If We Could Only Turn Back Time
Ever since he'd defeated Voldemort, Harry had felt as though there was something missing in his life. He'd long ago chalked it up to the Horcrux that had been a part of him for practically his whole life and forced himself to ignore the feeling. He'd become a decorated auror, married the girl of his dreams, and had three beautiful children.
And yet, here he was, fifty years later, surrounded by his family as they buried Ginny and that hole remained. Everyone was crying, except for him. Oh, he'd loved his wife, make no mistake, but she'd never quite filled that hole that had appeared after the war. Her death was just an addition to the hole already there, and he'd cried all his tears decades before.
"Why did it have to be Ginny who died?" Ron whispered as the procession of mourners finally finished filing out the floo and to the apparation point in the back yard. "Why couldn't it have been Malfoy–"
"Why did anyone have to die?" Albus muttered from next to Harry's elbow. He and Draco Malfoy's son, Scorpius, had been friends ever since their first year when they'd ended up in Slytherin together. Usually, Ron knew better than to say nasty things about the Malfoys around the young man, but he wasn't at his best right now. "What right do muggles have to–?"
"You really don't want to go there, Al," James said drily from just behind his brother. His girlfriend, Jessie, was a muggle.
Albus scowled at his brother, then glanced down at Harry with concern in his wide green eyes. "Dad, are you okay?"
Harry blinked up at his middle child, not really seeing the young man. "Fine," he murmured.
Hermione bustled over, then, and gently took Harry's elbow. "Let's get you to bed, Harry," she offered.
Harry glanced back at Ginny's casket, then let his sister-in-law lead him up to the second floor and the bedroom he'd shared with his wife. He paused for a moment in the doorway, but Hermione tugged him forward and since the other rooms in the house were full of visiting family, this really was the only place he could sleep. (Well, his room or the couch, but Hermione would never let him get away with the latter.)
Hermione coaxed him out of his outer robes and into the large, cold bed. When she started making sure the blankets were secure around him, he murmured, "I'm almost seventy, 'Mione. I can tuck myself in."
Hermione huffed and gave him an unimpressed look. "You've been walking around with that dazed look on your face ever since the attack. I'm not sure I trust you to take care of yourself."
"Hmm..." was Harry's only response.
Hermione sighed and settled on the edge of the bed next to him, absently tugging at a curl that had come loose. "We're all worried about you, Harry."
Harry shrugged and closed his eyes. "My wife is dead at the hands of a psychotic muggle and we're about two months from a full-out muggle-magical war. Better to worry about other things than me."
Hermione sighed again and leaned forward to gently press her lips against Harry's forehead, making the wizard smile sadly. "There's always time to worry about you, you self-sacrificing idiot." Then she got up and left the room, the lights dimming behind her.
Harry kept his eyes closed in the darkness, trying to imagine that Ginny was still laying next to him. Trying to imagine that his world hadn't gone completely insane a week ago when the muggle government first announced the presence of the magical world and the non-magical citizens of Britain started attacking anyone who might be magical on sight.
But there was no Ginny next to him and the muggle minister was a complete lunatic. Many people were going to die in this modern witch hunt and there was little Harry could do about it but watch it happen. What good was a hero against a terrified man with a gun?
A year passed and they were involved in a new war, this time one without a clear enemy. There was no Dark Lord to sweep in and take down, there were no minions to capture or ask to be spies. There were only muggles and wizards, both with their own weapons of mass destruction, both intent on coming out on top. Muggleborn children were caught in between the mess, killed by neighbours and strangers alike before anyone could think to call for help.
The magical world was completely unprepared for a battle against muggles. Yes, they had magic on their sides, but even the best shield was nothing against a nuclear bomb falling in the middle of Diagon Alley. Everyone looked to the aurors for help, but they were used to fighting magic, not physical projectiles.
Harry rather thought that Voldemort and his Death Eaters were laughing in their graves.
Harry, himself, was someone that the magical population turned to. He'd finished Voldemort when all had been lost, helped rebuild the magical world without having finished school, had fathered three brilliant children; surely if anyone could fix things, it would be Harry Potter.
He sighed over yet another pleading owl, wondering when his people would finally decide to start fighting for themselves and stop placing all their hopes on one figurehead or another. His own wife was one of the first victims; didn't they think he'd have done something already if he could have?
Two nieces and Teddy's son had died in the bombing, as well as Teddy, Lily, Rose, Neville, and their families. Other than Albus and himself, they had been the last of the Potter-Weasley-Lupin brood, and now they were gone.
"Dad?" Albus whispered, hand clenched tightly in the hand of the last remaining Malfoy. When Draco had died, Scorpius had come to live with Albus and Harry and the two younger wizards had quickly ended up sharing a bed while Harry looked the other way.
"Let's go home," Harry mumbled, casting one last glance back at the line of coffins. The mundanes had agreed to a cease-fire for two days, to give the magicals time to unbury their dead from the rubble, and that time was almost up. War would start again soon, and the only way to survive was to spread out, unless you were part of an attacking team.
Harry would be going out on the attack later that night. There was no guarantee that he'd return alive.
There never was.
He gently patted the fresh dirt that covered what remains he'd been able to find. The last of his sons would share a grave, as they would have wanted.
Harry looked up into the dark sky as the acid rain started again, staining his face like tears and ripping a cough from deep in his chest. He didn't need anyone to tell him he was dying, the dead forests he'd once taken cover in had been evidence enough. They were killing this world with their war, and themselves along with it.
Harry only wanted to live long enough to see those mundane bastards die by their own hands.
He ran as fast as he could, not even thinking to send curses back at his pursuers; his wand had been lost almost a year ago, and he needed all his breath for running, anyway.
"There's nowhere to hide, Magic!" one of his pursuers shouted and the others laughed.
"It's like a helpless rabbit, bounding pointlessly away from the fox!" another called.
Harry smiled bitterly. Rabbits and foxes were as endangered as witches and wizards, these days. He wondered if those mundanes realised they were killing all their food with the poison from their bombs.
A tree had fallen across the path and Harry knew he'd never make it if he took his time or went around. He ran right up to it and vaulted over, grinning at his success. But on the other side, on the way down, an extended branch caught his ripped trousers and he fumbled, silently cursing.
He hit his side hard, caught leg held up above him at a painful angle. This was it. They'd finally caught him.
Faces peered over the top of the log, grinning at their win. "Well, well, lookie here, boys," one of them sang with an American drawl, "we caught ourselves a Magic."
They all chortled for a moment, taking their time about checking their guns for ammo and aiming just right.
"Any last words, Magic?" the apparent leader asked.
"Yeah," Harry replied through a wracking cough. "See you in Hell."
"Finally awake, boy?" an irritated voice demanded.
"Huh?" Harry blinked his eyes open, wincing at the bright lights of the long-gone Platform Nine and Three Quarters. "Where the–?"
"You're in what you mortals might call Purgatory," the irritated voice offered, and Harry looked over to find a cloaked individual holding a scythe. "And I'm Death, just so that's out of the way."
"Death?" Harry shook his head a bit and sat up in the middle of the floor. "Why...?" He shook his head again and focused on the spectre seated just next to him on a bench. "Why am I in Purgatory? Shouldn't I have gone straight to Hell or something?"
Death huffed. "Yeah, sure, Hell. They've got a nice torture cupboard with your name on it down there. It's right next to your old pal Tommy-Boy." Harry got the distinct sense that Death was rolling its eyes. "Not quite, kid. Look, you died the Master of the Hallows, right?"
"Erm, sure?" Harry shrugged. Surely he'd been disarmed once or twice?
"Close enough," Death decided, tossing his scythe between his hands like one might have done with a bouncy ball. "Look, you're the Master, so you get some choices, here–"
"Hey! Let me talk!" Death snapped.
Harry flinched back. "Sorry. Your story. Go on."
"Damn right it's my story. Stupid mortals." Death huffed a bit and changed his grip on his scythe, which shortened, then he started twirling it in one hand like a particularly deadly baton. "You're the Master of Death, so you get a couple choices here. You can go back to that wretched existence you came from and enjoy the rest of your very short life as the last magical alive. You can go on to Hell and that nice little torture cupboard I mentioned. Or! You can take option number three and go back to your childhood to fix everything."
Harry blinked. "Erm, right. Well, no going back to a mortal hell, thanks."
"I wouldn't suggest that one, no," Death agreed. "Life is so tedious."
Harry gave the cloaked figure an odd look. "You would say that, wouldn't you?"
Death chuckled. "You amuse me. Go on. Two choices left: Hell or doing it all over?"
Harry rubbed at his eyes. "Bloody hell. Erm... Well, for all that you'd probably suggest I move on to Hell, I've gotta say that doing everything over sounds like the better option."
"Even if you know you'll end up in Hell once that chance is over, no matter what?" Death wondered.
"Ooh, good one. Let's see, eternal torture now, or eternal torture after another lifetime? Well, crap, I don't know how I'll ever choose!"
Death's laughter reminded Harry of a cross between a Dementor breathing and a dying man's cough. "You very much amuse me, Master of Death."
"I live to serve," Hurry muttered.
"Ooh! Wait, yes, I like that!" Death set down its scythe and leaned forward. "You, going back in time. What will you do about the mundanes? Will you kill them?"
"Erm..." Harry rubbed absently at the spot over his chest where the bullet that had killed him had gone in. The spot was healed now, but Harry didn't think he'd ever forget the pain of the bullet ripping through him just to the side of his heart and slowly bleeding out. "I dunno. Maybe." He grimaced, then admitted. "Probably." They'd destroyed everything. They'd hunted him and his fellow witches and wizards like they were animals. They ruined the whole planet in their fear and hatred. If he went back, he'd have to stop them from ever finding out about the magical world, and if that meant killing them all...
"Good, good." Death rubbed its hands together like a mad man with his latest victim. "Let's see, in this life you've killed..." Death trailed off and numbers like on a digital clock appeared over Harry's head, counting up. "Yes, that's about right," Death said as the numbers stopped and Harry felt his eyes bug out a bit.
"Four thousand?" he breathed.
"Three thousand, nine hundred fifty-seven, to be exact," Death corrected him. "And that's not counting Tom Riddle, by the way, since he was more of a fluke. I mean, I'll give you partial credit, for destroying his diary, but that's it, really." The cloaked figure leaned back as Harry rubbed helplessly at his eyes. "Let me make you a deal, mortal."
Harry shook his head, a little sick at the number still suspended above his head, but it had been war and he'd used some of the most devastating spells ever made to destroy as many mundanes as he could. "Deal? What sort of deal?"
Death pointed at the number over Harry's head. "Promise to match that number, and I'll grant you a boon."
Harry glanced up at the number again. "It only has to be mundanes?" he asked.
Death shrugged. "Mundane, magical. I don't care. As long as they're dead, I'm happy."
Harry nodded. "This going back to fix things... would I retain all my knowledge?"
"Not much point, otherwise," Death agreed. "How would you be expected to change it if you couldn't remember what you'd done wrong? You'll have all your knowledge, your abilities, even your developed magical core."
"Oh. Erm... right. Okay. Uhm, what sort of boon?"
Death picked up its scythe again and started twirling it. "A skill you didn't have in this past life. Maybe... I don't know: being a Metamorphmagus! Or having control over an element. Or–!" Death was suddenly quiet and Harry got the sense the thing was smiling at him in a most disturbing manner. "I can give you the abilities of a dementor."
"The abilities of a dementor?" Harry parroted, a little afraid of what that meant.
Death nodded, and Harry got the sense that it was really quite excited. "Yes! Some empathy, the ability to invoke the worst memories in your victim's mind, and the ability to suck out a soul." Death tapped where a chin might be on a human face. "I suppose I could let you have some sustenance from the souls you collected that way, but they'd all still be coming to me. They'd count towards your soul count, of course..."
Harry grimaced. He hated dementors. With a passion. However. Being able to kill mundanes without a trace or cow his enemies... "Would I be able to decide who was being affected by this... power?"
Death huffed. "As if I'd give you some awesome skill that you had no control over. You'd be able to decide who it would affect, how strong the effect was, whatever. It'll take some practise at the start, but you should get the hang of it pretty quickly." Death paused. "That is, if you decide on it."
"You said 'some empathy'," Harry recalled. "In what way?"
"I say 'empathy', but it's really not," Death replied. "Humans don't have an ability like it, but empathy comes close. Where empathy allows the empath to feel what those around them are feeling, this version allows you to sort of... 'sense', I suppose, how much happiness or sadness is in a person. For a dementor, the ability tells them whether or not a victim should be fed on slowly for their happy memories, or simply sucked dry for their soul. Now, you wouldn't need those happy memories the way a dementor would, but it would certainly tell you how badly you could affect your victim." Death paused again. "If you decide on this gift."
"What sort of nourishment would I get from sucking up a soul?" Harry wondered. Neither of them were fooled, really; Harry had already decided to take the dementor gift, but he did want to know all the details. If he was going to be living with this ability, he wanted to know how it worked.
Death grunted and returned its scythe back to its normal size. "Knowledge," it decided. "If you suck up the soul of someone who can calculate the square root of some obscure number, you'll be able to do that too. If you suck up the soul of someone who knows how to create a bomb, you'd know that. If you suck up the soul of someone who's just learned their ABCs, you'll know them."
"Languages would take more than one person per language, but, sure, you could learn French or Italian or whatever that way." Death started passing its scythe from hand to hand like it had been doing when Harry first came to. "Spells, sure. I'll even... Hm. If you were to suck the souls of ten or more people with a magical gift – say, enhanced healing – you'll find yourself developing that skill."
"There aren't that many magical people I'd want dead," Harry pointed out.
"Find a coven of vampires," Death retorted. "I hate the buggers. Every five of them you suck, I'll give you another of their skills: enhanced healing, speed, senses, strength. Some of them get vampiric gifts, like the ability to walk through shadows, and that'll take ten per, but you can get those too. No immortality, mind, but anything else is fair game."
Harry nodded. He'd yet to hear anything about this ability that he didn't like. Except, maybe... "Two more questions: Patroni and actual dementors."
Death sighed. "You mortals... Look, you're still human, just with new abilities. Patroni won't affect you any more than they usually would, and the actual dementors will be able to fuck with you, same as always. None of that's going to change. Now, you want the gift, or not?"
"Yeah, I'll take it. Dementor!Harry Potter... has a nice ring to it."
Death chuckled. "Excellent." A train pulled up to the platform behind Death and it pointed at the only door that opened. "There's your ride, mortal. Go forth and send me souls."
Harry nodded and climbed to his feet. "Okay. Erm, when will I be arriving? Or can you tell me that?"
Death sighed again. "The moment you became the owner of one of the Hallows."
"Oh." Harry shrugged and started for the train.
Just before he stepped into the car, Death called, "Oh, and mortal?" Harry turned back to him with one raised eyebrow. "Mortals get one animagus form per life, and this will be your second life. Consider it another gift for amusing me so." Then it waved its hand and Harry found himself being pushed into the car, doors sliding closed behind him.
As the train departed, Harry found himself a comfortable seat in the empty car. Another animagus form? He was already a black bear, what else could he be? Hopefully something that's not as obvious.
The train started through a dark tunnel and Harry felt his eyes growing heavy. He couldn't wait to see the faces of his family again: Ron, Hermione, Ginny... It would be good to be home.
A woman with long red hair and terrified green eyes looked down on him. "It'll be okay, luv," she whispered. "I won't let him hurt you. You've got to grow up and save the world." She smiled a broken smile.
Harry's breath caught and he reached chubby baby hands up towards her. Lily Potter, his mother. She was...
"I love you, Harry. Never forget that." Then she turned towards the nursery door as it blasted open.
She was saying goodbye.
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!"
"Stand aside, you silly girl...stand aside, now..."
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead! Not Harry! Please...have mercy...have mercy..."
A chilled laugh came from in front of Lily before Voldemort whispered, "Avada Kedavra," and Lily Potter's body slid bonelessly to the ground.
Harry gave a brief thought to the tears he could no longer shed for the woman who had risked everything for him, but then Voldemort was leaning over his crib and Harry found himself warring with hatred and a strange sense of need. This was the man he'd spent his younger years fighting, and this was the very moment he would gift Harry with that piece of soul that had been missing for almost fifty years.
The man with the terrible red eyes pointed his wand between Harry's eyes and the one-year-old stared back at him, silent and oddly knowing. Oddly expectant. "Avada Kedavra," he whispered and the baby smiled as the curse hit a strange shield around him and returned to the Dark Lord.
Both of them screamed in agony as the rebounded curse hit its new target. Voldemort's body disintegrated even as a bit of soul lodged itself inside the fresh lightning bolt scar on Harry's brow. And Harry knew pain, pain, pain as the piece of soul and the barrier from his mother fought.
As the two bits of magic reached an accord, Harry felt his grip on reality slipping. And all went dark.
From a distance, Harry heard voices: "And you're sure there's nothing that can be done?"
A sigh. "Honestly, Albus. The boy's magic has already acclimated to the Dark magic in that scar. Any attempt to remove it might very well kill him. Perhaps if we'd got to him as soon as the curse was cast, I could have done something, but not now."
"Very well. Thank you, Poppy." Footsteps receded and the sound of the infirmary doors opening and closing followed.
Another set of footsteps came closer and Harry found himself looking into the troubled eyes of the Hogwarts' nurse. "Oh, you're awake!" She managed a smile, but it was a poor one. "Let's see if you can't keep a few things down, hm?"
Harry managed a few potions and something smooshy that a house-elf brought up, but as soon as he felt his stomach rebelling, he turned his face away and refused to take anything more.
Pomfrey sighed and put the food and spoon to one side. "Very well. Perhaps a nap, then," she decided and waved her wand over Harry's head.
Harry pouted a bit even as he felt himself drifting to sleep. That was cheating.
Hagrid sniffed and loudly blew his nose. "I'ma sorry, Madam Pomfrey. It's jest so sad."
"It's a terrible tragedy," Madam Pomfrey agreed and Harry thought he could sense true sorrow in her voice. "But that's no reason to make a loud mess about it. You'll wake Harry."
Harry quickly closed his eyes as Hagrid and Madam Pomfrey walked over to his crib. He didn't want to be hit with another sleep spell!
"Look at the little tyke. So sweet and quiet. He don't even know that people're out there throwing parties in 'is name. The Boy Who Lived, they're callin' 'im."
"Yes, yes, I know. Hagrid, if you don't go, you'll be late."
"Oh, er, right. Yeah, best be off, then. Takin' 'im to 'is new home."
Oh. Oh, shit. Harry was going to have to live with the Dursleys. Bloody–
Oh. Oh, but wait. Perhaps this wasn't such a bad thing. Revenge is a dish best served cold and all that, and Harry had the ability now to make his aunt and uncle very, very cold at a moment's notice. Yes. It seemed only fitting that the first mundanes he tested his new abilities on were the very people who had made his childhood hell.
Harry was going to enjoy this.
Harry was a quiet child, and that seemed to suit Vernon and Petunia just fine. Dudley cried and screamed all the time, but Harry just laid quietly, ate what he was given and never made a fuss. He was the first to master potty training, much to Petunia's consternation. She seemed torn between being upset that the 'freak' mastered something before her 'perfect' son, and being pleased that she didn't have to deal with the boy's dirty nappies. In the end, she decided to be pleased about not having to worry about him.
Shortly after Harry's third birthday, Vernon ordered Harry moved to the cupboard under the stairs, since Dudley was a 'growing boy who needed his space'. Harry allowed this move without complaint, content to sleep in his own cupboard if it would keep him away from Dudley's loud snoring and occasional bed-wetting incidents. He wouldn't let himself be locked in the cupboard forever, after all, but the silence and nearness to the kitchens served his purposes for the moment, since Petunia had been giving him less and less food.
Height had always been an issue with Harry. He'd been the shortest person in his entire family as an adult; even his children had outgrown him by the time they hit puberty. The lack of proper nourishment as a child had been the most obvious cause of his lack of height, and Harry refused to allow it to be an issue this time around. If that meant using magic to open his cupboard at night and steal some of the food in the fridge, that's what he'd do.
When Harry turned four, Vernon started giving him a list of chores. It started out simple: fold the laundry, help pick up the living room, help weed the garden with Petunia. Harry didn't mind those things, really, so he let it be.
The day Vernon ordered him to cook the breakfast, however, Harry put his foot down.
"No," Harry said quietly.
Vernon turned to his small nephew, face starting to purple a bit. "What was that?" he demanded.
"I said, no. I won't be making you any breakfast."
"Your aunt is sick with the flu and can't make breakfast, boy! It's your job!"
"It is not my 'job'," Harry retorted, turning dark eyes on the obese man standing over him. "You're the adult in the house. If you want food, make it yourself."
"You little–" Vernon grabbed the front of Harry's too large shirt and moved to smack him, but suddenly he felt so very cold and terrified. He let the boy go and stumbled backwards, struggling to keep his feet.
Harry stepped forwards, eerie green eyes practically glowing with malice.
"What are you– Stop this immediately, freak!" Vernon demanded, falling to his knees.
"Listen here, mundane," Harry said, voice filled with violence and hatred, "I'm not some servant you can keep shoved in the cupboard and take out when you need something done. I'm a boy, a human boy, and I will be treated like one. Do we have an accord, Vernon?"
Vernon stared at this child, this demon that had laid sleeping in his silent nephew, and nodded hurriedly. "Right. Understood."
Harry smiled a dark little smile. "This weekend, you'll take me out for new clothing," he ordered, "and a pair of glasses. And when I ask to be moved to Dudley's second bedroom in a few years, you'll do it without complaint. Am I understood?"
"Yes," Vernon gasped. "Yes, I understand!"
The cold vanished and Harry's smile turned light and childlike again, the demon from moments before gone without a trace. "Excellent. What's for breakfast?"
Vernon lurched to his feet and rushed into the kitchen without a word, the light laughter of his nephew following him.
The day after the boy's death hit the news, Harry approached the man in his car, playing the part of an innocent child who was looking for the sweets the man offered.
"Hello there, little boy. What's your name?" the man asked, smiling.
Harry widened his eyes a bit more as he started in on the chocolate bar the man had given him. "I'm Hawwy," he said through the sweet. Sweets were hard to come by at the Dursleys, unless you were Dudley, and Harry didn't have to fake his enjoyment at the taste of the chocolate. It was one of the few sweets he had still enjoyed as an adult.
"I'm Jack," the man replied. "Would you like more chocolate? There's lots in the back seat, but I'm afraid I can't reach it right now. The door is unlocked, though."
Harry had to bite back a scoff. Children actually fell for this crap? Honestly? But he obediently climbed into the back of the car and let out the expected startled shout when the door slammed close and locked. "What's going on?" he said, eyes wide and terrified. "Where's the chocolate?"
"It's at my house," Jack replied smoothly as he started up the engine. "I'll have to take you there."
Seriously? Harry chewed his bottom lip, then nodded. "But I have to be home by five or Aunt Petunia will send me to bed without dinner," he mumbled.
"I'll have you home in plenty of time, Harry. Don't worry about that at all." Jack looked back at him through the rear-view mirror, greed in his eyes.
Oh, Harry would get back in plenty of time, there was no doubt about that, but this man wouldn't be preying on children anymore.
At the man's house, the two got out, Harry still playing the hopeful child with wide eyes. Jack let them inside, then closed the door, saying, "The chocolate's in the basement. Let's leave your bag here, hm?"
Harry left his bag and let Jack lead him to the basement. He skipped down the stairs, then turned and waited for the man, ignoring the various sex contraptions sitting around. "I don't see the chocolate!" he called up, an evil smile curling his lips. This man was an excellent first kill.
Jack came hurrying down the stairs, smiling his own evil smile, but he froze when he saw Harry. "Wha–?" he started before he suddenly felt terribly cold. Terror gripped his throat and he fell to his knees. "Oh, God..." he whispered.
"God?" Harry repeated, stepping forward. His eyes glowed with his power and his evil little smile seemed all the more terrifying. "God doesn't listen to sinners, Jack," he whispered, drawing delicate fingers along Jack's cheek while the man shivered and stared at him with fear. "He leaves them to the demons of Hell... like me."
Jack let out a pitiful sound and wet his trousers, making Harry laugh. "Please... please have mercy..."
"Mercy?" Harry wondered. "Is it mercy, then, what you do to the children you bring down here? No, I think not. So I shall show you the same mercy you showed them." He opened his mouth and sucked.
Jack screamed as his soul came detached and slid down Harry's throat. He toppled over, lifeless, as Harry stepped away.
"Mm. Tastes like chicken," Harry murmured, licking his lips. He spared a brief glance for the soulless body, then riffled through his pockets for his wallet. Forty pounds and a bank card were his gifts. He stuck them into a pocket, then wandered upstairs to riffle through the rest of Jack's things for anything of value.
After all, if he was going to lead the magical world in a crusade to destroy the mundanes, he was going to need money, and not just what was in the Potter Vault. The mundanes he killed might as well help him with more than their knowledge of maths and history.
Before he knew it, he had enough knowledge of maths, history, science, and English that he could probably pass the A-levels without even trying. Really, it just made classes extremely boring and he spent them daydreaming or plotting his various schemes. Since he always did well on any quizzes, his teachers didn't bother demanding he focus after the first couple of attempts.
As for Dudley? Well, Vernon had told him pretty much right off that he was to avoid his younger cousin at all costs. For the most part, Dudley listened, but he occasionally forgot and came over to pick on Harry. The first three times, Harry just glanced up at his cousin with his eerie green eyes and the boy turned away.
Once Dudley made friends with Piers and the other neighbourhood bullies, however, it took more than a glare to make the boys leave. But after the fifth time of feeling absolutely terrified when coming near Harry, even Dudley got the hint that he should probably leave his cousin alone.
Marge Dursley was another interesting bit of fun for Harry. The day before she came over for the first time since Harry had threatened Vernon, he pulled his uncle aside and calmly explained that if Marge said one word about Harry's parents or set her dogs on Harry, he would leave them as soulless husks. So if Vernon didn't want a vegetable as a sister, he'd best keep the wretched woman in line. Incidentally, there was only one brief problem and when Harry set Marge's bulldog whimpering under her skirts, the woman wisely decided to follow the examples of her brother and his family and just pretend the boy wasn't there.
Really, Harry sort of liked being the one to call the shots. For his seventh birthday, he got Dudley's second bedroom and his cousin hadn't even bothered with a token protest, having long learned it was in his best interest to let Harry be. The rest of the time, Harry got what he wanted to eat and he only had to do chores if he wanted to – he'd help with the laundry and cleaning up a bit, and he'd completely claimed Petunia's back garden for his own pleasure. Every Easter and Christmastime, Harry would be taken shopping for new clothing. He had to deal with his glasses on his own, but he had amassed enough mundane money by the time his prescription started getting outdated that he was able to make his own appointment and pay for it and the much nicer pair of glasses he'd found. (The secretary had thought he was the most adorable thing in the world and had given him a discount. He'd been torn between being disgusted by her cooing and pleased that his savings wouldn't take too much damage after all.)
The summer of Harry's eighth birthday, Harry finally made his first trip to Diagon Alley. He was still obnoxiously small for his age, but he was also taller than he'd remembered being during his last life at this age, so he'd take what he could get.
After getting Tom to open the barrier into the Alley, Harry made a beeline to Gringotts. He'd brought a large chunk of his mundane money, intending to deposit it into his account for safe-keeping. He'd amassed far too much to continue keeping it under the loose floor board in his room, and he had no interest in trying to set up a mundane bank account at his age.
Upon entering the bank, he walked right up to an open teller and demanded, "I need this money changed into the magical equivalent and most of it deposited into my account here. I'd also like to request a special money pouch with spaces for both magical and mun–muggle money, preferably with blood spells on it, the fee for which can be taken from this money. And, no, I don't have my key, but I believe Headmaster Dumbledore does."
The goblin sneered down at him. "Your name?"
"Harry Potter," Harry replied, flicking his fringe away from his forehead to show his scar. The hair settled right back into place after a moment, hiding the lightning bolt from view. Harry wasn't foolish enough to leave his brand obvious for the casual gawker.
The goblin's eyes widened briefly, then he took the money Harry had placed on the counter and counted through it quickly. "One moment," he muttered and hopped off to exchange the money.
Harry took a moment to glance around the large hall while he waited. He recognised a few families in other lines after having fought behind their children in two wars or from having caught them as an auror. He also recognised a few non-humans, something his dementor senses could pick out. A woman over there was a veela, while a man arguing over mundane money was a werewolf. And, oh... Harry narrowed his eyes at a handsome man with a closemouthed smile. A vampire.
"Mr Potter," the goblin said, returning and holding forward a pouch and a small knife. "If you would place seven drops of blood on this?"
Harry took the knife without care and sliced the tip of one finger. Once seven drops had fallen, he stuck the finger into his mouth and mentally chanted a mild healing spell. He could do it wandlessly about half of the time, and if it didn't work this time, well, that's why he had plasters in his back pocket.
Once his finger was taken care of, Harry took the pouch and counted out forty galleons to put into the pouch before directing the goblin to put the rest into his account, which the creature agreed to with a nod. He was also handed a copy of his vault key, for which there was an extra pocket in his new money pouch. "It was a pleasure doing business with you," Harry offered, then turned away from the goblin and making towards the door.
"Hello there, beautiful," a refined voice whispered in Harry's ear and he tensed. "You look like you could use a good time." The vampire Harry had noticed earlier stepped around him with a coy smile.
Harry bit back a mad laugh. He could feel the vampire's thrall trying to work on him, but unlike a normal eight year old, he had already mastered Occlumency and the thrall simply slipped away. "Depends on how fun your 'good time' is," he replied, letting his eyes drift to half-mast. He had no fear of vampires, and Death's promise that he could get some of their abilities faster than with wizards was so very tempting.
"It's the most fun you'll ever have in your life, beautiful," the vampire promised, slowly stepping backwards.
Harry smiled to himself and allowed the vampire to lead him out of the bank and down into Knockturn Alley.
The vampire led them into an empty side alley and pressed Harry against a wall, smiling widely and showing his teeth. "I've always been fond of beautiful things," he murmured.
"That's funny," Harry replied and the vampire jerked back in shock as the air chilled, "I've always been rather fond of souls. You'll let me taste yours, won't you?" And the vampire's mouth opened in a silent scream as Harry sucked down the ancient soul.
"Mm. Beef. A little bloody." Harry chuckled to himself as he shifted through the pockets of the vampire's empty clothing, his body having dissolved with the absence of his soul. He took the money and added it to his new money pouch, then swept the vampire's cloak over his shoulders. It was a little big, but walking through Knockturn in mundane clothing would only bring him trouble, so he dealt with it.
The information Harry had received from the vampire had included the address of a pub down Knockturn that catered to the undead, so Harry made his way there. Never mind the magical gifts vampires could give him, the sheer amount of knowledge was... Harry took a deep breath. All those mundanes and their book learning was nothing compared to those who had lived those days. The languages and the history. The famous people and the images of buildings that had long since crumbled to dust. Harry wanted more.
Harry needed more.
"You got any -hic- money on you -hic- kid?"
Harry sneered at the adult. "And let you get even more smashed? I think not."
The man glared at him through bleary eyes. "You don't talk -hic- to me that way -hic- brat! Do you have any -hic- idea who I -hic- am?"
Harry stood, glad for his recent growth spurt that put him at a respectable height for a ten year old. "Do I look like I care who you are, you mad drunk?"
The man grabbed Harry's shoulder in a painful grip and shook him. "Listen you little -hic- shit–"
"Unhand me right this instant," Harry ordered, bringing his power down on the man.
The man hiccupped again and looked mildly disturbed, but he was too drunk to really understand the cold feeling crawling in his gut. "You're gonna give me -hic- all your money and -hic- maybe that sweet too–"
Harry opened his mouth and sucked down the man's soul, done with dealing with the fool man. He was mostly just glad to be rid of him, but then the knowledge came slithering to him and he looked down at the crumpled form with a smirk. "A wizard, drunk on mundane alcohol? Ooh, what's this? You work for the Department of Mysteries. Excellent." He sorted through the man's pockets for his money pouch, wand, and Ministry ID, then pocketed all of it. There was no guarantee the wand would really work for him, but at least now he had one.
After shoving the man behind a bin, Harry finished the last of his candy floss and returned to the fair. It had been, quite possibly, the best birthday of his two lives.
On the day that Petunia set aside to take Dudley shopping for his new Smeltings uniform, she nervously looked at Harry and asked, "Should I be picking out your Stonewall uniform, too? Or will you be making do?" Harry had long since created a wardrobe of darker clothing, much of which was black or a dark grey. There were a few shirts that were green or maroon, and he owned one pair of faded blue jeans, but everything else was the right shade to blend in with the shadows, which made his shadow walking gift easier.
"I'm not going to Stonewall," Harry replied absently from behind the college-level physics book he'd picked out of the library just yesterday. A mundane he'd done away with last week had been quite knowledgeable about the subject, but the soul didn't transfer everything to Harry, so he often found himself hunting down more information on his own.
Petunia blinked from the doorway. "You just plan to take your A-Levels and some college will accept you in spite of how young you are?" she snapped.
Harry looked up from his book and raise an unimpressed eyebrow. "I'll be going to Hogwarts, as you very well know. I'm waiting for my letter so I know what to get." He returned to his book, having no interest in how pale his aunt had become.
At dinner that night, Vernon turned on his nephew, who was eating in silence with a notebook next to him. He would occasionally write something down in it in some language that wasn't English and his family had never been brave enough to ask what he was up to. "Boy," Vernon said, breaking the usual quiet that fell over the supper table when Harry ate with them.
Harry glanced up at his uncle through his fringe. "Yes, Vernon?"
Vernon puffed up a bit when Harry refused to address him with respect, but he'd long given up on that battle, so he instead said, "You're going to Stonewall. I won't be paying for you to go to some freak–"
"You won't have to pay for anything," Harry replied calmly as the room chilled a bit.
Dudley and Petunia flinched away from Harry, but Vernon leaned forward and demanded, "Planning to threaten them into letting you in for free, then? You think the freaks–"
"If you continue to refer to my people as 'freaks,' I will happily take your soul, you waste of air," Harry replied coldly as his power came down harder on his uncle, the air around his aunt and cousin warming slightly. "You're not needed for the spells on this house, and don't think for even a moment that I hold any fondness for you. You're only alive so long as you have a use, and right now that involves making the money required to keep this residence." Harry stood, sweeping his notebook and pen into one hand. "This is the last time we will be having this discussion, mundanes: I am going to Hogwarts. You will drop me off on September first and you will pick me up at the appropriate time at the end of the year. The rest of the time, we will have little to nothing to do with each other. Am I clear?"
Vernon and Petunia both whispered, "yes," while Dudley whimpered and slid under the table to hide from his cousin.
Harry smiled in pleasure and left the kitchen, taking the cold with him. He was sure he'd have to remind Vernon at least once more to mind himself, but that could wait until next summer, at the earliest.
So the day after his letter came, Harry stepped out into the road and called the Knight Bus to take him to the Leaky Cauldron. He'd had to leave his collection of stolen wands at Privet Drive, since he didn't want to chance Ollivander knowing them, but one could call the Knight Bus without a wand, so long as they focused enough when they raised their hand.
The trip was as maddening as ever, and Harry was quite happy to get off when he did. He waved to Stan and made his way into the magical pub. Once again, he had Tom let him through to the actual Alley, then he started his way to Ollivanders. He'd counted his money the night before and decided he'd have more than enough for all of his supplies without stopping at Gringotts, but he intended to save the bookstore for last and see where his funds were before traversing that particular building. Of course, since he wanted a more expensive trunk, he figured he'd probably run out of money before the bookstore, and he did want to get some extra books...
The bell over the shop door jingled quietly as Harry stepped into Ollivanders. His dementor senses told him that the old man was in the shelves to his left, so Harry glanced that way and waited for the man to appear.
And appear he did, eyeing Harry curiously. "Mr Potter," he murmured. "Yes, yes, I thought I'd be seeing you soon." His eerie silver eyes seemed to look through Harry for a moment and then widened. "Oh. Oh my." He took a step back. "You have Mastered Death, and it has given you quite the boon. But to what use will you put this boon, I wonder?"
Harry considered the man through narrowed eyes. "I'll put it to the best use as I see it. Whether others will agree with me is a matter of their own opinion, but I won't sit back and watch my people wiped out again."
"You will bathe in the blood of innocents," Ollivander warned, his eerie eyes sparking with something like amusement.
"If it saves innocents from dirtying their hands, I would bathe in whatever necessary. Tell me, Ollivander, have you ever seen someone's head blown off with a mundane gun? It's really quite gruesome, and there's nothing you can do but stand there and watch."
Ollivander looked away. "You have seen many terrible things, and they have done terrible things to you. Do you truly think you can lead this world away from damnation?" He met Harry's eyes again, challenging the boy before him.
Harry looked away at the question he'd asked himself often enough over the past ten years. "I don't know," he admitted, sounding for the first time like the child he appeared, but then he looked up, green eyes hard as ice. "I don't know if my path is the right one, but I won't let them take the wrong one again. Perhaps they will hate me, but I've been hated before and it is something I can bear, so long as I know Hogwarts still stands and the magical world continues to exist as it always has. I will do anything."
Ollivander smiled and inclined his head, though it seemed a little sad. "Then I wish you luck on your path, Harry Potter." He held out his hand and a wand box soared into it. "Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple."
Harry took his wand and smiled to have it back in his hands, but something was missing. He turned to Ollivander, one brow raised.
"You are Death's creature, now," Ollivander said quietly. "Only Death's wand will allow you to reach your full potential. This wand is still yours, however, as it will always be, and it will help you the best it can. Seven galleons."
Harry paid his fee and left the shop with his wand, frowning. That had been a mildly disturbing meeting, and he wasn't sure how he felt about Ollivander knowing who and what he was. But there was nothing for it at the moment. The wandmaker would keep his secrets, of that, Harry had no doubt.
Deciding to forget the odd meeting, Harry got himself a new trunk with multiple compartments and some impressive protection spells. He intended to add some extra protection spells of his own once he got it home, but the basic set would be enough for the moment. It had also received the extra magic-free shrinking charm, which allowed the owner to tap the trunk and say 'small' to shrink it or 'large' to return it to full size.
He went for his uniform next and ordered a couple of sets of everyday robes while he was at it, intending to wear mundane clothing as little as possible. While he preferred trousers to running about bare below the waist, he had no interest in spending his weekends looking like he'd been mundane-raised. Purebloods would be some of his strongest supporters, and they'd be more likely to listen to him if he didn't run about in trousers and button-up shirts. Or, at least, if he did, he covered them with a robe.
After collecting his new wardrobe, Harry got his cauldron, phials, telescope, and scales. He also gathered some of the more expensive potions ingredients that Snape didn't keep in the student stores and a gold cauldron for some of the potions he knew how to make. It wouldn't be hard to find a room deep in the dungeons where no one went that he could set up a secret lab in. Or he could just use the Chamber, he supposed, but he didn't want to chance the basilisk knocking anything over.
Finally, he had only the bookstore left. A glance into his money pouch told him that he would, in fact, need to make a trip to Gringotts. He had enough mundane money on him that he shouldn't have to go down to his vault, at least.
After his quick trip to the bank, Harry stepped into the bookstore with a wide grin. He'd been stopping himself from coming in here during previous trips, since hiding any books he brought to the Dursleys' would quickly become troublesome, but now he could just go all out and buy whatever he wanted. The compartment in his trunk for books had expanding charms on it, after all. But, first, before he forgot, he should get his boring school books. Ugh.
Two hours later, Harry lugged his shopping basket up to the desk and set it down with a 'thump'. "I may have broken the feather light charm," he offered the shopkeep sheepishly. The basket had stopped being feather light about ten minutes ago, which had been his cue to stop adding books to the basket. Of course, that hadn't stopped him from grabbing two more books on his way to the desk and shoving them under his arm.
The shopkeep eyed the basket like one might an angry lion, then started emptying it and totalling it. "Ravenclaw?" he asked.
"First year," Harry admitted, grimacing at the surprised look the shopkeep gave him at that admittance. "I'm mu–ggle-raised," he explained, tripping over the words for those without magic. "I wanted to know all I could. But, yeah, probably Ravenclaw."
He'd already wondered about his House. It had been something of a question for him for the past few years. He'd loved Gryffindor when he'd been a student, but he' would never fit in there anymore, not with all that he'd seen and lived through. Slytherin was his best bet, and probably the place the Hat would want to put him, but he really had no interest in making his world question how evil he was before he'd finished his first feast – and they would, Harry had spent long enough among wizards to know how they thought – so Slytherin would have to be out. Hufflepuff made him snort; he was loyal only to himself, and while he could be hardworking, he usually wasn't.
But Ravenclaw... five years of sucking up souls and enjoying their knowledge had taught him the joys of learning new things. And Ravenclaw, like Hufflepuff, was a House in the middle; they were neither Light nor Dark, but more a middle ground. It was perfect. All he had to do was talk to Hat into Sorting him there.
He paid for his books, then stuck them absently into his trunk before shrinking it and slipping it into a pocket. He turned for Knockturn Alley with a faint smirk – there always seemed to be more vampires around, and they were absolutely delicious, not to mention the money he made from pawning off their little collections when he could find them.
In a month, he'd be arriving at Hogwarts. Finally, his plans could begin.