Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter. It belongs to Rowling.
Author's Note: I give my most grateful thanks to those kind enough to take the time out of their day to review my most humble work.
Continuing Note: Timeline is ten years ahead of canon, i.e. 1991 is now 2001, etc etc.
Prologue, Part III: An End to the Exile
It was early-June of 2001, and because Harry's Potions teacher insisted that he live with him for one week every month in order to properly learn how to prepare potions with longer brew times, he was writing out an essay at a kitchen table in Ireland, on a length of parchment with a quill. Nicolas Flamel, the Immortal Alchemist, was a dire taskmaster, and if it was good enough when he had been a student, it was good enough for any student of his. He didn't have any issues with it since he had started learning with that particular set of writing media, and had stayed in practice for no other reason that it was easier to transfigure a quill than a fountain pen or pencil even, but all his other teachers saw how much easier pens and actual paper were... He muttered a few choice curses in Irish as his writing blotched unexpectedly, only to be whacked upside the head with a wooden spoon. And the other permanent resident of the estate, Perenelle Flamel, who spoke far more languages than Harry did, was quite intolerant of any swearing. In addition to teaching Harry NEWTs level potions Nicolas had also begun teaching Harry the 'ancient art of Alchemy'.
Unlike what most people believed, Alchemy was not an offshoot of the potions discipline, but a little explored branch of runic magic. But rather than the charms and the other specific effects of the more common, if extremely difficult, branch of symbolic casting, or the use of runes to anchor wards, Alchemy focused on creating transfiguration effects, though the alterations made with Alchemy would be properly called transmutations.
It was also the most difficult of all the branches of runic magic he had studied. The number of sciences that Nicolas was having him get familiar with was daunting. His Transfiguration teacher had drilled him some understanding of various sciences to make him more aware of what he was turning into what, but this was taken to a whole new level.
It did wonders for his practical skill in Transfiguration however.
Harry had learned something interesting about the family history, and it was also one of the reasons why his potions teacher (more than likely it was a directive from the man's wife) had been so insistent about his staying there so often, that he hadn't gotten around to reading about yet in what little he had seen in the Potter family records. Apparently, for the first two and a half centuries of their lives, the Flamels had used to have children every fifty years or so. The problem was that these children, though they always lived to be adults, had always encountered problems when they sought to begin families of their own. Since each child had been born after they had begun extending their lives through the use of the Philosopher's Stone, they had eventually come to the conclusion that something in the magic of the Elixir of Life caused the children to remain childless.
The only exception to this had been their first born, a daughter. She had come into their lives before Nicolas had stumbled onto the process to make the Philosopher's Stone, and was grown, married, and had a family of her own when her parents had achieved immortality. Her married name had been Potter, or what it had passed as in the language of the time.
So when he wasn't being taught, they had insisted that he call them Grandmother and Grandfather, even though there were a number of Greats that should have been in there. And even though he still occasionally bugged Grandfather buy throwing the occasional Great in there (or even the one time he had used the full fourteen or so that there should be), he avoided doing the same to Grandmother, because he did not enjoy the taste of soap (for some bizarre reason, he used some of the foulest language in any of two dozen languages and only get whacked with a spoon, but the moment he cast aspersions upon her age, he would get his mouth washed out with the worst tasting soap in existence). Though that was when Nicolas wasn't teaching, but when he was he was to be referred to as Master.
A few months earlier, Ginevra's magic had stabilized, and sh had finally started her her lessons in the wanded subjects, along side the other standard first year subjects. Though she didn't learn under the Masters that Harry did, but Remus and Sirius hired very capable tutors for her, and her education was proceeding along a slightly more traditional path than her brother's had, though it had also been slower, in part due to Remus wanting to ensure she could seek employment in the mundane world later in life if she wanted, and in case she changed her mind and want to attend a magical school with her peers, so she wouldn't be too far ahead.
She really liked to rub Harry's nose in the fact that she didn't seem to be having as many issues with her spellwork that he had had. Harry believed his sister needed to be introduced to either the joys him sticking her to the ceiling for twelve hours with a silent wandless spell or being forced to perform each of her charms at the levels sixth and seventh years would perform them.
Nicolas was reading some post he had received that morning, while Perenelle was reading a Science Fiction novel, and he offhandedly said, "Apparently Albus believes that Voldemort is still alive and is going to make an attempt on the Stone."
The nib of the quill Harry was using snapped, ruining the section of work he had been doing. "Damn it, I just fixed that!"
He got whacked with a wooden spoon as Perenelle admonished, "Language, Harry!"
Rolling his eyes, Harry said, "Of all the things I thought that I was going to hear today, that was not among the list, Grandfather."
"Yes, well, he goes on to say that he wants to move it from its high security Gringotts vault to protections of his own devising at Hogwarts."
Perenelle put her own two cents in, "Is he mad? Putting a highly sought after magical artifact in a school full of children when the most dangerous Dark Lord since the one that kicked off a World War is after it is not a sound plan."
"Yes, well even if I say no, from what I remember of the Albus, he'll probably just make it seem like I entrusted him with the Stone and then hide a fake in the school anyway. That boy really loves his games. Our real problem is what to do about protecting the Stone if it's security has really been compromised."
Harry commented as both adults lapsed into silence, "Well, Grandpa, it depends on whether you still want to keep the stone as far from you as possible?"
"And if we were willing to hide it here, what would you suggest young man?"
"Short of dropping a Fidelius on the entire property?
Perenelle quirked one elegant eyebrow at this offhand comment, and asked, "Why would you of all people trust the Fidelius Charm, Harry? I think it proved its fallibility with what happened to dear Lily and James..."
"Because, in my own opinion, if you show someone that you trust them enough to ask them to be your Secret Keeper, and the spell actually takes, they should trust you enough to offer up some kind of heavily binding oath not to reveal the secret without your consent. That's where my parents failed... Though Moony has spoken a few times about the face that he and Padfoot have come up with a rather frightening number of holes and inconsistencies they think Dumbledore is guilty of causing. A rather large number of those are concurrent with the planning of my parents going into hiding..."
The older couple were silent for a few minutes as Harry turned his attention to the ruined piece of parchment and began copying what he had already written onto a new sheet.
"And if we were not willing to have it here?"
Harry replied without looking up from his work, "Find some property you own in the middle of nowhere, ward the sucker into a veritable fortress, place the Stone in a heavily warded box, bury the da... darn thing, then pop a Fidelius about a yard in diameter over it. Make sure the Secret Keeper does not have a fortified mind, and is willing to under go a full blown Obliviate to remove the location from his or her mind, with those things combined together you've got an impenetrable Secret. It will work because it the Secret is not Kept in the mind but rather the soul."
They both stared at the young man in silence for the next fifteen minutes as he worked on his paper. A ten (almost eleven, he would protest whenever his age was brought up) year old had just closed the largest hole in one of the most powerful protective Light magics in existence in two separate ways in less than five minutes.
Smiling as he finished his essay and Harry asked, "I've done my homework, now can I please go flying?"
They both shared a worried look... Harry had gotten his first broom a year ago, when the Oath Sirius had made (and yes, Lily had literally forced Sirius Black to swear a magical oath) had finally terminated when Harry had turned ten. Some of the things that the boy got up to in the air scared the living daylights out of the two of them...
"Actually, I have a bit of a practical joke that I want to play later on this year..."
Remus made sure that Harry had a set of powerful owl confusion and redirection spells on him when he was within Owl Post range of Britain during July and August of Two-thousand-and-one, and so had managed to avoid any and all letters from Hogwarts. But in preparation to the fact that the Old Man had never found out Harry had been taken out of the 'care' of the Dursleys, Remus made a trip to Privet Drive...
Remus fidgeted slightly as he readjusted the tie of his rather expensive Versace suit, and he glared at Sirius, who looked comfortable in his Gucci suit. Between the two of them, they had decided that Vernon would be suitably impressed by the show they would put on, and with little greasing of the wheels, these people would do what they wanted them to.
As he stepped out out of the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph they had hired for the day, all three of the Dursleys had already stepped out of the house and were staring open mouthed at the display they were putting on...
As Sirius stepped out of the car on the far side, he said, "Well Remus, my old chum, this should be like stealing candy from a baby..."
The owls were not taking the Hogwarts acceptance letters to Harry Potter, even though Minerva McGonagall knew that the wee bairn was with Lily's horrid sister... Minerva made sure to remind Albus of his misdoing in actually sealing the custody articles in the Potters' wills before anyone else could see them when the two documents had shown up in the Wizengamot in early February of '92, saying that "It is imperative to the Greater Good (she had seen a pensieve memory of the event and she could actually hear the capital Gs in the words) that only I know where the Boy-Who-Lived is. It is the only we can be certain of his safety."
Sirius Black had made an impassioned speech about how frightening a precedent this could set, but as the magical seal had already been placed at the Chief Warlock's prerogative. It was then a fight between the rights of the Ancient Houses and the powers available to those in charge. It had been decided that the first truly legitimate concern raised about Harry's safety, the seal would be removed, and custody granted according to law, though laws were quickly passed due to the worry of just how much malfeasance someone could get up with just these powers over an orphan, though no attempts were made to go through the orphan records to see if there was any on going misdeeds.
So, on July 31st she took the letter and decided to deliver it her self.
As she made her way up the walk to the front door of Number 4 Privet Drive, dressed in a rather severe women's business suit, she shook her head. Even though little Harry would have been raised to be an absolute hellion by Sirius, it was most likely going to be preferable to whatever it was she would find here.
After knocking on the door, it was answered by a thin and tallish, blond-haired woman who was currently pursing her teeth. Minerva was surprised at how much the expression made the woman look like a horse.
Professor McGonagall spoke crisply, having never liked what she had heard (or seen) of Lily's sister, "I am here to deliver Harry's acceptance letter to Hogwarts."
Petunia smiled a nasty little smirk, and grabbed a letter that had been sitting on the table near the door since earlier in the month. Those two men were quite right that someone from that world would be visiting sooner rather than later. They had been so well dressed that she had been amazed that they consorted with those freaks like her sister.
"He isn't here, hasn't been since sometime in the January or February after he was dropped on our stoop. Good riddance I say. Two men who were here earlier this month gave us this letter to pass on to your kind."
Minerva's eyes widened at what the woman had said as Petunia made to slam the door in the Transfiguration Mistress's face, but the Professor whipped her wand out, saying, "You and I have much to talk about."
Five minutes later, McGonagall had gotten descriptions of the two men (she smiled grimly at the antics of those two mad miscreant Marauders), though it had taken threats of turning her son into a pig and her husband into a walrus to get what she wanted. As she read the letter that was quite insulting to Dumbledore (not that the old fool didn't deserve it), though she felt great relief that the two Marauders had saved Harry from that horrible home... She idly wondered how the Ministry would react to Harry's real guardians kidnapping him.
She was fairly certain that the 'kidnapping' would cause the custody articles of the Wills to be unsealed, and due to the 'kidnapping' having been by the legal guardians, Harry would stay right were he was, with his family.
She was actually quite thankful to prank that Sirius and Remus were playing. A rift between her and her daughter had formed shortly after the war had ended. She wouldn't admit it, but she didn't remember what the fight that caused it was about, and it was likely her daughter couldn't either. Dumbledore seeming to divide the only family two men and two children had left had made her realize just how foolish she had been.
And taking into account the family stubbornness, the differences between her and her daughter Selene would have likely never been solved... and she would not have been visiting her and her granddaughter a year ago when one of Selene's experiments had almost killed her.
She smiled as she turned on her heel, deciding to go visit her family, especially her wonderful granddaughter Luna, before trying to figure out just how to contact Sirius and Remus... if only to send them a memory of Albus reading the letter.
As Harry snuck through halls of the ancient castle, exploring a bit before he got onto the 'errand' he had been sent here on, he was fairly certain that the adults in his life considered the first actual year of the new millennium to be the official "Mess with Albus 'I have too many names' Dumbledore" year. First Remus and Sirius leave a very nasty letter with his mother's sister (he and Ginny had been pranked when they were younger whenever they had referred to the woman as an Aunt), that eventually made its way to the man (and they had received an amusing pensieve memory from a woman that was going to visit them sometime over the Christmas holidays).
Now Grandfather Nicolas had heard about the third floor corridor on the right hand side being out of bounds to 'everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death'.
Considering that the Flamels had bought a square mile of land in the Australian Outback and hidden the Stone just as he had suggested (Sirius had been asked to be the Secret Keeper, though they had settled on him giving an Oath rather than the use of Memory spells), Nicolas wanted to mess with the meddler's mind for presuming to bait a trap with rumors of his Stone.
It was Halloween, and even though he was wrapped in a powerful invisibility spell, that was not what was hiding him from the castle's wards. He touched the piece of fabric that was wrapped around his body beneath the poofy shirt that was a part of his pirate costume. The Invisibility Cloak. All capital letters there. An artifact that had been in the Potter family since Ignotus Peverell's only grandchild, one Alexandria Peverell, had married into the family.
Though Remus theorized that its invisibility magic could be circumvented by another of the Hallows (but both the Stone and Wand were assumed lost at the moment), the rest of the magic in the object worked to prevent a user of Peverell descent from being detected by any magic.
He was jarred out of his thoughts when he smelled a great stink and heard extremely heavy foot steps. His eyes widened as he saw a full grown European Mountain Troll wandering around the supposedly safest place in Britain, and it was heading for a door, which meant it had likely gotten the scent of some sort of prey.
Pulling both of his wands, he conjured a large anvil with one while simultaneously applying a charm to increase it's weight by a factor of ten with the other. The troll never really stood a chance. Raiden snickered at the stupid creature's fate.
Sighing he continued on to the third floor corridor... If someone had let a troll into the school (and Dumbledore had allowed it through the wards), it meant that whoever was after the stone was going to be making a run against the defenses...
Ghosting into the third floor corridor, he saw a greasy haired man limping away, trailing blood. Harry idly wondered how the hell Snape screwed up. Remus, no matter his own opinions about the man concerning his ideology and actions, had always said that Severus Snape was a more than competent wizard. Shrugging, Harry sent a detecting charm down the hallway, and with no other living presences, entered the room the git had exited from.
Harry paused for a moment, seeing a goddamn Cerberus. He then waved the wand in his left hand, casting a spell that caused a lullaby to sing through the air. Levitating the dog off a trapdoor he had seen, he dropped down the hole.
As Harry regained his balance from the fall, Raiden whispered in his ear, §Devil's Snare...§
Nodding, Harry fired off a few bursts of flame that caused the plant to slink away. Shaking his head at the simplicity of the first two defenses, he walked through the door into the next room, which had a mass of something flying around the ceiling. Idly, he wave his wand while he said, "Accio key to that door."
No dice. Shrugging, he started blasting the keys out of the air. As much as he wanted to use one of the brooms he saw leaning against the wall, he would rather cause a bit of havoc. Finally felling a a heavily made silver key that seemed to match the door fixtures, Harry made his way into the next room... But not before taking five minutes to transfigure all the air above seven feet into a highly volitile mixture. After going into the next room, he left a flame that would slowly rise in the key chamber.
Looking around, the room he was in contained a massive animated chess set. Rolling his eyes he said to Raiden, §I really don't feel like playing a game of chess, can you burst me to the other side of the room.§
§Righto, cause watching a chess match is even more boring than playing one, even if the pieces are larger than life and extremely violent.§
In a burst of electricity, Harry was behind the white chess pieces, and he made his way through the next door. Though right before he exited the chess room, the door from the key chamber was blown off by a massive explosion.
In the next room, he found an even larger Mountain Troll than the one he had dealt with earlier. Now he was upset, there were two trolls in a school, and this one had been placed with the consent of the headmaster. He hosed the Troll down with simple water charm, transfigured the water into another (semi)fluid, and then conjured a lit torch that he threw at the now confused creature.
Trolls may have incredibly thick skin that turns away both weapons and spells... but expose them to completely mundane fire and they go up like dry kindling.
Douse one in napalm and... well...
Harry idly cast an area silencing spell to drown out the dark creature's agonized screams as he walked through the next door. As he walked toward the dais that had seven bottles on it, two walls of flame, one black ahead of him and one of purple behind, sprang into existence. Reading a bit of parchment and rereading the riddle on it a few times, and he idly snatched up the smallest bottle. Walking toward the black flames he drank it and then directed Raiden to burst over to him once he cleared the flames.
As he entered the next, and apparently last, room, and Raiden reappeared on his shoulders he said, "You may not be a parrot to go with the costume, but you put those avians to shame."
The only object in this was a mirror with the script 'Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi' running above the glass. He paled and stepped to the side so that he wouldn't stare into the glass.
"The Mirror of Erised is a class X cursed object. What the hell is Dumbledore using it as part of defenses that any post-OWL student could get past? It should have been destroyed the moment the old man found it... That... thing... has resulted in over a hundred deaths and over triple that number of raving lunatics!"
He fumed silently for a moment before asking, §Any ideas Raiden?§
§Apart from staring into the highly enchanted, madness inducing mirror and hope for the best?§
§Yes, besides that.§
§Well since Bumblebee thinks he is so clever, the mirror is probably being forced to only show things related to the 'Stone'. So the chance of madness is at a minimum, so look into the mirror and hope for the best.§
§If I go mad and die, I am so haunting you.§
Moving back to stand directly in front of the looking glass and saw his reflection holding up a blood-red bit of rock, staring into its depths. His reflection winked as it placed the stone into his pocket, and Harry felt a weight settle into his actual pocket. Turning away from the Mirror, he took the stone out and stared at it, identifying it as just a chunk of ruby, he sighed and placed it back in the pocket as he tore off a chunk of one of his sleeves.
Moving back to the side so that he wasn't in danger of becoming ensnared by the magic of the damn thing, he tossed the scrap of cloth at the mirror while casting an engorgement charm to make it larger than a bed sheet and then briefly animating the sheet to wrap around the mirror.
"Hopefully Grandfather will have an idea how to destroy this damn thing," Harry said as he shrunk the wrapped mirror down until it was small enough to fit in his pocket.
During mid-May of the next year, and Harry was once more sitting at the Flamel kitchen table. It was morning and he was diligently working his way through a bowl of oatmeal that he had charmed to repel his hair. Harry, in an childish attempt to make his hair (which he had found out a few weeks after meeting his 'grandparents' was literally cursed) more controllable, had been growing his hair out since he had been six years old. Now, a few months shy of the age of twelve, he had a thick mane of jet back hair that stopped just past his shoulders, and the more than occasional lock of unruly hair stuck out from it at an odd angle.
He had failed at attempting to control it, and had stopped trying.
The Flamels had told him that the hair came from Nicolas, who had the ill fortune to irritate a gypsy who had then cursed him and his male descendants to have uncontrollable hair. They had been working for more than six hundred years to fix it, using both magic and modern hair care products, and had failed miserably.
There was a knock at the door that lead to the back garden, and Nicolas and Perenelle shared a startled look that Harry missed, focused as he was on his food. And they both drew their wands, placing them on the table, before Perenelle called out, "Enter!"
A tall man, in flowing plum colored robes, who had a long silver hair with an accompanying beard and twinkling blue eyes, spoke respectfully, "Master Flamel, Lady Flamel, I am in need of your help..."
Nicolas sighed and said chidingly, "Albus, you know that we don't become involved in the events of the world at large."
"I know, Nicolas, but I need your advice. Someone has opened Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets, and the monster that was contained with has been rampaging through the school. Four muggleborn students, a cat, and a ghost have been petrified, and now the Board of Governors have removed me as Headmaster, so I cannot do anything about it. I am at my ropes end at how to protect the children..."
Harry slurred out a bit sleepily, although quite audibly, knowledge that he had gained when he turned eleven and the Goblins had done a lineage trace for him, "The basilisk should know better than to harm students. Salazar always wrote that Isis was such a good girl. No one besides Slytherin's line should even be able to remotely influence her, and she would know better than to listen to orders given to her by Aldric's descendants, who would be the only ones inclined to use her in such a way..."
Albus Dumbledore simply stared at the preteen who hadn't really registered to his senses. He had a long unruly mop of jet black hair, was a little short for his age, and was slumped over a bowl of food. He idly wondered when Nicolas had picked up a new apprentice. The boy had not even looked up from his breakfast when he had given a statement about Slytherin's monster, 'A basilisk, this is worse than I thought!', and now Dumbledore was trying to figure out how to manipulate more information out of the young man when he spoke again, "Grandfather, I'll need to head to Gringotts to pick up a few things from the Slytherin ancestral vault before I head to Hogwarts to try and fix the Supreme Warlock's mess. With your permission?"
Perenelle fixed the boy who still had his gaze locked on his oatmeal with a glare and asked, "You are not planning on fighting a thousand year old serpent are you?"
"Not if I can't help it. Though it is quite possible that she has gone around the twist and I may have to put her out of her misery."
"And how is that different?"
"Its quite simple, in a fight I run the chance of getting bitten and mutilating the vastly valuable carcass of the ancient basilisk and putting Isis out of her misery involves me Transfiguring a rock into a rooster and Compelling it to crow."
"Well then if you do have to kill the poor thing do just that deary, make sure you eat your breakfast first. When do you think you'll be back?"
"Not a bloody clue, I also want to find out who the hell is doing this since the only one who could is without a body at the moment... I need to write to the rest of my tutors... I wonder if they'll accept the excuse that I have to save a school from a dark creature..."
Dumbledore stared in shock at this young man, who blandly spoke of killing an ancient basilisk with two pieces of magic that could be done by any adult witch or wizard who had passed their Charms and Transfiguration NEWTs (or even their OWLs). But when he had looked up and Albus had seen the boy's green eyes behind a pair of glasses, he had nearly fainted. After Harry's Hogwarts letter had been failed to be delivered and Minerva had come back looking like the cat that ate the canary, he had found out his little messiah-in-the-making had been out of his control for almost a decade, but here he was in Ireland learning who knows what from a legend!
Harry left the kitchen, dumping his bowl in the kitchen sink, presumably to get ready to go out to fix a problem that had been driving one of the most powerful wizards in the world bonkers as if it was as simple as going out to mow the lawn!
The wards he had placed to alert him of the health, well being, and location of The Boy-Who-Lived had never so much as hiccuped, so he had always assumed the two Marauders had never found the boy, even if they had apparently tracked down Ginevra in short order (before Sirius had ever been released), as Molly had come running to him the next day, demanding the return of 'her' daughter, and though he was loath to do it, he allowed them to remain in control of her, it after all would maintain an ancient bloodline after Harry was forced to sacrifice himself for the Greater Good. Apparently Harry had been taken from the Dursleys before Sirius had even been released from prison! He had had no clue where the savior of the British Wizarding World had gone, and when he had failed to show up for his first year of Hogwarts, all of his carefully laid plans had fallen apart. And then to add insult to injury someone had come along last year and destroyed the trap he had laid to ensnare Riddle in, which had already lost part of its usefulness as a test of Harry. He had also lost a extremely valuable magical artifact, no matter how dangerous it was.
Not to mention the earful he had gotten from Minerva... If she wasn't such a good administrator (and if most of the Board of Governors wouldn't rally around her), he would have sacked the infuriating woman!
Nicolas turned to Dumbledore and spoke in a firm tone, as the older looking man simply continued to stare at where Harry had been seated, "We are going to be removing the access list of our wards. The only reason we haven't yet is because, quite frankly, we forgot. Memory is one of the first things to go with age, after all. After what you tried to pull involving two of our last descendants back after All Hallows Eve of '91, we wouldn't trust you with a potato. Now get out of our home, and be glad that our grandson is such a good person and we don't want him feeling guilty about us turning you into a radish."
Since Harry had been introduced to some of the unbelievable and amazing things that were apparently in his family history, he had dived into familiarizing himself with the tales of his ancestors. They could trace their line, in name unbroken (though heavily altered given shifts in language) back to when a Potter had been Myrddin's (or as he was more commonly known now, Merlin) last, and greatest, apprentice. He had left everything to that young man, Balthazar Potter, after he had passed away following the fall of Camelot. Of course, Merlin had used magic like no one before or since, and it was the extremely rare Potter that was even capable of using even the smallest part of the shear wealth of knowledge he had left behind.
He had found the rune language that the great wizard had almost exclusively used. And if what the man had written in the description of it was true, it was the only completely unabridged source of Atlantean runes known to man. He had become enchanted with it, and had taken it up in a fervor, abandoning the use of all other rune languages in his personal projects, though he still studied and used the others for the projects the world at large would see.
The true power of a runic language was not in how much power the could conduct, and if it was, there were languages more capable of it than the Atlantean runes. The strength of a language was in how capable it was of describing, and the runes left behind by Myrddin were the most descriptive he had ever seen, and the great Master had left copious notes on them.
There was a feature in the Atlantean runes that he was trying to replicate into the more widely known runic alphabets, one that if he managed to get it to work properly, would take him far closer to the eventual Grand Mastery he was hoping to achieve in runes. And so he would be killing time by painting small arrays onto discs of stone, metal, and wood (and taking copious notes), waiting for whoever was responsible to show their face.
There was also the fact that Slytherin's only other child, his beloved daughter, had married into a minor pureblood family shortly after her insane bigot of a brother had been cast out of the family. The family had been lost to magic a few generations later, and remained that way until Lily had been a witch. It had been Aldric and his descendants who had given both Parselmouths and Slytherins in general their Dark reputation over the years.
Those were the topics that Harry was thinking about as he wound his way down through the seven 'official' levels (the first of which, the dungeons, were the only one accessible by students) that existed below ground at Hogwarts, floating on a large rune carved plank that was one of his latest projects. He resisted the urge to go poking around, for he had business to do, and he could play 'what's in the bowels of the ancient castle' later.
As Harry heard the grinding of the stairs shifting into place, he disillusioned all of the furniture he had transfigured and hid his bags before throwing The Invisibility Cloak over himself. It had been an interesting few weeks. He'd done some exploring and found his ancestor's private library (among a few other feature of the chamber), though it was seemingly missing all its books on the Darker Magics. He had also found Isis (who had consented to having her venom milked, and though he and his sister could easily live off the interest of their inheritances, Harry had never liked leeching off of anyone), quite sane but under an old compulsion that had forced her to obey Tom Riddle, who she said had commander her to call him Lord Voldemort. That was something that he hadn't been aware of but was fairly certain that Dumbledore knew but believed wasn't for popular consumption.
If he took most of the adults he knew at their word, Albus Dumbledore would probably try to convince the world that the sky wasn't blue.
He'd also found out that Isis was dying. Though it had been assumed that Basilisks were immortal, there was the given fact that none had actually lived more than a century, and with Isis here at over a thousand years old, there was the proof that they could actually die of old age. Between her, Raiden, and himself, they had managed to determine that she would pass sometime in the next three months, but that she wouldn't be in pain, that it would be reasonably peaceful, and she would be at full strength up until the end. Harry had opened up one of the passages to the surface, using the method described in Salazar's journals, and given her a last command to seek out the rumored Acromantula nest in the Forbidden Forest and destroy it if it actually did exist. He would help her in mopping up after he dealt with whoever was terrorizing the school.
Harry thought that a colony of man-eating spiders that reproduced like hyper-fertile rabbits a stones throw from a school was not a good thing, and Isis agreed with him. She had been glad that the last thing she could do for the school would be exactly one of the things that Salazar Slytherin had left her there for. To protect the students of Hogwarts.
He watched as the massive doors that separated the entrance of the Chamber from its largest portion open, revealing a blond waif of a girl in Ravenclaw robes whose eyes were glowing a malevolent red. She took three steps into the massive hall only to receive a stunner to the chest and be levitated before she struck the floor.
A small leather bound book fell out of her robes and struck the ground. Harry moved the girl over to the cot he had set up for his stay in the chamber. He drew one of his wands and cast a few detection charms, and nothing seemed off with her, so he started casting various detection and revealing spells on the book, while removing the disillusionments on his furniture with and idle wave of his free hand. What he got back from them put a frown on his face as he moved over, doing his best to sense the magics that were in the book and failing terribly. His ability to feel magics from a distance was absolutely shite.
He tapped a section of his glasses, scrutinizing the the book with the various enhanced vision modes built into them. Though his vision had been fixed by a potion that had been developed after his parent's deaths, Nicolas had gotten him these glasses for a twelfth birthday present, saying that part of safety was in preparedness and the ability to gather information. Finally deciding he wouldn't lose a hand if he picked it up, he grabbed the book, shivering with disgust at the feel of the magics against his skin and moving toward the table he had been sitting at.
His capability at sensing magic through skin contact, however, had always been above par.
And he recognized where this magic had come from. Even though it had been a little over half a decade since his scar had been purged, and he had only been six at the time it had been forcibly removed from his head, he had still spent four and a half years with a chunk of the man's black soul and dark magic leeching off of him, and therefore he knew that Voldemort had made this book. Flipping it open, Harry grabbed a quill and ink and wrote, 'Testing, one, two, three, testing.' The words sank into the paper moments after he had finished writing, only for the ink to reappear in a different hand.
'Hello, who might I have the pleasure of speaking with?'
'I'd greet you politely, Voldemort, but quite frankly I have questions I want answered before I destroy this book, and I am not going to waste the ink or time it would take to do so on you.'
'I have no clue who this Voldemort fellow you are speaking of is, no matter how fearsome he sounds. My name is Tom Marvolo Riddle.'
'You may not see it, but I am rolling my eyes now. I have ways of making you talk. Describe the magics that created you.'
'All I am are memories stored in a book, charmed to act like my sixteen year old self.'
'And I am the tooth fairy. I'll ask one more time before I start drawing rune arrays to enforce my will and start testing a theory I have that my magic is either hostile or outright toxic to yours, due to reasons you don't need to know. What are the magics that created you?'
'Tell me you name, and maybe I'll tell you.'
'Go to hell, Tom.'
Pulling out one of the bottles of ink that he used when writing out runes, of which one of major ingredients was his own blood, Harry turned the book so that the pages would turn vertically and started writing out a rune array after rune array, all while pumping so much energy into the book that his magical aura occasionally flared into the visible spectrum. A few comments would pop up from Voldemort, but Harry merely waited for the words to fade away before continuing his work.
'What are you doing to me?'
'Cease what you are doing!'
'I command you to stop!'
The last comment was accompanied by a burst of compulsion, but one of the spells he had identified on the book was a compulsion to write in it, and another subtler one was to not speak of it. With how his mind's defenses (if they could be called such a word) were constructed, the mental magics could simply not find his mind to effect him.
After half an hour, Harry slumped back in his chair, tired from his exertions. Picking up the quill and using the normal black ink, Harry wrote, 'Now, describe the magics that made you.'
'I am a Horcrux.'
'What is a Horcrux?'
'A Horcrux is a container for a fragment of a person's soul that has been torn from the rest. It requires that one murder another human in cold blood. There are rituals that must be performed a few days before and almost immediately after, and a third that is used to move the soul piece to its container. The container itself must be very carefully prepared. It is a means by which to become immortal.'
'How would one destroy a Horcrux, if you don't know theorize.'
'The spells and rituals involved in the creation of a Horcrux's container harden it against most damage, so I can only assume that the easiest way would be things that would instantly cause massive, irreparable damage, such as basilisk venom and Fiendfyre, would destroy a Horcrux. One could probably unbind the soul fragment if they were well versed in that particular magical domain, and an enchanter could possibly negate the magic sustaining the soul fragment.'
'I am going to assume that one can make more than on Horcrux, though I shudder at the thought of mauling one's soul so. Is this your first Horcrux or a later one, if so what are your prior ones, and were you even planning on making more than one, if so how many?'
'I have made one Horcrux prior to this diary, and it was a ring that is a Gaunt family heirloom of our ancestor Salazar Slytherin. I was indeed planning on making multiple Horcruxes, six in total so that I may have a seven part soul.'
'Where did you hide the ring, what are the protections surrounding it, and what is the easiest way to bypass those protections?'
Harry let loose a feral grin at the book and said out loud, "This is what you get when an enchanted object attempts to tangle with the youngest Rune Master in recorded history."
Harry sat next to the girl, trying to decide his next course of action. On the table, the diary lay cleaved in two, with a sock laying beside it. He had taken Salazar Slytherin's goblin forged battle axe, which he had infused with basilisk venom to strengthen it, and simply chopped the Dark object in half.
One of the problems was that the bastard was planning on making a grand total of six of them... and had made enough that he soul was frayed enough that a part had flown off in the chaos of October 31st, 1991. He had the equivalent of a graven invitation on the first Horcrux Voldemort had ever made, and if the description of it was right, it was also a red carpet leading right to the Resurrection Stone.
The other was that this girl had been possessed by the malignant spirit of a quasi-immortal Dark Lord for most of a school year. He really didn't want to wake her and deal with the drama that would ensue.
He had packed up the rest of the belongings into the duffel he had brought them in, which was now shrunk and in his pocket, and now he had to decide what to do with the girl.
Making up his mind, he stuffed the two halves of the diary into the sock, pocketed it, hefted the axe over his shoulders, and he levitated the girl with a wandless spell from his free hand, and set off toward Flitwick's office. He was after all the poor girl's Head of House.
Outside of Flitwick's office Harry idly wondered what he was going to do next when the door was flung open to reveal a grinning Filius Flitwick, who asked, "Harry Potter, I presume? Minerva sung your praises after the Christmas holidays of last year. And this year too, if I remember correctly."
Harry quirked a puzzled eyebrow, and Flitwick, still beaming, continued, "With Dumbledore temporarily dismissed as Headmaster, Minerva is the acting Head while I am the acting Deputy. Even if I didn't have enough of an attunement to wards because of that, I would still be able to keep track of my students as the Head of Ravenclaw... One of which went missing a while ago, right out of the middle of the castle. Though I would like to note, you do not appear to be showing up on any of the wards I have access to..."
Harry simply raised a finger to his lips in the near universal gesture of silence, and then spoke with a smirk, "Well I solved you little petrification problem. Someone sent in Voldemort's second Horcrux, which was purposefully made as a weapon."
The diminutive Professor paled, "Second, you say? If he was that cavalier with a fragment of his soul how many was he planning on making..."
"I questioned the diary quite thoroughly. Tom Riddle was enamored with the number seven, and greatly enjoyed the idea of having a seven part soul."
"And just how did you question a sentient dark object and get answers you could trust Mr. Potter?"
"Please call me Harry, Master Flitwick, and the reason I trust my information is because you are looking at the youngest recorded person to have ever attained a Mastery, with my being in Runes, with Sub-Masteries in Warding, Cursebreaking, Enchanting, and Symbolic Casting. Sadly, Grandfather Flamel has categorically stated that he will not allow me to apply for my Sub-Mastery in Alchemy until I've turned fifteen."
"Ahh... So she has been under the control of a teenage Dark Lord since the beginning of the school year?"
"Sadly that is so, sir."
"Bring her into my office, Harry. I'm going to contact her family, and I'm sure that her mother, father, and grandmother are going to want to thank you..."
Harry stepped out of Flitwick's office, slightly disturbed that he had gotten a bone crushing , hug from Minerva McGonagall (the Marauders had always gone on about her legendary sternness, and with her visits late in the last two Decembers, he could agree that she was a very stern woman) and also found himself to be the proud owner of a free lifetime subscription to the Quibbler.
The girl he had saved was Luna Lovegood, and apparently her father, Xenophilius, was well off enough to try and make a living pursuing his interest, which happened to be in providing the British Wizarding World with a tabloid. His wife, Professor McGonagall's daughter Selene, had told him how Xeno had found a copy of The Sun from the non-magical world while he was out to get some things from the grocer's one day, and had been so amused and mesmerized by it that he felt that it was now his purpose to bring that to the people of magical England. It was also used to publish his attempts to find magical creatures that no one had ever seen before, a goal in line with the Creatures Mastery he had always wanted by never pursued.
They hadn't woken Luna yet, and were indeed going to wait until a Mind Healer could be present for it so the healing from whatever harm Voldemort had brought onto the girl could start to be healed. The Lovegoods had invited Harry to visit their home at some point in the future after Luna was given a clean bill of mental health so that they could introduce her to the hero that saved her.
Hearing the sound of footsteps making their way down the corridor, Harry looked around to see Lucius Malfoy being followed by his house elf, and muttered, "Bad Faith incoming."
He leaned against Professor Flitwick's door and waited. He wasn't going to get a much better chance than this.
As the Lord Malfoy came to the door that was blocked by the lounging Potter, he said, "Out of my way you urchin! I have business with the acting Headmistress and the elves say she is in Flitwick's office."
Harry smirked and pulled the book-stuffed sock from his pocket, and tossed it to Lucius. "I believe you misplaced something, sir."
The sitting Head of the House of Malfoy glared at Harry as he pulled the halves of the book from the sock, tossing the article of clothing to the side. Scoffing he said, "I'd like to see you prove it, boy."
"I don't believe I have to. My Lord Black has been looking for an excuse to annul your marriage to Narcissa. Given the suspicions this event will raise, he will be forced to check," his eyes flickered to Malfoy's left forearm, "the current status of the loyalty oath the House of Malfoy gave when it signed the betrothal contract. If I remember correctly, your family was in quite a bit of debt before you received Narcissa's dowry, and I wonder just how many investments you have made with her upkeep allowance... But the thing I hope the most for is to have someone willing to provide a pensieve memory of the day you inform your Master of that diary's destruction."
The man alternated between a rather interesting shade of puce and a rather amazing degree of paleness for one of his complexion as his hand constricted around the head of his walking stick, and he growled out, "And just who are you to make these threats concerning the Lord Black, boy?"
Harry just smirked, and said, "His heir."
Lucius's eyes narrowed as his complexion seemed to decide on doing an impression of a bleached white bed sheet. His hand moved with blazing swiftness as he grated out, "Avada..."
And Harry just continued smirking.
Before he even started the fourth syllable, Malfoy was magically slammed into a wall by his house-elf, who was clutching a sock for dear life. The little being simply yelled, "You will not hurt Harry Potter!"
Lucius stared at the elf with an uncomprehending look on his face, before he turned to Harry and yelled, "You cost me my servant boy!"
"Yes, yes, I did Lucy. And Lord Black is going to pauperize you. Deal with those little facts of life."
Lucius Malfoy paled with startling speed, and spun on his heel, fleeing from the scene of his defeat at the hands of a twelve year old.
As soon as the man was out of sight and hearing range, Harry started laughing so hard that he fell on his arse. As soon as he had finished laughing himself silly, he muttered under his breath, "I haven't had that much fun since I played a game of chicken with a professional seeker and won!"
All those lessons on acting (Sirius had stressed the word in particular when he was being taught this) as a proper 'pureblood' (or in his case, scion of an Ancient house), had more than paid off if this was the result.
Touching the still shocked elf on the shoulder, Harry beckoned the little fellow to follow him.
Harry raised some privacy wards and said, "Thank you for the warning that you gave me this summer, Dobby, I am sorry I ended up at Hogwarts anyway, but I felt that I had to deal with the issue that you had so gently tried to steer me away from."
"Harry Potter is the bestest and most noblest wizard in the world! Dobby is not worthy to..."
"It is all thanks to you that I was able to figure out who it was that was behind the opening of the Chamber, and I don't mean Riddle. By you warning me about Hogwarts being a dangerous place to be this year, and by never having been told that you were not to tell anyone who you served, I was able to figure it out. Freeing you from an abusive family is the least I could do."
The little elf started crying tears of joy while he wrung his ears as he repeated, "Thank you, Harry Potter, thank you!"
When the excitable little fellow had once more calmed down, Harry knelt down to his level and said, "I know that you probably won't survive too long without being bonded to a family... So I was wondering if you wanted to be my elf?"
Dobby's eyes widened to proportions that threatened to make Harry start laughing as he made a sound that Harry had only heard come from Japanese fangirls before (he still shuddered whenever he heard 'Squee!' and knew that he was in danger of having a horde of fangirls of his own due to the legends surrounding him in British Magical world), and then started chanting, "Yes, yes, yes..."
Harry pulled a set of envelops from his pocket and handed them to the hyper elf, saying, "I'm heading into the Forbidden Forest, could you post these for me?"
Sitting in the warded tent that he had created through Transfiguration, waiting for dawn when the Acromantula would be at their least active, he thought about the camping trips Moony and Aunt Hestia had taken him on. Originally it had just been something the three of them had enjoyed, getting away from civilization (Padfoot and Gin-gin weren't overly fond of the Great Outdoors, aside from its uses in flying, Quidditch, and pranks, and had never come again after the first time).
It had slowly started to include lessons on how to survive in the wilderness, both with and without a wand (though that little fact started to mean less and less as Harry became more adept), or with various constraints on the size and amount of magic he could use unless he raised the proper wards. There were a great many spells that would make wilderness survival require a lot less know how, mostly directed at what was, and wasn't, safe to eat or drink, but Transfiguration would always be considered one of Harry's favorite tools.
He looked at the small temporary ward stone he had made for this set of defenses, a large chunk he had picked up from the ground and shaped with a few spells. There were dozens of larger ones in a ring around the Acromantula colony, ready to raise a Containment ward that would only allow him and Isis in and out.
He had had an encounter with the Centaurs, who seemed overly belligerent, a few days ago, and had been directed here by one of them, who was one of the few that didn't seem to hold an innate dislike of humans. Firenze had stopped by a few times to speak with him, and Harry had already had his fill of the ruddy stargazers. Those that didn't seem to like humans due to pureblood prejudice against anything that wasn't them couldn't seem to turn the faces away from the sky.
Acromantula venom was another valuable commodity that he would soon have quite a bit of.
It was early in the morning of October 25th, 2003, when Harry was playing with a Runic array, trying to divine just how to make use of True Summoning (the art of pulling a distant object from a distant point without it traveling the space between it and the destination) when the array flared unexpectedly. He disappeared in a flash of light. As no one was home, and no one would be for another ten hours (Uncle Remus was attending three classes today one on Astrophysics, another on Vulcanology, and the last on the history of the Western World, Ginny and Padfoot were out making an entire day of their going out to see game six of the World Series, and Aunt Hestia was working), and so his temporary disappearance was completely missed as he returned from right were he had disappeared seven hours later.
Though he was looking worse for the wear, like he had been out in the middle of nowhere for a few weeks, he didn't seem hurt. He glanced at the clock on his wall, which also gave the date, and was surprised. He then started muttering to himself.
"No more playing with that unless I keep a full survival kit on me and detailed notes on just how to get back. Now to figure out just how the hell I cut a hole through reality and ended up in the Labyrinthine Hedge... I would like to know just how I accidentally rediscovered the divide between this world and the one of the True Fae..."
As he limped off to his bathroom, he said, "I'd also like to know just why the hell I spent a fortnight in there when only seven hours passed here..."
It was Halloween, 2004, at about three in the afternoon, and Harry was enjoying an pleasant walk through the neighborhood that they lived in in Staten Island, a gray cloak wrapped around him. All of his teachers had by this point felt they had taught him all they could while confined to International N-Level work. And so he had taken some time off to revise everything he knew and prepare for the tests that he had promised himself that he would take in January.
He was just about to turn around and begin heading home where he felt his entire body pulled eastward. Cursing under his breath, Harry likened it to portkey travel (his most despised form of magical transit) except the pull was not confined to behind his naval. He nearly stumbled as he felt it again, this time swearing quite audibly in Irish. Drawing his wands, he had the vague feeling that the third time was going to be the charm, and he had no clue where he was going to end up.
Soon he was being pulled through a hazing vortex of fume and flame, again a strange parallel to the whirling storm of colors of a portkey. Bracing himself as he would for a landing with a portkey, he was slammed down on his feet, but managed to remain upright. He spun in a quick circle, taking in his surroundings and looking for any threats. He saw black robes with four different colored trims, pale blue robes made of silk, and thick woolen robes the color of blood. He was in a massive hall that had five tables, four populated by kids ages eleven to eighteen, and the last filled with adults, while the ceiling reflected the night sky that was apparently.
And then he saw the fabled Goblet of Fire.
He only had one thing to say.
Author's Note, the Second: Was working my way through this correcting minor errors. Had to do it again when the tab closed for no apparent reason. Anything obvious missed was because I had been adding the scenes in the Forest and had yet to do anything below it (i.e. almost done).