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Harry Potter and the Founder War: Chapter One

by Big D

Disclaimer: Not Mine. No Profit. No Shit.

I woke up.

That was it. No gradual gathering of awareness, or sleepy head-shaking. One moment I was sound asleep, the next I was awake and totally aware of my surroundings.

Not that there was much to be aware of.

The smallest bedroom at Number Four Privet Drive wasn't much prettier in the daylight than it was now, shadow-filled and barren of anything remotely homely or familiar. I sat up in the small bed, scratching at the place on my side where a spring had pushed through the thin mattress and left a mark on my skin. It was too dark to see the clock next to my bed, so I picked it up and tilted it towards the moonlight streaming in through the window.

12:03

I couldn't help the smile that tugged at my lips. Seventeen years old. There were times, too many times, when I had thought that I'd never make it. I glanced out the window, and for a split second saw a mist-shrouded graveyard. Shaking my head to clear the bad memories before they ganged up on me, I snatched my wand off the bedside table and stood up. The eleven inches of holly in my right hand felt more real, more solid, than it ever had before. For the first time it felt like it really belonged to me. Over the last six years, it had been out of arm's reach only a handful of times, but the restrictions placed on me because of my age had always left me with the nagging feeling that it could be taken away at any moment.

There was almost nothing in the room that I cared to take with me. This room had always felt more like storage locker than a home. Just a place to keep my things until it was time to move on.

That time was now.

I dressed quickly, my movements business-like and efficient. I kicked open the lid of my trunk and tossed a few odds and ends inside. The over-large trousers I was wearing kept trying to slip down my backside, and I habitually adjusted them several times before the thought that I was free to use my magic penetrated. A few seconds and a mumbled incantation later, Dudley's castoffs had been transfigured into something that actually fit. The incantation threatened to bring on another set of bad memories, this time of my failure to learn silent spellcasting, which would naturally lead to thoughts of Snape, and his final “lesson”. I cut that train of thought off at the pass. There would be plenty of time for Snape later, a lifetime if need be. If that's what it took to find him and make him answer for every crime he'd ever committed, then that was a road I was prepared to walk.

But not now... not yet. Voldemort had to come first.

Ron and Hermione would be beside themselves when they found out that I intended to search for the missing horcruxes without them, but it was for the best. The search was bound to be more dangerous than anything the three of us had ever done before, and they didn't even have the ever-so-slight protection the prophecy had bestowed on me. Not that I had any intention of relying on that.

A tap of my wand and the trunk was small enough to slip into my jacket pocket. The miniaturized Firebolt went into the other side, and I was ready to leave. I was halfway down the stairs before I stopped and glanced back over my shoulder, towards the rooms where my relatives were still sleeping.

It would be so easy to march back up the stairs and teach them a lesson about mistreating a wizard, but two things stopped me. One, there was no point. The three of them were too stupid to actually learn from their mistakes, so anything I did to them would only be for my own amusement. And however tempting that was, I just didn't have the time. The second thing was Dumbledore. I had only come back here in order to honor his wish that I spend my last Hogwarts summer in my family's home, and it seemed in somewhat poor taste to finish that stay by transfiguring them into assorted barnyard animals on my way out.

I didn't see any point in leaving a note, the Dursleys wouldn't care anyway. I never intended to set foot in this house again, but if they thought that I might pop back in at any time, it would make them more apt to look over their shoulders occasionally. Poor revenge for fifteen and a half years of neglect, but sometimes you took what you could get.

My hand wrapped around the front door knob, and I hesitated again. I looked back and caught sight of the slatted door that led to the cupboard under the stairs, my home for more than eight years. There was a part of me that still, and always would, think of it as my cupboard. It was the part of me that had been trained to believe the lies that my aunt and uncle had told me. That part had grown smaller in the years since I'd received my Hogwarts letter, but it had never truly gone away. I could feel it whispering in my ear, telling me that if I just got back in the cupboard and stayed as quiet as possible, then Voldemort and my rapidly approaching destiny would never be able to find me.

The decision took only a fraction of a second. I could never be quiet enough that Voldemort would stop coming, not alive anyway. I turned the knob and walked out into the cool English night, leaving Number Four behind forever.

I was halfway to the park on Magnolia Road before I realized that I was going the wrong way. I'd meant to go south, towards the local rail station, but had somehow found myself angling to the northwest, in the totally opposite direction. I stopped suddenly and heard the soft scuff of a shoe behind me.

I threw myself to my right and chanted the stunning spell as I rolled to my feet. The magic coalesced into a vibrant red glow at the tip of my wand, before streaking in the direction of my unseen stalker. I heard a grunted expulsion of breath and the sound of a body hidden under an invisibility cloak drop to the ground, but didn't stop to see who I'd hit. The house I had been passing had a low brick wall surrounding it, and I quickly vaulted it, taking cover behind the firm stone and listening for anyone else who might be out there.

In the distance, a dog barked at some half-seen thing, but no other noise reached my ears. No sign of any other person following me. The minutes stretched out and still I heard nothing, but if someone was out there, then they could better afford to wait than I could. The person lying on the pavement wouldn't stay stunned forever, and if they did have an accomplice, then that person knew exactly where I was. As quietly as possible, I moved along the wall until I was about thirty feet from where I had been, then stopped and listened again... still nothing.

I couldn't help but get a mental image of being a human Wack-A-Mole as I popped up from behind the wall and scanned the street, wand swinging one way, then the other. Magnolia Road was deserted, other than the seemingly disembodied black boot lying on the pavement. I didn't take any chances.

“Accio invisibility cloak.” I whispered.

There was a flash of silver in the night, and the rest of the person lying on the pavement was revealed. I snatched the flying cloak out of the air with my left hand and held it behind me so that it wouldn't interfere with my aim. The person I'd stunned was a woman, dressed all in black, with shoulder-length black hair tied into a short tail. I advanced on her, wand at the ready, and nudged her onto her back with one foot. She moaned fitfully, beginning to recover from the spell. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, with a pretty, sculpted face that seemed rather familiar.

Her eyes blinked open and she looked up at me. She gave a start when she realized that my wand was pointing directly at her face, but I didn't lower it. She quickly held up both hands to show me that she wasn't holding anything.

“Whoa, Harry.” she said hastily, “It's okay, I'm not a Death Eater.”

I frowned at her in annoyance. “Well then, I suppose I'll just have to take your word for it, won't I?” I said dryly.

“You don't remember me?” she asked, a hint of disappointment in her voice, “I came to your house with Mad-Eye a couple of years ago to escort you to the Order's headquarters.”

Now I knew why she looked so familiar. “Hestia, right?” I asked, “Hestia Jones.”

She grinned at me. “That's it. Now that we're best friends again, do you mind not pointing that thing at me?”

I chuckled, but still didn't lower my wand. Hestia frowned to herself and propped herself up on her elbows. “So are we going to stay here all night like this, or is it okay if I stand up?” she asked.

“Where's your wand?” I asked.

Her lips pulled back up into a suggestive smile. “Wouldn't you like to know.”

She cut me off before I could respond, sitting up cross-legged and reaching carefully into her sleeve with two fingers. It was too dark to tell what kind of wood the wand she produced was made out of, but it looked to be about nine inches long. She held it out towards me, but I nodded at the ground. Hestia laid her wand on the pavement and flicked it with her index finger, so that it rolled over and bounced against my trainer.

I couldn't help but smile. She had spunk.

“Now that you have me all helpless and at your mercy, what are you going to do with me?” she asked, her smile turning even more suggestive.

“I'm probably going to put you in a full-body bind and leave you in that dustbin over there.” I told her, nodding at the large metal container near the edge of the park. “Pick-up's on Tuesday, you should be fine until then.”

The flirty smile melted into more of a pained grimace. Unsurprising, as today was Sunday.

“There's no need for all of that.” she said.

“Why were you following me?” I asked her.

She gave a little shrug. “What else was I supposed to do? I mean, isn't that what the Order of the Phoenix is for? To keep you alive so you can fight You-Know-Who?”

I frowned at her. “The Order sent you?”

She looked down at her lap and examined her fingernails. It was hard to tell in the dark, but I thought she might be blushing. “Not really. The Order isn't doing much of anything these days.” She sounded somewhat embarrassed by that, and more than a little irritated. “Ever since Dumbledore was killed, all they do is sit around and argue. They can't even decide who should lead the Order now that he's gone.”

“If they didn't send you, why are you here?” I asked.

Apparently, she had decided that I wasn't going to start hexing her at the drop of a hat, because she picked herself up off the ground and went over to lean against the wall that I'd hidden behind before. I still kept my wand on her, but I was almost certain that she wasn't a Death Eater in disguise. I was about to repeat the question when she finally spoke.

“If I wanted to sit on my bum uselessly and talk about what should be done, while the world goes to Hades all around me, I would've joined the Ministry of Magic.” she said derisively. “I joined the Order because I thought I would get a chance to make a real difference. But now it's got all the direction of a rubber duck in a whirlpool.” She looked back up at me. “I wasn't senior enough to know all of what was going on, but everyone in the Order knows that you're the key to beating You-Know-Who, or at least that Dumbledore believed you were. So I came here to make sure that no big mean nasties got a hold of you.” She smiled ruefully. “Right proper job I made of it, too. Getting knocked out by the person I was supposed to be protecting won't look good on the old resume, that's for sure.”

I lowered my wand, then bent over to pick hers up. Hestia's wand was surprisingly heavy and sturdy-feeling... mahogany, perhaps. She deftly snatched it out of mid-air when I tossed it back to her and tucked it back into her sleeve in one smooth motion.

“Thanks. So what happens now?” she asked.

“Now... you go your way, and I go mine.” I told her, before turning and going back the way I came.

“Harry, wait.” she called out.

I stopped and turned back to her. She walked over to me and laid a hand on my shoulder. “Look, maybe the Order didn't send me, but I did come here to help you. Will you at least give me a chance?”

I cocked my head at her. “What are you going to do, help me run away from home?”

She rolled her eyes at me. “If all you're doing is running away from home, then I'll eat my wand. You're going after... him, and I want to help.” She gave an embarrassed grimace. “I know that I didn't make much of an impression, what with getting stunned and all, but an extra set of eyes to watch your back could come in handy.”

I couldn't argue with her about that, and it was a tempting offer. But Dumbledore had entrusted me with knowledge that couldn't be allowed to spread farther than it already had. If Voldemort even suspected that I was after his horcruxes, then he would come down on me, and anyone who was with me, like a hurricane. I didn't think that Hestia would betray me on purpose, but it might happen by accident. And it would definitely happen if Voldemort ever captured her and put her to the question.

She must've seen the answer in my eyes, because she spoke up before I got a chance to turn her down. “What if I swore the Unbreakable Vow to follow any order you gave?”

I couldn't help but gape at her. “Why would you do that?” I asked when I finally found my tongue.

Her eyes flickered up and down, taking me in, measuring me. “Because I believe in you.” she said softly, “And because I'd never forgive myself if I let you go off alone, and you got yourself killed.” She let out a soft laugh. “Come on, kid, don't make me beg. I'd think that any red-blooded wizard your age would jump at the chance to have a good-looking, older witch at his beck and call.”

I felt a flush in my cheeks at that, and hoped it was too dark for her to see. The amused glint in her eyes told me it was a false hope. And she was right, I would need help. The horcrux in the cave had been all but impossible for one person, even Dumbledore himself, to reach alone. What if the traps around the others were just as bad, or worse. I acted before I had a chance to change my mind, taking her hand in mine, and laying my wand so that it touched both.

“Do you swear to follow any order I give, without question, even if it costs you your own life?”

Her hand trembled slightly in mine, but her voice was steady and clear. “I do.” A jet of light, like living fire, leapt from the tip of my wand, and wrapped itself around our joined hands. I felt only a subtle change, a slight awareness that told me that the Vow had been established. It was like a tiny, invisible thread joining me to Hestia, one that, as the bonder, only I could sever. I let go of her hand and she stepped back, rubbing her arms as if she felt a sudden chill. I couldn't help but wonder what she felt when the Vow took hold of her, but decided it wasn't worth asking about.

A somewhat uncomfortable silence stretched between us, but there didn't seem to be much to say. It wasn't everyday that someone swore fealty to me, and I'd need some time to adjust. For her part, Hestia looked as if she was having second thoughts of her own. She fell in alongside me as I turned and began to walk towards the rail station again, and only spoke after I'd tucked my wand into my back pocket.

“You know, that's a good way to lose a buttock.”

“So I hear.”

“Be a shame to break up such a pretty pair.”

“What can I say, I like to live dangerously.”

She laughed and playfully bumped me with her hip. “I think we're going to get along just fine.” she said with a smile.

“Maybe.” I agreed, “But I highly suspect that you're going to regret tying yourself to me when you find out what this is all about.”

“Care to tell me now?”

“Not yet... even this place might have ears.”

She went silent for a few minutes, but spoke up again as we crossed Wisteria Walk. “So where are we going?”

“Train station.”

“You-Know-Who's hiding at the train station?”

“Not as far as I know.”

“So why are we going there?”

“To catch a train.”

“Apperation's faster.”

“And trackable. Better to wait until we're farther away, where we can blend in with other wizards.”

“Makes sense. So where's the train going?”

“First London, and then to Wales. I need to pick up a few things in Diagon Alley, and I want to make a quick side trip to Anglesey before I turn my attention to Voldemort.”

She flinched slightly at the name, but didn't break stride. “What's in Anglesey?” she asked after a moment.

I didn't answer right away. Some things I'll never be comfortable talking about. But Hestia had shown an incredible amount of faith in me so far, and there was no reason not to tell her. “My parent's graves.”

She didn't say anything, but I felt her hand slip into mine and squeeze reassuringly. She didn't let go, so we continued to walk, hand in hand. It felt nice, having someone with me, but I couldn't help but think of all the ways she could get herself killed just by being near me. A vision of Dumbledore, begging me to kill him after drinking the brew from the cave, passed in front of my eyes, and I wondered if Hestia would ever look at me like that.

Even if she did, it wouldn't change anything. I was going to stop Voldemort and his Death Eaters, whatever it took. People would die, that couldn't be stopped, but at least they wouldn't have to die for nothing.

And after Voldemort... Snape. I would scour the earth for him if that's what it took, and once I found him, he would be the one begging for his life.

(End)

"Chapter One", posted on March 22, 2008 at 8:31 am, updated on March 22, 2008 at 1:57 pm
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