Since I forgot it in the Prologue – I don't own Harry Potter, Stargate or any other franchise which may enter into this fanfiction story. I don't profit from them, and they belong to JKR and MGM respectively.
A/N: A belated apology to 'phoenix catcher,' who gave me permission to borrow elements from his exceptional story 'Cast Between Worlds.' I really should have dropped that in the prologue, but I forgot. Anyways, to anyone to has read Cast Between Worlds, this will be similar – but different – story, which I'm sure fills you all with something akin to confidence that I can actually write, and that I am not having you on. This is my first real attempt at writing, and Cast Between Worlds will probably become something of a template to fall back on if my imagination fails me and writer's block persists.
Chapter 1 – The End of the Beginning
"When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what the storm's all about."
Slowly, Harry gained control as he fell. He didn't reach the ground, didn't suddenly float. Instead, a gradual wind blew up, straight up underneath him, supporting him. He soared, as a bird of prey soars, through the endless black, borne aloft as if to reach the stars. The frequency of the thunder and lightning slowed, and then stopped entirely. And with that, the pain was gone.
Harry awoke slowly; exquisitely aware of the pounding headache that felt as if the troll from first year was rampaging around inside his skull. Cracking open one eye, he spotted Madam Pomfrey, who was watching him anxiously. Opening both eyes he looked at her.
"What happened?" His voice was dry, hoarse.
Madame Pomfrey tried to give him a stern look, but couldn't keep it up, and instead settled for a reproachful one. Despite his penchant for getting hurt, Mr Potter was a considerably better patient than most students, always polite and respectful, even if he did seem to have a habit of nearly getting killed.
"You pulled one of your escapades again, Mr Potter. You've been unconscious for three days. I thought we had words about these antics last time you ended up in my care."
"Yes ma'am, we did. I don't recall making any promises though."
Pomfrey snorted. "As if! Anyway, here, have some water while I run some spells." She helped him sit up before handing him a glass, then taking out her wand and casting diagnostic spells, before feeding him some anti-migraine potions. Even if she'd given up on fixing the burn out, she could alleviate the symptoms. Harry drifted in and out, dozing fitfully from the side effect of the potions.
An hour later, Madam Pomfrey was wondering what was wrong. She had already sent a message to the Headmaster concerning Harry's condition, and that he had woken up. He should have been down by now to check on his student.
The door to her office swung open, and Professor Snape strode in, robes billowing predictably. Pomfrey rolled her eyes – despite their close cooperation over the years, as most of her potions were produced by the Slytherin head, she still despaired of his amateur dramatics.
"Yes, Severus, what can I do for you?"
"The Headmaster has ordered me to escort Mr Potter out of the Castle, Poppy." Snape's arrogant, oily voice clearly conveyed both his disdain for Harry and his satisfaction that his target of many years was apparently being...
"What! Why? Why is Mr Potter leaving the castle, Professor Snape?"
"Because he is essentially a Muggle, Poppy." Snape's tone was intensely smug. "That is what your report said, is it not? And is this not a school for magic, Poppy? Muggles," he pronounced the word with a sneer, "do not belong here."
"What? Regardless, he's a student, a patient; you can't just throw him out!" Pomfrey's tone was indignant, in all her years here...
"Oh, but the Governors have spoken, Poppy." Snape produced a roll of parchment, flashing the seal of Hogwarts on the wax. "Mr Potter has been expelled for being unable to perform magic. No one, least of all those on the board, want a Muggle," again with a sneer, "around here. The Headmaster concurs, but for different reasons. He believes that without magic, Mr Potter will be unable to defend himself properly, and thus his safety would be better served by leaving the magic world as soon as possible."
The school Healer had no argument to that. The Governor's seal, combined with the Headmaster's approval, however phrased, prevented her from doing a damn thing about it. "Wait, I'm calling Minerva."
Snape maintained his sneer, but it did lessen somewhat. "Why bother?"
"Because if Mr Potter is to be escorted off the grounds as if he has done something wrong, I'm going to make sure it's with someone who won't taunt him about it. I know your habits, Severus. I know you antagonise him in lessons. It's come up in staff meetings more than a few times, after all."
"Fine. I don't care." The Potions professor's slightly petulant tone said it all. He'd been looking forward to a final gloat before Harry left. "Just make sure he leaves today." He whirled and left in a flourish of black.
Madame Pomfrey used her fireplace to contact Professor McGonagall, and explained the situation. Judging by the veritable screams of outrage that preceded the previously ever-unflappable Minerva's exit from her office even before Poppy could end the call, the Headmaster was about to be treated to an exceptionally impressive outburst of Scottish fury. Hmmm, I wonder if she'd give me a pensieve memory.
Shaking off that thought, the medi-witch bustled out of her office to give Harry the next round of potions, only to find him standing at the now-open window, staring out at the fine, cloudless day that had followed the dark clouds of the first two days after the battle, and Voldemort's public reappearance. More than a few members of the staff had commented on the ominous nature of the weather these past few days.
"Mr Potter! What are you doing out of bed?"
Harry turned, curiously without glasses, she noticed, with a very slight smile. "Well, Madame Pomfrey, you didn't say I could leave it."
"Hmph. I see. Well, if you're feeling up to it, I have...some bad news to relay." She faltered, and Harry watched her with growing trepidation.
"Is what Snape said true? That I lost my magic?"
"How did you...?"
"Your office door was open," Harry pointed out. "I don't have my wand, so I can't tell." He sounded anxious. As well he might be, Poppy thought.
Poppy sighed, having hoped to do this more gently. "I'm sorry, Mr Potter, but the Professor was correct. You suffered a burn-out when you expelled You-know-who's possession from yourself. A burn out is a truly extreme case of magical exhaustion, which I know you've suffered in the past." Harry nodded. "However, a burn-out is, unfortunately, permanent. I've spent the last three days pleading with St Mungo's and every other healer I know to give me anything, any experimental potions or treatments at all. They had some good suggestions, but none of them appear to have worked, and they're all out of options. There's nothing I can do about it."
Harry's world was crumbling, falling in around him with every word. Without magic – how – what ... what am I going to do. Voldemort's out there, he's not going to give a shit about my lack of magic, he'll just laugh at it. Sirius – Sirius is gone. He's gone. He's ... Harry's memories came crashing back, like a tidal wave of fear, anger and anguish that he'd allowed himself to forget. He fell back against the wall, and slid down to sit on the floor, head in his hands. He couldn't hold back the tears. He hadn't wept, the Dursley's had threatened him whenever he kept them up with his sobbing as a child. He'd bottle it all in, all the fear, the pain, the misery and the anger, so much anger; at the Dursleys, at the Ministry, at Dumbledore for leaving when they needed him the most, at every life threatening event that seemed to find him every single god-damned year. And now, he had no magic. The one thing that kept him going; the beautiful, powerful, ever-changing force that had so revolutionized his life that July 31st five years ago. It had been his, unquestionably something that he had, that couldn't be taken away; something that gave him answers, perspective, a new world in which he wasn't the 'freak' or the 'unwanted brat,' but someone special, someone worth something, someone who could, and had made a difference in any way he was able. And now, he didn't have that either. Without magic, he had nothing.
Poppy watched, distraught as Harry seemed to shut down in front of her. She tried to comfort him, reached out to him. It might have helped, but she couldn't tell. She was still there half an hour later when Minerva McGonagall came steaming into the ward in high dudgeon with Professor Dumbledore in tow.
"What's wrong?" McGonagall's Scottish brogue was stronger than usual, indicative of her high temper. That the answer was blindingly, moronically obvious occurred to her a moment later, when her old friend Poppy glared at her.
"What do you think, Minerva?"
The Head of Gryffindor crouched down beside her. "Harry? Can you try something for me?"
Harry barely even registered the question, but he nodded and looked up at her. McGonagall handed him his wand, eleven inches, holly and Phoenix feather. He took it and tried to say 'Lumos,' but his voice failed him. He cleared his throat, still hoping, still believing this was not happening. 'Lumos.' But there was nothing, not even a spark. He stared at his wand, dejected. What now? He thought, What now?
The Headmaster cleared his throat. "Harry, you have to leave."
"Why?" Harry's tone was distraught, choking on tears he was still trying to fight back.
"My boy, you're not safe here. The noble families are already up in arms about a muggle being in Hogwarts, its all I can do to keep them from arresting you." Hardly, but he doesn't need to know that. Best he just disappears. Out of sight, out of mind. Then the sheep will forget this tragedy and move on. "Sirius would hardly want you to throw your life away – "
Harry didn't hear the rest of it. That last sentence crystallised a thought, slotted in a final piece of the puzzle. He knew, now, what Dumbledore was capable of. Not just power, although that duel in the Ministry lobby had been impressive, but manipulation. Using Sirius' name like a weapon, a card to play to make me do what he wants. Fine. I can't do magic, so there's no point fighting back now. Have to wait and see. Harry sat there for a few more moments, before pushing himself up off the wall, decision made.
Thirty minutes later, belongings packed up and shrunk down by the house elves, Harry and Professor McGonagall, along with Hedwig settled on his shoulder, were walking down the path towards the gatehouse, Hogwart's still light up like a fairytale castle atop the cliff on the other side of the lake. As they reached the other side of the gate, Harry turned back to see it one last time, and was first shocked, then simply resigned.
"It's...it's just a ruin." The wards that made the castle seem abandoned and unsafe to any non-magical who might get this close now affected him. That heartbreaking feeling inside intensified all over again at this final reminder.
"I'm sorry Harry." McGonagall was herself genuinely upset. Harry could see it plainly even if she tried to hide it. "This portkey will take you to the liaison office in London. They will help you adjust to your new life." She paused, still holding the portkey. "Not all of us agree with this treatment Harry, but I couldn't change the Headmaster's mind."
"Why?" Harry's tone was weak, his eyes still on the ruined castle. "Why so quickly, why...?" Just why me, he wanted to scream.
"Someone at St. Mungo's leaked your...condition on the first day. The Prophet ran with it, painted you as a muggle, as a threat to the castle somehow. The article was not particularly specific, as usual." McGonagall grimaced. "The pureblood parents wanted you gone; the idiots on the Board of Governors used it as an excuse to get at the Headmaster; and there were significant...disturbances amongst the students, tempers running high. Particularly in Gryffindor." She sighed. "Miss Granger and Mr Weasley have come to blows more than once. Apparently, Mr Weasley believes being magical is more important than friendship, and the resultant barrage of hexes from your friends Hermione, Luna and Neville, amongst others put him in St Mungo's temporarily. Nothing permanent, however." Unfortunately, her tone seemed to say.
Harry started at her, mouth agape. Ron wouldn't...but what about before the First Task last year...all those insults he threw at Hermione for studying hard. Maybe that was something else...
"Professor, do you think you could ask Hermione to write to me at some point? Not immediately, but soon. I'd like to keep in touch with those I can trust."
"Certainly, Mr Potter. Now, it's time."
Then, for the last time, that rather unpleasant navel-jerk of portkey travel whisked Harry away.