alive really cared about him. He had no allies, no family. The last person who might have possibly filled the role of family had been killed by Harry's own stupidity.

Suddenly it was all too much. Harry gasped as he felt an incredibly odd and incredibly powerful sensation: it was like his soul had been struck and was ringing like a bell. Ringing as in vibrating. The sensation was uncomfortable at first, like the buzz of a foot that had gone completely to sleep and is now returning to life accompanied by the sensation of "pins and needles", horribly so as it was produced from Harry's crushing burden of misery-laded emotions all squeezing his heart at once.

But once that was past, there was a sort of relief. Harry lay there, his heart quieting. He hadn't even noticed that it was pounding, and that he was covered in an icy sweat.

He wasn't sure why he was feeling relieved for a moment, and then it dawned. He was numb. He felt nothing. It was like when he had gone to the dentist and recieved an injection of novocaine, except instead of his mouth, the horrible sensation had somehow numbed his emotions.

Lying there, Harry rejoiced, in a sense. It was like an acknowledgement of "Yes, this is quite nice." but there was no juice to it, no bodily resonation. Harry's body had perhaps had enough and was completely relaxed, refusing to answer to the call of his turbulent feelings. Perhaps some sort of segmentation had occured, Harry mused.

'I don't care,' thought Harry experimentally.

Numbness.

"I don't care," said Harry aloud. It occured to him that Vernon might hear him talking to himself and think him crazy. It occured to him that he didn't care about that either.

Now there was a bit of energy moving inside him, as parts of him started to try to warn of the dangers of not giving a shit about anything, even danger.

Harry bit back a groan as another wave of unpleasant feeling broke across him. His face twisted with fury as he clung to the comforting numbness with every bit of his remarkable willpower. It felt like if he let the feeling have it's way with him, he would cry and he never cried. He refused to. He had long ago decided to retreat into his own mind rather than openly break down in any way. The only outbursts that had escaped his iron self-control to date were a couple of bursts of outward directed temper.

"No!"

He liked the feeling, so relaxed, so uncaring, so...collected. He had been so relaxed it was like he was made of water. He had been a body and a mind and the entire emotional dimension had been squeezed into a flat plane, flat like a wizarding picture, something that moved and looked real, but was harmless.

long expository bit follows

If Harry had been a magic-less person, a muggle like his doltish relatives, the Dursleys, such emotional convulsions would likely have just led to emotional damage. In the case of a naturally gifted wizard like Harry, it led to what books of deep philosophy and magic called an Enlightenment.

Enlightenment, like many deep subjects, is far more than most are aware of. In this case, the pertinent point was that history records that beings of great potential and magic sometimes, usually via colosal struggle or spontaneously under enormous stress, gain more control and insight into their magic and their selves, body, mind and soul, potentially. The first Enlightenment usually causes the most significant overall changes, with further Enlightenments being possible and causing refinements and sometimes entire new branches of abilities.

At least that was the case, typically, and in fact almost always. Enlightenment and it's accompanying gifts were still a constant, but in this case Harry was an exception even among the rules governing exceptions. He had undergone so many remarkable, magical and deadly things in his short life that in many ways, he was like a wizard who had undergone many half-completed Power Enhancement Rituals. PERs were difficult and dangerous sets of actions which took advantage of the nature of Enlightenment; it was in fact possible to use the rituals to gain remarkable enhancements. However, since so few were of sufficient intelligence and insight to understand the true purpose and meaning of the deepest magics, Power Enhancement Rituals usually served as more of a filter (a lethal filter mind you) for wizards with a lot of ruthlessness but insufficient magical insight.

The point of a PER was to expose the wizard to something which stressed and involved them to the point where they were forced to use extraordinary focus to survive, in a control fashion, thus "ritual". Magic is highly mutable and volatile in essence, thus the self-focused energy of a desperate wizard could result in remarkable changes to the body, mind and spirit.

This was why there were 3 classes of Enlightened Individual:

Dark (weakest and most common)
Grey (midstrength and uncommon)
Light (rarest and strongest)

The power rating was purely practical and proven by history. Dark didn't mean "evil" per se, any more than "enlightened" meant "all knowing". The rating wasn't even absolute, as it the line where "Grey" started was a matter of individual interpretation, as was the genuine strength of any particular Enlightened Individual. It was simply that among themselves, powerful beings had determined that those who were Darkest typically had the least self-control and generally less insight.

It wasn't even a statement charging weakness or fault to the Dark individuals themselves. Often wizards of incredible power and ability would, in the process of Enlightenment, burn out parts of themselves, damaging themselves forever. Enlightenment meant "change" as much as it meant "improvement". The change may be beneficial in some way to the wizard, but not all beneficial changes are as benevolent as they are useful. The first murder commited by an orphaned young wizard horribly abused by uncaring caretakers which for the first time relieves the awful feeling of powerlessness...such a thing may shut the wizard off to a entire section of warmer, softer emotions. And in magic, emotions were power, each one like a color of the rainbow, keys to endless varieties of power and wonder. If a wizard can't understand an emotion as potent as love or self-sacrifice, there are many things they will be blind to.

It was almost a matter of sheer entropy. The world was a harsh place, on average: the chances of a person coming to new understanding via a negative experience was simply greater than through a positive. A person trapped in a bad life situation may experience immense negative stress every day, but how many people experience enough positive stress to become Enlightened?

Sages note that this does not mean that negative stress equals a Dark Enlightenment. Each Enlightenment is unique and individual in expression. The key factor is the individuals own nature and will. If the nature (or soul) and will are in alignment, the Enlightenment will be as non-damaging as possible, adjusting for the nature of the event-causing stressor.

The less complicated way of putting it was that there are good apples and bad apples and it's hard to make a bad apple good and a it's just as hard making a good apple bad, especially if the apples are wizards and have really strong wills.

On a societal note, sages recorded that, remarkably, the number of Dark-aligned Enlightened individuals was kept in check largely by the fact that despite the mouthings of skeptics, by and large people are fairly decent. It takes remarkable misery to really bring out most people's bad sides. On the other hand, it was amazing that single individuals could exert so much power over so many, with there typically being a deadlock between the large number of decent individuals, a vast number of decent yet clueless individuals, and a small number of very powerful, very influential Dark individuals.

ahem

As stated previously, it's a deep subject. Back to Harry.

In Harry's case, he was a person of great, natural inborn gifts, both from his two remarkable parents and perhaps something extra from somewhere else, who also happened to have been subjected to incredible stresses both magical and emotional from the tender age of 1. His nature was very positive, in the sense that there was simply no hate in him. A more naturally Light-aligned person had not been born in ages.

Had he been raised in the house of his parents, some speculate that he would have become one of those rare natural Light-aligned Enlightened Ones, those who are both vanishingly rare and so very powerful it is truly remarkable to behold. The popular belief was that Dumbledore was such a being, and there was certainly some truth to it, Dumbledore's magical impressiveness being beyond a shadow of a shadow of a doubt. There was a very good reason he headed up nearly every societal stucture of distinction in Wizarding England and a few beyond.

That was if Voldemort (and perhaps Dumbledore) hadn't existed. In Harry's actual situation, a potential lump of gold was subjected to constant negative stress, literally almost from birth. In fact, some sages speculate that that first year of total love, followed by 10 of utter neglect and abuse acted almost like an alchemical ritual of a terrible intensity, the acid of the Dursley's loathing eating away at everything that Harry couldn't make strong and pure in himself.

Again, there is a simpler description, though one less insightful: a weaker person would have long since broken in small ways. Harry was so strong that when he finally went, it was with a big, big, bang.

long expository bit finishes

A big bang in a metaphorical sense anyway. There was no huge light show, just the sound of Harry's gutteral exclamations he fought what he percieved as the destruction of his self-control. Surges of feeling, mostly bad feelings, swarmed across Harry's skin, at least that's what it felt like. It was a bit like how when your body needs to do something, for instance throw up the contents of the stomach, it sends an incredibly intense signal that typically instantly forces compliance. In Harry's case, his emotions were trying to rage out of control and he was absolutely, categorically refusing, refusing to the point where his will unconsciously drew on his magic in order to allow him to accomplish what was otherwise flat-out impossible.

After a struggle of some minutes, Harry succeeding in returning to his pleasantly numb state, of his own accord. The incredible effort of self-control finally faded to a small feeling of effort, which rapidly became relatively effortless to sustain. He lay on his bed, breathing deeply and slowly, coated once again in cold sweat. He noticed his minor irritation at the unpleasant feeling of it and with a new facility, pushed the emotion away to join the others.

"Interesting..."

He was used to controlling himself and supressing his emotions when necessary, but this was something entirely new and different. Things were more...distinct now. It was like he could sense his emotions and even sort of...Harry's face screwed up in unconscious intensity as he thought...their...the words "potential channels" came to mind.

"Yes..."

Yes, that was it. He could feel them, almost see them in the corner of his mind's eye, like differently colored threads or strands. Of what, Harry didn't know, exactly, but he instinctively knew what they were. They were all dull in color now, deactivated by his force of will, but he could still identify the deep red of his anger, a narrow channel, not often exercised, but deep, the foggy strand representative of his melancholy and many others.

All of a sudden Harry was extremely tired. He rearranged his thin blanket around himself as best he could and after making certain he trusted himself to maintain adequate control of his emotions even in sleep, he fell into a deep slumber.

He needn't have worried. The process he had undergone was a permanent change. Harry's magical aura had been shaken up, rearranged, and purified. He had gained a significant degree of control over one aspect of himself, his emotions. Had the experience been a Power Enhancement Ritual that emotional control would have been the main effect. Since it was Harry's first Enlightenment as well as completely self-generated, the emotional control, while significant, was only the tip of the iceberg. After all, Harry was already chock full of unusual powers. Parseltongue anyone?

The main effect of a significant first Enlightenment is to make the affected being's magic much more coherent. Not more, but much more concentrated, which turns out to allow vastly increased magical control, efficiency and perception, the sum of which vastly increases effective magical output. It should be noticed that this is increased effective output, not true increased magical strength. A Enlightened Squib is possible, but in direct contest with an Enlightened Wizard would instantly lose in a contest of direct magical strength.

In Harry's case, his total magic strength was more than impressive. His magic had been altered, flavored and added to many times and in many ways. Harry's essential nature flavored his magic, as did the natures of all powerful magical beings. Unknown to his parents, he had been born a living Avatar of Love, which alone gave him tremendous natural magical strength. Through chance or fate, he had also been marked as a living symbol of Death and Rebirth, magically branded with a veritable Rune on his forehead from a survived Death Curse. From that link with the Dark Enlightened being who called itself Voldemort, he absorbed other magical qualities, such as an association and related powers with snakes. Since then he had been bitten by a Basilisk and healed by Pheonix tears, he had fought Dragons and Dementors, he had been scarred by Wormtail in a Dark Ritual to let a Dark Lord live again...even his wand, Pheonix Feather and Holly, both symbols of Death and Rebirth.

As he slept, his magic settled down into a dense blanket of power around his body, surrounding and protecting it. Viewed in Mage Sight it would have been impressive, Harry's magic condensing down from a huge thick cloud of swirling multicolored energies to a still complex but vastly denser, obviously much more organized field around his body. A mage knowledgeable in the study of the Aura would have been able to tell much from the end result, from the inherent powers Harry now possessed to the fact that his aura's current natural position was "pulled in".

Whether the aura was typically condensed and pulled in close to the body or expanded as far as it could go depended on the person's nature and had a number of effects and consequences. Harry was a very private, intense person and his aura reflected that. A person with an aura tightly held to the body was much less noticeable in terms of "presence" than a person with a flared aura. Harry had lived for over a decade with the Dursley's: he'd become very good at not being noticed.

Harry slept and rather well at that: there was a certain low-level agitation that Harry didn't even consciously notice that usually leaked from his curse-scar connection to Voldemort, an agitation that for once was missing as Harry's new unconscious control pinched the connection tightly shut like a black thread being pincered between two fingers.

When he woke up, things would be different. One way or another, that much was absolutely certain.