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Amid the Ruins

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Harry was still in the hospital wing, chatting with Sirius and Remus. His feelings were a bit all over the place, since he felt guilty for the death of Peter Pettigrew, even though the little rat deserved every horrible thing that happened, but elated since he managed to defeat Voldemort. It meant that Sirius was finally a free man and that he could live with his godfather and not with the Dursleys. The next moment his world imploded. Dumbledore swept into the hospital wing, all twinkling and dressed in hot pink robes with flashing orange stars.

“Harry, my boy, how are you feeling?”

“Fine Headmaster. Hopefully Madame Pomphrey releases me today, as the Farewell Feast is tonight and tomorrow I’m going home with Sirius.”

Dumbledore sighed, plastering a sad look on his face.

“About that, my boy. I’m afraid I can’t allow that. You need to return to the Dursleys, they are your family and guardians.”

Sirius exploded, “What the hell, Albus? I am Harry’s godfather. James and Lily wanted me to raise Harry if anything should happen to them. I know I messed up with the whole Pettigrew thing, but I was punished enough for my stupidity. Besides Voldemort is dead, he poses no danger to Harry any more. Harry is coming home with me!”

A rather cruel look passed through Dumbledore’s eyes.

“Yes, yes Sirius. James and Lily entrusted you with their child. And what did you do? You ran after Pettigrew, leaving a crying three year old in the rubble of his home, with his dead parents. Then you spent the next ten years in Azkaban.

You abandoned your godson and at that moment gave up all right to Harry. The Wizenmagot stripped you of all your rights as godfather of Harry Potter and assigned me as Harry’s magical guardian. I made the tough choices to keep Harry safe and alive. And as Harry’s magical guardian I am once again forced to weigh in all dangers levied against Harry.

Voldemort may be defeated, but his Death Eaters are still active. They will seek revenge against Harry. I also did not want to tell Harry this now, wanting him to enjoy at least the last bit of his childhood, but I fear Voldemort may return yet again one day.

We must protect Harry at all costs. During the summer he will be, as always, safe in the home of his Aunt and Uncle. And yes he is loved by them.”

Sirius tried again, “Albus, you know they abuse him. You can’t be serious in sending back to them?”

“Enough Sirius. We’ve all entertained your tall tales regarding the Dursleys, but it stops now! I placed charms all over your home, to keep an eye on you. For reasons unknown you decided to play the victim. For four years now you’ve deceived your best friends, claiming that your family abuse you in various ways.

Harry lies about his life with his family. He pretends that he slept in a cupboard under the stairs until his Hogwarts letter came, that only his bedroom, the room he was grudgingly given by his family, has bars on the window, that his family starves him, beats him and treats him like a house elf.

Harry, I don’t know why you feel the need to do what you do, but your cruel behaviour towards your family stops now. Claiming your family treats you like a house elf, just because they expect you to clean your own room and perform small chores around the home, simple chores such as clearing the dining room table.

Claiming that your family starves you, when you are the one who regularly skips meals or ensure that you regurgitate everything you have eaten. Do you really hate your father that much? You wanted to be the youngest Quidditch player and youngest Seeker in over a century. You instigated the incident in first year to ensure Professor McGonagall notices you. In your mind you believe you need to be short and weigh almost nothing to be the best, but you are only harming yourself.

Claiming to your family physically abuse and bully you, when in fact it is you who torment Dudley. Dudley suffers from a muggle medical condition that causes him to gain weight at an alarming rate. Taunting him by eating sweets in front of him, calling him a useless fat slob and all sorts of demeaning names.

You gave your poor cousin a pig's tail, just to humiliate him and then blamed the incident on Hagrid. Hagrid does not even have a wand.

Your behaviour stops now Mr Potter. No more lies. You will be grounded the whole summer and be restricted to your bedroom. You will take the time to think about your transgressions and when you come back next year, you will publically apologize to each and every student and professor for your lies and manipulations.”

With that Dumbledore left, dragging Sirius and Remus with him. It was the last time he saw them and it was clear they believed the lies Dumbledore told.

Dumbledore forced Harry to leave Hedwig and his wand at the school. Sitting at the back of the Hogwarts Express, Harry really thought about his life and the role Albus Dumbledore played in it.

He may have known happiness the first three years of his life, but could not really remember it. Sometimes he dreamed of soft loving arms holding him close, telling him that she loved him. Then came Halloween 1983, the night Voldemort killed his parents.

Sirius may have left him there to go after Pettigrew, but Hagrid was there as well. It was not as if Sirius just left him there alone like Dumbledore implied. Hagrid took him to Dumbledore and from that moment on Harry Potter was nothing more than a puppet on a string.

The next eight years of his life was one of misery and pain. His so-called loving family made sure to remind him every day of all of his faults, short-comings and mistakes and just how unloved and unwanted he was.

He was worked as a slave, forced to clean their home and garden. Paint the house (inside and outside), the fence and the shed. He washed and ironed their clothes. He cooked their food, but was rarely allowed to eat the same food. Hell he was not even allowed to sit at the table with them. Uncle Vernon bought a metal dog bowl and scratched the word FREAK into it. Whatever food they so graciously allowed him to eat was put in the bowl and just like an animal, Harry was even denied eating utensils.

Sometimes Harry could not decide which was worst, the verbal abuse of the physical abuse. And how the Dursleys relished in meting out both kinds and in copious amounts.

They never called him by his name. They rather called him Freak, Boy or Potter (when they were in public). He received neither birthday presents nor Christmas presents, but made sure that he saw all the gifts Dudley received. They reminded him that he was a freak, a monster, a waste of space, something that contaminated their home and befouled the air they breathed, a failed abortion and a horrible thing that never should have seen the light of day. Something that was unloved and unlovable.

The physical abuse did not stop at the forced manual labour and controlled starvation. Aunt Petunia loved hitting him with anything she could lay her hands on, but the rolling pin and frying pan were her weapons of choice. Uncle Vernon beat Harry with his fists and big leather belt. Harry’s body was a roadmap from all the scars, the ugliest was a long scar starting just above his left nipple, over his shoulder and down his back. The belt buckle removed bits of his flesh during the beating. Dear cousin Dudley was not far behind his parents in meting out the abuse and his favourite game was something he called “Harry Hunting”. The aim of the game was for Dudley and his gang of friends to chase Harry and if they managed to catch him, beat him until they either grew tired, Harry passed out or a passing adult stopped them. Luckily Harry was fast and nine out of ten hunts, he escaped them, but that one time made up in spades for the nine escapes.

In all his time before Hogwarts, not one wizard or witch came to check up on Harry. Nobody made sure that he was well cared for. The first time he met anybody from the wizarding world was when Hagrid came to fetch him.

Hagrid was a nice enough man, always ready with a joke or support, but he was extremely gullible and had a notorious short temper, especially if somebody dared to insult Dumbledore. At first Harry found it funny that he bullied Uncle Vernon and gave Dudley a pig’s tail, but realized that what Hagrid did to the Dursleys, was just as bad as what Voldemort and his followers did and the way the Dursleys treated him. It also cast a shadow on Dumbledore, the supposed lover of muggles. And why did Dumbledore send an unqualified wizard and one not even a professor at Hogwarts to retrieve Harry and tell him about the wizarding world? All the other muggle born children were visited by a professor. It really does not matter that Harry was not technically a muggle born, but a half-blood, since he remembered nothing about magic and the wizarding world.

Harry reminded himself of the past four years at school and the dangers he were exposed to.

First year.
As much as Harry loves Quidditch, he must admit that it is a dangerous sport. Who in their right mind would allow an eleven year old to participate? There is a reason that first years were never allowed to play. Besides, Dumbledore broke school rules to allow Harry to play. Not only that, Harry was only able to impress Professor McGonagall after he broke the rules. Sure he saved Neville’s remembral, but thinking back, up until the moment he jumped onto the broom, nobody’s life was in danger. He did not have to play the hero and retrieve the bloody thing. The remembral was nothing but a trinket and if Draco did destroy it, pureblood etiquette, as well as school rules would have demanded that the Malfoy’s replace the remembral.

Then the long list of rule breaking, slipping out after curfew, keeping quiet about Hagrid and his bloody dragon, attempts at illegal duels, etcetera.

Then came the troll incident on Halloween night. The smart thing would have been to tell a teacher or a prefect that Hermoine was in the girl’s bathroom. Instead he and Ron rushed off to help her, okay he did and he forced Ron, but only because Ron was the reason she was hiding in there to begin with. They could have been killed by that smelly beast, but got extremely lucky. And was once again rewarded for his rule breaking.

Last but not least was the incident with the Philosopher’s Stone. Sure, he tried to tell Professor McGonagall about the danger, but as soon as she brushed him off, he decided to try and save the day.

Harry suddenly realized the whole first year was a set-up. Using Hagrid to retrieve him from the Dursleys. The same Hagrid who was as unable to keep a secret as a sieve was able to hold water. It was Hagrid who told Harry that Dumbledore sent him to retrieve something very important from Gringotts. It was Hagrid who let slip about Nicholas Flamel and Fluffy. Then his father’s cloak at Christmas and Harry finding the Mirror of Erised and the dangers associated with the mirror. Quirrel (the real villain) portrayed as the poor bumbling, but loveable victim. Snape cast in the role of the evil wizard. Besides Fluffy, all the other puzzles were easily overcome by three eleven year olds, and even then he was conveniently given a flute by Hagrid for Christmas. And that was what Dumbledore deemed sufficient to keep Voldemort away?

Quirrel/Voldemort could have killed him right there and then. It was just luck that Harry was somehow protected, he did not quite believe Dumbledore’s explanation of love, and he was able to defend his own life.

And how did Dumbledore handle the three Gryffindor’s behaviour? He awarded them house-points, weeks after the fact, robbing Slytherin of their hard earned victory.

Second year.
He and Ron should have waited for Mr and Mrs Weasley to come back from Platform 9¾, instead, they stole the car and flew on their own to Hogwarts. The punishment they received was only one detention each, one could argue that having to spend the detention in the company of that idiot Lockhart, was cruel and unusual punishment, but the punishment was far too easy for the crime committed.

Harry started right up breaking the rules, once again. He encouraged theft when Hermoine decided to illegally brew Polyjuice Potion and stealing the necessary ingredients from Professor Snape’s storeroom. Then they drugged two of their classmates to gain access, as them, to their common room.

He kept quiet about the voice he heard, but then, Ron and Hermoine told him that hearing voices was not normal, not even in the wizarding world. He was afraid that everybody would treat him as a freak and that his family was in fact correct. Not that it mattered in the end, since he had been exposed as a Parselmouth and was treated like dirt by the majority of the student populace.

He and Ron almost became a light snack for Hagrid’s pet spider and its children, because Hagrid convinced him it was a good idea to follow the spiders. Harry suspected that Dumbledore knew about the basilisk, but once again encouraged Harry to take part in solving the mystery.

Then when he did solve the mystery he took Lockhart, the fraudulent and cowardly idiot with them to face the basilisk. Even Filch would have been a better option as an adult.

He never learned how Ginny Weasley came into possession of Tom Riddle’s diary. It also bothered him that Ginny, who was raised from birth in a wizarding house, with six older brothers, an overprotective mother and a father who always warns them about the dangers, kept the diary when she saw the thing writing back? A muggleborn could be forgiven as they would not understand the danger, but a pureblood?

Third year:
He could be forgiven blowing Aunt Marge up, since it was accidental magic and then panicking and fleeing the house. But who could blame him? It had been drummed into them that they were not allowed to use magic outside of school and any transgression was punishable. They could even be expelled from school and the Ministry could snap their wands.

But after learning about the dangerous mass murderer who escaped Azkaban, Harry still continued breaking the rules. He even went as far as slipping out from the castle, just so he could walk around in Hogsmeade. And why? It was not as if he was able to enjoy anything as Ron and Hermoine dragged him the most isolated places, where he froze his butt off.

When he saw Pettigrew’s name on the map, instead of going to an adult, he kept quiet, trying to solve the mystery.

They broke the law by using the time turner to save Sirius and Buckbeak, but he would never be sorry about it and was one of the few things he would do again and with pleasure. Well, expect blasting poor Professor Snape with four wands.

Dumbledore did not even punish them for being out after curfew, the slew of rules and laws they broke, nothing. Sure he broke the rules to save somebody’s life, but he still broke the rules.

Why did Dumbledore allow Hermoine to take all the classes? It was a little bit convenient for her to take all the classes and the use of a time-turner. No other student, no matter how smart have ever been allowed to take each and every class available and they most certainly would not allow a twelve year old a dangerous artefact such as a time-turner.

Then this magical year.
By now his habitual rule breaking was legendary as well as the real lack of punishment.

For once he thought his year would be stress free, since the Tri-Wizard Tournament would only be accessible to those witches and wizards of age. Of course his name would be drawn from the goblet. Instead of having his best friends stand by him when he said he did not enter nor did he ask somebody else to enter on his behalf, Ron abandoned him and enjoyed slandering Harry, along with the rest of the school. Only the twins stayed friends with him.

He had to endure being called a cheat and an attention freak. His dorm mates destroyed his homework and refused to let him sleep in his bed. Since a week before the first task Harry had been sleeping in the Room of Requirement, a wonderful room that Dobby showed him. Harry met Dobby the previous year and was astounded to learn that the strange little creature was a free house elf who worked at Hogwarts. Dobby took a liking to him and cared for and looked after him. Meal times were even worse and after the fourth meal denied him by his own house, Dobby also took pity on him and served him his food in his new bedroom. Professor McGonagall did not even realize that Harry did not sleep in the dorms at night nor took his meals in the Great Hall. It was as if all the adults went on a vacation in Never-Never Land and Harry was invisible to them. The only two professors who did not treat him differently were Snape and Moody.

Harry was the only student without a date for the Yule Ball and left early as no table was available for him to sit at and students grabbed drinks and food from his hands.

Afterwards Professor McGonagall called him into her office and berated him for not participating in the Yule Ball. She told him if being the Boy Who Lived and being a champion was giving him an overrated sense of importance, she would wash her hands off him and he was banned from playing Quidditch. Fred and George later told him that Ron and Hermoine told McGonagall that Harry refused to ask a girl, stating that he would not ask a girl, she could ask him, he was after all the Boy Who Lived and a Triwizard Champion.

 

The tasks itself were horrendous. Dragons, merfolk and all the dangers in the lake and then finally the third task and the graveyard and the final desperate battle, he would be the first to admit it was once again pure blind luck that assured his victory.
If he did not show mercy towards Peter Pettigrew, Pettigrew would not have owed him a life debt, thus freeing him from the clutches of the angel gravestone before Voldemort could even attempt to restore his body.
If Voldemort did not lose his temper and took time to murder Pettigrew before he turned his attention back to Harry, who just finished burning Voldemort’s pet snake to a crisp, allowed Harry time to destroy the snake and further unsettle the mad dark lord. Seeing his beloved Nagini as nothing more than a pile of smoking ashes, pushed Voldemort over the edge.
Fortunately he was too weak in his current form and could not physically attack Harry, it also meant his power was greatly diminished. At the time Harry did not realize that Voldemort shared power with Nagini and by killing the snake he also weakened the malformed thing that was Voldemort. They sent a volley of curses to each other. Then the final hex, Harry had meant to bind Voldemort both magically and physically, but…

Just a slip of the tongue, accompanied with a slight wrong movement of his wrist conjured a very mean tempered African bull elephant. The elephant landed onto the malformed bundle which was Voldemort and the elephant proceeded to trample the evil wizard to a bloody pulp. By the time the Aurors arrived there was nothing left of Voldemort but the rags he was covered in, a bloody mush which used to be his body and his broken wand.

Harry was hailed a hero and suddenly everybody wanted to be his friend again. Ron and Hermoine started following him around, as if the past year did not happen, pretending to be his best friends.

Harry wondered why Dumbledore allowed him to compete in the TriWizard Tournament. At the beginning of the year he made sure to announce that the tournament would only be available to witches and wizards over the age of seventeen, he even went so far to place the age line.

But still he allowed and basically forced Harry to compete. The tournament was supposed to be a binding contract, and as a minor Harry technically should not have been allowed to compete as he is still a child. Why did Dumbledore force him to complete each task? Should it not have been more prudent to advise him, that although he was forced to take part, he could forfeit each task. Yes, he would have ended dead last with zero points, but at least he would have been safe.

 

For the first time since starting Hogwarts, Harry Potter started to really think for himself.

Dumbledore was not the benevolent grandfatherly old wizard he tried to portray himself as. He showed his true self by lying to Sirius and Remus. The old man had his own nefarious agenda and was clearly not through tormenting Harry. It was also as clear as day that Dumbledore and the Dursleys worked hand in glove.

He realized who his true friends were and it neither Ron Weasley nor Hermoine Granger. They were just as quick, if not quicker, to condemn him as a cheater and a glory hound. Now that he defeated Voldemort, he was good enough again to be their friend.

Ron was lazy, hateful and jealous. As if losing your parents and growing up as a slave was something to be jealous about. Ron always distracted him in class and encouraged him not to complete his homework on time. And he allowed it to happen, because Ron was his first friend and he would have done anything not to lose his friend.

Hermoine was bossy and a little know-it-all. She was only happy when she was the only one knowing the answers, the only one teachers called upon during class. She was downright nasty if somebody performed better than her in class and was quick to say that this or that student was cheating. He did not care for the fact that she would grab his homework to correct it, because he was nothing more than a brainless idiot. He hated whenever he received mail, that she would grab the note from his hands and read it. He hated her demanding nature, always wanting to know his whole life.

******

Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape drank a toast to Harry Potter. At long last they were free. During Lucius’ seventh year at Hogwarts he was recruited by the newly created MMI5 (the magical version of the muggle MI5), he convinced his father Abraxas to allow him to travel the world for three years, sowing his wild oats. He vowed that on his return he would marry Narcissa Black and take the Dark Mark. According to the wizarding populace, Lucius Malfoy travelled the world, doing what young rich wizards did. He was in fact at a secret training facility undergoing intense training. As promised Lucius returned to Britain, married Narcissa Black (whom he loved since the day he met her) and took the Dark Mark, Abraxas Malfoy crying with joy.

When the Dark Lord’s current Potion Master failed with yet another potion, Voldemort instructed his Death Eaters to find him a Potions Master worthy of the title “Master”. Lucius remembered Severus Snape, and quietly approached the fifth year. Severus was more than willing to spy on Voldemort and was recruited by MMI5. MMI5 paid all of Snape’s tuition and he completed his apprenticeship alongside his training as an agent for MMI5. At age 19 Severus Snape was the youngest Potions Master in history.

Lucius and Severus’ mission of taking down the Dark Lord only intensified when the bastard decided to kidnap and murder the Malfoy’s sixth month old son.

The first time Lucius Malfoy cried was when his heir, Draco Malfoy, was born on June 6, 1980. The second time he cried was when Narcissa told him she was once again pregnant. The third time he cried was when Narcissa gave birth to Kaiden Serpens Malfoy on August 24, 1982. The fourth and last time Lucius Malfoy cried was when little Serpens was kidnapped from their home on February 14, 1983 and presumably killed. They never even recovered a body to bury.

Voldemort visited the Malfoys that very morning. He was quite enamoured with Draco, but gazed at Serpens with distrust. Lucius knew of the so-called prophecy and the seer, Sybill Trewlaney. Everybody knew about Sybill, a failed witch and even more of a failure as a seer. They all believed that Voldemort could not be that foolish to believe in divination, but was wrong.

Lucius and Severus worked harder to bring the bastard down and even after all their hard work, all seemed lost. When Voldemort actively started hunting the Potters, believing their still unborn son the child spoken of in the prophecy, Severus Snape (with the full approval of MMI5) approached Dumbledore. He pretended that he was a reformed Death Eater and at the behest of Albus Dumbledore accepted the post of Potions Master at Hogwarts and vowed to spy on Voldemort on behalf of Dumbledore and his Order of the Phoenix.

The Potters were able to evade the mad man for three years. It all changed the October 31, 1983. Voldemort was somehow able to break the fidelus charm and the consensus was that Sirius Black betrayed his friends. That evening, while all the little muggle boys and girls went trick or treating, Voldemort entered the house of the Potters in Godric’s Hollow. He killed James Potter at the foot of the stairs. He followed Lily Potter to the nursery and murdered her in front of her three year old son. Something went wrong when Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter and the final curse he cast – Avada Kedavra – rebounded and struck him.

Whilst the wizarding world were celebrating the Boy Who Lived, the Malfoys mourned their son. They would now never know why Voldemort killed their second son and what he did to their baby’s body. Albus Dumbledore decided the safest place for the young hero would be with his muggle relatives and disappeared from public view. Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape were arrested and dragged before the Wizenmagot. They at least at viable stories available. Lucius claimed to have been subject to the Imperious curse and this defence, with a few discreet donations, kept him out of Azkaban. Severus, however, could not claim the Imperious defence, as it was a well-known fact that he was immune to the curse. During his trail, Albus Dumbledore appeared on Snape’s behalf outing him as a spy in the process, but a loyal servant to the light. All charges against Severus were dropped and he returned to Hogwarts.

Snape stayed on in his post as Potions Master at Hogwarts, at the insistence of the MMI5. It was a great cover and should Voldemort ever return, Snape could pretend that he never abandoned his post and kept on gathering information on Dumbledore and his Order, all the while staying in his good graces.

Even after all these years, the Malfoys missed their lost son and any hope they had to gain answers from Voldemort was squashed by an angry elephant in a dilapidated muggle graveyard.