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A.N. Yes, this story is my stress release because I can’t get over my writing block on the other stories. Yes, this is full of clichés and fan favors and fanboyisms – why? Because like the subtitle says I said “F*** it.” Story will be 50,000 words long. Here is the first 15,000 or so. Enjoy and take it for what it is.

 

Catharsis

Or How Nuhuh Couldn’t Kill his Writer’s Block and said F It!

 

Albus-Severus? He thought to himself indignantly as he climbed into the vat of potion created from a lost and ill advised recipe. Is it a wonder he ended up a dark lord? He scoffed even as the pain of his son’s descent and eventual death by his own hands cut through his heart.

 

As he lowered himself into the steaming potion bubbling like a Jacuzzi he forcibly turned his attention elsewhere from his family’s recent and bloody tragedy. It was a terrible fate to be orphaned and then also survive his children and wife in the same life time. It was the new Dark Age that had made him aware of things existing inside him from his childhood that he hadn’t known were there.

 

Some things had begun unraveling in his mind as his son became the herald of the new Dark Age. There were inclinations, persuasions, predetermined decisions so embedded in his personality he never realized they were not his own. In awful irony he had found that it was the part of Voldemort’s soul left wedged in him when the Dark Lord had tried to kill him that had given him the little freedom he had enjoyed making his decisions free of his ‘heroic’ tendencies. Those same predilections had made him name his own son after Severus Snape in a symbolic gesture of forgiveness. And the very same forgiveness had stopped him from pursuing the cancer of Death Eaters who had tempted Albus-Severus to their side, creating something he feared much more than Voldemort.

 

He had left no tears to mingle with the potion he was immersed in. After having to kill his own son who had hunted his own family there was nothing but numbness. That and the realization of a life time of his decisions and his personality being modified by the kindly man he had called his friend and mentor. These days they did not call him the boy-who-lived anymore, these days he was the Grand Sorcerer, like Dumbledore had been in his time. He had never felt like he deserved the title, not being as learned as Hermione in magic. But in the last decade he had owned up to the mantle as much as he could; matching his knowledge to his power. And was able to sense and rip the thread of subtle influence long acting in him as Dumbledore had wished.

 

Having led the world against a dark lord himself, having sat in the chair Dumbledore had sat in, Harry did not blame Dumbledore – much. After all, he thought, what would I have done if I knew the world could be saved from Voldemort only if the Horcrux in a wizard was destroyed.     

 

At forty years of age he was his own man for the first time in his life. With that independence he decided he would not pick up the pieces left by the war with his son and go on. He decided he wouldn’t try to carve out a new life with people he did not know, or those who had become estranged. He had to know why his son turned! He absolutely had to know why his family was tormented and destroyed.

 

On this journey he could have asked for his two loyal friends to be with him. But Ron had died, killed at home not knowing his godson was the new dark lord. Hermione, well, over the years she had become distant as the myth of the Boy-Who-Lived’s unparalleled magical knowledge had spread the world. He admitted freely that she was the better witch but whereas Ron had eventually grown out of his jealousy of living in Harry’s shadow, Hermione had grown into it. It saddened him, but compared to the rest of his life’s troubles it was a small thing.

 

So he sat in the vat of potion and watched the hour hand on the clock tick by. Thirty more minutes and he would do the impossible. The one thing he did more consistently than any other wizard or witch was the impossible. Taking comfort in that he slipped a vial of red potion between his lips to take away his senses and put himself in temporary coma; he was unwilling to deal with the discomfort of travel.

 

 

Something banged loudly and then there was the sound of metal sliding. Light spilled into his vision harshly and a hand shook him.

 

“Wake up, wake up! Get to the stove!” The voice thundered in his head and he promptly turned over and vomited. The same voice shrieked in disgust, slapping him twice on the head. It felt like a troll was bashing him. A beefier hand grabbed him yelling obscenities and threw him into a shower, turning on the water. The cold shock of it brought Harry back to himself and he realized he was standing in the bathroom of No. 4 Privet Drive with his Uncle hollering down at him.

 

He’d made it.

 

“What the devil are you smiling about, boy? Right pleased you are ruining the closet Petunia and I so generously gave you when your good for nothing parents died!”

 

The insults from a forgotten past made him smile only wider – he was back.

 

The next hour or so went in a blur as his guardians reviled him and his parentage in a steady comfortable rhythm that they were used to and Harry was remembering. If it weren’t the pounding headache and vicious heartburn he may have responded in kind. But then again just the sheer elation of having made it back so far in time made him brush off his guardians’ vitriol.

 

Soon Vernon was off to work, Dudley with his friends, and Petunia had assigned him chores in the lawn; all this without a drink of water he desperately wanted or breakfast. He sat in front of the Petunia’s petunias staring at them blankly as he lamented having to leave the Deathstick in his own time and all his other possessions. The unbeatable wand would have helped much in his new life.

 

He had checked the date; it was still some time before his eleventh birthday. It seemed just like it was yesterday it was his first child’s eleventh birthday; just yesterday he had taken him to get his wand – he could remember his joy. He crushed the memory before it broke him apart.

 

He stuffed his hand in the oversized jeans he was wearing to close it around a bundle of money he had stolen from Dudley’s secret stash. A wizard without a wand was one asking to be killed. He stood up walking around the back of the house, and when the windows of No. 3 disappeared from the corner of his eyes he disapparated. A wizard of lesser power or experience may not have been able to use the mode of magical transport without a wand but at least that was a thing he did not lack.

 

Luckily the Trace was something only applied to underaged wizards and witches when they joined the magical world at the age of eleven. Ollivander collected a modest stipend from the Ministry to do so on every child who purchased a wand from his, which happened to be all the magical children in England. There were many such workings of the Ministry that Harry was aware of, having worked for it as an Auror for better part of his adulthood.

 

Standing close to the Leaky Cauldron he waited for a crowd big enough to walk in the wake of. With his hand-me-down muggle clothes it was not easy to find a group that he could look a part of. Eventually he risked it; needing to do something instead of waiting so long that his memories would catch up to him.

 

Not making eye contact with anyone in the Leaky Cauldron he hung close to the robe tails of the group he was following and entered the alley. It looked just as it always did when there wasn’t a war going on. Harry felt the pangs of losses too deep and too many to define; he walked on to the bank ignoring the magical shops and the crowd.

 

At the bank he approached the goblin working with parents of muggleborns. Not surprisingly the goblins had tried to put their nicest teller at the post. However, nice by goblin standards was still intimidating or surly. Harry considered trying to get into his own vault but knowing the goblins to be notoriously adamant about customers having keys knew it was a lost cause trying to prove his identity to them without it. Dudley’s stash was enough for what he needed at the moment.

 

The goblin didn’t pay him too much mind and changed pounds to galleons handing him a small sack. Taking it he left Gringotts quickly for a second hand robe shop; the type that was low on price and customer service. The last thing he wanted was Madam Malkin’s exclusive attention on him.

 

Harry cocked a wary brow at Cloaks for Blokes, seeing why the shop was in a corner of Diagon Alley along with other less than presentable places. But it was the sort of thing he was looking for. A wizard sat at the counter with the Daily Prophet in hand. A few people were rifling through the mounds of cloaks and robes just sitting pell-mell on tables; Harry joined them. Soon he had a serviceable cloak near enough his size that would cover his over-sized muggle clothes so not to draw attention of curious on lookers. The shop keeper looked up briefly and mumbled an amount which Harry counted out and left on the counter top.

 

Wrapping the cloak around himself and pulling the wizard’s hat low over his scar he walked toward the better parts of Diagon Alley to Ollivander’s. There was a short line outside the shop; apparently the quirky wizard only took one customer at a time. The wait became impossible as happy memories of all his children’s trips to the wand maker hit him. To distract himself he began cataloguing everything in his sight, from the color of robes to the approximate ages of the crowd, memorizing faces just to swamp his mind in minutiae.

 

Finally his turn came and he pushed the worn door to enter the shop to find himself blanketed in silence. The alley’s sounds seemingly stopped short at the doorway as if they had hit a wall and only the hush of a room covered in dust and age was left. Harry felt vaguely surprised by the magic of the wand shop now that he had paused to take note of it.

 

“I was expecting you Mr. Potter. It seems just yesterday your parents were here for their wands. I wonder which wand will choose you.” Ollivander came around an ancient shelf that could only have been standing because of magic. His owlish silvery eyes gazed into Harry’s making him wonder as always why the man had that singular stare.

 

“Do you have any wands with phoenix core?” Harry asked, not wanting to stay too long in the wizard’s company.

 

Ollivander gave him a sidelong look as he tapped his fingers on his chin thoughtfully. “Why phoenix core, Harry Potter?”

 

“It’s a light creature.”

 

“As are unicorns. Your mother’s wand had the tail hair of a unicorn.”

 

“I-like-birds.” Harry couldn’t keep the impatience out of his voice.

 

“Very well, but I warn you it is the wand which chooses the wizard to go on the journey of discovering magic not the other way around.” Ollivander disappeared into the depth of the shop leaving Harry to memories. Irritated, Harry slapped away the magical measuring tape flying around over him; Ollivander hadn’t even waited for the measurements.  

 

Boxes flew in view before Ollivander appeared guiding them with his wand. He laid out a decent sized pile peaking Harry’s curiosity about how the wand crafter had gathered that many phoenix feathers. Although one of the three most common cores it was still the least common of the three.

 

Ollivander opened a box. Both Harry and he said “no” at the same time. Ollivander gave him an odd look before taking the box back to open a slimmer one instead.

 

“No,” Harry said again.

 

“No, you’re right,” Ollivander agreed. And so the crafter and the customer went agreeing on that each choice was a poor one.

 

“That’s it, that’s the one!” Harry exclaimed in relief as Ollivander passed the holly wand to him. As he touched it warmth spread from the wood to his hands and he did not have to wave it for the wand to let out a stream of golden light that wreathed his arm like a curling tail.

 

“Ah! A very possessive reaction from the wand, how wonderful!” Ollivander seemed genuinely pleased. “Curious, curious. I hope to see great things from you Mr. Potter.”

 

Harry did not ask what was curious this time; he had a vague recollection that it had been the wand crafter who had clued him in the first time how he had gotten the scar on his head. So he felt a little regret for what he had to do.

 

“Thank you, sir…Obliviate!” Harry watched the man’s eyes lose focus and jaw slacken – he had perhaps been less gentle than he wanted in his desire to keep his trip to Diagon Alley secret.

 

A simple but effective house cleaning spell later sent the pile of wand boxes to their places within the shop. Harry tapped the till to drop some galleons in it and quickly left, timing his spell so that Ollivander would come to himself as the bell on his door tinkled.

He breathed in relief as he entered the main part of alley again, feeling lucky that he had obliviated the wand crafter before he had the chance to put the Trace on him. Even though as an ex-auror it was child’s play for him to remove the spell.

 

The only other place he wanted to visit was the apothecary. He already had a list of things he would purchase from every one of the four apothecaries in Diagon Alley. Of course going to Knocturn Alley would have been more convenient, but also more conspicuous. Whereas Knocturn’s discretion in what he purchased was worth the price, he couldn’t afford being noticed by his enemies.

 

So going from apothecary to apothecary he collected cauldrons, stirring utensils, knives of specific weights and composition. It was the ingredients that he bought from different shops especially because separately they did not arouse suspicion but to anyone with a NEWT in Potions it would be an obvious conclusion that he was up to no good. He did have to make the excuse that he was shopping for his mother who was brewer once or twice when he asked for an unusual ingredient but was able to get everything he wanted.

 

The sun was high in the sky, no doubt Petunia would be checking on him soon to see if he was weeding properly. He cared little for the tantrum she would throw, all that was about to change. He walked to the Leaky Cauldron his shopping weighing him down; he was too little to manage everything. He cursed furiously under his breath and entered a magical luggage shop with displays of shining trunks in front, obviously to attract the new Hogwarts students.

 

An overly cheerful teen greeted him. Probably makes a commission on the trunks he sells, Harry though uncharitably.

 

“I’m looking for a small trunk, just to hold potion supplies,” Harry told the corpulent teen.

 

“Sure thing, kid, we have something really special for potions. Always-Fresh ingredient containers, air tight holders for the really nasty smelling crap, latent evanesco spells when you’ll have forgot to stopper the vials. Standard stuff. Wish I had bought it my first year. So what’s your name kid? Excited about Hogwarts?”

 

“I can’t wait to start. What house are you in?” Harry asked trying to divert the chatty boy from his name.

 

“Hufflepuff,” he said proudly winding through the stacks of trunks lying about in a pattern Harry couldn’t decipher. “We won the Quidditch cup last year. Three to two against Slytherins in the last five years I’ve been at Hogwarts. We’ll win again this year, you’ll see.”

 

Harry kept the boy harping on about Quidditch, a conversation he could hold asleep, carefully avoiding any personal information. He didn’t remember the Hufflepuff from his time at Hogwarts but it had been so long ago he could have easily known of him and forgotten.

 

As they talked the boy helped him place his supplies in a pleasant blue trunk not much bigger than two feet in length but having a decent magical depth to hold everything for him. It was small enough that he could carry it without too much trouble. Harry thanked the boy breezily, paying him and leaving before they could exchange more than “see you on the train.”

 

As he neared the Leaky Cauldron Harry bemusedly realized that the boy had managed to keep his mind off his troubles; maybe he would look the Hufflepuff up when he got to Hogwarts. The thought surprised him as he wasn’t looking to make friends. But his mind soon returned to a worry he had: would the wards fail on Privet Drive since his adult mind and soul called a different place home?

 

He tried his best to make the words “Time to apparate home” not sound like a lie. He did not want Albus Dumbledore coming to his doorway so soon to see why the powerful blood magic had failed.

 

 

 

“Imperio!” Harry was stunned for a second after he cast the spell on Petunia. He had appeared behind the house and she had come around the corner yelling at him and startled him. He had reacted with magic, doing what he had already been planning to do.

 

“Thank Merlin the Trace isn’t on me.” He pinched the bridge of his nose in a gesture of his adult self. Being a forty year old in a ten year-old’s body was a stress of its own kind. He looked at Petunia’s blissful face in mild disgust. The horse-faced women looked even more unpleasant when she was happy. “Clear out Dudley’s second bedroom for me and move my things up there,” he ordered feeling the link between his mind and her become stronger now that he had actually given her a command.

 

Without a word she went humming inside the house. Harry followed with his shopping, quickly taking off the cloak and the hat before a muggle neighbor saw him wearing the odd clothes. Inside he set his cauldron and potion trunk on the formal dining room table. For the last decade he had been known as the Grand Sorcerer and he had done best he could to be deserving of it. In the dark arts and defense against them he was the legitimate authority in all Britain and much of Europe. There were a few other fields of magic, subtle and intuitive that he had excelled in, their nature appealing to his way of learning more than tomes, scrolls, and books. Yet there were other disciplines he could not claim such distinction in but he had made sure not to be lacking.  

 

There were potions he did not need a book for anymore; he had made them so many times it was second nature. The Unctuous Unction was one of them and he brewed a great quantity of it. In a smaller cauldron Polyjuice Potion bubbled. In four more cauldrons other brews simmered that he needed constantly in the war. His hand trembled over a steaming liquid as memory of striking down Albus-Severus rose – how his son had changed physically to reflect the darkness within.

 

He sighed, taking out a small pot and lighting fire underneath it. He was going to need potions to keep his sanity, lest his breaking pain take it. No father should bury his children – he had done it, no father should have to annihilate his own son to leave no trace of him – he had done it.

 

“Harry! Harry! Your room is ready,” Petunia called excitedly from above.

 

Taking two steps at a time he ran up and noticed she had brought his cot up from the cupboard under the stairs and set it against the bed in the room along with the rest of his meager possessions. The room was spotless if a little dreary.

 

“Thank you, Petunia. Please put the cot back and get a new mattress and sheets for the bed. Also a writing desk and a comfortable reading chair would be nice.”

 

“Yes, Harry.” Petunia obediently nodded.

 

“Oh, while you’re out, pick me up some clothes. Nothing fancy. I don’t want to stand out. Just guess my size or simply get me things three sizes smaller than Dudley’s. Don’t take too long, and drive safe.” He gave her a weak smile, feeling a little bad for controlling her mind.

 

What she had done to him was so far in his past he found it hard to care or hold a grudge. He did not like her or care for her, but was far removed from her neglect that he could be the better man and not make it harder than it had to be. Petunia had smiled at him dazedly and gone off to run the errands he had ordered her too. Grudge or not, I’m still using an Unforgivable on her. Better man my arse.

 

 

 

His room was ready with new furniture and he had moved his potions upstairs as well. Petunia already had a dose of Unctuous Unction in her and Harry had released her from the Imperius. Now his aunt whole heartedly believed they were best friends, and was chatting his ear off about what she saw No. 2 doing with the husband of No. 8.

 

“And you know what I say about scoop necks, only reason they were made was for parading your cleavage like some scarlet woman, there she was just pushing up those lopsided lumps with her arms crossed under her chest. You wouldn’t believe how awfully she was flirting, and another thing-”

 

“Lopsided?” Harry interrupted her, contemplating putting her back under the imperius for peace of mind. He weighed the dark potion against the darker curse: on paper the difference in magical effort was obvious. In practice he was losing his sanity.

 

“Oooh, yes! Margaret told me she went for a breast augmentation surgery. Had it done on the cheap, and you know how that is. The left one droops. You wouldn’t believe what she told Esther about her nipples getting stretched.”

 

“Gah! Enough! Stretched nipples? What is wrong with you woman?”

 

“Sorry dear, you’re too young to hear these things. But you should know now, always go natural. Why! Vernon has never had any complaints with me but then I am more secure than most women.”

 

Harry heard a ringing in his ears at that last comment and he gave up. Zoning out his aunt he added the potion to the dinner she was putting out in plates for Vernon and Dudley. His hand did hesitate as he wondered if the results would be the very mixed blessing he had with his aunt.

The next few weeks proved insufferable, having both Vernon and Dudley thinking he was their closest friend was downright torturous. Vernon regaled him with stories of conquests in office politics and terrible drill jokes, while Dudley followed him like a morbidly obese puppy wanting to play video games and beat on Mark Evans “that scrawny titch down Wisteria.” Harry had had much practice with the imperius since his return to childhood.

 

He realized the irony that it was his relatives who were, by their magically induced friendliness with him, keeping his waking nightmares away. During the day he was too busy managing them when he wasn’t brewing potions or constructing plans to think about his wife and children. At night when the demons would come en masse he took Dreamless sleep potions and a nightcap with Vernon to keep them at bay.

 

If it weren’t for the Polyjuice needing a month to brew he would have acted already. In the time he had to wait he contemplated many paths he could take, and scrapped quite a few. Some friends he had made later in life he ached to see. He thought again and again of Andromeda Tonks, who he had connected with over raising her grandson. She had lost both her daughter, first to death eaters, and then her grandson to Harry’s son. Her husband hadn’t escaped the Death Eater’s either. And so she and he had shared similar tragedies as well. The bin in his room was littered with half-formed letters to her.

 

If for nothing else he had left it as a bad strategic decision. Making contact with someone in the magical world after he had begun Hogwarts would draw less attention from Dumbledore than if he did it before. Reminded of his old school he struggled again with the choice of house. Slytherin, to keep his enemies closer than his friends. Gryffindor, to do what is expected and not raise suspicion that being sorted in Slytherin would naturally cause. Ravenclaw, for giving up the advantage of both Gryffindor and Slytherin houses. Hufflepuff, that was an idea he was warming to, to blind side both his allies and enemies. Only problem was Dumbledore twinkling himself to death that he had put Harry Potter so snugly in the path to martyrdom that he had been sorted into Hufflepuff.

 

Choices, choices…except he could never really fly under any other flag than the Gryffindor’s scarlet and gold. That was one part of his childhood he was fully prepared to relive; to grasp the all consuming moments in his favorite sport.

 

Another week before he declared war.

 

 

 

Dudley and his gang surrounded him on the tables at the local fast food joint. They had been completely dumfounded by Dudley’s sudden pally attitude with his cousin, but what Dud wanted, Dud got. Harry was not paying attention to their inane conversation about who beat the snot out of which runt, or who owned the latest whatever. Harry was on the hunt for a muggle with the kind of physique he needed.

 

There were enough girls running about who looked in shape but not a guy in sight. So when he did see one blow by running full tilt Harry was out of his chair and chasing before anyone realized he was gone.

 

He disillusioned himself as he tore after the tall middle aged runner. Very soon his lungs were burning. The man was getting away fast.

 

Stupefy! Wingardium Leviosa!  He cast silently, hitting the man square in the back and then quickly followed it with a disillusionment charm. Guiding the man into a relatively secluded area behind a couple of parked SUV’s he set him down. Revealing him he noted the man was clean shaved with hair cut in a short business man sensible way; it was steely gray. The man was also tanned and had the kind of build for endurance performance. Harry smiled; just what he needed. With scissors he had been carrying around in his back pocket he carefully cut off the man’s hair putting it all in a bag.

 

Finally obliviating him to think that he had decided for a change and had his head shaved Harry revived him and sent him on his confused way. Ditching Dudley with his friends Harry went back to Privet Drive. A grim set to his features betrayed the nature of his plans was anything but pleasant.

 

The Dursleys went to bed early at Harry’s request. Anything for their dearest friend in the world; if Harry truly cared it would make him sick. But the little respite from the war he had taken for a month was over, and he was back to being the leader of the light side, the man they all looked to, and the man who had lost utterly everything but his physical life.

 

He stood in front of the mirror testing out the body he had poly juiced himself into. The muggle had blue eyes and stood at an even six feet. The strength in the body was all from lean muscle, built for quickness and long running. Harry tried a little skip, jump, dodge and was satisfied with how smoothly he had gotten used to it. Magic made such things so much easier.

 

The cloak he had already lengthened to his new size and charmed the color from dull gray to be pitch black. One of Petunia’s plates had been transfigured into a white mask like that of Death Eaters. Having seen so many he was able to replicate it very well. He placed the mask on his face, staring at the unfamiliar clear blue eyes showing in the eye holes and then in a flash of cloak he had disapparated away.

 

In the corner of Knocturn Alley, where only the very select sort of criminals and deviants went, Harry waited by the unnamed bar. It was unnamed because it had simply no name, just a blackened board hung off the wall. The bar’s clientele was a fraternity made of dwellers of the magical underground with a reputation for power in the black market. No one but they were allowed in there.

 

A certain Death Eater turned Ministry worker spent his nights in the dubious establishment. Harry stood against the grimy wall camouflaged in the murkiness. He waited patiently, playing out his moves.

 

When the powerfully built death eater stumbled out of the bar and burped at the sky, Harry was ready for him. The characteristic moustache was visible in the light that spilled out from the bar’s momentarily open doors. When they swung shut behind Macnair throwing the alley in gloom once more Harry moved.

 

Within seconds he had him disarmed, paralyzed, and subsequently stupefied. To add insurance Harry bound him in ropes too.

 

The beggars and hags hiding in Knocturn Alley’s crevices saw it all happen but knew better than to make their presence known. Later in the day they would spread the word how a Death Eater kidnapped Macnair from the very doorway of the unnamed bar breaking that sacrosanct code between criminals to not cause trouble at the bar.

 

Harry side-long apparated to the very gates of Azkaban, bypassing the journey on a boat that it took to get there. A small corridor was left open for Aurors at all times to be able to get to Azkaban as quickly as possible. Being an ex-auror he knew all the secret ways. Once on the island he quickly closed the corridor, putting an anti-apparation jinx in its place.

 

Before him rose the cold prison which housed the worst wizard kind had to offer guarded by the worst the world of magical creatures had as far as Harry was concerned. As an auror he had been posted at the prison a few times, cycling out the regular wardens of the place. He had learned its ways fairly quickly.

 

With Macnair in unconscious tow, Harry entered through a secret doorway. Taking passages that were meant to help the aurors quickly get from one level to another in case of emergency he climbed to the top, the ultra lockdown facility. A place luckily for him exclusively guarded by Dementors; not a wizard or witch from the ministry in sight.

 

There were magical devices that recorded some of the activity and tried to divine a future attack. But both being in disrepair held little threat to Harry. He dropped Macnair’s large form by his feet, glad of the choice of muggle he had picked to polyjuice into. The muggle’s strength had come in use while climbing ten stories.

 

He took out a piece of paper taken from one of Dudley’s notebooks he had never used for class work. On it he had painstakingly penned the command spells for Dementors he remembered from his future. Placing his palm in it he spoke out, the words that left his mouth came out in shrieks even though to his mind he was speaking English.

 

From the depth of darkness that formed the tenth floor of Azkaban, three Dementors swooped. Harry sucked on the chocolate lollypop in his mouth relying on potions that had dulled his mind enough to be able to handle Azkaban’s guards for some time before resorting to using Patronus.

 

“Orders?” They asked him, and he gave them.

 

The three led him into the tenth floor, opening stone doors for him on the way. Harry followed with Macnair floating behind him.

 

“This?” They asked, standing at a door. Harry looked inside recognizing Antonin Dolohov.

 

“Yes, you can have him.” Harry spelled the standard unlocking spells the Ministry used and the Dementors flew in amidst the imprisoned Death Eaters bloodcurdling screams.

 

It was over soon. Harry had watched as they had held him like a lover and dropped their sightless faces to his mouth, one of them taking Dolohov’s soul.

 

The second war against Voldemort had begun.

 

 

More dementors surged forward in the narrow hallway of the super secure level. It was as if the entire darkness of the place was made of their cloaks. Harry drank from another vial; feeling his thoughts slow and dull making him feel everything happening was a dream. The less human-like a mind was the safer it was from the Dementer’s influence.

 

“This one?” A dementor asked next to him in a language he understood only because of the command spells. The creature’s hood had fallen back to show its scabbed rounding head with just a hole to suck souls from.

 

Feeling drugged and stupid Harry looked through the bars to see a man cowering in the corner. His arms folded tightly into his body, and eyes manic, screaming: “No! No!”

 

Harry simply unlocked the door to Rabastan Lestrange’s cell. The Dementors washed by him like a flock of birds, filling up the cell in an instant. Rabastan’s screams died in the sheer thickness of the fiends packed into his cell. Harry couldn’t even summon the smallest sense of satisfaction at seeing the Death Eater come to his deserved end.

 

Somewhere far in the fortress prison an alarm went off. One must have alerted the Aurors when he had opened the door to Dolohov’s cell but he had been too preoccupied to notice. Even under the depths of mind altering potions he knew that he had to work quickly.

 

He walked away from Rabastan and peered in the next cell, shining his wand through the bars. The man scampered up to him, his mouth salivating and lips cracked as he demanded something. It looked like he was shouting at him, but Harry couldn’t understand language anymore. The face was familiar as Rabastan’s brother and Harry unlocked the cell door.

 

The man was stooped, filthy, and had pissed himself. He grabbed the front of Harry’s robes with a painful smile. The Death Eater mask Harry was wearing had confused Rodolphus into thinking he was being rescued.  

 

Some part of Harry acknowledged he was about to do a terrible thing, but another part that had set out on that path knew that the man had it coming. A Dementors reached for Rodolphus’s arm like a care taker guiding a mentally ill patient back to his room. Rodolphus clung to Harry digging his fingers into his chest to stop the Dementors from taking him. Harry leaned into the man’s ear and whispered “Long live the Dark Lord Potter” and pushed him away into the reaching hands of the Dementors who fell upon the inmate without further invitation.

 

Harry carried on: Rookwood, Mulciber, a few he remembered from his days fighting Voldemort but never knew names of; the entirety of the top level was made of Death Eaters. The Dementors followed him obediently, having a fuller meal than they had in a decade.

 

Two cells were left at the end of the narrow and dim hallway. He felt the press of Dementors behind him as they expected another feast. He looked to his left and a large shadowy shape of an animal was outlined against the far wall of black stone – Sirius. He looked to his right to find the woman who was cackling in glee at the sight of him. She like her husband believed he was her savior. He dearly wished he could feel emotion.

 

“Bellatrix…” he said in a hollow tone, thoughts of cutting words, vicious truths that would crumple her elation crossed his mind at a snail pace. He could not form them properly and so opened the door.

 

The woman kept laughing, her hair in a tangled disarray in front of her where her robes hung open showing a body ravaged by fear, starvation, and madness. Her wasted breasts made Harry turn away from her so he missed her running towards him. He felt her claw the back of his neck before she was crushed under the weight of Dementors taking her to the floor. Harry touched the back of his neck to find his blood, but he could not feel the injury through the potion’s stupor.

 

“No, Master, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead!” she wailed in throes of her worst memories and probably her greatest fear.

 

The Dementors fell away from the witch, now completely divested of her robes in the fighting and then feeding frenzy. Her insane eyes looked peaceful in their stillness. A sense of decency made Harry summon the remains of her prison robes and mend them with magic. He laid them on her to cover her nudity and wondered how she had turned out so different from her eldest sister who looked almost exactly like her.

 

“Go to the other side. Stop anyone from coming, do not harvest more souls,” Harry commanded, sending the fiends to keep the Aurors from reaching him.

 

The animal shape in the very last cell was crouched and making pitiful noises between growling ferociously.

 

“Stupefy,” Harry deliberately made the wand movement and enunciated the spell. It was getting more difficult to function with the potions. Soon he would come to himself and then have to deal with the Dementors’ magic. None of the Aurors ever got this close to the dark creatures to order them.

 

With Sirius unconscious in animagus form, Harry entered the cell safely with Macnair who he had kept close while the Dementors followed his orders to finish off the prisoners. Throwing the Death Eater he had kidnapped from Diagon Alley down, Harry prepared for the last task.

 

Taking a swig from his polyjuice potion to retain the muggle’s body, Harry forced Sirius to turn back to his human form. A quick cut of hair taken from his tangles and he had the last ingredient he needed. He cracked open Macnair’s mouth and poured polyjuice down his throat with Sirius’s hair mixed in. Using a simple healing ward spell he made the tall Death Eater swallow.

 

The stern face under the moustache began to bubble and distort eventually becoming sunken. The Death Eater also lost his intimidating size, almost shrinking to the point where he looked a fraction of the threat he did before. His immaculately kept moustache sprang out untrimmed and long with a matching beard. No matter how many times Harry had seen the process, it still fascinated him. And the change also struck home how desperately ill Sirius looked.

 

Turning to his godfather he forced him back into his animagus form which would be easier to carry if need be and went to stand by him. He shouted down the hall to attract some Dementors back to him. Meanwhile he vanished the ropes on Macnair, took away the paralysis hex and revived the man.

 

Macnair, looking like Sirius’s double blinked in the darkness and let out a string of uncouth oaths. Just as suddenly he straightened and tensed in terror.

 

“Where am I? No!” he shouted and Harry felt a hint of pain seeing Sirius’s face contorted in fear. The Dementors wasted no time, four moved into the room and towered over Macnair cringing in Sirius’s form.

 

“This one?” They asked with one voice.

 

“You can have him,” Harry answered, and watched for the sake of necessity as the Dementors gave Macnair the kiss, prying his hands away from his face with a gentle gesture which looked unholy in a way.

 

“Go back. Now!” Harry shouted, beginning to feel his emotions sharpen and come back. He wanted to be away from the creatures before he was fully normal.

 

Quickly he prepared the body. Taking Macnair’s clothes for Sirius and exchanging them with prison robes, he also poured a potion over Macnair from head to toe. It took several bottles worth, but the potion simply absorbed in the skin making the polyjuice transformation permanent.

 

Sirius Black was dead.

 

At least no one but the walls would know better it was Macnair who hung for him.

 

“All Dementors to the secret passageway. Call the rest,” Harry commanded, his hand sweating on the spells he was powering in the notebook sheet.

 

It was as if they came through the walls, forming out of shadows, hundreds of them. He felt choked by their presence but ordered them around himself and through the Auror stairwells he had taken to get up to the floor. A sea of black fear moved around him and he was easily lost from sight within their tall forms, as was Sirius’s dark animagus transformation carried by Harry.

 

Up ahead he heard a patronus cast, then another, but the sheer number of Dementors in a tight space overwhelmed whatever human wardens were already on the stairs trying to rush up to the top floor. He had ordered them not to feed and so for the moment they simply pushed back the warden who ran ahead feeling their terrors at their tail.

 

They spilled from the building like a cancerous refuse. Harry caught sight of wizards and a witch forming a loose circle far from the Dementor horde. It was not enough by any measure and soon Harry was under the spot that was the emergency Auror apparition point. Taking off the Anti-Apparation Jinx he popped from existence just as he heard a cacophony of pops around him announcing the arrival of aurors from the Ministry who had finally gotten through.

 

Harry was home free and with a godfather to boot.

 

 

 

His destination was a small out of business electronics store a street down from St. Mungo’s entrance. Out of date radios and TVs sat in the display behind a grill. Harry saw his own reflection in the smudged and streaked glass. The pale Death Eater mask stood out sharply against the black cloak and dark night, haloed by the street lights behind him. A darker form floated next to him.

 

Carefully he reached through the grill and the glass as if both obstacles weren’t there and turned the knob on the old black and white TV. A man in a lab coat appeared on the screen smoking a pipe.

 

“Password?” he asked in a posh accent.

 

“Casablanca,” Harry answered.

 

In answer the grill moved aside and the door inside cracked open. He hurried through hearing the metal grill close behind him. Inside instead of a man in a lab coat, a wizard in green robes waited. He took one look at Harry and the color drained from his face. He stumbled over his feet and into what appeared to be his office chair.

 

Harry noted the wizard he had caught a couple of decades into the future; he was of medium height and sporting a beard growing in sparse tufts on a childish face. Harry had always thought that it was age that had made the man’s facial hair so strange but it seemed even when he was young he still looked odd.

 

“You know what I am?” Harry asked.

 

“Yes. Please don’t kill me,” the red headed wizard begged.

 

“Alright, if you give me an oath of silence and secrecy and agree to being obliviated after you heal my friend.” Harry had known the man was a coward but it was easier than he thought. Usually the black market healer charged a premium in gold for that kind of secrecy; Harry wondered if he would dare to demand the usual payment.

 

“Anything, anything.”

 

“Very good, Healer Worthright. Yes I do know your real name and why you hide in a muggle shop and who you do business with.” Harry stalked to the man who shrank in his chair flattening against the back as if he could push himself right through. “Do right by me, Worthright, and not only will you get to keep your life but also some gold will see its way to your pockets.”

 

The wizard was too shaken to do anything but nod vigorously. Harry dropped Sirius by the desk and took in his surrounding once again to see if anything had changed from what he remembered as he took a swig of polyjuice. The entrance was a bare room with white washed walls. Three doors led off from the side walls and the far back wall against which the desk sat. Harry knew one led to a surgery, another to a three bed ward, and the last to a very, very specialized and well stocked potions lab. Indeed, Healer Worthright’s lab was easily the envy of several curse damage specialists at St. Mungo’s when they had been brought in to salvage anything of use.

 

The healer watched him trying not to get caught at trying to see his face as he tilted the mask up to drink the potion. Harry neatly turned away from him and took a bite of chocolate as well.

 

“Let’s bind you to secrecy then,” Harry announced, clasping the wizard’s clammy hand.

 

In the next five minutes Harry had Healer Worthright sworn not to speak, write, imply, betray in any deliberate way himself and his orders. Harry levitated Padfoot through to the medical ward making the healer even more nervous that he knew what was behind the door.

 

Putting the dog on the bed Harry cast the animagus reversal charm revealing his godfather. Sirius looked as if he were simply skin stretched over bone. His long hair was thin and dirty, his cheeks hollowed out to show the bones, a rank smell came from his mouth.

 

“Who is that?” the healer asked.

 

“You don’t need to know, and if you find out you know to keep your mouth shut. Heal him, make him fighting fit. Give him the best of everything. I know your sister is a wonderful cook, make sure to pay her to for cooking all his meals. I will find out if you don’t.” Harry reached under his cloak and drew out an envelope. “This is charmed to attract his attention when he wakes up. Don’t approach him until he has read this. If he asks how he got here tell him the details of what you and I agreed on. I have to go now.”

 

“Yes, sir.” The healer bowed and Harry disapparated to Little Whinging.

 

 

 

Lords of Old Bloodlines Disappear: Is You-Know-Who back?

Earnest D. Magog reports

 

The Ministry of Magic fails in keeping its citizens secure as strange disappearances follow last week’s murders at Azkaban. Although the mass murder of Azkaban’s deadliest inmates by frenzied Dementors did not raise a public outcry, it shows a disturbing pattern of the Ministry’s inability to maintain law and order.

 

One week from the Azkaban Massacre and three of magical Britain’s socialite families have reported their heads missing. The DMLE is without direction as they try to solve the mystery of the Dementors defying Ministry orders and the traceless kidnappings of Lords Malfoy, Nott, and Parkinson.

 

A little over a decade ago our world faced the same unsolvable disappearances until a one year-old saved us all. But perhaps this time the cause behind the “kidnappings” is even more sinister than the truth we came to live with in the last dark war.

 

The reporter would like to point out a shocking common thread between the recent failures of the Ministry. Every wizard and witch reported missing was indicted in the last war as a Death Eater and released later on appeal of being under influence of the Imperius curse. All inmates attacked in the Azkaban Massacre were convicted Death Eaters. Knowing what connects all the affected parties the following report is even more alarming.

 

The reporter would like to reveal exclusive information that the Ministry withheld from the public. On condition of anonymity a warden of Azkaban broke secrecy to report that a wizard or witch in Death Eater robes and mask was at the scene of the massacre and was protected from arrest by a phalanx of Dementors till they escaped.

 

You-know-who’s merciless ways are well known. It is the belief of this reporter that the prisoners of Azkaban were killed on orders as punishment for not escaping arrest a decade ago. It is also the belief of this reporter that the recent “kidnappings” are no such thing but you-know-who gathering his followers back to himself. The Nott, Malfoy, and Parkinson families are long known for their association with the dark arts.

 

There were always those who believed that You-know-who was only defeated and not vanquished that happy Halloween. It seems he has come back in power the year that the peace-herald will be returning to the magical world to begin education at Hogwarts.

 

It is auspicious that our hero returns to us in this time. It is the fervent hope of this reporter the Ministry will train our savior instead of diverting its resources to the futile search of alleged kidnappings of known dark wizards and witches.

 

Harry cursed reading through the article. He was sitting in his polyjuiced body in the Leaky Cauldron with a shot of fire whiskey. It would just be his luck that the Ministry decided to interfere in his life after the article. Already the mood in the bar was somber. Everywhere people were pointing out the Daily Prophet to their neighbors. One thing was certain, knowing Fudge, that reporter and editor were going to be fired. It was a miracle the article was published in the first place.

 

The reporter calling him the “peace-herald” was new. He had never been referred to by that title. Somehow it was better than the “chosen one.” Other than that the reporter had obviously missed saying anything about the Carrows being found in their home contorted in shapes unrecognizable as human, or that Yaxley had died in a freak animal attack. Oh yes, there were quite a few Death Eaters who had escaped notice all together in the first dark war with Voldemort, but they hadn’t escaped him.

 

Of the inner circle that had appeared in his fourth year only Crabbe and Goyle were still alive. Harry weighed if letting them live played in his favor. As the last two, the lesser Death Eaters were going to turn to them for guidance, knowing they were being hunted. Being dimmest of the inner circle he could easily spy on them and use their blunders to wipe out the rest.

 

Harry looked at the list left in his hand: Avery Sr., Avery Jr., Thorfinn, Crabbe, Goyle, Crouch Jr., Fenrir Greyback, and Wormtail.

 

Harry hummed to himself as he suddenly realized that Crabbe and Goyle were not the senior most in the ranks. Avery Sr. was still alive somewhere; and he had been one of the first followers, taken from Tom Riddle’s own classmates.

 

He stretched his arms back experimentally and winced when the skin over his shoulders burned in agony. The Carrows were not easy prey; conjuring fiendfyre and animated barbs without second thought. He had new scars to start off on his largely mark free body. So far he had been lucky having the element of surprise. But the word had gotten out, the last few Death Eaters would be the hardest to kill. They would be expecting someone. Yaxley, an otherwise tough wizard, was taken down easily by the nundu Harry had port-keyed to the large Death Eater’s hit wizard office in the Ministry.  In the cramped space Yaxley stood no chance and the nundu was sent back to its home with the return port-key hanging around its neck. The Ministry still had no clue what or how it had happened.

 

Avery Sr., Harry’s thoughts came back to the older Death Eater. He did not know much about him besides his status within the ranks. His skills, specialties, magical power, were all unknown to him.

 

His eyes focused on the heading in the Daily Prophet again and he frowned. He had expected the Ministry to cover it up. He did not want his enemies to be on guard. The years of peace had made them soft and given Harry the advantage to take out fifteen of them. Resolving to move on to the next phase of his plan Harry left the Leaky Cauldron with his head hung low, not meeting any eyes; he did not want to become too recognizable.

 

 

Lucius Malfoy walked with a feeling of peace and bliss to Gringotts. His hood was up but the quality of his robes made others give way before him, imagining correctly that he was a man of some importance and power.

 

A beady eyed goblin looked up at him and there was flash of recognition and curiosity in his eyes before they settled in their typical occupational insolence.

 

“The unfortunate demise of my dear sister-in-law has left her vaults in the possession of my wife and myself, I am here to do a,” Lucius paused for want of a delicate word, “inventory of her assets. Here is the key.”

 

The goblin led the Malfoy head to the carts and then to the old vaults. He opened the doors and watched as the wizard looked about the small hills of gold, jewels, and heirlooms with disinterest before catching sight of a cup sitting on a shelf. He took a bag from his robes and dropped it over the cup, taking it off the shelf, and hiding it in his cloak in a quick movement.

 

“The gold and all other assets are to be transferred to the vault of Harry James Potter.”

 

“Sir?” the goblin asked suspiciously, knowing enough about wizard affairs to be wary of large amounts of gold being transferred so callously.

 

“Do you not understand, goblin, empty the vault to Harry James Potter’s.” Lucius spat venom in his words making the goblin forget his suspicion in favor of hate of all wizard kind.

 

The goblin snapped its fingers and the wealth simply vanished. “It is done. The transaction is irrevocable.”

 

“Good. Now take me to my vault.”

 

The goblin watched as the wizard yet again ignored all the gold in favor of a red velvet covered diary which he added to the bag with the cup. He waited to be told to transfer the gold as before but this time the dark wizard wanted to be taken back up. It was obvious to the goblin that the wizard was distracted by something.

 

Wishing with all the viciousness of his little being that the suspected Death Eater would be next in the recent killings the goblin watched Lucius Malfoy leave through the main doors.

 

 

“Thank you, Malfoy. You are very useful.” Harry took the bag of horcruxes from Lucius Malfoy.

 

The Death Eater’s lips twitched showing signs of his struggle against the imperius. But Harry had more than one spell working in Malfoy to keep him obedient. A tiny dose of the potion protecting Slytherin’s locket was also in Malfoy’s blood stream, effectively splitting his mental strength. It was the only way to reliably dominate a dark wizard of his power.

 

They stood in a dilapidated shack of sorts. The walls and floor were made of earth and stone; rough and unfinished. Remnants of poor furniture were strewn about and one end of the room showed a meager kitchen area. Harry stood in front of blasted wall in the Gaunt residence. A ring could be seen in the debris from where the wall had been blown out.

 

“Did you successfully set up the meeting with Avery?”

 

“Yes, my lord,” Malfoy answered with proper servility in his bow.

 

“Good. Now we will cast the killing curse on that ring there and then burn it with fiendfyre. Moderate your spell so you don’t destroy what’s left of the shack. Hmm?”

 

“Yes, my lord.” Malfoy drew his wand and on Harry’s mark cast the killing curse.

 

Two green beams hit the ring at the same time. In its wake a thin scream came from the ring and died.

 

“Wait, I think that might’ve done it.” Harry held up his hand before Malfoy could conjure fiendfyre. He had already taken care of the curses protecting the horcrux, and now it seemed that the horcrux was destroyed too. “Go, pick it up.”

 

Malfoy remained unaffected as he picked up the ring. Harry commanded him to think of a dead relative and turn the ring in his hands. Malfoy obeyed and a translucent form of a severe and noble face appeared with a long beard. The family resemblance could be seen in the nose and set of the jaw.

 

“Bring the ring to me,” Harry ordered, watching the summoned spirit regard him with hateful eyes. As soon as the ring passed from Malfoy’s hand to Harry’s the spirit disappeared.

 

An expression of grim satisfaction crossed Harry’s face; he was one step closer to being the Master of Death again. He ordered Malfoy to destroy the diary and cup with fiendfyre and watched the mini pyre conjured by the dark wizard. Malfoy showed his skill in molding the fire into a coiling shape that contained its magical heat. When he vanished the flames, little remained of the horcruxes to identify them.

 

Harry kicked back in a chair on the brink of turning to dust as Malfoy waited at attention. It was a little difficult for him to come up with something fitting for Malfoy’s death except that he knew disgrace in some form should be part of it; something that would stain the Malfoy pride.

 

Yet, it was good having such a capable minion.

 

There were hundreds of wizards and witches willing to follow him in the last war that he had fought against his son. But they were all close to him in some way, he cared for them.

 

But Malfoy was a follower he would lose no sleep over sending into the lion’s den.

 

“Thank you, Malfoy. Go back to your family. Make sure you aren’t seen in public. Act as if everything is fine and usual. Meet me back here for the meeting with Avery.”

 

“My lord.” Malfoy bowed and apparated away.

 

Harry steepled his fingers and contemplated the scorch marks on the floor of the Gaunts’ hovel. Soon he needed magic to make an even more willing servant out of Malfoy. There were things he had discovered as he had come into his powers. Magic subtle and insidious had slowly become his forte in the very last years before the final war had ended.

 

There was a darker side to the “power he knows not.” People followed and did terrible things for love much more loyally than for fear. Harry could manufacture that love if he wanted, give a false sense of it to people he needed to inspire to die for him or become magically greater than they were. The spells and enchantments to empower and enslave others were all of his own creation – that magic was the true reason why he was the Grand Sorcerer; for it was something no other wizard or witch could do.

 

Perhaps he would enslave Malfoy in the same way, give him a few more years to live before Voldemort’s rebirth. Or maybe Malfoy could be useful in the darkness’s resurgence after Voldemort was long dead and gone. A dark wizard would find the influence that had turned his son into the terror the magical world had forgotten better than a light wizard. For surely Harry himself had failed.

 

“Small wonder why you had so many minions, Tom.”

 

Privet Drive looked hot, humid, and uninviting as usual. Harry sighed blowing the fringe of his hair from his eyes. A glass of Vernon’s whiskey sat at his elbow and he took a drink from the bottle, forgoing the glass. It wasn’t yet noon but the memories of his once happy family were too much to handle waking. There wasn’t a dreamless potion for when one was awake, except alcohol.

 

After Vernon had opened up about his feelings of inadequacy and cried over his shoulder shaking like a blubberous pachyderm Harry had had enough of the Unctuous Unction and stopped drugging his relatives. The bedroom that was in part his potions lab was under muggle repellants and other notice-me-not charms. The door he had long transfigured into a wall so if any magical person was to walk by it in the hallway they wouldn’t know of the room either. The likelihood was low but Harry had long ago started taking precautions for the least likely things happening.

 

Petunia, Vernon, and Dudley were back to thinking he slept in the cupboard under the stairs and were on the whole very embarrassed about being so chummy with him for the better part of the summer.    

 

With almost everything he needed to do before Hogwarts done, Harry was with time on his hands that he had no way to spend but in the drink. His green eyes were dull and black circles were under his eyes. It was the day before his birthday and not a single Hogwarts letter had arrived. He had even cast the very complex enchantment to check the strength of the wards on the house and had been shocked to find the ward wasn’t there. He expected it had fallen the day he had traveled back in time but why Dumbledore hadn’t shown up as soon as the ward had dissipated he could not fathom.

 

To top it all off having to spend time as a ten year old undernourished kid was wearing him down. He had spent as much time as he could polyjuiced because he felt more comfortable in an older body, but with excuses to use the potion dwindling he did not have that odd comfort either.

 

Avery had postponed their meeting twice. Harry decided after having Malfoy tell him about Avery’s background that he wanted the senior death eater under his influence instead of dead. With Avery and Malfoy he could coerce, bribe, and command those parts of the magical world Dumbledore had no respect in. After all he had done nearly everything he had to do to prepare for the confrontations with Voldemort, he had to move on to destroying the roots of what the Daily Prophet of his time had called the War of the Dark Son.

 

Draco Malfoy’s group, the faction Umbridge belonged to; they were next on his list for they had played the greatest role in supporting the Dark Son. Harry spat at the name and took a deep pull from the bottle. When it was time he would have Lucius and Avery torture Umbridge and her cronies to death, but till then he needed them to find out as much about the people behind her. They hadn’t had the balls to follow Voldemort when he was on the rise but once he was gone they had made ground an inch at a time, taking the Ministry by one law, one easement, and one post. Until there was no way to separate friend from foe – it was like what old Arthur Weasley used to tell them about the first war.

 

Another swig of the heavy glass bottle and he washed down the memories of his torn family with it. Where is that damned letter?

 

 

Healer Worthright gave the report in his usual terrified manner. Sirius was improving slowly physically but mentally was leaps and bounds ahead of his body. Apparently he had been doing magic nonstop with the wand Harry had procured for him, even though it did not suit him well. Healer Worthright mentioned again that it would take years for Sirius to recover completely. Really, the man is such a nag. It’s as if he wants to get rid of me.

 

“Has he tried to leave yet?” Harry modulated his voice so it sounded closer to something coming out of the middle aged muggle’s mouth.

 

“No, he wanted to go out but I told him it was dangerous. I took him to the garden my sister keeps in the back. When she wasn’t there, of course,” he added quickly at Harry’s sharp look. “Will you see him today? He is very curious about you.”

 

“I don’t know,” Harry replied in a faraway voice as he studied the door behind which Sirius was treated.

 

He hadn’t had the courage to face the man since he had rescued him out of prison. It was as if seeing him would break the floodgates of grief he staved away with drink, distraction, and a healthy dose of murdering Death Eaters. The last were running low.

 

There was also the matter of the story he was going to feed the man; he didn’t have it figured out. The letter he had left him said enough to tell him that he was under the care of the Order of the Phoenix and must not try to leave because he was being hunted. Harry had also added that they were aware that it was Peter Pettigrew who was responsible for the Potters’ deaths and that he wasn’t a Death Eater or traitor. It had also told him that someone in the guise of a Death Eater had broken him out so not to be alarmed. The fact Sirius had been patient this long without contact from anyone he knew was amazing. But then again the wizard had survived Azkaban with his mind intact. There was more to him than anyone had ever given him credit for.

 

No one had understood what it was like being locked away. It was the last thing he wanted to do to Sirius, and here he was doing the same to him because he was too afraid to see a dead man he had loved as a father and brother.

 

“Yes, I want to see him.”

 

 

Sirius was lying asleep on the floor under the windows bathed in sunlight. There was a bed and couch in the room but he looked completely content on the carpeted floor. Plain white pajamas covered his malnourished body, hiding the painfully thin legs and arms Harry had already seen in Azkaban. Strangely he was shaved completely from head to chin, though there was light fuzz there.

 

“Skin diseases and discoloration because of the prison’s conditions. I shaved him to treat him,” Worthright explained when Harry mimed shaving his hair and beard and pointing to Sirius.

 

Harry couldn’t recognize his godfather as he softly treaded closer to him. He sat down against the wall on the floor next to him, waiting for him to wake. Worthright discreetly left the room.

 

The door clicked behind Healer Worthright and suddenly there was a wand pointed at Harry’s heart. Not knowing he had, Harry’s own wand was out and marking Sirius who had propped himself up on an elbow to aim at him.

 

“You’re fast,” Sirius said with a whistle.

 

“And you’re a sneaky bastard who could’ve gotten his head blown off!” Harry snapped lowering his wand. My head! He lamented feeling the hang over. Drawing a flask of whiskey from his pocket he pulled on it to ease his head ache.

 

“You better be sharing that, mate. I haven’t had any for ten years.” Sirius sat cross legged looking greedy. Harry passed the flask over wondering what the healer would say.

 

Sirius’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he threw his head back to empty the flask down his throat. He smacked his thin lips having drunk all the contents.

 

“Merlin, if I had a woman now I would die a happy man!” he exclaimed happily falling back on his back holding the empty flask to his chest.

 

“Too much information.” Harry winced, not really interested in seeing Sirius as a man with needs. Being over forty that type of conversation wasn’t new to him, he just didn’t expect it from his godfather who he had an idealized memory of.

 

“You think so? How about I tell you even my hand hasn’t seen any action in a decade. Dementors can kill your libido faster than seeing your grandmother in the nude.” Sirius sighed happily, shaking the flask over his open mouth to get the last drops out.

 

Harry pulled a disgusted face. “That’s absolutely revolting.”

 

“Tell me about it. My hand refuses to speak to me now. What’s a man whose own hand abandons him?”

 

“I think you need another drink.” Harry snorted.

 

“So who are you? What is happening with the Order? How did you find out the truth? And when the hell do I get out of here?”

 

“I am…Neville,” Harry lied using the name he had since his early teens when he was going incognito. “I don’t know what is happening with the Order, I am just an agent. Don’t show up for meeting or anything. I don’t know how we found out the truth about you. And you can get out whenever you want, as long as it is to someplace far away where you can heal and not be recognized.”

 

“Well you don’t have many answers do you?” Sirius’s good cheer was gone, and there was a frown on his sunken face.

 

“I’m just an agent.”

 

“Yeah, Dumbledore always ran things that way, didn’t he? No one knew what the other was doing. I thought he might’ve changed tactics after the disaster of the last war,” Sirius derided, sitting up again.

 

The revelation about what the Order had been like was new to Harry. The Order as he had known in his school years was very inclusive with “round the kitchen table” meetings. Apparently Dumbledore had learned from too much secrecy.

 

“I hear Voldemort is back?” Sirius asked.

 

“Not completely. He is a spirit right now, doesn’t have a body. But the Daily Prophet thinks he’s back.”

 

“They think he broke into Azkaban but that was you. That means it was you who killed Voldemort’s bitch Bella. I owe you for that.”

 

“Don’t mention it,” Harry muttered remembering the insane woman’s dying laughter.

 

“Means you’ve been killing all the bastards who managed to stay out of Azkaban too,” Sirius breathed out and shrugged as if he were talking about Harry running an errand.

 

Harry hadn’t thought of Sirius having enough information to make that simple connection and wondered what the man thought about it.

 

“Wouldn’t have minded giving you a hand with it, but looks like you got them all,” Sirius offered.

 

“There’s still work to be done,” Harry thought out loud.

 

“This is not Dumbledore’s way. So either you’re not from the Order or Dumbledore is not running it anymore. Let’s start with the basics again then: who are you?”

 

“I thought you were meant to be slow and driven mad after being locked up in Azkaban.” Harry felt a knot in his stomach as he bought himself time to think.

 

“I am Sirius Black, right hand of Voldemort, didn’t you know? Powers unimaginable etc. etc,” sarcasm dripped from his voice. “So who are you and why did you save me?” Sirius’s wand was sitting in his lap pointed toward Harry with his hand resting on the handle.

 

Harry tossed him his own wand in show of trust. “Alright, fine. I don’t answer to Dumbledore. I am not part of the Order yet, but I will be. I can’t tell you who I am. But I can tell you that I work for your godson.”

 

“I don’t have a godson,” Sirius interrupted.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

Sirius shrugged. “I don’t have a godson. Who’d be daft enough to make me a godfather?”

 

“Harry Potter is your godson. Your best friend’s son?”

 

“Oh! Well James wanted to make me his children’s godfather but you know in the end blood won out. Did they make out alright? I still remember…that night. Lily and James dead, the kids’ crying.” Sirius hung his head, his eyes shut against his memories. “It’s my fault they’re dead.”

 

Harry wanted to ask what he had been babbling about ‘blood winning out’ and the plural ‘children’ but couldn’t make himself demand anything from the aggrieved man. He suspected Sirius was somewhat mentally damaged from Azkaban and it would take him time to regain himself.

 

“You didn’t betray them, Sirius,” Harry quietly comforted the man.

 

“I made them make Wormtail the secret keeper! I did that!” Sirius shouted at Harry, spittle falling from his lips.

 

Harry had nothing he could say to that. Sirius pulled his knees up to himself and turned so his back was to Harry. It seemed that he was done talking. Harry took his wand back from where it had rolled off Sirius’s lap.  

 

“I guess I’ll go then,” Harry said standing up.

 

“Wait. You said you work for James’ son. How can that be, he’s probably eight or nine?” Sirius asked not looking at him.

 

“Ten, he’s ten. No, actually, he turned eleven day before yesterday. He is waiting for his Hogwarts letter,” Harry corrected.

 

“But how can you be working for an eleven year old?”

 

Harry didn’t answer for sometime, trying to think of a reasonable explanation. “A long time ago Lily and James Potter saved my life. I never got to repay my life debt. So now I watch out for their son.”

 

“A guardian Death Eater.” Sirius scoffed.

 

“Never was a Death Eater. Just a disguise. Sirius, I’ll arrange some money. You and Healer Worthright should go away somewhere you can be outside in the sun. Harry would want that.”

 

“I’d like to see him and Bianca. Ask for their forgiveness. Before I go.” Sirius looked to him. He looked broken, shaved, thin, and ill.

 

“I’ll bring him soon,” Harry said in way of goodbye when Sirius looked away again.

 

 

It was past midnight, all was quiet on Privet Drive. Harry watched cats gather inside the halo of light under streetlamps. He played with a vial of Dreamless Sleep Potion in his hands, rolling it between his fingers. More than a week had passed his birthday and yet there wasn’t a single letter or owl.

 

He was unspeakably weary. Of waiting, of fighting, of being the last survivor, and most of all of the memories. The Resurrection Stone hung around his neck but he hadn’t used it for fear of falling to temptation of always summoning his loved ones. The terrible truth was that his children were unborn in this time; he couldn’t even summon their spirits to ease his heart with. His wife was a nine year old girl; more concerned with her brothers leaving her behind when they went off to play than keeping the family she had made with him happy and together.  

 

Andromeda Tonks who had been a companion in pain and in raising Teddy all those years in the future didn’t even know him. At least she still had her husband and child; that gave Harry some peace. He had come to care for her deeply as they had awkwardly tried to be friends despite their age gap. He dearly wished he could talk to her now. Share what he was feeling without having to say a single word because that is how well they had come to know each other. He could use a friend – any friend.

 

He pushed off the chair he had pulled up to the window of his room to look out of. A long table sat flush against one wall on which his potions blue trunk sat with cauldrons simmering. The potions to lower inhibitions and weaken the mind were well on their way. Malfoy had successfully captured the Avery father and son, locking them away in his manor. Harry hadn’t wanted the son but it was a fortunate turn of events, he needed a scapegoat.

 

Soon he would have both Malfoy and Avery Sr. enthralled. The potions were to make them just a bit more susceptible to his special brand of magic. It was a precaution but not necessary. After all he did not need the potion for Narcissa Malfoy because she didn’t hate him nearly as much as her husband and Avery Sr. did. She would be much easier to enthrall.  

 

Satisfied that his potions did not need anything added more for the night Harry walked to the window sill where he had left the vial of Dreamless Sleep Potion. He unstoppered the brownish vial but stopped when he brought it to his lips. Something had caught his attention.

 

Under the same streetlamps as the cats had gathered in the light of, stood a small figure.

 

“What’s a kid doing outside in the middle of the night? What’s a kid wearing a cloak doing across the street from where I live? Curious, very curious,” Harry mimicked Ollivander’s mannerisms.  

 

In another instant he was flying down the steps having charmed his feet to be noiseless and went out the back door to circle around to the front. He quickly disillusioned himself as he crossed the corner of the house to find the child was still standing there. Unless it’s a goblin. Not likely for a goblin to be in a muggle neighborhood. Not likely for wizard children in cloaks to be here either.

 

He carefully approached the small figure, despite being charmed against detection. The kid was about his height and as slight as him, which disturbed him because it reminded him how small he was again. He drew close enough to tell it was a girl in the wash of the streetlamp.

 

“What do I say? Hey I’m your sister here to save you from magic hating muggles? Yeah, that will work great. He would probably scream ghost or something and then they’d call those please-men. Oh Hell! Maybe I should just kidnap him and explain later,” she whispered to herself, looking at the door of Privet Drive intensely.

 

She was chewing on her finger in a nervous manner. Despite himself and what he had just heard Harry felt warmth in his heart, it reminded him so much of Lily Luna. Poor Lily Luna, who was long ago murdered. So the girl was definitely a witch. She didn’t say more but Harry could tell she was thinking hard.

 

Only two people she could be the sister of in his house, either his or Dudley’s, and he knew for a fact that neither of them had a sister. Seeing her try and kidnap one of them would be funny. Even if she could do magic, she was still probably as old as he was in body: eleven; hardly capable of anything serious.

 

But she was a mystery and Harry wanted to solve it.  He stepped a little behind her and took off the charm.

 

“Hello,” he greeted nicely.

 

She shrieked.

 

Suddenly it was all a bad idea.

 

She jumped, whirling around with her wand. Harry was quicker and slapped her wrist away before she could point the wand at him. The hood fell back revealing a head of dark hair on a pale face. She’s a cute kid, a lot like Lily Luna, Harry thought with a pang.

 

“Why are you staring at my house?” Harry asked in his best curious child voice while holding on to her wand arm.

 

She was breathing hard and looked absolutely shocked.

 

“Calm down. I’m going to let you go, don’t do anything…silly,” Harry said letting her arm go.

 

She quickly hid the wand in a pocket and raised her hood back. Then she took a couple of deep breaths.

 

“Merlin, you scared the hell out of me. What are you doing out at night?” she scolded.

 

“Excuse me? At least I am in my neighborhood. What are you doing out alone with a stick in your pocket?” Harry matched her tone thinking it was child-like to be believable.

 

“Oh! I’ve stuffed this up.” She slapped her head in a curiously adult mannerism.

 

“Well, why don’t we start with introductions?” Harry offered.

 

“You’re awfully calm for a kid,” she said. Before Harry could call her on the comment, she gave her name, “I’m Bianca.”

 

“I’m Harry,” he said mechanically, remembering Sirius’s last words to him. He had wanted to ask his and Bianca’s forgiveness. This was getting stranger by the minute.

 

They shook hands and something leapt between them, Harry recognized it at once as his prophesied power. Golden light shimmered in the air around them and runic characters twinkled brightly before disappearing on their skins. Harry knew those symbols to be the same that were used to set up the ward around the Dursley’s house. He had studied Dumbledore’s use of the ancient magic later in his life. Somehow something like that had spontaneously happened between Bianca and him.

 

“Wow,” she breathed. “That didn’t happen last time.”

 

“Yeah, wow.” Harry said flatly, taking his hand back. “What last time?”

 

She looked like she had been caught in the cookie jar. “Never mind, nothing. Aren’t you surprised?” she asked suspiciously.

 

“Bloody Hell! Of course I’m surprised. But it’s not the first surprise tonight so I’m getting used to it. Now what did you mean by last time, and don’t lie to me again.”

 

“You’re really confidant,” she said admiringly. “If I didn’t know about mag-…uh, I guess it doesn’t matter right now.

 

Harry waited, knowing she was about to say ‘magic.’ “You know, it’s really stupid for two kids to be standing alone outside at night for anyone to be able to see. Come with me.”

 

Harry turned and walked back to the house. He saw her hesitate behind him and then follow. He took her inside the house and to the kitchen where he poured her a glass of water. She whispered a ‘thanks’ and they sat in the darkness at the kitchen table.

 

“Won’t your relatives hear us?” she whispered.

 

“No,” Harry answered shortly. “So you’re Bianca who makes golden light appear when she shakes hands, and it ‘didn’t happen the last time.’”

 

“Okay. It’s sort of good that happened because you might believe me now.” She took a deep breath. “I’m your sister who you were separated from. I went to live with our Dad’s sister and you were sent to live with our Mom’s sister. I know you’ve suffered. They made you live in a cupboard and when you get too big they will put you in the basement with the boiler. I know they never celebrate your birthdays and give you anything for Christmas. I know they told you our parents were drunks and criminals, they weren’t,” she vehemently corrected.

 

She took another deep breath as if right before the plunge and Harry was afraid she was going to ramble again. However she spoke more calmly next, “I know you’ve always wanted someone to come take you away from them; someone who was kind to you and loved you. I’m here to do that. I want to take you away.”

 

Even with all his experience and age, Harry felt alarmed by the things she was saying, and not a little panicked that she knew his past so deeply. No one knew about his home life, not yet anyway. Besides what she had said about the Dursleys moving him to the basement she was spot on with everything else. The quickly apparent fact that she didn’t act or speak like any eleven year old he had ever known made him very suspicious too. If it hadn’t been his secret power reacting to her the way it had he would’ve thought she was a Death Eater using Polyjuice and staging the whole thing.

 

“How do you know all that?” He couldn’t keep how much she had unsettled him out of his voice.

 

“Remember how I said ‘it didn’t happen last time’? Well, I think you can say that I knew you in another lifetime and you told me.” She gave a weak smile.

 

“Like reincarnation?”

 

“Something like that.” She nodded excitedly.

 

Harry leaned back in his chair and wondered how he could ask the next question without giving away he knew about magic. Was she a seer? No, he couldn’t ask her that yet. His mind went to the tiny cauldron of Veritaserum waiting upstairs to be used. But again the blood ward of Lily’s sacrifice that Bianca had triggered made him reluctant to use the typical stun, truth-serum, obliviate, or S.T.O procedure for clandestine interrogations.

 

“What are you thinking,” she asked worriedly.

 

“Wondering why if you’re my sister we don’t live together. Why did you go to Dad’s sister and I had to live with Petunia?”

 

“Umm that might be a long story.” She actually twisted her cloak in her hands looking every bit the little girl she was, and Harry was struck again how unlike a child she was besides her nervous gestures. Might be a Seer, mentally mature but emotionally still a child.

 

“I want to know,” Harry demanded simply.

 

She nodded reluctantly. “There were some very bad people after me after Mum and Dad died,” she started sadly. “It was safer for you to be away from me. If they found me they would’ve tried to hurt both of us. So we were split up. Dad’s sister, our Aunt can fight those bad people, so I went with her.”

 

A cold shudder went through Harry. “I want to see your face. Can you take off your hood?” He got up to turn on the kitchen light.

 

She did as he asked but there wasn’t a scar on her head where he dreaded he would see one. In the light she looked at him seriously from hazel eyes under dark lashes. Her hair was jet black and wavy, tied back in a pony tail that left her face clear. The face was less round than most children’s; her jaw line was fairly angular with a narrow chin softened by baby fat. It was that which had reminded so much of his daughter Lily Luna; she had the same jaw line, same as his own.

 

Vernon snored loudly above and her head snapped to the staircase behind her; Harry saw the scar and his heart sped up as cold sweat broke out on his brow. From under her ear lobe to the hollow of her neck the lightning bolt stretched on her right.  

 

“I think they’re waking up,” she whispered urgently, leaning forward on the table. “What’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

 

“Nothing,” Harry choked out. “Don’t worry, they can sleep through an earthquake.”

 

He poured a glass of water for himself and flicked the light switch off to ease the girl’s mind about being found by his relatives. Sitting down at the table he thought furiously about something to say that wouldn’t tip her off that he had reacted to her scar.

 

He thought furiously if things had happened how he feared they might when he had first sat down in the vat of potions to bring him back in time – was it possible he really had split his word into dimensions and ended up in the new one?  No one was meant to come this far, no one. It was always a danger, a risk he had accepted that he might not really be able to go back and fix things, that he might end up in a new world created because he messed with time. The implication that he wouldn’t be able to save his children; his sons, and daughter, crushed him. He was numb.  

 

“Hey,” she said sweetly rubbing his back in a circle. “It’s okay.”

 

Harry hadn’t even noticed when she had stood up and come next to him.

 

“Things will get better now, I promise,” she said with a smile.

 

Harry shook his head no. He knew they could never get better. He could never save them.

 

They were all dead.

 

He had been dreaming that he could save them.

 

“I have to go to the bathroom.” His voice was scratchy from the tightness in his throat.

 

“Okay, I’ll be here.” Her face was a picture of engaging worry. He ran from her.

 

Transfiguring a door in the wall he walked into his room and went straight for the Veritaserum and that took a shot of firewhiskey. After the numbness had set in from the shock of seeing the scar on her neck, his unemotional and rational side knew he had to verify what he feared had happened. The best source for that was sitting downstairs.

 

He stopped in the bathroom on the way down to splash cold water on his face. A glance at his drawn face in the mirror told him he still had the scar on his head. He rearranged his hair like he usually had it to hide the mark and went downstairs.

 

She wasn’t in the kitchen.

 

Harry ran to the door on his tip toes but it was shut and he couldn’t see her through the window over the kitchen sink by the door either. He went back into the house thinking that maybe she was looking for the loo too.

 

The door to the cupboard under the stairs was open. Harry crept closer and saw a pair of buckle-shoed feet on the edge of his cot. The rest of her was hidden in the gloom.

 

“What are you doing in there?”

 

“Wanted to know what it was like,” she answered, upset.

 

Something about what she said made him very angry. It was as if his life was on display; a ride she was taking at his expense. “Get out.”

 

She shuffled out into the moonlight. “I’m sorry.”

 

She’s just a curious child, Harry, get over it and grow up, he chastised himself. “I’m sorry too. Come, I’ll make us some tea.”

 

They returned to the kitchen and she took her place on the table. Harry put the kettle on the boil and gathered cups and tea, filling the awkward silence.  Harry felt held back from doing magic to speed up the process by the chance that there was a Trace on her. He had seen her wand, if she had bought it at Ollivanders any magic around her would be picked up.

 

He poured six drops of veritserum in the tea cup, compensating for dilution, and overcompensating for the off chance she could resist the potion. He brought her the cup and she thanked him quietly. Choosing to sit by her instead of across from her he waited for her to take her first few sips.

 

“What’s your full name?” he asked when he could see she had a little in her.

 

“Bianca Harley Potter,” she answered promptly.

 

“Who are your parents?”

 

“James and Lily Potter were my parents,” she answered again without hesitation, apparently enjoying the tea.

 

“How do you know so much about my life?” And that was the big question.

 

“I met you in the future in my fifth year at Hogwarts. My Aunt had died and the professors told me about my squib brother, then you died taking a killing curse for me but you shared everything that happened to you with me.” She finally realized something was odd and tried to shake her head to get rid of the buzzing sensation that came with being drugged with Veritaserum.

 

Harry had paused mid-sip with surprise at her revelation. “If we meet in the future, how do you know everything now? Are you a Seer?”

 

“No. I was blasted back in time when a Death Eater cast the killing curse at me and the prophecy ball exploded.” She put the cup down and bolted from the chair, trying to escape because she couldn’t stop speaking the truth.

 

Harry was too stunned to give chase right away. By the time he got outside the house, she was nowhere in sight.  

 

 

 

"Catharsis", posted on June 24, 2008 at 9:54 pm, updated on June 25, 2008 at 12:28 am
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