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Old October 21st, 2006, 2:20 am
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Join Date: 19th June 2003
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Age: 60
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 3 – Orders to Kill
That evening during Harry’s sparring with Dudley, he suddenly felt an enormous pain in his scar. He held up his hands to stop Dudley in mid-swing, but Dudley couldn’t get stopped in time. Harry was knocked over and he lay on the canvas clutching his scar.

“Dudders, what happened?” called Vernon. “You didn’t hit him that hard!”

“I don’t know, Dad. He closed his eyes and tried to wave me off, but I could only pull the punch. Harry, what’s the matter?”

By now Harry had rolled so that he was sitting up and his relatives had squatted next to him. Harry continued to squint and hold his scar.

“It’s not you, Dudley. My scar – he’s having someone killed. It’s someone in Brighton, at a retirement home. Can anyone see us?”

They looked around. “Looks like the manager is doing a walk-through,” said Uncle Vernon.

“Okay, I have to talk to Dumbledore. I’ll be right back.” Harry grabbed his wands from his gym bag in his corner and apparated to his room. He grabbed the communicating mirror and called for Professor Dumbledore. Getting no response he called for Lupin.

“What is it, Harry?” asked Lupin. “You sound upset.”

“My scar is hurting. Voldemort is excited about ordering someone killed. It’s someone at Seaside Village Retirement Community in Brighton.. The name is Lancombe. I think it’s somebody who used to be at the orphanage where Tom Riddle was raised.”

“Do you know how many are going or when it’s going to happen?”

“I think just one, but I don’t know when. He’s just given the order a few minutes ago.”

“Alright, Harry, we’ll see if we can’t head them off.”

“Make sure Mr. Weasley knows my apparition to get to the mirror was an emergency, okay?”

“Sure, Harry, I don’t think there would be a problem with it being done for a cause like this, but I’ll get a message to him. As acting Minister of Magic, he’ll be able to scotch any inquiry without a hearing.”

Remus left and Harry apparated back to the Rec. Center locker room, then came out to the boxing ring to meet with his Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley.

“What in blazes was all that about?” asked Uncle Vernon.

“It’s a little hard to explain, but I’ll try. When Voldemort tried to kill me as a baby, I got this scar, and a link was formed between the two of us. When he came back to Britain, I could sense through pains in the scar when he was nearby, and particularly when he was excited. In the past couple of years, since he has gotten a body, it has gotten stronger. Two years ago he learned how to give me visions by focusing intensely on what he wanted me to see. Last year, I learned to tell the sense of his thoughts even when he wasn’t trying to share them, but I couldn’t tell any details. Now I’m starting to pick up details when he is doing something that excites him, like ordering the killing of someone.”

Vernon and Dudley looked at him like he was explaining the more esoteric points of quantum physics. Dudley finally said “So you’re saying you can read minds?”

“Well, that’s legilemency. I usually have to be able to look into a person’s eyes for that. That’s one of the skills he transferred to me when he tried to kill me. But that usually gives only moods, snippets of memories, attitudes, that sort of thing, not detailed thoughts and facts. The link through the scar is starting to give details. In fact, that’s how I became good at legilemency – the knowledge and techniques just came from his mind into mine. I try not to use it, although I have to admit I can’t control it very well yet. The only techniques I’ve gotten from him are use of it, not shutting it down. That’s why I haven’t been looking you in the eyes much lately, so that I wouldn’t accidentally use it on any of you Dursleys.”

“It’s nice to hear that you’re making that effort, Potter, but it still makes me want to wear very dark glasses around you,” said Vernon. “So, again, what just happened? You said he had ordered that someone be killed.”

“Yes, and I called friends of mine to try to send out people to keep that person from being killed.”

“Was it – one of your kind?”

“The person I called was Professor Lupin, but if you mean the person who was being targeted, then no, she was not magical.”

Uncle Vernon grunted a sigh and pursued his lips. “Well, we’re about out of our hour here. Let’s get cleaned up and head home.”

“Are you okay with … what I’ve just told you?” asked Harry.

His uncle stopped and turned toward Harry. “Okay with it!? OKAY with it!?” repeated Vernon, “Of course, I’m not ‘okay’ with it! It scares me silly! The whole … you know … scares me silly! Some people have powers that they can use to hurt others, and we’ve got to just hope they either ignore us or that some other people with those powers will stick their necks out to protect us! I like a life that’s reasonably safe and secure and regular. I want to live in my nice, safe suburban home, with my nice, safe suburban family, and make and sell drills – that’s a peachy life by me! Knowing about all this stuff makes me feel like I’ve been playing football in a minefield, just lucky so far to miss the mines. And unless I’ve misunderstood things, you’re basically a walking bull’s-eye for the nastiest blokes your sort has. No, I’m not okay with it!”

Vernon was glaring at Harry as he spoke, and the intensity of the rant forced Harry’s legilemency to assess his emotions, and Harry saw that this was the real, honest terror that his uncle had been feeling of magic ever since Harry came to the Dursley home. But Harry sensed something else – pride, and affection.

“But,” continued Vernon, after letting that settle with both himself and Harry, “we’re not going to behave cowardly and turn you out. I wasn’t keen on taking you in, and I’ve been tempted before to send you off. Maybe I’ve grown a bit m’self, but as I see it, we’re in it too far now, and we’re not going to abandon you. You’re with us and you’ll stay with us until your responsibilities take you elsewhere.”

Harry sensed that this, too, was genuine, particularly Uncle Vernon’s realization that this determination and loyalty was a newly found quality. “Thanks, Uncle Vernon. That means a lot to me.”

“Let’s go get showered, Harry,” said Dudley, clapping him on the back. “And can you tell me how you disappeared like you did a while ago. That was really cool!”

That night Harry couldn’t get the thoughts of the ordered killing in Brighton off his mind. He tried to focus on other things – his loved ones, the talk with Reverend MacBoon and then with Remus, even his lessons – but the thought of the killing kept intruding. He tried to get to sleep and was fitful. When he finally dropped off he started to dream.

He saw himself addressing someone, a witch or wizard on bent knee, bowing before him. Harry knew it was a sorcerer, hooded and cloaked as the Death Eaters in the cemetery had been. Harry felt exultation at having found this old lady in Brighton; he heard himself giving detailed instructions of horrible things to be done to her. The instructions which Harry heard involved cruelty beyond words, and Harry felt great delight in the giving of them. Then Harry heard the final orders: “And when the spirit is broken, then the life should be ended.”

“I will please you, my Lord,” said the hooded figure, whose voice could not be identified, not even so much as whether it was a man or a woman. But the pleasure in accepting these orders was evident in the tone: whether it was in being trusted to perform such a service or the opportunity to treat a person so brutally was not clear.

Harry next envisioned the victim, but the image kept shifting. Initially it was of a small, thin, frail old woman. She was not strong and unbent, like Professor McGonagall, nor even slowed but still vigorous like Mrs. Figg, but truly a feeble old lady. Then the image shifted and changed: the years reversed and the old woman became much younger, about Tonks’ age, and she reminded Harry of his own first grade teacher at the local muggle school. As Harry was reminded of that teacher and how kind and sweet and gentle she was with him, seeing he was protected from the bullies of the school, the dream began to fade.

Suddenly Harry was disturbed in his sleep by a terrible scream. He was aware it was in his dream, but he couldn’t turn it off. Whenever it seemed to fade, it would be renewed again with fresh urgency, filled with terror and hatred. Harry felt frozen as he listened. Then he realized he felt a sense of pleasure coming over him on hearing these screams, a horrible satisfaction like a warm bath after being too long in the snow or …worse: part of Harry’s mind shuddered as he realized the sense was similar to that he felt when he dreamed of being with a girl. Harry felt like he was watching this hideous emotion occurring, while at the same time knowing that the sense was occurring within him.

Harry wanted to wake from the dream, to end the horror of it. He had had enough dreams of grisly and awful things happening that he could endure that. But the sense of pleasure and satisfaction in the terror of the victim made him ill. And yet part of his mind registered being thrilled.

After several very long minutes, Harry was able to redirect his mind to drive out the evil. He searched for a strong thought of healthy pleasures. He forced himself to think of apparating and of flying brooms and playing quidditch. Not strong enough. He started thinking about Hogwarts, looking for a strong enough thought. He thought of his first Christmas there: it helped, but it wasn’t intense enough. He thought of protecting the Philosopher’s Stone at the end of his first year, but he had mostly felt terror from that, so the horrid vision of the torture and pleasure returned. He remembered the rescue of Sirius, but the bitterness of Sirius’s death tainted the memory. Similarly, his memories of his brief romance with Marietta Edgecombe a few months earlier was tainted both by her dumping him and even more so be her death at the battle at Gringotts.

Finally he thought of seeing Ginny’s apparently lifeless body awakening in the Chamber of Secrets and his relief and joy at that moment; finally, with that, the hideous vision of the old woman and the satisfaction at her dread and pain began to recede from his mind. Harry directed his mind to examine all the good that had come from Ginny’s awakening – her parents’ relief and joy when he and Ron returned with her, the good times that had included Ginny, her coming with him to the Department of Mysteries, her work in the DA, playing quidditch with her. All these thoughts filled him with warmth and kept the horror at bay; the thoughts allowed Harry to resume sleep in peace.

The next morning after his run, Harry had returned to his room when he heard his voice being called from his desk drawer. He opened it up and took out the communicating mirror, by which Dumbledore was calling him.

"Professor," said Harry, "Good to see you, but what happened in Brighton?"

"We were too late, Harry," said Professor Dumbledore sadly. "Remus had to assemble an adequate team to safely go there, and they were just in time to see Voldemort's agent leaving - not a Death Eater, but a witch who is in his service. She had just sent up the Dark Mark. Then she disapparated."

"So Ms. Lancombe was killed?"

"Yes. And Harry - apparently she was tortured before she was killed. She was under the Silencio Charm and there were signs of the use of Cruciatus on her. She was 89 years old."

"That's ... That's just sick! That's very old for a muggle, you know. She was probably very weak. Why would anyone either torture or kill her? She can't have been a threat in a retirement home."

"The only offense she committed was being an assistant at the orphanage where Tom Riddle was raised. I suspect he has decided to eliminate anyone who might recall his origins. I don't know why he would care now."

"I may know, Professor. I remember at the Department of Mysteries last year, I told Bellatrix LeStrange that he was half-blood. She went into an insane rage at my saying so. Perhaps it's come out that I said so, and he has decided to remove anyone who could confirm the muggle part of his origins.”

"That may well be it, Harry. It could also simply be the continued expression of his hatred for his muggle origins. I am also concerned though about your means of learning about it."

"He was feeling great pleasure over ordering it – that always increases the information I get. At least this didn't turn out to be a hoax like when he tricked me into coming to the Department of Mysteries. I had thought about going to Brighton myself, and didn't out of concern it might be a trap."

"Excellent thinking and very healthy caution, Harry. It would be like Voldemort to play on your desire to protect others. My concern, though, is that you may be getting too much information. Two years ago, it was rather vague unless he was focused very intently. Last year it became more detailed, but it was still a matter of overall impressions. Now it is quite detailed, down to specific names and places. I'm worried that the separation between the two minds may be breaking down."

"You mean, our minds could join, just merge together? How could that be?"

"We have known since at least your first year at Hogwarts that the use of the Killing Curse involved creating some sort of connection between you two. I believe that this occurs whenever the Killing Curse is used. Of course, it is not an easy thing to test. There aren't many volunteers to participate, and you are the only known survivor. Nonetheless I believe that in some sense the souls connect and the killer extracts the life and soul of the victim."

"Like a vampire!?"

"Like a combination of vampire and dementor's kiss. If I am right, then the failed curse has not expired, but has locked the two of you together, bound in a struggle over whose will will overpower the other’s – his will to kill versus your will to live," said Dumbledore grimly.

Then Harry quoted the Prophecy, " - And neither shall live while the other survives." Dumbledore nodded and Harry continued, "So neither of us fully owns his own soul until - what?"

"Possibly not until one of you dies, but we’ll be looking for other ways to break the connection. Remember we have very little to go on. It's unlikely we will have any chance to find out. We'll just have to do everything we can to make sure that it's not your death that breaks it."

"Well, that's my goal."

"Every day you get stronger is a day that the odds get better. Harry, I am concerned about this killing. This is the first use of the Dark Mark since Voldemort returned. Its significance will not be lost on the magical world. There are bound to be others. You may be able to give us enough notice to save some lives."

"You know I'll do what I can. What should I do?"

"Pay attention to what your scar is telling you. Keep the mirror with you at all times. Either Remus or I will be available whenever you need to call us and will be able to send out a team in a few minutes. We may be able to catch some of Voldemort's servants, even. But there is a downside."

"He may realize that I'm monitoring his mind and play tricks on me again,” said Harry grimly.

Dumbledore nodded, "Yes, that, and I'm afraid that the more the two of you try to invade each others' minds the more the barrier between the two will be eroded. You must work on protecting your mind from him. You are still practicing your occlumency, aren’t you?"

"Yes, of course, Professor, although it hasn’t seemed to have done any good. However, as we discussed at Gringotts a few weeks ago, I know I can bar him from my mind with strong thoughts of those I love. I think I may have used that last night even."

“What? He was in your mind?”

“Possibly.” Then Harry told Dumbledore everything he recalled about the dream, and how focusing on Ginny drove the evil thoughts from his mind.

“I think you’re right – that does not sound like an ordinary dream. And it can’t be remote viewing because Mrs. Lancombe did not scream – the Silencio had been used on her so she could be tortured without interruption. This had to have been from Voldemort’s mind.”

“That’s what occurred to me during my run, but what I would like to know is if I’m picking up his fantasies or is he projecting such foul emotions into my mind?”

"Well, be keenly attuned to any invasions of your mind, Harry. It would not be worth saving any of those lives if we lose the one person who can stop Voldemort."

"But if we let him pick off people one by one, we'll have no one left to carry on the fight."

"True, Harry, true. Most of our active allies are either at Hogwarts or other secure locations, but that leaves vulnerable a lot of others who cannot so hide. So while no war is fought without risks, let's not be foolhardy."

"No, Professor, I've learned that lesson."

"Good, Harry. But let me be very clear on this - you are not to go on any rescue missions. If there is a killing afoot, let Remus or I know to send out fighters. We need you to fight the war within your mind, not out there."

"Yes, Professor, but what if …”

“No ‘buts,’ Harry. We can’t afford to lose you.”

end chapter


__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
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