|SIYE Time:12:19 on 16th June 2021|
Amor Ante Bellum
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Category: Alternate Universe, Post-DH/PM
Characters:All, Dumbledore, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Death, Disturbing Imagery, Violence
Summary: When everybody else dies, leaving only one light wizard alive, he will do anything to win this war just so he can rest in peace with those he loves the most. Harry Potter makes his choice, he had nothing left to lose after all, and when he takes his second chance, he may be forced to accept quite a few changes along the way on his quest to shape a new future that, he hopes, will not end in darkness.
(This story is also found under the user name 'Somerlia' on Fanfiction, who is me just so people know!)
Hitcount: Story Total: 2114
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Amor Ante Bellum is, hopefully, the latin words for "Love Before The War". Aeterna Prudentia, hopefully, means 'Eternal Wisdom'. Correct me if those are wrong!
This chapter is the longest so far and probably always will be, but I didn't want to spend more than I had to on this. There isn't a lot of dialogue in this chapter, but there should be a fairly normal amount now that this is out of the way.
Chapter One — The Shelf of Seven
A warm breeze blew through the long since deserted street of Privet Drive, but even then it only lasted a moment before all was still again. The windows which once held rich material, usually to impress the people who saw them, were now dirty and shabby; the grass which was usually freshly cut was now mere patches of sand and loose gravel and had any of the previous people who lived on the street come by, they would have been horrified by what they saw.
Not that they would ever come to walk these streets again.
Their owners and renters long since abandoned the streets of Privet Drive, not to mention all of the other ones around Surrey. They left nothing but a faint reminder (which too faded over time) of what used to be.
Nobody would expect that strange and amazing things happened on that street since nobody came down to see it anyway. No one would know that at that very moment the last light wizard still alive was all alone and wondering about what his next move was with only a portrait of the late headmaster for company.
Crouched low in front of the only non-boarded-up window of Number Four, Privet Drive was a somewhat short man with untidy jet-black hair, brilliant green eyes hidden by wire-rimmed round glasses, and a curious lightning bolt scar on his forehead. This man, barely above the age of twenty-eight was Harry Potter.
Lost deep in his thoughts, Harry did not seem to realize that the late headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, was watching him curiously. Professor Dumbledore watched him with a strange curiosity as if he was trying to weigh his decision about asking someone to do something he would normally not even voice as an offer.
However, he had a good reason for this; times were changing and after all desperate times, called desperate measures, a Muggle (non-magical person) quote he rather liked.
The decision he was about to make would be a deal breaker situation as the boy only had a few moments to think everything through and decide what he wanted to do —after all, the solution to the situation was drawing nearer and nearer. The opportunity to change what happened in the past was coming closer and the decision needed to be decided soon or it would be too late.
"I don't really know what to do anymore," Harry voiced aloud, breaking the awful silence that hung around them. They were used to the silence though since it was the only thing around them —everybody went quiet in the end. Harry ran a hand through his hair, messing it up more than usual, "I am really… just… at a loss of what to do. What else can we do? All plans have failed, from plan A to plan Z!"
Harry had always been a pessimist, or at least a minor one, but over the years, it had increased until he was so morbid even what little was left of his humour sounded more like sarcasm than anything did. No one would have suspected that years before he had once laughed like everyone else; no one would suspect that less than a year ago the thing he was most worried about was whether his pregnant wife would have the baby while he was away on a mission.
No one would suspect that Harry was quite ready for everything to just end. He had always been a solid source considering he had never once given up. Now there was no one to be a solid source for anyway.
Dumbledore felt his heart ache, while as a portrait he didn't have to deal with the everyday pains that came from being in war, there was no way he could leave now. He had a part to play in this war just as much as the man beside him did.
"There must be something we can do?" asked Harry quietly before wincing slightly when the breeze ruffed one of the nearby tree branches and rubbed against the house. He was cautious of these things as he glanced, almost mechanically, over his shoulder to make sure it was not someone coming to kill him.
Dumbledore still said nothing, still weighed the heavy pros and the just as heavy cons. The silence was probably an answer to Harry because in all the time they had been together so far, Dumbledore had never failed to say something before.
Harry looked at him, a frown pinching his face as he tried to figure out what could be running through the old man's mind. He did not particularly care about any of the false reassures (because that was all they really were, were not they?) or the kind words of 'it will be over soon', but more for the fact that the old man was only silent when he had a plan.
Moreover, he only failed to answer Harry's questions when he did not plan to tell Harry of said plan.
A batch of fury was welling up in Harry's stomach, making it churn with what was inside and he felt like punching something in irrational anger. Although there was fury scratched in his bright emerald eyes, the rest of him remained as calm and as tense as normal.
Thoughts were racing through his head: did not he, who had done and lost so much, deserved to be in on any plan? How would that plan work when Harry was the only person that could help him in the first place? Did he think that Harry would just give up, think it to be too much work?
Technically, you did give up… a voice said in the back of his head that he quickly shut off.
Did he think Harry would run like a coward?
Harry Potter was not a coward, at least not towards something like this. He was not a coward towards war (just maybe his wife and her bat-bogey hex) and he would not run to hide until he had his revenge.
He had taught them not to seek revenge, he told them to forgive but never truly forget. Maybe that was what had him hesitating to do anything now; it was irrational for him to realize that anything he said to his children before in terms of morality would cancel out in wake of what was happening around him.
Just as soon as the feeling of anger came, it crashed back down as the light blue eyes studied him as if sensing the mood he was in; Harry did not want to feel that way towards the only person who may be able to help.
"Harry," began Dumbledore slowly. Each word coming from his lips seemed only half-said for Dumbledore was forcing himself to say it against personal judgment. "There is something you can do, but…" Dumbledore trailed off.
Harry had never seen Dumbledore do that.
"I'll do anything," said Harry immediately, the words rushing to his lips and he did not regret them because every single bloody syllable uttered was the truth. He was desperate at this point and he would do anything.
"It's not because I doubt you can do it," Dumbledore shook his head, "it's more of the fact that there are some things in the world that should be left alone. This is one of them."
"If it's possible to do then obviously its okay to mess with," Harry retorted, not caring about the lie in that one sentence. If it were the truth, then killing would be okay because the killing curse made it possible.
Dumbledore paused again, locking his pale fingers together as his eyebrows twitched his face into a tired and grave frown. "Harry, I cannot explain this to you and for what I know of —which is quite a lot, I assure you- this may not be even true. This is merely a fairytale spoken to the youngest of children."
"That's what the three brothers were and you see how swell that went."
Dumbledore chuckled, but even then, it sounded forced —just as everything else did. "Harry, I've never offered this before because it was too soon to get your hopes up in case the actions are merely false, but now it seems we have little choice."
"I'm not following you on this other than the fact you have something that could help me and won't tell me," said Harry, frowning.
"Not something I have, more of something that you may have —if you can get to it," Dumbledore added the last bit more as an afterthought than anything as something seemed to occur to him. "The thing I'm trying to help you with is in a book, a special book that I can only give the description of since no one has seen it in years-"
"You want me to find some book that's been missing for years? If it's been missing, there's nothing I can do!"
"You found Ravenclaw's diadem, Harry, I have no doubt this will be much easier with the clues," Dumbledore told him simply before continuing as if Harry had not said anything. "There's only about six of these books in our world. One with Merlin, one to each of the four founders, and another book passed to the Peverell family."
Harry frowned, but said nothing as Dumbledore continued.
"In one of the books, there is the mention of a fairytale that would help. Sadly, only three of the books now exist and, like I said before, are lost. Most likely they are found in one of the old libraries of an old pureblood family —most likely, one of them is hidden in the library of Potter Manor; last descend of the Peverell other than Tom himself."
Now Harry interrupted, "This plan of yours just got impossible."
Dumbledore mustache and beard quivered as he gave an amused smile, "Yes, most of my plans are and I seem to recall that yours were barely any different."
"That house is under his control, what am I supposed to do? Get the ghosts of Hogwarts to fly in and hold him off while I sneak in because I highly doubt I could get them to do that —or if that's even possible," Harry shot out.
"That's exactly why only you can get it, the house wouldn't recognize that you stepped in it that you were there and if we were to send anyone else-"
Harry thought that considering there was no one else was a bit of a flaw in that sentence.
"-and you can slip in and slip out," Dumbledore finished.
"So I get the book and what? Look up the fairytale and have to look for something else again?" huffed Harry. He did not really understand why he was about to risk his life to get a book that would most likely lead him to another dead end.
Hermione would be upset to know that her books so far had failed him.
An uncomfortable sensation clenched in his stomach as he thought of his best friend and with her image came the image of a tall redheaded man holding her. With that image came another one, one he desperately didn't want to see anymore than necessary and definitely not when her death was still so fresh in his mind, despite having been ages since she had left the world —had left Harry.
"One step at a time, Harry, one step at a time," said Dumbledore before looking at a small golden watch attached to the sleeve of his robes. Harry was unaware portraits needed clocks, but to each his own, he supposed. "Ah yes, it must be time for the daily search. I bid you farewell for now, Harry."
With that, Dumbledore stood up from his high-back chair ("My back is too old to stay in anything else," Dumbledore had chuckled when Harry remarked how comfortable it looked) and walked sideways out of his portrait. He had left Harry to figure out this mess again and this time he was alone, with no family or friends to help him.
The thought of being alone like that lit a flare in Harry's stomach and he knew he could careless how he was doing anything, as long as he was doing something to end this. Unfortunately, now was not the time for him to do anything and with a slight sigh, he picked up the portrait and dropped it in the cupboard under the stairs which had been his home over twenty years prior.
Harry shut the door on Dumbledore's empty portrait and continued up the stairs to his bedroom; where he climbed under his impossibly small bed and slid open a latch, pushing the lid open. Underneath his bed was a trapdoor of sorts, it was dug underneath the streets of Privet Drive long ago and attached to the old-new houses.
It was a medium sized square black hole leading down to a smaller room with one more door, which opened up to a series of tunnels that were all connected to the other houses.
Harry slid over some more and slid face first down the hole, landing only a second later as he face planted the hard dirt. His hand, shaking slightly from exhaustion, reached up and slid the trapdoor closed, a click assuring him that it had locked.
He laid there for a while, staring blankly down at the floor where a trail of spiders marched along the way towards the opposite side of the room only a few feet from him and of the specks of sand in the dirt. He pulled himself up and crawled along the floor, ignoring the feeling of spiders crawling over his hands as he moved as they fell off soon anyway.
The tunnel went down and the roof heightened up, letting Harry pull himself up to his feet as it did so and yet he still had to crouch. Had Ron been there, the man would have most likely had to crawl through here in the size of it. Harry pushed that thought away and opened up the door, dropping down into the seat as high above, the sound of clicking boots ran wildly overhead and the blasts of doors having blown off their hinges barely shook him.
After all, this happened every day.
Harry continued doing a crab-like walk as he got to the other side of the room, where the roof leveled out enough that he could stand up straight. On that side of the room was a bed along with an unopened bag of chips and a few water bottles.
He moved them aside and dropped down onto the bed, feeling the spring's contract as his weight fell and he heaved a sigh. It was his cousin's old mattress and while it was more comfortable than the mattress inside his cupboard was, it was still nowhere near as comfortable as the bed he slept in before now.
He wiped a bit of sweat from his brow, pulling his outer cloak off and putting it under his head for more support. Harry was tired, physically drained and emotionally as well. Despite what trying to turn his brain off, it continued to whirl around as he tried to think of what his next move was.
He would stay here until they left, that was the first step and he the next part kept driving a blank through his mind.
I could try just… blowing the place up, he thought, but stopped and listened to the sounds of pounding footsteps miles above him that caused dirt to fall from the ceiling. If magic were not holding his lair up, it would probably collapse on him.
Sad, would not it? To die by something petty like that when there are other ways he would want to go, Harry thought to himself. Harry smuggled down a snort at how he would react to Harry having died that way, despite how far underground he was, the werewolves would hear him if he spoke too loud.
Ever since he had come back to Privet Drive- Hell, ever since he came back, Harry had been stuck doing this routine. Locked underground until the death eaters decided that no one was in the area and decided to leave and he hated that he was stuck like a child at Hogwarts with a curfew. Granted, he would probably die instantly (or worse) if caught instead of detention or lose of points.
If caught, he would probably wish to hang from the ceilings by his thumbs in the dungeon as Flich had threatened to do to the students of Hogwarts from day one.
The death eaters had decided to check every place he had ever visited, even the dentist he visited one time when he was six because the nurse at school ordered the Dursleys to go after Dudley had knocked his front tooth out badly. He had no idea how they came across this information or how they managed to find the McDonald's down in London his uncle left him at for a few minutes on Dudley's ninth birthday.
Not only where he had been before either. They searched where any known Muggle-borns or blood-traitors lived, even as going as far as raiding random muggle towns in hopes of finding somebody or just for fun. Hardly anybody was in England still, most having decided to leave after the disastrous attempt of revenge by a group of foolish witches and wizards that ended with all of them dead.
Nobody stayed behind to fight again —no one except him that is.
Which brought him back full circle to where he was now, laying on a dirty old bed and sweating what little food and water he had in him out in the heat. He had no idea how things could be this warm underground when usually they were extremely cold.
He glanced at his faded old watch, staring at it and wishing that he had the power to make time move faster so he could just leave this place.
"Although," he murmured aloud, very much aware that if he made too much of a loud sound he was going to be found out, "if I could have a power like that, why stick with forward? I'd rather go backwards… far backwards… the beginning maybe…"
Harry hated it down here, but there were uses to it, even if he would not understand them. It was only while he was waiting to do nothing that he could think easier. He used this time during the day to think or sort out his mind using Occlumency.
Harry paid no attention to his surrounds and instead focused on the ceiling above him, trying to hear the faint sounds that would tell him what could be going on. The sound of footsteps had long died down, hours ago in fact, but Harry was not too sure if he wanted to risk his chances and check if it was clear or just wait here for another hour or so and be completely sure.
A reckless impulse had filled his stomach, which could explain his reasoning for standing up and leaving the room. Usually he would apparate, but on the change that he was wrong and people were still there, he did not particularly want to risk drawing attention to his location by doing so. That left him with the option of having to crawl back, which only seemed to make him annoyed.
Had Ron been here then he was sure he would be grumbling louder than Harry himself was, which was saying something considering Harry was a bit more patient than he was now. It seemed to take a less amount of time to get back than it was to get to where it was, but to him, it was like hours longer. Impatience that he had not had since he was a teenager leaked back.
"Are you quite sure you want to know, Harry?" asked Professor Dumbledore later that day when Harry had finally got out and confirmed that it was, indeed, clear to come back out. Harry first stopped to get some food and a drink before pulling out his portrait.
"I'm positive, Albus," nodded Harry, leaning forward with his chin resting in his hand on the old kitchen table. Years ago, the table that used to feed Dudley, who ate more than a pig and now used for a meeting between a magical portrait and the hated nephew of said aunt that could help in an effort to keep him alive. Vernon would probably roll over in his grave if he knew.
"Very well," said Dumbledore slowly before sighing. "The book I need you find is called 'Aeterna Prudentia'. I have heard the tales from many people and although they have been lost over time, I am positive that they have a basis of truth. I cannot help you further as the book cannot be read-"
"So I have to find a book I may not be able to even read?" asked Harry incredulously. He regretted not taking those language courses Hermione wanted him to know —the only languages he knew were a bit of French and English.
Dumbledore shook his head, his beard twitching yet again, "No, Harry, I mean that I, myself, am not able to help you further. The book cannot be read by me as they are written in a form I would not be able to read."
"If you can't, how could I?"
"Harry," he said, shaking his head, "you are much more incredible at things that you seem to think and you have done things I could only dream of. You can surely do something like this. I can only tell you what the book is titled and that it's most likely in Potter Manor; the rest you shall find yourself as only you would know."
With that said, he immediately sat back down and pressed his fingers together, saying nothing. Harry sat there in stunned silence, wondering how the headmaster thought he could speak a new language just by seeing it or how he assumed that Harry could walk right up to the manor and know where to find this library.
"What have I got to lose?" Harry sighed, rubbing his temples before standing up. "You do realize this means I have to plan a way to sneak into their headquarters without being seen and find a way out?"
"Harry, if you can get the book, there will be no need for you to find a way out," said Dumbledore.
"What the hell does that mean?"
"Exactly what I said it means, you should have no problems with doing the spell right there. However, it would probably be better to come here and plan before running into something like. If the time comes where you cannot get out, use it. If you can get out and can plan, come back," Dumbledore told him seriously, standing up again and vanishing from his portrait, leaving Harry in total confusion on what he was supposed to do next.
Harry found it odd that they chose Potter Manor as their head quarters when they had plenty of places. He was not arrogant enough to assume they did it just to spite him, but he knew that his enemy was very arrogant enough to do so. However, it was probably good that they did it this way because at least he knew his way around instead of having to go somewhere else and ending up stumbling around, probably walking right into a trap.
He would not put it past himself to walk right into one of those or maybe get lost. It would oddly be poetic that Harry got lost in a maze that was the house since that was how he came back.
First step was to figure out how to sneak onto the property. He knew that all the exits blocked by the low-level deatheaters would be able to sound the alarm, but once he got past them it was a clear field until he reached the chamber.
Voldemort would assume that nobody could reach this far or that there was nobody left since he did not think Harry would be able to do this alone. Harry knew that while Voldemort was underestimating him, he would have an advantage even if it were a minor one. The element of surprise would be on his side if he leaked the false trail out.
"All ready?" Harry murmured to Fawkes, who just trilled in response. Late last night, while Harry was finishing parts of his plan, the phoenix had flamed into the room. He would be lying if he said he did not fall off the bed.
Fawkes helped with the plan, making things a bit easier to work with, but he knew Fawkes could only get him so far. If Fawkes flamed him onto the property then the ward alarms would go off, he was sure Voldemort would want alarms against all magical creatures. That made it a bit harder.
"Okay, just flame me to the edge if you could," asked Harry and Fawkes trilled again, looking at Harry with wisdom filled eyes not unlike the owner who used to own him. He held out his tail and Harry grabbed a hold, feeling like he was lighter than air.
A burning sensation came from the tips of his toes all the way up to the top of his head, but it was not painful or even uncomfortable. In fact, it was oddly like being in a warm bed after a long time outside in snow or rain. Harry did not know how long until that feeling would end, but just knew that he did not really want it to.
He had a job to do, despite how crazy or impossible it seemed. Harry did the impossible everyday he was alive, even if he did not like doing it or that it was just him that did so, he still did. That did not shake the feeling that this was going to be the limit for him.
Before, he had hidden somewhere that was at least more familiar to him than it was to Voldemort, but heading to this place that he was now, they were on even footing. Voldemort would have the better advantage, having spent more time there, although Harry doubted he explored.
Harry amused himself for a few moments with the idea of Voldemort prowling through the dark hallways, trying to discover secret passageways by mumbling nonsense words that he was sure would be his father's idea. Then he shook himself, filing the thought away for later (if there was on, a tiny voice in the back of his head whispered) so he could keep his head on what was happening now.
He was on the edge of the property that used to belong to his family. Harry knew it did not belong to him, as he had not step foot in the place in over twenty-years, but staring at it now… It was like a long forgotten piece of the life he had with his parents. Not that his life with his parents lasted long, but it was the mere thought that they had once lived here that did so for him.
"Thanks," he told Fawkes quietly, delaying the inevitable to pet Fawkes' beak. As if knowing he was doing this and understanding why, Fawkes let off a trill again that was filling Harry with hope and with that, came something else: determination. "Thanks," he repeated unnecessarily before continuing off.
There was wards surround the property, but he merely held his hands up and pressed against them for a moment. It was like he was pressing his hands against solid glass and he briefly wondered if they were easy to break (which he doubted) before feeling like he fell through water. He had gotten past the wards.
That was the easiest part of this though. He doubted the rest would be just as simple. Yes, he doubted that very much. The thought only increased when he noticed that there were guards at the back gate and he recognized one of them: Lucius Malfoy.
This just got harder, was his only thought.
He stopped moving, being extremely glad for his dark hair so at least he would blend in a bit more. Harry scanned the area, his eyes carefully watching every piece of the manor to see what he could use to his advantage. He wondered if he should keep moving to find another entrance or use this one.
Harry moved closer and stopped, listening to the quiet conversation.
"Has the Dark Lord said anything, Evans?" asked Lucius, his eyes narrowing at the other guard causing said guard to tense up from what Harry could see. The name struck a bell, but he could not figure out where from other than the obvious —but she was dead, along with her family, so that would not work.
"N-nothing," stuttered out the guard with straight brown hair, Evans apparently.
"He wants us to stay out here for guard duty for another couple of weeks," supplied the other one who was bald.
Lucius continued glaring at Evans, who continued to look more frightened as he did so while the other merely stared back calmly. "I see," said Lucius, his nostrils flaring before adding in such a quiet, dangerous voice that Harry leaned forward to hear, "You will watch over my post, I have things I must take care of tonight. Do not slack off or you shall face the Dark Lords wrath yourself."
He turned away from them and opened the door, slipping inside while the two guards stared at each other. Harry relaxed; his job was easier if he did not have to duel with Lucius right now, despite wanting to.
"Terrence," asked Evans, looking warily back at the door, "You don't think that someone is actually going to break in, do ya?"
"I doubt it, Mark, but you can never know," said the bald guard. Evans first name must be Mark, thought Harry and as he did, a memory came to the surface of his brain of a night many years ago when he thought there was no hope. It was almost ironic now, to think of then when he thought there was no hope and now when he knew there was none.
Mark Evans was five years younger than Harry was and used to live on the street of Privet Drive in the house of Number Eleven with his parents until their deaths when Mark was only fifteen. Harry had never given thought to the fifteen year old when his parents name came up on a list.
Now though, he felt bad for not thinking of something for everyone who died and his or her families. There was only so much that could be done between keeping his family safe and trying to save many people before deatheaters got them so he had never given thought to somebody who had already been attacked. He hoped not everybody who wound up attacked came here.
Then again, he thought Mark had been a muggle, but apparently, he was wrong. He had not noticed him in school during his sixth year, but apparently, he had been.
Not the time, he thought to himself. Knowing Mark was a good thing to some extent, he could use that. Not to mention he looked extremely frightened and that could be used to his advantage if the time needed. Harry was not sure about the other guard though.
He shifted his way and froze when he crushed a leaf, granted it was not a loud one, but still audible.
"What was that?" exclaimed Mark, his voice echoing eerily along the trees.
"Shhh!" whispered Terrence furiously, eyes flashing to the door that seemed to crack open just a centimeter, "you'll alert the whole castle! If somebody comes out here and nobody here is a threat then we will have to face the Dark Lord."
"Did you not hear it, Terrence?" demanded Mark. "Somebody is here."
Terrence paused and glanced around, not spotting Harry still who pressed himself behind a tree. "I see no one, Mark; you must be letting your imagination get to you."
Harry waited until Terrence fully turned away from where he was hiding, but when he did not Harry crouched and picked up a rock, casting a Disillusionment Charm on it before launching it high up in the air so that they would see. It clattered noisily to the floor on the other side of the building. Harry was taking a chance at Voldemort silencing the whole castle so you could not hear anything if you were outside —and it would work both ways with not being able to hear anything outside.
Both Terrence and Mark jumped up, gripping their wands and running towards the sound. Probably in hopes that if they caught an intruder than they would get points from Voldemort, thought Harry. He waited until they were at the corner before going to the door.
With silencing charms on it and the cloak, covering him up, he stepped inside warily. Harry did not trust Voldemort not to put up traps, Harry wondered if telling him how Muggle sounding that was he would stop —it would certainly make his life easier if he did not wonder if a boiling pot of potion would fall over his head.
Not that it had happened before, but he had heard stories about it.
The hallway was not much like the outside. While outside looked a fortress, the inside looked like a comfortable (if not a bit too roomy) old house. Harry, had the circumstances been different, would have wanted to admire the walls and portraits on it for a few more minutes, but when he heard the silent footsteps of Mark and Terrence coming back to their posts, he continued on.
He froze when he heard a voice behind him, someone was yelling at Mark and Terrence outside. "Why did you two leave your posts?" shouted the voice of Lucius Malfoy. "I come around to find the door empty, you are lucky it was only me! We'd all be dead if they found out!"
"We heard something on the other side," said Mark feebly.
"I don't care what was bloody heard, stay at your goddamn posts!" shouted Lucius. He continued to shout things at them and Harry fought back rolling his eyes. Lucius went on and on about what would happen if caught when he should just be happy they had not been —it seemed Lucius had lost his Slytherin touch.
Harry held his wand out and pointed it at the back of their heads, wordlessly sending the stunning spell at Lucius. It would have been smart to get Terrence first since Lucius was rumoured not to have a wand anymore, but he was pretty sure that Lucius would find a way to get one.
"Who is there?" shouted Mark, his voice cracking slightly in fear. A second later, he too fell to the floor knocked out and Terrence started shouting, saying they were under attack when he too fell to the floor from a stunner. Harry did not move, waiting to see if anyone was coming who had heard their yells. When nothing happened, he merely turned and started walking away.
The walls were cobblestone like the outside, but much cleaner with old tapestries hanging on opposite walls and between each one was a portrait with a sleep occupant and a name inscribed on a flat, silver rectangle underneath. Harry assumed most of these were his ancestors judging from the appearances and names.
The deeper he got, the more people he recognized having seen them from the Mirror of Erised when he was eleven. The last portrait was of his grandparents, who were awake and whispering with each other, looking right past him and unaware that their last flesh and blood was near them. He supposed his parents would not be up there with them considering the destruction of their wands the night they died.
Harry now wished he had not lost the map of Potter Manor. Then again, considering they burnt the map maybe it was not really lost. The house-elf had no choice when its master ordered them to burn a specific piece of parchment at all cost. Harry was only lucky that they got the map instead of the file they had wanted, as he was sure it would be disastrous.
Harry was surprised to find himself passing the large doors that lead to the dining hall, which was probably turned into Voldemort's throne room now like he had done at Malfoy Manor. He was so close to the library now, the door was only a couple of feet down the hall. From this point, he could see it was just a regular sized dusty looking door with a brass knob.
Checking that nobody was looking, he pushed the knife into the doorknob and twisted the lock. When nothing happened, Harry knew that the door was unlocked. He ran his fingers over the hilt of the knife before two silver pieces sprung out, wrapping around the doorknob. It opened it up, not even letting out a creak for which he was grateful.
Harry was careful to shut the door with his foot, aware that the less amount of signs that he was there would be best.
The library was just as huge as he remembered with thousands of rows of books, each shelf had small roman numerals inscribed on them to show where each book went. In the very front stood a pedestal with a large and worn looking book on it surrounded by glass, it was practically an index to the library, telling you where to look for what you needed.
He walked up and pushed the glass off, placing one hand on the cover.
"Hello Mr. Potter," said the book once his hand received a pinch to move. "You've finally come to seek knowledge or entertainment from my library."
"Hello," said Harry in surprise. The book could talk back to him. Well, considering the sorting hat spoke to him, he should not have been so surprised. He cleared his throat before saying, "Yes, I come seeking a book that could help me."
The book laughed and while Harry was staring flabbergasted at it, the book spoke again, "I've been waiting for the day that a Potter would finally come and seek help from me again. It's been years since one of you has come to talk to me, let alone come in the library at all!"
"Sorry," said Harry weakly.
"No need!" the book called out happily and ruffled its pages, "What can I get for you today, my lord?"
Harry disregarded the title and said, "I need the book Aeterna Prudentia."
"Do we still have that?"
"Good Merlin," cried out the book quite suddenly and ignoring what Harry said before, "You want the Aeterna Prudentia book? Highly advanced, that one is! It's usually used to put kids to sleep, quite literally seeing as most find it boring, but I would recommend it to a philosopher looking for ideas."
Harry wondered if the book was trying to get out twenty years worth of words in the first few minutes.
"Do we still have it?" he repeated.
"Yes, yes, of course! I am afraid not in the main library, could not have somebody accidentally coming across it or anything. Even if it is unreadable by anybody but a Potter or somebody from the other lines… Somebody could burn it, thinking it nothing but an old blank book!" cried out the book. It flipped open and the pages went flying, moving too fast for Harry to see what any of the pages may have said.
"It's found in the back of the library, there is a specific section back there in section XI and if you were to grab the fourth book down numbered fourteen-fourteen then you shall find better directions," said the book and when Harry turned away, it called out, "Do try and come back soon! Have no fear! I shall keep this better the two of us!"
The glass lid clicked over the book and leaving Harry alone again.
Harry had been aware that the Potter library was a large one, what he had not been aware of was the sheer size of it. Hogwarts had hundreds of bookshelves lined with books and he assumed about the size of that, but this was beyond Hogwarts library. There were thousands of aisles and shelves, he felt like he was in a maze again.
He halfway through section X and watching for section XI, which he was pretty sure would be on the left, part when one of the books popped off the shelf and nearly slamming into the back of his head. He leaned forward, eyeing it distrustfully while pointing his lighted wand at the shelves. There was nobody on the other side of the shelves, which put out the theory it was on purpose unless they were using a charm of some sort.
The small black and orange book in front of him did not look deadly, merely old. Harry knew better now than to leave it at that. He had no clue what could be waiting in the pages. He rolled his eyes, but picked it up and put it back on its shelf, noticing the loose nail that had knocked it off.
Section XI was relatively small with only four shelves filled with books. The books only had numbers labeled on them and no title or author, which he found surprising. They must have been for secrecy.
"Fourteen-fourteen, fourteen-fourteen," Harry mumbled after finding the fourth shelf. He counted from fourteen-zero-eight, fourteen-zero-nine and so on until fourteen-fourteen. It was a thin book and he flipped it open, raising one eyebrow at what the inscription inside the cover:
Only the index knows the one of seven
Harry decided to keep the book with him, he no idea what it may be used for and it might have some clues if the time came. He turned around before sighing heavily, now he had to walk all the way back to section seven.
This section was easy and he picked it up, flipping the book open to see a blank page with only tall and neatly hand-written words on it:
Only two of seven is by length in the section you find left
Harry sincerely hoped this whole thing would not be riddles. He had to get back to Privet Drive before they realized he was here or before they started the daily search, while he had a place to go to if that was the case, he would have liked to talk to Dumbledore's portrait.
"Focus," said Harry, giving himself a shake before looking at the words again. He tucked the book under his arm along with the first one before glancing around. He was at a crossroads in the book section now, he could go to the left where there was a wall making it a dead end, to the right which lead down to what looked like even numbers or straight which lead to odd.
It must have been because of the word 'left' in the riddle that he chose to take the left path or maybe he did not fancy walking the length of the other ones to find which shelf would only fit seven books. Harry thought he had complained about not having a map for the rest of the manor. He would rather have a map of the library -it would make his job easier- than having one of the whole manors.
Maybe that is why there are no other maps, the library took to damn long to make more.
There was one shelf with only one book on it, but the shelf was long enough to fit at least six more. He grabbed five other random books and put them on the shelf, nodding when he was right that only seven books fit on that shelf. He returned the other five to their right location before picking up the new one.
The moment he did, he felt a rush of excitement that had nothing to do with the book held in his hands. He shoved both of the books the small knack sack over his shoulder, pulled his wand back out from the waistband of his jeans, and hurried away. Someone must have found the three knocked out outside… He would not say that it was one of his more brilliant plans, but he knew whether he left them there or not, somebody would notice they were gone and send up the alarm.
He had hoped he would have longer though.
Harry ran through the library, careful not to trip over his feet, and did not care to realize he did not get lost this time in the maze. His instincts were usually quite good with things like that; Harry was not head of the auror department for nothing.
He had been nearing the exit to the library when it opened up and three masked deatheaters came into the room. Harry pushed himself against the wall, waiting for them to move away from the door so he could make it out hopefully before they noticed him.
The deatheaters did not move though and as if they knew exactly where he was, they lifted up their wands and pointed them directly at him.
"Avada Kedavra!" shouted all three of them and he dived to the side before the spells could hit him.
"We know you are here, ickle Potter," jeered one of the deatheaters. "You can't hide from us! The Dark Lord will give a fair reward to anyone who brings you back, dead or alive! I will be his most powerful lieutenant!"
The second deatheater hit him and shook his head, saying, "I shall be his lieutenant!"
The three started arguing with each other and Harry, thanking lady luck, hurried out the still open door. It was a strange sensation to be in mid air and flipped over. Harry felt his cloak slip off his shoulders and flutter to the floor. He could not see anymore as there was something covering his eye and annoyance filled him when he realized he had gotten himself caught.
"We've got him!" shouted someone that Harry could still not see. He felt himself lowering to the floor and the smooth material of his cloak at his fingertips. Binds wrapped around both his wrist tightly, no doubt leaving red marks and taken from him was his wand. Harry hated that they had stripped him of his wand; it made him feel oddly empty —like there was no help.
He barely had time to grip the cloak and will his knack sack (which he was happy to get from Ginny when he had left for his first mission and was filled with magic to summon items he may have needed) to take it before he was lifted off his feet and dragged away.
The least they can do is make an effort to make sure his face did not drag across the floor, he thought savagely to himself when his nose yet again scrapped across a loose brick in the floor as they led him down the hallway, around a few corners, and down a flight of stairs.
'Where are we going?' Harry wanted to ask, but found that he could not find his voice to do so. Forcing his energy on trying to break the magical binds on him, he said nothing and did not struggle. He knew that they would keep a longer eye on him if he reacted and fought, but if he relaxed long enough then he could catch them off guard.
They were dragging him face first across the floor and he knew that they were not a bright pair of deatheaters when whatever was covering his eyes slipped off his face. Harry twisted his neck around to see what was going on. His legs were stuck together with his arms pinned to his sides, which made it easy for both of them to hold one foot each.
He focused on his arms, trying to release the spell on them first. Harry had learned when he trained to become an animagus that you had to start small and with that, he learned that almost all spells (mainly binding ones) could be broken.
Harry was a little annoyed when nothing happened, but focused harder until something did.
First, it was his fingers twitching on his sides, and then his wrist was struggling to bring the rest of his arm, and so on, until finally he could move his arms like normal. The sensation was the oddest thing he had ever been through since his legs still were stuck and unresponsive while his upper body was moving normally.
Harry tried to keep his upper body steady so not to notice the movement as his hand reached up and gripped one of his legs: close contact increased the ability to break a spell. His legs reacted differently than his arms, but that might have been because he was not doing it wandlessly.
Harry's legs were extremely hot, almost burning, but he could only feel the sensation with his hands instead of the rest of his legs. He found that odd, but pushed the thought away. He focused coolness through his arms and fingertips, doing the opposite of what his legs felt like. It was much faster than with his legs.
They got hot where his toes started to twitch and then really warm where the muscles in his foot flexed in his shoes. On it went until both his legs were functional feeling and he reacted instantly.
Harry shot forward, grabbing their wrists in an iron-tight grip while forcing his legs out of their reach. When they released him with gasps of pain, he spun around and rolled to his feet.
"Would love to stay and chat, but I've gotta go," he told them as he dodged a stunning spell. His foot flew out and slammed into the side of his foot, snapping a bone in the other person's wrist as his wand shot in the air. Harry caught his wand and stunned the other one, who flew into a suit of armor that crashed loudly to the floor.
"Accio wand," said Harry and snapped the deatheaters when his flew into his hand. "Fawkes!" he called out, knowing that they knew he was here when the rushing of footsteps down the hallway. Fawkes had just shown up and flamed Harry away when the door burst open, a group of people heading into a room where only a trace of flames could prove Harry had been there before.
Harry landed with a thud outside the wards of Potter Manor while Fawkes landed next to him, breathing deeply. He had known that when he called Fawkes that the phoenix would have to fight the wards. Fawkes would not be able to flame them away again and instead they would have to fly.
He scooped Fawkes into his arms, letting the phoenix's beak rest on his shoulder as he hurried through the back forest he had come from. The faster he got away, the sooner he could figure everything out and the more rest Fawkes had the sooner they could leave.
Fawkes trilled and flew out of Harry's arms only when they reached a clearing deep inside the forest, staring at him a long moment as if judging him before holding out his tail. Harry gripped it with one hand, using the other to secure the strap on his shoulder.
The first time somebody is being flown around by a phoenix is frightening, the second time is unforgettable, and the third time is amazing; everything after that usually stayed normal, a much more comfortable way of traveling than apparating, if only a bit longer.
There was something oddly different about flying around this time, Harry could not figure out what the problem seemed to be. Perhaps it was the way that, instead of feeling light, he felt oddly heavy or the fact there was the smell of something burning. Either way, something was definitely wrong. Harry realized what it was a split second too late.
His hand holding the strap together let go of it and spun the thing around, hooking it around his neck so it would not fall and digging his hand through it. Harry felt an incredible heat across his fingers of something he knew he had not put in the bag and his fingers brushed it. A jolt of something quicker than lightning and painful shot through his hand and up his arm, spreading throughout his body.
Harry barely recognized Fawkes landing them to the ground, trilling worriedly and wisely as images flashed across his mind. He fell into a darkness that did not seem entirely natural —it was safe to say that he lost consciousness.
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