“Harry James Potter, you are hereby found guilty of breaking the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and are therefore punished by the breaking of your wand and your expulsion from Hogwarts,” Cornelius Fudge announced, unable to keep the glee from his voice. A number of the other members apparently didn’t share his feelings, but just barely enough did that Potter’s fate was sealed. A single vote had made the entire difference. Potter, for his part, gritted his teeth and growled lowly. Beside him, Dumbledore sighed, defeated.
“And when will this sentence be met out?” Dumbledore asked.
“That would be immediately, of course,” the pink clad hog sitting next to the minister announced. Harry Potter’s wand was taken and snapped right before his eyes. Fudge couldn’t restrain a little giggle.
Harry stared at the pieces as if he couldn’t believe what he had just seen. He was promptly escorted out of the Ministry and dumped on the street. Dumbledore looked at him sadly without saying a word. A moment later he was gone with a snap, apparated away.
“Wotcher, Harry,” Tonks said as she and a familiar dog trotted up to him. “How’d it go?”
Harry held up his hands. “No wand. I guess these kinds of things don’t matter if you’ve got your head up your ass.”
Tonks was stunned. “You lost
Harry nodded sadly, tears barely restrained in his eyes. “They won.”
It was an important distinction.
He was already clenching his fists so hard his nails were nearly piercing his palms. The auror pulled him into a hug.
“I’m sure everything will be just fine. Just let Dumbledore get things sorted out,” she said. Harry returned the hug briefly, but pulled away.
“No, he did his best,” Harry said. “It’s over. I’m just going to get some things and I’ll leave this place for good.”
“You can’t be serious,” she exclaimed.
“No, he’s Sirius,” Harry said with a woeful smile as he gestured to his uncle’s animagus form. Padfoot looked like he’d been hit by a stunner. “Horrible puns aside, no, I think to try again would be an exercise in futility.”
“You’re just going to accept it?”
“I’m done being angry,” Harry said. “I’ve been angry for months now, being kept out of the loop, being endangered by dementors at a place where I’m supposed
to be safe, being told I’m too young for something I’ve been doing for almost five years now. I’ve been angry. But now? Now I just don’t care.” He sighed. “Let’s just go to Gringotts and then back to Number 12.”
“If that’s what you want, Harry,” she said sadly, resting a hand on his shoulder. “I, I just can’t believe they would do this.”
“If it makes you feel any better, it was obvious that your boss didn’t want to be prosecutor,” Harry said.
“I’m not the one who should be comforted, it should be the other way around,” Tonks reminded him. He just looked at her sadly before turning and heading in the direction of the bank. Once inside, he walked up to the teller and held out his key.
“I’d like to make a withdrawal from my vault,” Harry said. “Quickly, please.”
“Very well,” said the goblin. Moments later, they were at his vault. It looked much the same as when he first entered five years before. Now, at fifteen, it still looked huge.
“I want to buy as much of Diagon Alley as I can afford,” he told the goblin. “Any property that’s for sale, I’ll buy it.”
“Any?” Tonks asked. “Harry, what are you doing?”
“There are currently twenty-three properties available,” the goblin said a moment after consulting with someone.
“How many can I afford?”
“All of them,” the banker said confused. “The Potter vault has largely untouched for much of your life time, so it has accrued a significant interest over that time. Your purchases have been negligible since you started at age eleven.”
“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing,” Tonks prodded. Harry nodded that he heard her, but turned back to the goblin.
“What properties? Any businesses?”
“Yes, a number of businesses rent from these properties,” the goblin responded.
“How many of those sell school supplies?”
“Flourish and Blott’s, Slug & Jigger, among others,” was the response.
“I’ll buy them all,” Harry said. “Am I buying the business or just the building?”
“It depends on the building,” the goblin stated. He held out a scroll and quill. “Sign here.”
Harry signed on the line. As soon as he did so, a significant portion of his coins vanished, replaced by scrolls of ownership. Harry deftly pocketed them. “I own them now?”
“Yes, rent will be deposited monthly,” Haksaw began, but Harry waved him off.
“I’ll be charging 300% of what they paid before on rental businesses that sell school supplies,” Harry said. “That’s split for a weekly payment. I’ll take a controlling interest in companies that can’t pay. For any business that I own, that sells school supplies, they are to be closed immediately and the employees put on furlough until after the first term begins. All merchandise remains in the store and unavailable for one month after the start of the first term.”
“What about apartments? Do you have problems with them?”
“Lower residential rents by a quarter,” Harry said. “I don’t want to kick people out on the street.”
“You can direct all this with your wand,” commented the goblin.
“I would prefer you to do it,” Potter said clearly, not yet wanting to admit that his wand was broken. “I trust you Griphook and Gringott's to be your best.”
“I am honored,” the goblin said with a slight bow. Harry returned the bow and scraped as much money into his Bottomless pouch as he could, thus proving that it was not truly Bottomless.
“One last request, Master Griphook?”
“Yes, Mr. Potter?”
“If the Ministry should decide to…interfere with my finances, please transfer everything to Sirius Black’s vault before they can do anything?”
“Yes, of course,” Griphook said with a conspiring smile. “It has been a pleasure to do business with you.”
“And with you, as well.”
“Harry, what are you doing?” Tonks asked once more.
“I’m being a petty, petulant child,” he assured her. “There aren’t many things I learned from my relatives, but I did learn about money. They made no bones about it: I cost them money. I listened and I figured it out. If you control some part of the line, from creation to shipping to distribution, you control everything.”
As they walked back out, Harry grinned when he saw the owners of the local book store complaining to the desk manager. “What do you mean we owe four thousand galleons by today? We had an agreement to pay after the students went back to Hogwarts.”
“I am afraid,” the goblin began with a sly nod to Harry as he walked past, “that the new owners of the building are a bit more demanding.”
“Yes,” the goblin assured, “and if you cannot pay, I will be forced to impound your shop to pay for the remainder.”
“You can’t do this!”
“Yes, I can. Read your lease contract.”
As they finally left, Tonks realized what was going on.
“Harry,” she said. “You’re punishing the Wizarding World for your expulsion?”
“Yes,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“I’m not stupid. I mean, I’m no Hermione or a Ravenclaw, but I’m not an idiot,” he said. “There’s a muggle saying: ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’ And that is exactly what the Ministry and the Wizarding World has done. They depend on Hogwarts for the rest of their society.”
“But don’t you like Hogwarts?”
Harry had to think about that.
“I don’t know,” he said honestly. “I don’t appreciate being in danger every second of every day that I’m there. I like some of the people, but…no, I guess I don’t like Hogwarts. Especially since I’m no longer allowed to go there.”
“You could get a deal like Hagrid,” Tonks suggested.
“I love Hagrid like an uncle, but I don’t want to be a hanger-on like he is, depending on pity and charity,” Harry stated flatly. “I’ll make my own way.”
“How? I’m sure this will blow over and you’ll be able to return,” Tonks said hopefully.
“I’ve had enough in my life to learn that things just don’t work that way. They don’t just work out.”
They passed several shops where parents and students were demanding entrance, but the goblins were kicking out the workers and closing shop. The bookstore was deserted, the books taken in exchange for the rent. A sign was up stating as much. Harry couldn’t help but smile. The Chaos had begun.
As soon as Harry was in the door to the Grim Old Place, he was besieged by Ron and Hermione. “How are you?” Hermione asked.
“Not good,” he admitted. She responded by pulling him into a hug. He returned it and he started to feel the tears come back, but he frantically kept them down. It wouldn’t do to let them know.
“What are you going to do?” Ron asked. “No Hogwarts, no wand? What can you do?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said. “I don’t know.”
“Fudge made sure everyone knew,” Hermione said. “Today’s Prophet changed to announce your expulsion.” She held up the paper, where a front page spread about his trial was displayed. “He’s rubbing it in your face.”
“No, I’m rubbing it in his face,” Harry said. “He just doesn’t know it yet.”
“What?” both students asked.
“Harry just bought Diagon Alley,” Tonks said. “Or at least, the parts that count.”
Tonks and Harry explained what they had done after the Hearing. Ron clearly didn’t get it. Hermione gaped.
“Harry, I never thought you’d be capable of such a thing,” she exclaimed.
“Oh, just wait,” he said with a grim smile. Reaching into his pocket, he passed them each a scroll. “These are for you. Ron, I’m giving you the Broom Shop. Don’t lower the rent until after you get to school.”
He turned to Hermione. “Here’s a few for some other people. Give Slug & Jiggers to Neville.”
“Why Neville?” Ron asked. “What’s he going to do with a potion shop?”
“Aside from annoying Snape by the very fact that Neville Longbottom, a boy he detests almost as much as he does Harry, owns the shop that supplies most potions ingredients to Hogwarts students, nothing,” Hermione said, understanding.
“What?” Ron asked again.
“Harry is punishing them for punishing him,” Hermione explained. “This next one?”
“That’s yours,” Harry said. “A controlling interest, though not outright ownership of Flourish and Blott’s. I thought you’d like it. I’ve got the books, so you can have the shelves filled as soon as you’re back on the train.” She squealed and gave him another hug, this one just barely on the safe side of bonecrushing. He hugged her back. “I thought you might like that.” She didn’t let go as he nodded to the last scroll in her hand. “That’s the magical Menagerie. Give that to Hagrid. It’s just a controlling interest, so he won’t just give the critters away for free.”
“Why are you doing this?” Ron asked. “I’m sure there’s other ways. Not that I don’t appreciate having me owning quidditch shop, but why?”
“Unless that decision is reversed real soon, I’ll either be stuck in this house, back in my relatives’ place or on my own,” Harry said. “I don’t think I’m ever going back to Hogwarts.”
“No, I’m sure that Dumbledore has some plan,” Hermione said.
“Probably, yes,” Harry said. “He probably does.”
They stayed up while the adults talked behind closed doors. The Twins had offered to let him listen in, but he just waved them off. “I’m not a part of this anymore,” Harry said.
There was something in his tone that made Hermione want to hold him tight and tell him everything was going to be alright. And she really did want to tell him that. She wanted to hold him close and reassure him. Or maybe she just wanted him close. Harry didn’t participate in much of anything, simply went up to his room and read and when that didn't work he found some other dark corner of the Black house to lurk in like some forgotten pet. He made great strides in being alone, but Hermione was always able to track him down. After much coaxing, she managed to get him to talk.
“I know you aren’t doing well,” she said to him one night after the rest had left for bed either upstairs or in their homes. She found him moping in the library, a book on some dark magic laying open on his knees, long since forgotten by the raven haired boy. She plopped herself down in a large armchair that made her look like she just took a shrinking potion. “Don’t try to brush it off. I know this can’t be easy.”
“No it’s not,” Harry said after a while. He shuffled around in his chair. It was old, pre-Victorian, and stained a dark maroon while the seat was velvet the color of goldenrod blossoms. “It’s like a piece of me was just ripped out. Even if I get back in, it’s not going to be really worth it.”
“You can’t really believe that,” Hermione protested pulling her chair closer to her friend. “Things have to get better.”
to get better,” Harry said. “There’s no law saying that. There’s no magically binding contract out there saying: gee, everything’s gonna be A-Okay! The world doesn’t work that way. If there's any less life's taught me, that's it.”
“You’re depressed,” she said flatly. Her expression was serious, with her brow furrowed and a slight frown to her lips. “The others are just calling it a mood. But they obviously don’t know psychology.”
“And you do? I know you’re smart, but really?”
She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. “I know more than they do. My parents insist that I keep up with normal studies the rest of the year, so yes, I have studied a little psychology.”
“Sorry, things are…”
“I know how they are,” Hermione said, resting a gentle hand on his thigh. “I know. But you need to talk about it. Being up here alone in this
place isn’t doing you any good. I half expect you to start wearing a white mask and a cape, and start composing operas.”
Her attempt at humor was lost on the boy and he didn't respond for quite a while. “You don’t like it much, do you?”
“It sure doesn’t have much going for it,” she said with a touch of bitterness in her voice. “But don’t change the subject! This talk is about you.”
“But what about me? I don’t have any magic, I’m not of age, and my relatives hate me,” he said, throwing his hands wide as he jumped to his feet and started pacing about the room. His arms gesticulated wildly to emphasize his statements. “The press makes out like I’m an attention whore, when I’m just trying to be Harry Potter, not the bloody Boy-Who-Lived! And I can’t even do that
“What do you like to do?” she asked. That brought him up short. He stood up straight, surprised by the question as if it was something that had never occurred to him to ask about.
“I dunno,” he said quietly, pausing in his attempt at wearing a hole in the rug. “Quidditch, I guess.”
“What do you like doing that doesn’t involve Hogwarts?” she asked, verbally prodding him to get his act in gear. “What did you like before Hogwarts?”
“Stories, I guess,” he said. “I liked reading and making up stories of adventure: Three musketeers and the like. I always loved Robin Hood when I was allowed to read at all. But the fun drains away when you’ve been having adventures of a deadly nature yourself.”
“Maybe you just need to learn to do something else,” she suggested. “There’s plenty of opportunities out there. You’re already getting your revenge on Hogwarts with the Alley scheme.”
“Yeah, the professors weren’t happy when they learned about that,” Harry said with a bit of a smirk. “Professor McGonagall wanted to take me to task, but I think she understood. Snape wanted to strangle me. Well, he probably always wanted to strangle me; he just came close to doing it this time.”
“You’d better watch out,” Hermione said with a smile. “McGonagall might claw your jumper to pieces or leave a dead rat in your bed. And I can't believe I just said that.”
Harry actually chuckled at that comment.
“I’ll think about it,” he said, looking her in the eyes for the first time since she sat down. He was still sad, but honest to her; she could see it in his eyes. “I’ll think about finding something I like that I can do.”
“Harry,” she said, resting her hands on his too tense shoulders. “I want you to be happy. Find something or someone that you enjoy; that makes you happy. You’re important to me, wand or no wand. I just want you to know that.”
He didn’t say anything at that comment. He didn’t really know how to respond. He chose to nod. She looked at him for another long moment before getting up and heading back to her room. After a few silent moments, Harry closed the book and trudged to his own room.
Harry was up bright and early the next morning.
He hadn’t been eating with the others for the past few days. In fact, he had been acting more like the ghoul in the Weasleys' attic than he had a human being. To see him walk into the room was a surprise. What was a bigger surprise to him was that no one had set a place for him. Hermione grinned and scooted over, letting him pull a chair in between her and Ron. Harry nodded gratefully.
He did note that as soon as he sat down, all conversation ceased. And these were supposed to be his friends and family.
“Please pass the potatoes,” he asked Ron. Ron pushed them towards him without a word. He looked around. “What is going on?”
“Don’t you know what you’ve done?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“That depends on which act you’re talking about,” he said blithely. “If you’re talking about my presents to my friends, I think Ron could do well with a quidditch shop. You never know, he might have the lobes for business.”
Heads turned to Ron. “He gave you the broom shop?” Fred asked, pausing in mid bite.
“And you didn’t tell us, your dear, darling older brothers?” George asked, pausing in serving himself something from a bowl.
“How could you
?” they finished together.
“What?” Ron said after swallowing a large lump of breakfast. “I’m not allowed to have something?”
“That’s not the point here, Ronald,” his father said as always trying to settle the family disputes.
“What is the point? Harry thinks I’ll take care of it,” Ron said as he scooped up some unidentified foodstuff from his plate. “I’m going to do it.”
“The point is that snot nosed brat crippled Hogwarts!” Snape snarled, pointing directly at Harry. Harry just ate his potatoes without a word.
“Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” Ron asked him. Harry just shrugged.
“I made a few investments,” Harry said. “If I’m not at school, I need to do something to keep me occupied.”
“So you’re going to ruin it for all the other students?” Molly asked.
“Not at all,” Harry said. “I just felt that diversifying my portfolio was a more worthwhile investment than putting all my eggs in one basket.”
Snape was trying to be angry, but inside, he was impressed. Lily was inside of Harry more than he had thought. It was the kind of thing she would have come up with. Not that he would ever admit such a thing aloud. “You’re trying to force them to reinstate you,” the potions master said.
“That wouldn’t work,” Hermione said. “Fudge is too stupid. He wouldn’t see what Harry is doing.”
“What are you doing?” Molly asked the boy. “I don’t see the point in making lives more difficult for the other students.”
“I see what he’s doing,” Snape said. “The brat has caused trouble for the students, which causes trouble for the parents. Those parents aren’t going to complain to him, because they don’t know he’s involved. They’re going to complain to the Ministry or to Hogwarts.”
“Wow,” Harry said. “And here I thought I was just being a petty and petulant child.”
“Harry-“ said Fred.
“Rival,” the twins finished together. Even Remus and Sirius were grinning.
“See Moony? I always knew he had some Marauder in him,” Sirius said with a smirk.
“Oh, indeed,” Remus replied. “Let’s see if he can keep from getting caught.”
“Caught? Why would anyone pay attention to a wandless kid like me?” Harry asked in a scathing sarcastic tone. “How could I have possibly done anything wrong? It's so obvious that I pose no challenge because I don't possess a wand.”
“How long do you think it’s going to take before the Ministry freezes your accounts?” Hermione asked.
“He already took care of that,” Tonks said. “If they start sniffing around, it all goes in the Black Vault.”
Sirius’s head whipped around to look at his godson. “Really? Even if you aren’t able to touch it?”
“I’ve got several thousand galleons in my pocket at the moment,” Harry said without looking up from his plate. “I’m pretty well off.”
“And you’re not playing Malfoy’s game,” Sirius said. “You’re playing your own game.”
“You could have easily bribed those seats with your money,” Arthur reminded him.
“I don’t work that way,” Harry said. “That’s just wrong. Maybe what I’m doing is slightly amoral, but it’s just business; it’s not illegal like bribing officials.”
There were some nervous glances about that. Eventually, the mood lightened and even Harry was smiling again for a while. This lasted until it was time for the other students to leave from King’s Cross. It wasn't until later that he realized Snape had shown up just to yell at him and for no other reason.
Hermione Granger wasn’t sure what to think of her new shop. On one hand, she was delighted, as she’d always wanted her own personal bookshop; on the other hand, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to be associated with Harry’s scheme. That was not to say she didn’t love Harry and wanted the best for him, she just thought that this scheme sounded more like something his godfather would have come up with than Harry himself.
That night after everyone else was asleep Hermione sat in bed looking at the ceiling, listening to the sound of Ginny softly, cutely snoring in the next bed over. What was her relationship to the “boy who lived” and how did that affect things now that he was no longer a student? He had saved her life and she, his, many times over. Ron had helped, but she always remembered that first time with the troll had been Ron’s fault in the first place, even if Hermione had long since forgiven him.
Since that time, she, Ron and Harry had been together through many things up and down and not always together. The Broom Incident in the third year; Harry’s involuntary entrance into the Tri-Wizard Cup; the Yule Ball: all of these things had caused great schisms into their relationship and friendship. They weren’t Hufflepuffs; that
was for damn sure. Their loyalty, while it returned in time, was fleeting, seemingly breaking up for the slightest reason.
But now they weren’t together, and only able to see each other only on certain days and in vacations. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder (whoever “they” were), but would that test out now that they were alone, separated. Harry already felt betrayed because they had been forbidden from sending a single letter. Hermione found herself especially angry at herself for obeying that rule. Harry needed someone to help him deal with Cedric’s death and they had all ignored him. That had been a mistake, one she was determined to make up for.
She jumped out of bed and out of her self-contemplation at the sound of Ginny Weasley’s sleep voice. “No, Luna…I guess nargles do like chicken and phoenix soup with thestral meat…Oh don’t touch me there! Luuuunaa!”
Hermione sat up in bed red faced, stared forward and fell backwards into her pillow, covering her ears with her spare. It was going to be a long night.
Harry walked them to the station, his guards present as always. He ignored the stares he was getting from the parents and other students clamoring onto the train. Lucius Malfoy gave him a smirk that Harry swore he would wipe off the man's face one day. Other parents guided their children away from him as if he had the plague or some other infectious disease. He shook hands with the four Weasleys, even pulling Ron into a quick hug, slapping his friend on the back and wishing him good luck. Then he turned to Hermione.
“Hermione,” he began. “Thank you.”
“Harry, you don’t have to thank me,” she said.
“No, I do,” Harry argued. “But I want to ask you a favor.”
“Anything, name it.”
“I want you to learn the Fidelius Charm and meet me here as soon as you can with Crookshanks,” he requested, holding her hand just a little between his. She crooked an eyebrow.
“That’s an odd request,” she said, inwardly glad he was still counting on her. “Are you protecting your relatives?”
“Among other things,” he replied with a slight bit of mystery. “And I promise, I’ll find something I like.”
“I’ll keep you to it,” she said with a smile. Hermione pulled her friend into a hug. “Got to go. A prefect can’t be late.”
“Go, I’ll be fine,” he said. He watched as his friends vanished one by one into the entrance to King’s Cross 9 ¾. Whistling to himself he wandered back to his keepers who brought him back to Number 12 almost immediately.
That first week was dreadful.
He understood what it was like for Sirius now. Together, they were cooped up in the same Grim Old Place with nothing to do. Sirius could at least practice magic, but for Harry, it was like watching people walk and run after having your legs blown off. Hagrid would understand, but Harry didn’t want to be like him, stuck having to suffer around the people who should be your peers.
Harry didn’t want to turn into a jealous person. He was afraid that would be exactly what would happen to him if he stayed around wizards and witches.
He spent the first two nights alone in his room thinking only of the old days. Funny, when you consider the old days only started five years ago. He was thinking of the troll, of the Halloween feast and the fight that ensued.
“Swish and flick,” he said, imitating Hermione’s voice at age eleven. Then started thinking of Ron saving his ass by “Wingardium Leviosa!” in the bathroom.
He said the last bit aloud, mimicking the wand motions he now knew by heart. As he did so, he felt something, something familiar, but not something he could recall exactly. Dejected by memories of the past, Harry rolled over and tried to sleep, not realizing the dust he had disturbed by his simple hand motions.
The next day was much the same. He kept running over in his mind, as he had since the third event, thinking about what he could have done to save Cedric’s life. He knew there had to be something. He could have pushed him out of the way. He could have knocked the wand out of Wormtail’s hand before he could cast the killing curse.
But it was all a lie, and Harry knew it. He had no foreknowledge into the final event. There was nothing to assume that he would have done anything differently. He was a fool for thinking he could have done any better. Harry was thinking of all the things he could have done and everything he could have done differently, even if he knew there was no way to change them.
He heard the familiar sound of an owl at his window; it up was one of the school owls, perched and tapping on the pane with his beak. Harry threw open the window and let it hop in onto the table. The letter was from Ron, telling him everything that had happened thus far. Ron revealed what Hermione had said about the Ministry interfering with Hogwarts. He went on to write about the new DADA teacher: fat, pink, toadyish and stupid. Apparently she gloated every time someone mentioned Harry’s expulsion. Harry just got angry again and crushed the note. He almost threw it in the trash, but thought better of it. He could be angry or he could get on with his life.
That first week was dreadful.
Almost the instant they had boarded the train, Hermione and Ron the fifth year Gryffindor Prefects had been accosted by the offending Slytherin duo: Malfoy and Parkinson. It was consistently amazing to Hermione that this girl could so consistently emanate smarmy while still be viewed as “high class” to her “peers.” Of course, considering that Crabbe and Goyle were considered her peers, it shouldn’t have been so surprising.
“Where’s Potter?” snarked Parkinson with a cock of her hip.
“Wait, didn’t we hear something about him?” Draco Malfoy asked, putting in his bid for Worst Actor.
“You know, I think I did!” Parkinson replied. “Didn’t something happen to him at the Ministry the other day?”
“That’s right! He was expelled
! How could I have forgotten?”
“Having an excess of improperly firing synapses could be part of the problem; of course, you both probably share one,” Hermione said. Predictably, the joke went over their heads. Purebloods couldn’t be expected to get “mudblood” humor. No, that would take intelligence and a desire to learn. Inbred DNA prevented the former and Daddy’s money couldn’t buy you the latter.
“What?” Draco and Pansy asked blankly as they stood stupidly in the doorway.
“Thank you for proving my hypothesis,” Hermione said with a self satisfied smile. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, you can go gloat where there are people who don’t have a higher intelligence quotient than their shoe size.”
“You’ll pay for this, mudblood!” Draco said, realizing she had insulted him, but not quite clear on what. Ron got up to defend her honor, but Hermione shot him a look, causing him to back down. The two snakes huffed and left, confidant in their inherent superiority, delusional as it was.
The situation in Gryffindor Tower was different. While Draco and the Brain-Trust (them having trusted their brains to stay out of use) had been insulting, he was not an unexpected adversary. The other Gryffindors were different. Most of them believed what the Daily Prophet had been spouting, even to the point of posting “boy-who-lied” posters up in the common room. It had been an icy entrance when they got inside and found everyone staring at them. Ron had, unfortunately, started to react physically when Seamus spouted off about his mum and Harry.
Hermione decided to be the better person before she spoiled it by saying: “Five points from Gryffindor for spreading vicious lies and rumors.”
The others gaped at her.
“What was that for?” snarled Seamus.
“You were committing acts unseemly for a Gryffindor,” she told him. “And if anyone else does the same, spreading lies, regardless of house, I’ll be taking points. I don’t see a difference between you, Seamus, spouting this nonsense and Draco Malfoy spouting his.”
The gasps heard throughout the room were loud, even Ron was a little scandalized that she had said that. Truth be told, she was a little scandalized at what she had said. But Harry was not there to defend himself, so she and Ron would have to do it for him.
“That’s right,” Hermione said, pointing a finger around the room. “Neville, how do you feel when Malfoy calls you a Squib?”
“I-I don’t like it,” Neville replied quickly, with only the slightest hesitation at being put on the spot.
“That’s right,” Hermione said. “Because it’s a lie, and lies that hurt people are wrong. What’s worse, the lies in that paper are hurting not just Harry, but every victim of Voldemort and his cronies.”
People hissed at the sound of the Dark Lord’s name, upset that she would utter it aloud.
“You calling me mum a liar?” Seamus asked, puffing himself up with faux bravado.
“No, just horribly misinformed and unwilling to educate herself,” Hermione said, staring him down. “Willful ignorance is no excuse.”
“Come on, Hermione,” Ron said, trying to defuse the situation.
“No Ron, these sheep might not like it, but I’ll punish any who act in an unseemly manner, no matter what house they’re in,” Hermione told him, not caring that anyone else overheard. “If Harry says Voldemort is back, I believe him, because I’m not afraid to face the truth. Gryffindors are supposed to be courageous and self-assured, not weaklings grasping at straws so they don’t have to face the truth.”
With that, she spun and stomped up the stairs to her bed. She threw herself on and screamed into her pillow, the feathers muffling the sound.
The first week was dreadful.
Harry left for London the next morning as he had been for the last week. He walked around, slipping away from the people who were supposed to keep him “safe.” He knew he wasn’t safe anywhere, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from living. He’d made a promise to Hermione, after all.
“Ho there, young man,” called out a voice as he was walking in a park. It wasn’t in London, but had been kept up nearby at the former site of an abbey. Harry looked up to see a group of men and women dressed in chainmail and walking around.
“Me?” he asked pointing at his chest.
“Aye,” one of them said, an older man, maybe forty, with a white and yellow tabbard over his chainmail. “Be ye one for joining us?”
“Sorry, I don’t normally go with strange knights,” he said with a grin. The other armor clad people laughed. “And before you ask, I don't take candy from strangers either.”
“Thank the bloody lord,” the first knight said. “Do you have any bloody clue how piss-brained hard it is to speak like I’m some Knight? Drives me right out of my bleeding mind sometimes.”
“Then why try?”
“Well,” said the man. “We’re a group of concerned individuals who saw you walking here alone every day for a while now.”
“How’d you know that?” Harry asked suspiciously. One of the others answered, pointing to a large building.
“We work there, but on the weekends, we dress up like knights and hit each other with swords and arrows,” she said. She was younger, perhaps twenty/twenty-five, with Asian features. He could see a lock of black hair poking out from under her cowl. She wasn’t dressed in metal armor, but instead wore a leather suit of deep green and black, with knee high leather boots. She had a bow on her back and a quiver of arrows at her hip.
“Why do you do that?”
“Because it’s fun to be someone else for a while,” she replied with a shrug and a smile. “You looked depressed or something, walking around with nothing to do. Why not give it a try?”
He thought about it for a moment. “Sure, why not?”
Together, they walked into an empty field and watched as the armored fellows hit each other with rattan swords and axes.
“How come you’re not with them?” Harry asked the woman.
“I don’t do sword fighting often, much less heavy blades,” she said. “I’m an archer. Have been since I was little. I tried for the Olympics at one point, but I couldn’t make the circuit.”
“Girl’s gotta make a living,” she said with a sigh. “Hard to get time off if you want to participate, and I just didn’t have the time. I tried, but I lost too many jobs trying for it.”
“I know about trying for something and having to give it up,” Harry said sadly.
“What happened to you?”
“I was expelled,” he said.
“Fighting,” Harry said, wincing as he saw some of the others step backwards. “Actually, that’s a lie. My cousin and I were attacked and I defended myself and him. Ends up, the attackers were ‘pets’ of a person in power. He used that as an excuse to get me expelled.”
It wasn’t the exact
truth, but it was close enough. Muggle secrecy and all that crap.
“Damn, what are you doing now?”
“Walking around, living with my godfather,” Harry said. “You know, before this, I would have jumped at the chance to live with him, but now it feels like the house is getting smaller all the time.”
“You can always come hang with us on the weekends,” she said. “Anybody’s welcome, no matter background or socials status.” He was considering it. She held out her bow. “Want to give it a try?”
People looked on as the New Kid learned sword and arrow, trying every little thing. His muscles weren’t very developed, something he was quickly realizing. Even his abilities built up by Quidditch were not the same kind of strength and endurance that goes in this medieval kind of fighting. It was invigorating to try something new.
“Wow, kid,” one of the “knights” said as he watched Harry let fly an arrow from his borrowed longbow. “Not bad for a first timer.”
Harry wasn’t William Tell by any measure, but he hadn’t missed the target yet. None of them were closely clustered and none hit the bull’s-eye, but he was doing well for his first time. And it was fun. He could feel the draw of the bow string, the sound it made when it stretched, the smell of the real feather fletchings and the twang of the string as it was released. The arrows let loose a low scream as their pierced the air with that satisfying thud as they impacted the haybales on the other end of the field. As he picked up the arrows and fitted them to the string there was a natural feeling to it, as if it had been missing for a long time. The woman would occasionally move his arms to help him get used to the aim. With each arrow that left his hands his accuracy increased.
After a while his arms started to cramp, so he decided to sit down where some others were eating their lunch. His stomach growled angrily at being empty and his new friends laughed heartily. Roderick handed him half of an Italian sandwich.
“Here, eat up,” the large beefy man commanded. Roderick was built like a brick shithouse with muscles on muscles built up from years of hitting people with swords while wearing full plate armor. His shaggy red hair was longer than usual and sometimes got in the man's face when the wind was right. He had an extraordinarily large nose that for some reason seemed to fit the man perfectly. He was no Hagrid, but he was far from scrawny.
“But I-” Harry protested, but Roderick cut him off with a shake of the head.
“You're still growing, you need your food,” the man commanded, tucking the sandwich into the boy's hand. “How do you like your first day working with a bow?”
“How do you know there's going to be more than one?” Harry asked before taking a bite of the free food. Roderick and the others just broke into laughter. The beefy man slapped his knee, his gauntlet clanging against his greaves.
“I saw you with that thing,” he told Harry. “I saw you pulling that bow. You enjoyed it, hell you were loving it. You don't just give something like that up for no reason. You're addicted, admit it, kid.”
Harry could just smile ruefully as he blushed, not used to honest praise from strangers who didn't wear pointy hats and robes. The other “Knights” cackled at his discomfort with good humor. To other people at other times he would have been offended, but here it was different.
It was so strange. He didn’t know any of these people. He knew in real life “Sir Roderick the Valorous” was probably called “Roddy the mail clerk” or some such, but he didn’t care. These were people who did what they did just because they thought it was fun. After hours of just pretending to be a medieval man, Harry found himself laughing and singing along with the others as they sang bawdy ballads with poorly tuned instruments, drinking tea that they pretended was mead and shooting plastic arrows at garishly colored bales of hay.
All that ended when he noticed Padfoot and Tonks watching from the sidewalk. The illusion drained away to show the starkness of reality like the sudden stopping of an LP. It couldn’t last forever. He glanced back at his new found friends without a smile.
“Sorry, guys, I’ve got to go,” Harry said sadly. He nodded to the various complaints.
“You come back here,” the archer said, Roderick nodding in agreement behind her. She pulled out a paper and gave him a number and strange looking sentence with dots, slashes, numbers and a symbol that looked like an “a” in a circle. “There, ring me, email me, whatever. We’re here every weekend. Maybe next time you could bring your friends?”
“Maybe,” Harry said. “Maybe.”
He trudged up the small hill to the walk way where Sirius and Tonks stood waiting. Out of sight, his godfather transformed back into a human.
“Sorry,” the boy said, not really meaning it and without much effort to disguise the fact.
“Harry,” Sirius said. “Let’s take a walk.”
They started back in the direction of the Grim Old Place, but didn’t apparate or side-along or any of that, just one foot in front of the other. Tonks followed along behind in the form of a three hundred pound German tourist.
“You were smiling,” Sirius said after a while.
Harry looked up in surprise.
His godfather just shrugged. “I want you to smile. Your parents
would want you to smile. I want you to be happy.”
“Thanks,” Harry replied, a bit of a smile creeping onto his face. “I saw you up there and it was like someone poured a bucket of cold water on my face.”
“I know,” Sirius said. “I watched.”
“I just…” Harry said, his hands clenched at his sides.
“You want to do something, you want to go out and have fun,” Sirius finished for him. “And I want you to have that. But you have to understand, I’ve got a responsibility to keep you safe.”
Harry slowly let out a deep breath before he replied. “I know.”
“Which is why next weekend we’re going back there,” Sirius said conversationally. Harry’s head snapped up in surprise.
“But you’re damn well not going alone!” his godfather stated. “But I am impressed that you were able to give us all the slip like that. Riding the bus when Shacklebolt was following? Brilliant!”
“How’d you find me?”
“Well, seeing as how Tonks is a halfblood and your mother dragged the rest of us out for quite a few muggle adventures, we already had a grasp of what you might do,” Sirius said. He tapped his nose. “It helps to have a nose to the ground as well. After you got on the bus, we just read the map and apparated to the closest place we knew. You were also a little sloppy heading on the same route each day.”
“I’ll remember that,” Harry said with a chuckle. “’Constant vigilance!’
“Exactly,” his godfather said. “And it would have been faster if people hadn’t stopped me thinking I was some guy named Gary Oldman, whoever that is.” He pondered it after a while. “I bet if you put us side by side, we’d look nothing alike.”
“He’s an actor I think,” Harry said. “And you’re right, you probably look nothing alike.”
Harry felt like a kid waiting until he could go see Santa or go on a Ferris wheel for the first time. Tonks even let him go with her to a sporting goods store and pick up a bow. It was nothing great, something the store suggested for a beginner, which Harry certainly was, natural talent aside. Harry pondered if his skill at Seeker was a benefit to archery. It could be true, but there was no way to prove it at this time.
He’d convinced some of his “guardians" to build him an archery range in the cellar, a mostly unused portion of the residence aside from the dust covered wine barrels, moldy old rags and bits and pieces of other things that broke over the years. Old wine casks make great targets, especially when enhanced by charms for self repair, judging accuracy and durability. Expansion charms and a few tricks made a range with arrows that constantly replenished after being fired. They only worked in the range, but were a big benefit to practice. A few days later, he was already seeing an improvement in his accuracy.
At his request, he was given muscle relaxing potions to help with his developing muscles. Archery used muscles in very different ways than broom riding, running or wand casting and after a few hours of practice, he could feel the burning in his wrists, arms and shoulders. Somehow, Snape was conned into brewing them, even if he didn’t know what they were for. He did, however, make a few snide comments about how he truly loved the challenge. On the other hand, that was Snape’s normal voice, so maybe he wasn’t sarcastic.
He hadn’t written to Hermione or Ron about it, yet. He didn’t want to bother them since they were no doubt busy with schoolwork. Or at least that’s what Harry told himself. If the truth were known, he was almost afraid that he wouldn’t be able to go if he told anyone other than Tonks or Sirius. It was a silly superstition, but it held.
When the day finally came, Harry was up before the sun like a little kid on Christmas day, not really caring about anything but the presents they were about to open. He had his bow, his arrows (specially modified so they wouldn’t pierce armor or flesh), and a set of vaguely medieval clothing that he wore under a long coat Tonks had found for him. The coat was forest green, with a large hood, long sleeves and plenty of pockets that were mostly hidden. It was trimmed in Lincoln green on cuffs and hood, and tied with a black and Lincoln green belt at the waist.
“I love it, but why this one?” he asked her.
“Armor charms,” she said. “You might not be able to use a wand right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be harmed by it. It’s lined with Norwegian Ridgeback leather and some other protections.”
“Thank you,” he said. “I love it, I really do.”
“Not worried about the color? A bit snake-y, but I thought it would bring out your eyes,” Tonks said. Harry smirked sadly.
“I’m not a Gryffindor at the moment, so I have no problems with colors,” He said, slipping it over his shoulders. Underneath he wore a simple black shirt and black denim trousers with some Hungarian Horntail Quidditch boots. “Shall we be off?”
“Right then,” he said and they walked out the door together, Sirius slipping out later, so people wouldn’t catch on so well. Tonks apparated with him, taking them to a certain point before catching the park bus.
There was one thing in her comment that stuck in his head. He wasn’t allowed to use a wand. But what did the law say? He had been interested in magical contracts for some time, ever since he was “nominated” to the Tri-Wizard tournament. Wording was important. Muggle lawyers were paid vaults worth of Pounds each year ensuring that there were or weren’t loopholes in contracts. Decrees could easily be just the same as contracts. He just had to be specific of the wording.
When the three arrived at the park, things were just getting started. The archer waved him down as soon as they arrived.
“Harry, I want you to meet someone,” she said. He trudged down the hill to meet her, Tonks and Sirius following behind.
“I brought my godfather and cousin, if that’s alright,” Harry said.
“That’s fine, the more the merrier,” she agreed, giving the two of them a wave. “Nice coat, by the way.” She led Harry over to where an older man stood overseeing a swordfight.
“Put your back into it! You’ve got a hole in your defense the size of London!” he yelled in critique. He watched a few more swings in the mock fight before turning to the newcomers. “Ah, Marion, this must be the boy you mentioned?”
“Harry, sir,” he said, introducing himself. He was careful not to give his last name, not that it would hide anything from Wizarding folk. The man grasped his forearm and shook.
“Wonderful, Harry,” he said as he released Harry’s arm. “So nice to see new faces around here. And your friends?”
“Oh, these are uh, Orion Noir, my godfather and Nym- *ahem
* Tonks,” Harry finished over the slight, but rude, interruption of Tonks. “She doesn’t like her first name, so she just goes by Tonks.”
“Pleasure,” the man said, shaking each hand in turn. “Anywhere else, they’d call me Stephen Fetters, but here they call me the General. Welcome, you three, to the Knights of Byzantium.”
I claim no ownership over any of characters, fandoms or other bits hinted in this. I do believe they belong to JKR and Joss W.
Rules for Writing:
So, usually when I'm writing, I either make up a few rules for a story or have some friends make them up as sort of guidelines for the story. They're fun and they help me branch out a bit. This story is one of them that I was working on for some time and it's almost completely finished, so I'll be posting it fairly regularly. The rules are as follows:
1. NO super Harry. Harry cannot be more powerful than he was in the books/films. However, he can develop other skills and adapt the use of previous learned abilities. He can continue trying to learn standard magic.
2. Wandless Harry: Harry’s wand is snapped and he has to learn how to use magic without a wand. Might not be as powerful as normal with a wand or might just require more concentration.
3. Harry’s expulsion: Harry cannot be reinstated to Hogwarts after his expulsion and disciplinary hearing before 5th year.
4. No Weasley Pairings: It’s been done and it’s lame.
5. No Weasley bashing: It’s been done and it’s lame. Characters can do stupid things on occasion, but no out right vilification.
6. No PB Nazi pairings: Pureblood Nazis do not make for good spouses. It's like tying Ann Frank up with Hitler's right hand man.
7. Splits off before Sirius is killed: Give Sirius and Harry time to actually get to know each other and maybe for Harry to learn about his parents.
8. Marauder: Harry is his father’s son and he should act like it.
9. NO Lord Potter/Lord Black: It’s lame and overdone. New ideas are important.
10. No Hollows, Horcruxes or other similar ideas from JKR’s later books. Keep with the legend and mythology ideas she had in the beginning before it turned into a poorly run D&D game. The Prophesy can exist, but should be open to interpretation.
11. Crossover: Harry gets connected with an antagonist (group or individual) from Buffy/Angel
12. No nukes: Practically the same as no Super-Harry. Too much power to completely warp everything. He isn’t being taught new ultimate spells, or finding major magical artifacts or having “wonder trainers” randomly show up and teach him the “new great super awesome spell fighting style” that beats everything else possible and makes Dumbledore look like a first year. No, Harry has to make due with his basic spell list.
So those are the rules and I'm going to do my best to stick to them while still making my own way. Wish me luck! And thanks go to GreyWizard for the editing majesty.