Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 02

02

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“There were rooms of forgiveness in the house that we share, but the space has been emptied of whatever was there.” — Sting, Consider Me Gone


Harry observed the situation for a while longer—several weeks—before he decided on anything. Were all muggles bad? No, but the ones he was forced to deal with on a daily basis certainly looked ripe. Things at school had not changed much; Dudley still bullied everyone (except Harry directly) and the other children avoided Harry like the plague. But they were mostly innocent children. Most behavior was taught, after all. It was the adults he was angry with.

To that end he began to emplace a series of wards around the town, ones which, once strengthened, would supersede the pathetic wards Dumbledore had placed and provide protection over a far wider area. However, powering them up would require life force—that of the adults Harry was so angry with. He was sick and tired of being walked all over, of people making assumptions, of people assuming he would live up to their unrealistic and unfounded expectations. A rather uninspired gas main explosion wiped out a whole lot of those adults, and bizarrely, there were no children anywhere near the site when the accident occurred. Harry watched with a sense of awe as the ward structure flared with power and nearly solidified to his eyes, then slowly turned translucent. It never once crossed his mind that he had just created a whole lot of orphans.

It was seeing Mrs Figg slowly wandering by the house the next day, eyeing the windows, which reminded Harry of Dumbledore again—and Snape, and Umbridge, and Fudge. And Ginny, and Molly, and Ron. Hermione, well, she had helped him out quite a lot over the years, far more so than Ron ever had. But as he was thinking about Snape an idea occurred to him, one that made him grin. A little messing about with the Elder Wand initiated a permanent change to his hair, one slow enough that it would take a couple of years before it was recognizably the same colour as his mother’s.

A few weeks later a terrorist attack wiped out another hundred or so adults, which pushed the strength of the wards even higher. (The news report revealing information about a statement released by the terrorists to the media provided the interesting detail that the driver had become “very, very lost” and they had never intended to be anywhere near Little Whinging.) Mrs Figg casually wandered by again, rheumy eyes trying to see through the windows from the pavement, but declined to knock on the door. Harry had to wonder just what she was thinking. Petunia had not foisted him off on her since Vernon had died. Perhaps the old bat thought that Petunia herself would never physically abuse him, and therefore had not pressed the issue of needing his ‘help’? Obviously she had never had an inkling about those times his aunt had tried to cave his skull in with a frying pan.

He decided to let it go. Mrs Figg was not someone he could arrange an accident for. It would probably push Dumbledore into making a visit, and then find another ineffective watcher, someone he might not even notice right away. And there was that saying . . . better the devil you know. With the new wards at good strength he turned his attention to the issue of Voldemort. It really was too bad the man’s spirit form was off in Albania or wherever. It might have been interesting to rifle through his mind to see just exactly what he had hoped to accomplish. Instead he frequented the library to better research what was going on in the world when Tom Riddle was just a boy. World War II might have had quite an effect, pushing Riddle toward a phobia of death, and a hatred of muggles.

Even he had to admit that the average muggle was as dangerous as a wizard; they just used different tools. And muggles had the advantage of being able to kill thousands of people at a time with barely any effort. Granted, he could now do the same, but he wasn’t pouring over the internet looking for homemade bomb recipes and getting a subscription to Anarchist Monthly.

The adult magical folk had obviously not done anything for Tom during the war, when the Germans were dropping bombs over London. Why hadn’t they removed him from that situation? Because he was someone without a recognizable pure-blood name? With no established ‘proper’ lineage? More thought on the matter made him realize that for all they feared Lord Voldemort, they were in some ways responsible for the man he became and had only themselves to blame. They helped to create the problem by their indifference and by sticking their heads in the sand, then compounded it by again practicing denial and sticking their heads in the sand. And these were the kind of people who expected him to play hero at their convenience?

“Honestly,” he muttered, not caring if anyone in the library overheard him. All it would take was a flinty stare and he’d be avoided, and that was assuming anyone came near him in the first place what with them all thinking he was headed straight for prison the moment his wrists were thick enough to not slide right out of a pair of handcuffs. “I’m beginning to identify with the guy. He wasn’t lying when he said we had a lot in common. Dumbledore abandoned him, and abandoned me. Imagine if there had been a prophecy back then. Would Dumbles have tried to play puppet master to Tom and get him to deal with Grindelwald? Thinking back to those memories he showed me. . . . It’s obvious he knew something was wrong. All right, he wasn’t a hero yet then, but still. One might think after the fiasco with Gellert and Ariana that he would attempt to steer Tom toward a better life, not just ignore him and hope the problem resolved itself. And then he had the nerve to run my life for me? Cleaning up after the results of his own inadequacy? Pfft.

“But. . . .” He paused, worrying his lower lip between his teeth. “He did kill mum and dad. Then again, they were combatants. It’s not like they didn’t know they could be killed at any time. It’s not like they left the country once they found out about the prophecy. It’s not like, oh, I don’t know, they prepared for the possibility that the fidelius charm might not be good enough, and have escape routes planned out. Maybe”—he rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling—“have emergency portkeys, or even have their wands handy. Now that I think about it I’m rather disappointed in them.

“And why weren’t provisions made for me in the eventuality of their deaths? There was a war going on and they knew they were targets. Come to think of it, Gildmaar never did show me the will itself.” He frowned. “Maybe James didn’t care since I wasn’t what he wanted?”

A voice sounded in his head, startling him rather badly. ‘No provisions were made because Sirius Black was known to be your godfather. You were to live with him. They never imagined he would be tossed into Azkaban on false charges and without a trial.’

‘What about a godmother?’ he asked after realizing that he was not having a psychotic moment and hearing things, but rather that Derek was speaking to him—er, thinking to him.

‘One was never chosen.’

‘Well, shit. So with Sirius out of the picture and no other closer blood relatives, I got stuck with Petunia.’

‘That about sums it up, yes.’

‘Meh. So what did happen to the Potter fortune?’

‘Which—’ Derek suddenly stopped, leaving behind a thoughtful silence.

‘Which vault?’ he wondered to himself.

‘It went to various accounts, including a vault for use by the Order of the Phoenix.’

‘All because I’m homosexual. Hm, I wonder why I ever felt any attraction toward Cho, then,’ he mused.

‘Plenty of people have some instances of confusion when it comes to attraction. In your case, the only people who ever made it obvious that they wanted you were females, so you went with the flow. And think back about that time period when you became attracted to Ginny. You suddenly became so jealous of her interactions with Dean, and you completely ignored just how petty, catty, manipulative, jealous, and downright nasty she was. I don’t think you ever once had a meaningful conversation and she never once made the attempt to get to know you or help you to fall in love with her naturally. You didn’t even trust her the way you did Hermione. Much of the time she acted in ways that in James disgusted you. If anything that should have pushed you away. But you already know she dosed you with love potions after everything else she tried failed. In point of fact, you acted a lot like James yourself that year.’

Harry grimaced and thumped his head against the table.

Derek seemed to take pity on him and added, ‘A lot of that was attributable to the love potions. You acted in a way that she expected from you. You acted to minimize any conflicts between you. I don’t think it helped that Ron was acting his usual insensitive self and Hermione went off the deep end. She might have noticed something was wrong if she hadn’t been mired in her own hormonal sludge pool.’

‘There’s something very weird about having this conversation with Death,’ he commented. ‘But, to get back to the original point, not even Lily thought to specify that I should never go to Petunia. Neither of them even contemplated that Sirius might be killed as the alleged secret keeper, never mind him ending up in Azkaban.’

‘More or less.’

‘Well isn’t that just peachy. Maybe Hermione was right that wizarding folk haven’t got any common sense. Maybe magic rots the brain or something.’

‘More on the order that magic makes it possible to escape so many consequences that thought processes tend to become warped. You might consider your own state of mind in that light.’

Harry frowned and sat back up properly. He had killed rather a lot of people recently—and felt no remorse whatsoever. It was true, he realized, that if he’d had to worry about consequences he probably would never have done any of it. And yet, if he had been worried about consequences he would never have come back in the first place. He had wanted the opportunity to do it all over again with different choices and worked hard to find a way to make it happen.

A good ten minutes went by before he realized that he could no longer sense Derek, and with a shrug went back to reading.

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He eventually figured out a way to place the fidelius charm on a trunk of two forms; at normal size it looked most like any other trunk, but when miniaturized it became a charm he could attach to the end of the Elder Wand. And since the wand could never be taken from him the trunk should be safe enough, especially as no one could see it to begin with. Into that went all his hoarded possessions and money, including money he had stolen from muggles.

With that out of the way he decided to get his hands on those Horcruxes. Harry was uncertain as to what exactly he was going to do with them yet, but it was better if they were safely where he could put his hands on them at any given moment. Naturally all four of them were in inconvenient places, though the locket might be the least problematic. On the other hand, Kreacher was sure to be there and he did not know how that meeting would go. Kreacher wanted the locket destroyed as it was the last command given him by Regulus. Knowing that Harry had no intention of doing so at the moment might cause the elf to become antagonistic. If the bond had not come with him he might be forced to kill the little bugger; there was no sense whatsoever leaving the elf running about and able to cause him problems.

He could try shifting into the Lestrange vault. He did remember it well, after all. The same could be said for the diadem in the Room of Requirement. The diary, however, might have to wait. Or did it? Harry moved to stand in front of the mirror in his room, noting absently that his hair was already lighter and his brows were now more of a dark brown. He concentrated on the Cloak of Invisibility and grinned when his reflection suddenly disappeared. A moment later it reappeared.

Harry was not sure just how in tune Dumbledore was with the wards at Hogwarts, but thought he could slip in long enough to take the diadem without being caught. The same might be true at Gringotts. And if he could find a time when the Malfoy family was out. . . . He could leave the locket for last, in case Kreacher was a problem.

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Things had gone absolutely brilliantly once he realized that dust inside buildings contained skin cells—dead skin cells. He was in and out of the Room of Requirement in all of thirty seconds. Gringotts took slightly longer as he did have to disable some curses. The diary was taken care of easily enough after he spotted the family group just entering Diagon Alley, though he suspected that at least Lucius had left quickly. № 12 Grimmauld Place was not under the fidelius yet—and he was not honestly sure it could have stopped him—so entering was child’s play.

He already had the locket in his hand and was preparing to leave when he heard something out in the hallway. For a moment he was torn between going and staying to see how the elf would react. A split second later he left, back to his room. A meeting with Kreacher could wait, if ever there was one. The locket was stored in his charmed trunk and the wand allowed to revert to being a part of him.

Harry thought about the options open to him for the remainder of the day, giving over quite a bit of time to who he would like to see dead based on their behavior from his first time through. For the time being he removed some of his liberated muggle funds from the trunk and shifted to Diagon Alley. The goblins converted his ill-gotten gains with only a handful of sneers, allowing him to spend quite a while at Flourish & Blotts purchasing books on wizarding law, something he had never bothered to check before. He honestly expected the laws to be archaic, confusing, and full of instances where “pure” blood allowed for greater freedoms when it came to adherence to supposedly common law. He also grabbed some books on culture and things that “everyone knows”, geared more toward muggle-borns entering the magical “world”. If nothing else he might get a good laugh out of his new reading material.

He had just shifted back to his room when he heard, ‘Harry. . . .’

He frowned; that tone of voice was both dire and pitying—and he loathed pity. ‘What?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘There is something I want to tell you, but I strongly suggest you go someplace private, preferably a bit remote.’

His heart sank into a pit of apprehension, but he obliged and quickly dealt with his purchases, then shifted to the Chamber of Secrets. He tossed a few spells at the statue’s mouth to prevent the basilisk from exiting and sat down. ‘All right,’ he sent reluctantly.

‘There is something you ought to know, master. I know you will very likely be devastated, but given your current path you should be aware of it.’

Harry huffed in a mixture of frustration and dread. ‘Lay it on me.’

‘James and Lily are not dead.’

Some time later he awoke from his fugue to realize he had done quite a bit of damage to the Chamber, including gouges in the stone floor that looked to have been made by steel claws. ‘What did you say?’ he snarled. ‘Tell me I did not hear that right.’

‘Your parents are alive. You have a twin. You also have two sisters.’

‘How the fuck is that possible?’ he demanded. ‘Even Dumbledore isn’t powerful enough to obliviate the entire community to make them forget I have a twin.’

‘No, he is not. But remember, they knew they were being hunted and they knew Lily was due in July. There were only a handful of people who needed to be obliviated of the fact of your twin, after the tests were done and it was realized that you, the elder twin, was homosexual.’

‘So they left me there to be killed.’

‘Your mother was completely against the idea, but was made to capitulate. She did what she could in monetary terms knowing that you would never inherit the bulk of James’s money.’

Well, that cooled his fury slightly. ‘Made to capitulate?’

‘She was convinced that the Longbottoms would be targeted first and that Neville was likely the subject of the prophecy. After all, she bore James twins, half-blood twins. She was finally convinced that you would be unharmed and she would get you back.’

‘And since I ended up being the Boy-Who-Lived and they were thought dead—was that Dumbledore’s idea? Put in a couple of patsies to play the role? And then Voldemort came after me, not Longbottom, because he was actually more concerned about his fellow half-blood. But since the decoys were dead they couldn’t very well own up to such a, oh, I don’t know, Slytherin way of handling things?’

‘Very well reasoned.’

‘And Dumbledore was right there, I’m sure, reassuring my mother—because I’m sure James didn’t care all that much and probably expected me to die anyway later on, or had somehow talked himself into thinking that my twin or Neville would somehow count in my place—and not bothering to mention the detail about me being lobbed off on Petunia. Christ Almighty, I knew that Dumbledore had some massive blind spots because he kept staring into the sun of Greater Good, but. . . .’

‘Essentially. Recall that Dumbledore had reason to suspect something due to your scar.’

He rubbed his face with one hand, still reeling, still furious. ‘Tell me, how is my parents’ marriage doing? And for that matter, it wasn’t them who came out of Voldemort’s wand that time, but they still acted like my parents. Did Dumbledore screw with their memories? Have them under the imperius?’

‘As to the first, their marriage is fairly rocky. She stays because she has even less credibility now without being known as she was. She also adores her two girls, whom she has much more influence over as James is busy with your twin.’

‘And James just arranged in his will to inherit his own money, right?’

‘Correct. James inserted himself back into the family tree from an obscure cadet branch.’

He shook his head. ‘I don’t know why I’m suddenly reminded of that fifth year cock-up where he told me he’d made the mistake of caring.’

‘. . . You remember Skeeter’s book. Dumbledore identified with you on two counts.’

‘Being gay and being a hero.’

‘Yes. As to the second, they were minor Order members who had been, as you put it, screwed with. Had you not been attacked they would have been quietly fixed.’

‘Wait a minute, are you telling me my parents were alive before and I even went an entire year without hearing from them? Not even my mother?’

‘. . . The ritual you used—’

‘Ye—’ He stopped, his eyes suddenly widening. ‘You know, I’d been wondering about that. I didn’t send myself into the past and create a timeline split, then, like I thought I did.’

‘No, you did not. You sent yourself into an alternate dimension. In your original your parents did die and you did not have a twin. In this one, however. . . .’

‘Still, James was and is a wanker. And now I find I have living parents, hiding out under a new name, a twin who is probably insufferable, and two sisters that I will likely never know.’

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By the time his Hogwarts letter arrived Harry’s hair had completed its slow change to be the same colour as his mother’s. Even his eyelashes were affected, but they were a dark enough shade as to not be immediately noticeable as red except in bright light. He took the letter up to his room to check; nothing had changed, not that he had anticipated any differences despite what he had so far done. It did, however, highlight the fact that he was already expected to know about the wizarding world, regardless of having been placed with magic-hating muggles. Was it more to his advantage to play dumb, or to simply head back to Diagon Alley and send off a reply at the owl office there?

‘On the one hand, playing dumb means that Dumbledore might well assume he could have greater influence over me, even though I never even really spoke to him except at the mirror and in the infirmary that year. If I don’t I’d be playing into the idea of his that Petunia would at least have the decency to tell me about certain facts. Speaking of which, how did he know I was in the mirror room? He couldn’t possibly have seen through the cloak, not if even Death cannot. Perhaps an alert ward on the entrance? Did he perhaps place some kind of compulsion wards in the nearby area to lead me there? He is a manipulative bastard, after all. Did he want me to enter the trapped area? Is that why the puzzles were so simplistic? Or were they simply there as a way to slow Voldemort down, so he would have time to go after him? I should probably check once I get to Hogwarts.

‘In that same vein, when exactly were the puzzles put in place? Why bother to remove the stone from Gringotts if they had yet to be set up? If they already were, which is only logical, then why have the mirror where I could get to it during break? The only thing that makes sense is if he wanted me to know how it worked, which means he was hoping I’d take the bait just as Voldemort did. Either that or he was curious to know what I’d see. Given that he suspected I was a Horcrux. . . .’ He nodded. ‘Maybe he wanted to know if I’d been adversely affected by it. And once he got what he wanted he put it back in place. Snape went straight there that night, so—wait a minute.

‘Dumbledore told the prefects to escort everyone back to their houses, despite the fact that troll was supposed to be in the dungeons, which could mean either Slytherin or Hufflepuff students would be in danger—how kind of him to consider the safety of the students. And on top of that it would leave Quirrell, who faked fainting, alone in the Great Hall and free to do whatever the hell he wanted. And if that fainting spell had been real being left there alone might have seen him dead via troll. So did Dumbledore suspect the man or not? Did he?’ He paused significantly, and was rewarded.

‘Surprisingly enough he did not,’ Derek chimed in. ‘Snape reported his suspicions that something was very wrong with Quirrell, but Dumbledore more or less laughed it off at the time. He considered the personality change and stuttering to be an amusing quirk, a peculiar souvenir of Quirrell’s trip to Albania. It wasn’t until after the fact that Dumbledore realized just how blind he had been, when the proof was more or less shoved in his face. His superiority complex blinded him to a lot of things, and his personal struggle over believing he was unsuited to power due to what happened with Grindelwald and his inability to stop back seat driving and meddling, well, that distracted him from a number of things. Dumbledore was not a classically evil man, but he was a deeply flawed man. His faults of character and his mistakes were far-reaching and at times devastating. He accomplished or facilitated a lot of evil simply by refusing to act.’

‘I suppose I can see that now,’ he responded after a moment, ‘but it doesn’t change how betrayed I feel, especially since he is even worse in this dimension. I am tempted to see the man dead early simply because he just couldn’t stop playing puppet master.’

‘You could,’ Derek said slowly, ‘but he did have a deterring effect—to some degree—on Voldemort. Though, given your views of late. . . .’

‘I don’t think all muggles are bad. Not as individuals, anyway. But you’re right. I don’t seem capable of remorse anymore when it comes to killing people who’ve betrayed me. I don’t necessarily want to torture them, because that in the end serves no lasting purpose. It can’t ever change what happened, but it can prevent it from happening again this time. Muggles as a whole are dangerous, though, far more dangerous than magicals, and not just to other humans. It would be so nice if we could just carve out our own country. I have to wonder just how many pure-bloods secretly agreed with a lot of what Voldemort stood for, but just disagreed with some of his methods. Maybe if he’d been more circumspect they would have joined him in greater numbers, or at least provided more support from non-front line positions.’

Derek was conspicuously silent on those points, and Harry narrowed his eyes, then changed the subject. ‘I shall avoid Gryffindor this time. I don’t think I want that kind of reputation.’

‘Makes sense. Being there did contribute to your “saving people” thing, though it was not the only factor.’

Harry nodded reflexively. ‘So explain to me about the Horcruxes which have already been dealt with. Were those soul pieces destroyed?’

‘While it is possible to split a soul you cannot destroy one. No matter how far apart the pieces are they resonate with each other. The shards from your scar and the ring were pulled to the closest instance at the time: Hufflepuff’s cup.’

‘Hn.’