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Painted Lady

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Harry didn’t like to think back on her years with the Dursley’s, but her current situation gave her plenty of time to think. Far too much time.

As much as her relatives liked to pretend that magic didn’t even exist as an idea, fairy tales is a common thing to be found read to and by children.

Witches in those tales, well, they were dangerous, clever, and not to be crossed. Witches knew great and terrible things, and were easily irritated enough to use such knowledge to entrap the unwary.

When Harry met actual witches and wizards, those stories were left abandoned. Clearly archaic warnings that have nothing to do with reality. Yes, they had great power and knowledge, but they were devoid of common sense and rather silly sometimes. Yes, there were evil sorcerers and dark witches, but they were certainly not that creative. Stand still and point your wand with a unforgivable on your lips was standard. (Except for Bellatrix, she was creative for all of her madness. Hence why she was so dangerous. But those of her caliber were far in between and well marked.)

Harry won her war mostly through luck, sheer persistence, and the ability to dodge.

One of the pitfalls of youth, Harry thought much, much later, was that one’s understanding of the world and who was in it is so narrow and small. Her whole world was Hogwarts, anyone who didn’t really focus on the school was completely non-existent to her.

Her naturally oblivious nature didn’t help either.

Not all of the people behind Voldemort were fighters.

Not all of them were openly behind him, some even Voldemort didn’t know he had.

Anonymous donations, coincidental favors, shadows who supported him without showing their faces.

This probably is what saved their lives and sanity when Voldemort came back the second time with just a sliver of his soul to direct his actions. They weren’t there for him to terrorize.

So when the war ended, they were careful, clever, and quite prepared to use obscure great and terrible arcane knowledge for their revenge.

There is, afterall, a well used tradition of witches cursing those that crossed them.

Even muggles knew that.

Harry sighed, even though breathing wasn’t really quite necessary anymore. She ran her hands along the edge of her prison again. Every centimeter had been observed and explored, but there wasn’t much else to do.

It was a beautiful frame, she admitted to herself. Gilded gold swirls etched onto wood, covering runes.

Moving paintings were overwhelmingly common among wizards, they were background noise practically. No one really paid much mind unless it was someone they once knew.

Harry never expected to be cursed into becoming one.

Clever and uncommonly cruel, just like the old stories.

But, if there was a way to become like this, then there was a way to unravel it.

Harry just needed to figure out the rules.

And break them.