False Ties (Prequel to: Family Ties)

BY : JunjouSlashGirl
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Harry/Tom
Dragon prints: 705
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the characters. All rights belong to J. K. Rowling.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the characters. All rights belong to J. K. Rowling.

A/N: And because I am awesome, a warning for those who need it.

The Mature Warning: Means that you have to be LEGAL in your country to read this story, be that 16, 17, 18, 21, 100... You get the picture. That responsibility lies with YOU the reader. It also means that my story will have SEX scenes or private body parts mentioned. If you don’t like it, I recommend searching for stories with NO sex.

The Slash Warning: Means that there is going to be GAY sex (that is man on man sex in this instance). Don’t be upset if the main pairing are two or more men that end up together. 

Prologue:
(Rhian aged 7)

Dumbledore appeared in front of Privet Drive Number 4 and swiftly made his way up to the front door. Only 6 years had passed since he had visited the house last, when he had dropped off one: Rhian Cerridwen Riddle (because he would never indulge Tom Riddle's notions of misplaced grandeur and use the surname Slytherin for this particular family, like the Dark Lord had demanded from his followers in the late years of the war). Now, of course, Rhian was known as Harry James Potter, a stroke of genius, he had to admit.

In the beginning, he had been angry and disappointed with himself, as he had realized that he had failed to kill the latest child of Riddle, but at least he had succeeded with the first three offspring, and by now he had even found a good use for the abomination he had not been able to get rid of. With the help of the poor, innocent and unknowing boy, he would finally end Lord Voldemort once and for all and ensure the Light Magic's place as the dominant power in their world.

When he had started to reform the horrible power wizards and witches had used centuries ago, he would never have thought that he would get so far, that his plan would be so successful and he was glad that apparently some higher power supported his ambitions, or maybe, it was all thanks to his brilliant mind and determination.

However, first things first, he had yet to win the war and for that he would need said boy, or rather, his unique, magical powers.

Having reached the front door, he placed his most convincing grandfather-smile on his face, even though he knew it would gain him nothing with the Muggles he was about to visit, and finally knocked.

"Pet, the door," he heard a voice yelling from the inside and cringed inwardly at the horrible term of endearment. Footsteps could be heard and a moment later, a thin, horse-like woman finally appeared in the doorway. Her thin, forced smile instantly faltered as her eyes landed on his bright orange and purple robe and he frowned inwardly. He had nothing against muggles, of course not, they were easy enough to control, but their taste was even more horrible than those of Pureblood witches and wizards. However, he didn't let anything show, he was here for a reason after all and for that, he needed to be let inside and see the Dark Spawn.

"Good afternoon, Petunia, can I assume you still remember me?"
"Of course, Dumbledore," she replied, but didn't move.
So, with an internal sigh, he asked: "May I come in? It will not take long, I only wish to check on your young nephew."

Something like fear briefly flickered over the woman's face. He could imagine where it came from, but as he did not feel any pity for Tom's child, regardless of the fate he had met in this household, he ignored it.

Petunia finally stepped to the side and he quickly entered. The hallway he found himself in had not changed much in the years he had not visited. Only the pictures on the wall showed that any time had passed at all. While they had shown something like a pink, round ball with some blonde fluff six years ago, they now showed a huge, obese boy playing with various colorful toys.

"Your home is inviting as always," he said, but only earned himself a nod.
"The boy is in the kitchen," Petunia told him and pointed to the first door on the left. She disappeared into the living room, and after he was sure that the woman had left (not that he believed that she would tell anybody what he was about to do), he entered the middle-sized room.

Immediately his eyes zeroed in on the small form that was kneeling on the floor, scrubbing the white tiles on all four. His lips contorted into a sneer as disgust and nausea once again overtook him, just like six years ago. How something so despicable and evil could be so beautiful, was something he would never be able to understand. His black hair was silky, but had grown to fall down to the slim waist in a shiny curtain and his skin shone like liquid moonlight. But then he noticed the worn, oversized clothes that hung from thin, skeleton-like shoulders, the swollen ankle he tried to put no weight on and the many bruises that littered the thin arms and his mood instantly improved.

The boy must have heard him approach, because he turned around and Dumbledore was forced to look into those poisonous, green eyes he had wished to never see again. Avada Kedavra-green, his mind supplied and he had to suppress a shudder that threatened to run down his spine. Not wishing to spend more time in the proximity of Voldemort's spawn than absolutely necessary, he swiftly pulled out his wand, and cast "imperio". It was time to test the child's usefulness.

The boy's eyes went unfocused and he quickly gave his command:
"Go to the kitchen drawer and pull out the sharpest knife you can find." With satisfaction, he watched as the child dropped the sponge he had still been holding, and walked over to the drawers. Once he had pulled a long, pointy knife out, he turned to face him again, awaiting his next order obediently.

"Go into the living room and kill your cousin with the knife," Dumbledore told him and watched the boy leave, all the while nodding to himself. He was already planning how to best use the boy to kill his own father, when he heard a young voice shouting "NO!" and the sound of something heavy hitting the ground. Cursing inwardly, he just turned around in time to see Rhian scrambling into a cupboard under the stairs, however, before he could follow the boy, the fat husband of Petunia came stomping from the living room:

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"Obliviate," he simply said, and watched as his spell erased the last half an hour from the man's mind, before he finally followed the cursed boy. He had so hoped that his plan would work, it would have made everything so much simpler and easier for him, but apparently he would have to train and mold the boy personally after all, Rhian had thrown the Imperio off
far too quickly and easily to risk a second try.

He of course knew people who would be perfectly capable of training the boy for the war ahead, but for now, he would not risk his weapon just to be hasty, he still had time after all.. A seal would probably be the best solution, or a net of seals, just to be sure that the child would not be able to break free from his bindings.

With a sigh, he opened the cupboard and crouched down. Rhian was hiding in the far back corner, where the darkness almost swallowed him and no adult could reach, probably a tactic learned after many beatings from his uncle. Fortunately, he didn't need to reach the boy. Pointing his wand at the huddled figure, he muttered "obliviate" for the second time and waited to see the green eyes glaze over, before he finally left the house again and apparated back into his personal office at Hogwarts. He needed to make a new plan.

Chapter 1: False Hopes
(Rhian aged 7)

Seven year old Harry Potter winced and suppressed a sniffle. His head was hurting and his stomach churning from hunger. He wanted to lay down, but he knew he would not be allowed to. His cousin Dudley was always allowed to lay down on the comfortable looking sofa and just watch the telly when he did not feel well, because Dudley was a good boy and not a lazy freeloader like him, whatever a freeloader was. His cousin also wasn't a freak, he had no freakish abnormal powers, he thought, as he let some of his freakish power soak into the ground to check if the flowers needed watering.

They didn't and he quickly pulled his senses in again. If his aunt or uncle ever found out how often he used his "freakishness" he would be in big trouble, but he could not stop himself. The earth beneath him, the wind on his skin, the prickling in the air, the flowers and animals, they were the only friends he had, he just could not stay away from them.

At the kindergarten he had no friends, not after his cousin had shoved that nice looking girl with the wild, brown locks so hard that her nose had started bleeding. The thought of her made him sniffle again, she had been really nice, he had so hoped that she would become his new friend, but she hadn't shown up at the kindergarten after the incident and the teacher had told him that she was going to another kindergarten now.

A dog barked somewhere and he was jolted out of his memories. Looking around, he saw that he still had a lot to do. The leaves that had fallen down last autumn still needed to be cleaned from the flower beds and the weeds pulled out and soon he had to prepare dinner. It was the first week he was preparing dinner as well as breakfast and lunch and it took all the time he had used to play in his cupboard before it grew too dark in the hallway to shed some light into his small space. But his aunt had explained that he soon would go to school and needed to earn his school fees.

He really wanted to visit the primary school, even though his cousin would probably scare the other children away from him again, but he liked learning new stuff. He would finally learn how to read. Reading was something he wished he could do for some time now. Whenever he looked through the one picture book he possessed, and his mind drifted off to the adventures the pictures where telling him about, he wondered what great stories the words would be able to tell him. So with that goal in mind, he crouched down and started to clean the flower beds.

For the next hour he worked silently as he removed leaves and little twigs. Some of the twigs had sharp edges or thorns, but he ignored the splinters that stuck into his skin and the many small scrape wounds he got. While he worked, he unconsciously let his senses seep into the ground. He always felt less lonely when he could feel the presence of the plants and small insects and animals surrounding him.

He had no idea how much time had passed, but he was nearly done with the foliage, when he was suddenly overwhelmed by a strong presence he had never sensed before. The presence seemed to burn like the scolding sun in the summer and with a little gasp, he quickly drew back and looked fearfully around. Around him, he could hear the trees whispering and moaning and he began to search for the source of their agony.

Footsteps could be heard and in the next moment, the strangest man he had ever seen pushed the front gate to his family's plot open. He was old, older than any man he had ever seen, with long, silver-white hair and a matching beard, his nose was slightly crooked and a pair of golden half-moon spectacles sat upon it, however, the strangest thing about the person was his clothes. They reminded him of the picture of the wizard in one of his cousin's picture books, only that those had been dark blue and not a bright yellow, green and purple. Fascinated, Rhian stared at the long robe and wondered if the golden stars he could see on the fabric were waving at him, or if his mind was just playing tricks on him.

He blinked once, twice, but the stars still seemed to wave, however, before Rhian could remind himself that something like waving stars did not exist, the stranger addressed him.
"Good morning, Harry," he said in a kind voice. "I see you are diligent."
He heard his name so rarely, that Rhian needed a moment to realize that the man actually meant him. A warm feeling of joy blossomed in his chest, but as he wanted to greet the stranger back, he noticed with disappointment that he had already entered his relatives house.

Sighing, he turned back to his flower beds, but not five minutes had passed when he heard his aunt's voice calling for him:

"Boy, come inside, the man wants to talk to you! But clean your hands first and leave your shoes outside, if you get my floor dirty, there will be no dinner for you!"

Scrambling to his feet, he quickly ran to the faucet and cleaned his hands before running back to the house and entering, hoping that he had been quick enough, because he hadn't had something to eat for three days now and knew that if he had to skip yet another meal that he would be even more tired tomorrow and that would lead to him making mistakes which in return meant that his uncle would beat the laziness out of him.

The voice of the old man came from the living room, a room he was normally only allowed in to clean, so he knocked carefully on the doorframe and asked:
"Aunt Petunia, you called?"
"Yes, and now come here," she snapped impatiently and waved him over. As he entered the room, he saw that the visitor was sitting all alone on the large couch, while his aunt sat stiffly in one of the armchairs.

"Hello my boy, my name is Professor Dumbledore," the stranger addressed him once more as he had reached the sitting area. Rhian turned to look at the visitor, as he knew it would be impolite not to do so, but as soon as his eyes met the twinkling blue ones of the Professor, his lingering headache spiked. For a short second he had the strange feeling of having seen the man before, but it was gone as soon as it had popped up and he pushed his rising uneasiness to the side.

Shaking his head, he hurriedly collected himself again and introduced himself as well.
"Hello, Professor, I am Harry."
The man's eyes seemed to sparkle even stronger for a second, then he nodded, as if satisfied with something and said:
"Harry, my boy, as you surely have picked up on already, I am a professor, that means I teach children."
Rhian nodded again, he knew that professors were something like teachers.
"I have heard you are a bright and diligent boy," the professor continued, and Rhian saw to his relief that he ignored his aunt's pursed lips, and just continued "that is why I am here, to offer you a place at my school."

Suddenly, all Rhian's previous skepticism was forgotten and his eyes brightened in excited anticipation. He couldn't believe that the Professor was inviting him. Not Dudley, or together with Dudley (because otherwise his cousin would be there right now), but him.
"I can go to your school?" he repeated, wanting to make sure that he had not misunderstood anything.
"No, not directly, my boy," the Professor replied and his heart instantly sank again, but his disappointment was short lived, as Dumbledore explained: "Children can only start at Hogwarts after they have turned eleven, but I offer you a place as my personal student. So, will you accept?"

He didn't need to think about it for even a second and just nodded frantically. He would be allowed to go to school, he would learn how to read and many other exciting things and maybe, in his breaks he would even see the other students.

"Good, good," the Professor nodded again. "Then be ready tomorrow morning at nine. I will have everything you need, so you do not need to worry about buying any school supplies on such short notice." With that, the Professor rose again, not knowing that Rhian had left out a relieved sigh he had not even been aware he had been holding, said his goodby and left first the living room and then the house.

As soon as he had left, Rhian's aunt snapped angrily: "Don't think that you should be proud of your scholarship. It's a school for freaks that man is the Headmaster of. Your worthless parents went to that school as well and what became of them? Drunkards that died in a car crash and left their good-for-nothing brat with us."

The words stung like always and Rhian quickly lowered his eyes to hide that they were glistening threateningly. His aunt liked to remember how worthless his parents had been, but it never grew easier to listen to her.

"And now get started with the dinner. My Dear Vernon will be home in less than an hour and be hungry once he arrives."
Rhian quickly left, before his aunt could grow even more ill tempered and forbid him to go to the Professor the next day.

The rest of the day he spent with preparing dinner and finishing his work in the garden. After he had showered that evening (normally he was only allowed to shower on Sundays, and it was only Tuesday) Petunia even gave him two slices of toast and a low-fat Yoghurt, which Dudley refused to eat. She also told him that he better cause them no trouble with the freak next day. But despite his aunt's cruel and hurtful words and how his day had started, he went to bed in a good mood, barely able to fall asleep because of his anticipation.

The next morning, he was awoken extra early so that he had enough time to do his morning chores. He prepared an extra portion of bacon for his family, and didn't even find himself sad for not being allowed anything as well (he never had tried bacon so far). He was just cleaning the bathroom upstairs (one of his afternoon chores, which he would have to add to his evening schedule from now on) when he was startled by a high pitched scream, coming from his aunt.

Wondering what could have happened, and if she may need some help (after all Petunia was still his aunt and he loved her) he dashed downstairs and followed her now yelling voice into the living room.

"I may allow you to fetch the boy every morning, but neither I, nor my Vernon will tolerate your freakish methods in our house!"

He rounded the corner, by now afraid that his aunt would forbid him to go to the lessons after all, she just sounded so angry, and froze instantly. For a second, his young mind was unable to comprehend what he was seeing. His new Professor, Dumbledore - he recalled the man's name, was just stepping out of his family's fireplace, which was glowing green right now, and was dusting off his colorful robes with an happy smile, as if nothing, not even Petunia's yelling, could dampen his mood. Then, before Rhian could regain his wits, the professor noticed and addressed him:
"Ah, good morning my boy. I hope you are ready?" He questioned and Rhian quickly nodded.

"Good, good. Then come over here," the old man added and waved him over to the fireplace.

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The swirling stopped, and he stumbled out onto a soft carpet. He lifted his eyes and drew in a sharp breath. He had to be dreaming, or maybe the fireplace had brought him to a whole different universe, because otherwise, he could not imagine how such an office could exist.

The room was round and had many elegant, dark and very expensive looking shelves, on which stood many steaming, humming or silently whistling instruments. Some of them were colorful, others so shiny that they reflected the light in all directions, and others again looked as if they were no mere machines, but alive, living and breathing beings. There were also rows and rows of books. Some looked heavy as a tomb, others were barely more than ancient looking scrolls of papyrus. He believed he could hear them whisper to each other, and sometimes, it seemed as if a spine was shifting a little under his gaze, but surely he was only imagining it?

Next his gaze fell onto the wall behind the gigantic desk, which was occupied by many portraits, and they were clearly moving. They were pointing their fingers at him, whispering agitatedly. Some were even smiling and waving at him, while others just watched him with a sceptical look. One, the portrait of a rather harsh looking man with elegantly styled, black looks and piercing, dark blue eyes had given him a long, pitiful look before he had shook his head and left his portrait. That was the moment that he realized that something bad must have happened during the fireplace ride.

A cough finally startled him and as he turned around, he saw that the professor had sat down behind his desk and was clearly waiting for him, as an empty chair had appeared opposite of the beautiful wingback chair he himself was occupying. Blushing, Rhian quickly ran over, moved the chair a little bit to the side and climbed on top of it.

"Now, boy," Dumbledore started and Rhian frowned. He didn't like how the Professor suddenly called him 'boy', just like his aunt and uncle, but he kept silent; he had learned a long time ago that adults didn't like children talking back. So he continued to just listen.

"As I am sure you have already noticed, this is not a normal school for normal children. Tell me Harry," Dumbledore continued and that strange sound in his voice had disappeared again, making Rhian more relaxed "has something strange ever happened. Maybe you have jumped incredibly high, something has vanished or have you possibly hurt someone you had been angry at?"

Slowly, Rhian nodded. He didn't have to think about it long, even though since the first time he had used his power, he had always kept it secret after his aunt's violent reaction.
"I can make flowers grow," he told Dumbledore carefully, not sure if he was now allowed to be proud of his gift or not. He saw that the professor's face had darkened into a frown, and suddenly nervous again, he started to fidget again.

"Professor Dumbledore, Sir, I know I shouldn't do these freakish thinks…" he began, wishing that the old man would not be too mad. His words must have startled the professor, because he blinked a few times, before he retorted:
"Everything is fine my boy. It would have been rather worrisome if you never had experienced any strange things. You must know, there is a dangerous darkness in the world, led by the most evil man you can possibly imagine. But some of us, like myself and you, are born with a power strong enough to fight him. Your parents were once at the front of those noble fighters, they were one of the strongest."

"But my parents died in an car accident!" he blurted out. It would be so great if his parents had been heroes like Dumbledore just described, but Petunia had told him so often that they had been no good, that he hesitated to believe the Professor.

"Am I guessing correctly that it was your aunt who told you that story?" Dumbledore questioned.
"Yes, sir."
"I fear my boy, I have to tell you that your aunt lied to you. Petunia always had been jealous of your mother, who was not only prettier, but gifted as well. She always envied Lily when she left after each holiday for Hogwarts, but those are old stories and not important any longer."

Rhian wanted to argue, because if Dumbledore was right, maybe that was the reason why he never got chocolate or was allowed to watch the telly, but he bit his lip to keep silent.

"Important for you to know, however is," the Professor continued and Rhian wished he could hide somewhere as his twinkling, blue eyes seemed to pierce him, "that your mother sacrificed her life for you and through her sacrifice you have been blessed with the power to free our world from the evil that is the Dark Lord."

Rhian's eyes widened. "My parents were killed?"
"Yes, they, and many thousands of others. But you have the power to defeat him and prevent more children from losing their families like you have. Do you understand that, my boy?"

The raven slowly nodded, with his eyes focused on his hands that were twisting nervously in his lap. He was understanding, or at least he hoped so. He knew he wasn't very intelligent, not like Dudley at least who was really smart according to his aunt and uncle, but that Dumbledore had collected him to win this battle for him; he could actually see.

"Your parents were heroes, Harry, just like you are fated to be. Quite possibly even a greater one then they had been," the Headmaster's voice suddenly broke through his musing as he looked up, blinking a few times to clear his head, he saw that the man was expectantly staring at him. He blushed, as he realized that Dumbledore had expected more than a nod, and just that suddenly a strong determination coursed through him, a determination to avenge the loving parents he had lost and prevent any other children of becoming as sad as he had always been; he said with a strong voice: "I will do my best to defeat him, sir. I will study day and night if I have to!"

The old wizard's face softened with a warm smile and he gave him an approving nod.

"Then, my boy, let us not waste any more time. Voldemort is a strong opponent and it will take a few years for you to learn enough until you will be able to stand up against him."
He opened a drawer that was hidden just beneath the table top, and to Rhian's confusion he pulled a slender branch from it. It was maybe as long as Rhian's under arm and a few leaves and blossoms were still connected to it; he recognized it as an apple branch.

"Now Harry," Dumbledore began again and handed him the branch "to perform magic, every witch and wizard needs a wand."
Frowning, Rhian swished the branch a little, but nothing happened. Dumbledore chuckled. "This is not yet a wand. A wand is created from a normal piece of wood and a spell. The child who is supposed to get his or her wand, needs to hold it tightly, while a strong, trusted adult has to transform it. Often it is a family member who does the honor, but I hope you do not mind me performing the spell."

He quickly shook his head, tightened his grasp and concentrated while looking into the Headmaster's blue eyes.
"Very well," the wizard retorted and pulled something out that had to be his own wand. It was knobby somehow, not as straight and smooth like the wands he had glimpsed in Dudley's cartoons, but he supposed that every wand would look unique when it was specially created for a wizard or witch. He wondered what his own wand would look like.

Dumbledore gave him an encouraging wink, then lifted his wand, waved it in a complicated looking pattern and said something in a language Rhian didn't understand and the branch in his hand suddenly began to change. It shrank and thickened at the same time. The dull brown transformed to a reddish, chestnut color and thin, golden lines appeared on the wood.

For a few second he could do nothing more than stare at the piece of wood and suddenly he was sure that his life would finally turn into something bright and good, even though he would have to train to defeat a Dark Lord one day.

"I see we can be really proud of you, my boy."
Rhian blinked as Dumbledore interrupted his temporary trance. Not understanding what the old wizard meant though, he asked: "Why?"
Dumbledore in return pointed at his wand. "Do you see those golden lines? They form a lion, the house symbol of Gryffindor, which your parents were part of during their own school days. Godric Gryffindor, one of the Founders of Hogwarts, and the Founders of our school, was possibly the most powerful, courageous and wisest of our Four Founders. Before he build the school with his friends, he was a knight who fought against the darkness and protected the weak, you certainly would be sorted into his house if we were to sort you."

Feeling a bit disappointed as the Headmaster's words sounded as if he would not be sorted into any house, he asked carefully, in the hope that he had maybe just understood the wizard wrong: "But I am not?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "No, Harry, you will not be sorted and part of the normal curriculum. Your role in this world is much too important for you to waste time with subjects that will not be of help to you to fulfill your destiny. You will be taught by myself, mainly in Defensive and Offensive Magic, but also a bit in politics, so that you can fully understand what you are fighting for.

Cheering up at the prospect of the things he would learn, Rhian sat up straighter. "Will you start my lessons today?"
"Maybe," the Headmaster retorted. "First we have to check your magical abilities. In many magical families different abilities run which could come in quite handy, but to be able to train them, we have to find out which you possess." The Headmaster waved his wand and a box appeared on the desk between them. Immediately, Rhian could hear a strange, hissing sound coming from the inside.
"Where am I? Why is it so dark and cold? Stupid humans… have they locked me up? I will bite them and kill them…"
His eyebrows shot up in confusion, what strange creature had the Headmaster conjured? Looking up, he closed his already opening mouth however, when he saw that Dumbledore was eyeing him intently.
"Can you understand what the voice is saying, my boy?" the old wizard asked and a strange feeling overcame Rhian as he met those blue eyes.
Shifting a little in reaction to his sudden nervousness, he nodded. "Yes, sir... it's not saying nice things…"
Dumbledore chuckled, but Rhian was left disappointed when the Headmaster merely waved his wand again, first, to vanish the box, and then to conjure a small, rectangular piece of parchment.

"Now, the second test. Your mother was quite a skilled Metamorphmagus."
"Metamo…?" Rhian echoed, but his tongue got twisted around the strange word and he quickly gave up on repeating the word.
"A Metamorphmagus. That is a person with the rare and useful ability of changing his or her appearances only by the force of their will. This," Dumbledore said and pushed the piece of paper in front of him, which turned out to be a photo of a small, brown eyed boy with a messy mop of dark brown hair and a round, friendly face. However, there was also a gleam in the boy's eyes, which made Rhian instantly cautious, even though he couldn't understand why, after all, the boy was smiling and looking nice enough.

"This, is a photo of your father when he was about your age. Please try to change your appearance to resemble his."

Staring at the picture, Rhian tried to push the uncomfortable feeling inside of him away. He didn't want to change his appearance, he liked his long and smooth black hair and his green eyes which shone brighter than the fresh grass in spring; not even to resemble his father more.

"Harry," the Headmaster interrupted his thoughts as he had apparently hesitated for too long. "Your father's family, the Potters, have been a well known and highly regarded Light Wizarding family. It would give people even more hope if they could see your resemblance to this powerful family. You want to give the public hope in these dark times don't you?"

Flushing as he realized how selfish his thoughts had been, he quickly nodded in agreement and concentrated on the photo again.
"Good," Dumbledore said praisingly, but he barely heard it as he tried to will his hair to change color and length. He concentrated as hard as he could, but couldn't feel anything strange. However, as he didn't know if he was supposed to feel anything, he after a while asked:
"Do I look different?"
"I am afraid you have to try harder, my boy," Dumbledore replied.
Rhian's eyes started to burn as he stared unblinkingly at the picture, determined to succeed in this first task, but even after five and even ten more minutes, nothing had happened.
After a while, the old wizard sighed and Rhian stiffened as he sensed the great disappointment in that one sound. However, what the Headmaster said next, pushed him straight into panic: "Harry, I would truly like to see at least a tiny change of appearance, after all, your aunt and I agreed this morning that I will give her daily updates on your progression…"

"No! Please! I will try harder, but don't tell my aunt that I was a bad pupil!" he exclaimed helplessly, but Dumbledore merely shook his head.
"I fear I have to. Your aunt is putting great trust in me, by letting you obtain an education she knows nothing about. She is worried that these lessons will not prepare you sufficiently enough for the future. However, you may try a little longer."

Rhian wanted to tell Dumbledore that his aunt was definitely not worried about his 'good education' and that a bad report would leave him hungry for at least two days, but that would only take some of the time he had left to transform himself, so he quickly returned his eyes to the photo, but still nothing happened.

However, suddenly, he had the idea that maybe he was using the wrong method, so instead of staring at the picture, he closed his eyes, recalled his dad's appearance in his mind and then imagined himself changing into that image. Without warning, a tingle started to spread inwards from his toes and fingertips, as he imagined his skin turning to a nice, tanned golden skin, his hair shortening and lightening and his face shifting to become more rounder. Soon the tingling covered his whole body. It was not a bad feeling; in fact it felt nice - as it felt as if he for once was strong, as if he was powerful. With this power, he could defend himself from Dudley, or even retaliate when his cousin hit him the next time. WIth this power, he could make his life better, he could just feel it. The feeling only lasted for a few seconds, which somehow disappointed him, however, he consoled himself by reminding himself that Dumbledore would teach him more magic until he would be able to use it freely and at his own accord. Maybe Dumbledore would even know how he could strengthen his connection to the earth, plants and animals which he loved to feel so much.

He was roughly pushed from his pleasant daydream-bubble, when Dumbledore's voice could be heard:
"Good, my boy. Nearly perfect."
Opening his eyes, he startled as he was suddenly confronted with the boy from the picture, only that he was now just as tall as him, and nearly fell out of his chair. Only as his racing heart calmed down, did he realize that he was face to face with a mirror, and what he saw was actually himself. Suddenly more curious than frightened, he eyed his reflexion. Dumbledore had said "nearly" perfect, which meant that he must have missed to transform some part of himself. His eyes traced his new lips, which where thinner than his old pair, his nearly vanished cheekbones and the messy bangs that hung in his eyes. At least those were still their usual, radiant green and not that dull, boring shade of brown… realizing what he had missed, his eyes widened. His eyes still looked exactly the same as they always did.

A small smile actually tugged at his lips. The rest of his new appearance felt so strange and uncomfortable, but at least a tiny part of himself still remained.

"Now," Dumbledore continued "before I inform you about what your lessons will contain, we have to take care of another matter first."
Not knowing how to react, or if the Headmaster even expected a reply, Rhian nodded. Besides, he still felt weary and not like himself after his successful transformation.

"While it is a good news that you have inherited the metamorphmagus trait from your mother, we need to make sure that your other ability is sealed away."
Rhian opened his mouth wanting to protest, but the Headmaster lifted a hand before he was able to say anything and asked gravely: "My boy, do you have any idea, what creature was in that box?"
Frowning, Rhian shook his head. He had no idea and he also didn't see how it mattered. He had just spoken with some kind of animal, what could be so bad about it that the ability needed to be restrained?

"The animal inside was a snake. It is a trait of Dark Wizarding Families to be able to communicate with snakes. They used them for evil purposes, like spying or murder by poison."
Blinking, Rhian stayed quiet. He knew it was horrible what he thought, but he could understand the wish to kill somebody. He often wished he could be strong enough to strangle his cousin until he moved no more, but knowing that Dumbledore would not understand him, he just waited for the old wizard to continue, which he soon did:

"You probably wonder now, and with good reason, how you obtained this ability, when you come from a pure, Light Family, a family of good people. I fear, the answer is as easy as worrying: When Lord Voldemort attacked, some of his Dark Magic must have crossed over to you, giving you this Dark Ability. Unfortunately, it does not only make you able to speak with snakes, which I am sure you would not misuse, but Dark Magic is also like a poison to a Light Wizard's body. It will spread like a lethal disease and change your mind, character and soul. But do not fear, I will be able to contain the damage that has been done to you."

Nodding slowly, Rhian agreed. He knew he had no other choice anyway, but the thought of losing this ability saddened him. He often saw small snakes in his family's garden, and he had looked forward to a little chat and some distraction while he had to do his garden work. But Dumbledore knew much more about magic than he did, it surely would be for the best. Somehow, his inner voice didn't sound convinced to his own ears, but the Headmaster was now standing up and motioning him to do the same.

"This may feel a little uncomfortable, and it will also tire you out, as your body will have to adjust to the spell inside your body. So after I have cast the spell, I will only inform you about the classes you will have from tomorrow onwards and then you may return home for the rest of the day..."

Paling at the prospect of returning to his family so soon, Rhian quickly interrupted the old wizard; "Can't you perform the spell later, sir? I want to start learning magic."
Even though he still wasn't quite sure if he liked the Headmaster or not, it was nice to do something else other than chores, and also while away, his relatives couldn't find a reason to punish him.

"No, it will not do to overwhelm you. You have already learned a lot today and I am sure, your aunt and uncle are also eager to have you back by their side."
Lowering his head, Rhian hid his resigned face. Dumbledore wouldn't change his mind unless he told the wizard his true reasons, and he would never do that. Firstly, because he felt too ashamed and secondly, because he didn't trust the man enough.

Still in his thoughts, he was totally unprepared as he felt Dumbledore's wand touch the crown of his head and he nearly toppled over as something utterly hot invaded his body. He felt as if he was burning from the inside. He felt his magic rise inside of him, as if trying to fight this invading power. For a moment, he felt as if he could win this battle, but then the hot force suddenly increased even further. He choked and gasped as his magic was compressed inside of him, but then the sensation settled down, and he could breathe again.

Gulping in deep lungfuls of air, Rhian tried to calm himself down. Suddenly he remembered that first impression he have had of the wizard, that the plants were screaming because of some kind of heat surrounding him and he finally realized that this heat he had felt back then and just now, was the man's magic. It didn't feel Light and good to him, more like a smoldering, hot inferno that destroyed everything in its wake. But maybe he just reacted so violently, because of the Dark Magic that had infected his body? It had been quite a lot, as far as he had been able to sense it in the few seconds the spell had taken to lock it up.

His racing heart finally calmed down and with it, came the expected tiredness. He suddenly felt weak as a kitten and he quickly sat back down as his legs began to shake.
"I believe we were just in time, my boy," Dumbledore said as he did the same, but Rhian was too tired to answer and the old wizard just continued. "Tomorrow we will start your lessons with a little discussion about the differences between Light and Dark wizards and witches. It will help you understand even more why it is so important to defeat the Dark Lord and by doing so, remove the power from influential Dark Families and give it to deserving, Light Families."
Rhian nodded obediently again and the Headmaster continued once more:

"Further, you will receive special physical training from an old friend of mine, Alastor Moody. He is a Senior Auror. Aurors, in our world, are what Muggles would call their police. He will prepare you physically for your future encounter with Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort never cared much about techniques he perceived as 'Muggle', thus this training will give you a huge advantage over him.
Lastly, you will also receive training from a former student of mine. She has just recently graduated and like you, she is a Metamorphmagus. She will help you control your gift and also teach you some basic knowledge about our world."

Dumbledore then stood up with a smile that Rhian found not quite friendly. But that was not what made him frown. Was the Headmaster finished already? That couldn't be all of his classes? Learning spells, becoming stronger physically and learning about this new world he apparently belonged into sounded all good and nice, but even with his seven years of age, he knew that he needed to learn many more things to live on his own later, when he was an adult and could finally leave the Dursleys.

When he was an adult, he would get important letters like his uncle and he would need to answer those letters or write e-mails, besides, he had always wanted to learn how to read all the interesting looking books which he had seen in the window of the Public Library. Sure, he would not get to go to his school any longer, but there were Public Libraries, one that was not so far away from his home even.

"What about reading and writing? And maths?"

Dumbledore gave him a long look, a look he could not yet interpret, but which didn't give him a good feeling.
"My boy, you have a higher goal to fulfil. Your time is too valuable to spend it with things as unimportant to your duty as writing and reading."

"But how…" he began to protest, but to his annoyance he was cut off.
"I will show you each spell you need to learn and explain the incantation to you, there will be no need for you to learn reading or writing. I promise you, you will not miss these abilities."

Suddenly angry, Rhian balled his fists. He had hoped that his life would get better. That he would learn things that would make his life more fun, that he would be prepared to live his life on his own one day and not have to work like an animal for his relatives any longer, but it seemed that the Headmaster was only another person who wanted to use him.

He was so angry and disappointed that he wanted to scream and hit the old wizard, but knowing from his life with his relatives what the consequences for such behavior would be, and not trusting the man to not do the same, he just stood up, turned around and walked over to the fireplace.

As he walked the few steps, he tried to stand as straight as possible and to not let it show how hurt he truly was. He had long since learned that showing emotions would get him no hug or pity. Just like his smiles and laughter caused his uncle to pull out his belt and not laugh with him.

"Can I return to my family then?" he asked instead.

"In a moment, my boy," Dumbledore answered and Rhian watched suspiciously as he pulled out a piece of paper, wrote down something, put it into an envelope and then came over to give it to him.

"This is for your aunt," the Headmaster said, before pulling out a small, red and golden valved bag. "This is floo powder. Do you remember what you have to do and say to get here?"

Taking the bag, he answered automatically: "I have to throw it into my aunt's fireplace and call 'Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts'."
"Correct. Now, I expect that you can change your eye color to brown by tomorrow, and do not change back when you arrive home. It is important that people think that you are a true Potter. It would not be good if some wizard or witch saw you looking different. Your lessons will start at ten every day. Have a good afternoon."

Relieved that he was finally allowed to go, Rhian took some of the floo powder from the bag, threw it into the red flames which instantly turned green, called out the address of his aunt and uncle and only hesitated a second before stepping into the floo all alone for the first time.

Without the Headmaster's help, he basically fell out of the fireplace at the other end and was greeted by a high pitched scream.
"My carpet! My precious carpet! Get up you filthy boy and why do you look like that? Vernon! Vernon!

He had no time to prepare himself as his uncle came stumbling into the living room, his favourite belt already in his meaty fist.
"What have you done now, boy? Adding more work to your poor aunt's schedule?"
The first hit landed in the middle of his back and ripped his shirt and skin right open. He screamed in agony and tried desperately to scramble away, but his uncle cut his way off and just struck out again. Soon his uncle had gained a merciless rhythm and Rhian could not tell any longer where the pain started and where it ended. One of his ears was bleeding, the belt had cut into the skin there and ripped it half way off and breathing became almost as painful as the hits themselves.

Finally, after what could have been minutes or hours and as Rhian feared he would pass out any second now, his uncle stopped, heaving like a stranded whale.

"And now change back to your normal appearances. We don't want your freakishness in our house!"
Whimpering, Rhian tried to answer, but he must have bitten down on his lip or tongue during the beating, because his mouth was full of blood and out came only a strange gurgle. When he didn't manage to answer quick enough, his uncle struck out once more, yelling: "Change back, now!"

Panicked, he let the blood flow out of the corner of his mouth and gasped: "I am not allowed to… Professor Dumbledore…"

"I don't care what the freak of a Professor told you, do you hear, boy? You are living under my roof, eating my food, you will do as I tell you!"

Despite knowing what the consequence would be of the answer he had to give,Rhian shook his head. He would have to endure another round, but surely, even if the wizard just wanted to use him to defeat that Dark Lord, he was still one of the good people and would help him with his aunt and uncle when he told him about his punishment tomorrow.

"No, you say? Wait… I will teach you!" roared his uncle and Rhian could do nothing more that to curl into a tight ball and wait until his second punishment was over.

ΦθΦθΦθΦθΦθΦθΦθΦθΦθΦθ

Rhian smiled in his sleep. Someone was singing to him with the voice of an angel. "Mother" he thought, warmth filling his heart and soul.

Just then his alarm clock went off, yanking him brutally from his beautiful dream. Sighing, he opened his eyes. It wasn't the first time he's had this dream. In fact, he often had similar dreams, they only differed in what kind of parent he would have. He was never able to make out their faces, but besides the angel like woman, he sometimes also dreamed about a man with black locks or another with an unruly nest of brown hair. His favorite dreams by far were those of that elegant, black haired young man. In his dream he had green eyes, just like he himself (it was the only feature he could ever make out) and it was his favourite because they were the most details and various.

Sometimes the man was just calling him "son" and lifting him up into his strong, protective arms, other times he read out to him, took him outside into a beautiful garden or played some lullaby on the piano for him.

In those dreams his life was so different from everything he knew in reality. The black haired man even had a study where a row of childish, self-drawn pictures hung on the walls and Rhian just knew that he had drawn them for his father.

Sighing, he turned onto his side and finally turned the alarm clock off that his aunt had given him so that she would not have to get up herself to wake him so that he could finish with his chores from the previous day and start with those of the present one.

He had not been able to finish all his work the previous evening. His body had hurt too much, he had barely been able to breath and walk and his head had pounded painfully after the spell Dumbledore had cast on him.

He also had no time to practice changing his eye color, but reminded himself that Dumbledore was one of the nice people, he had great faith that the old wizard would understand.

Grinding his teeth together, he pushed himself into a sitting position. The pain had lessened, but it was not yet gone. It had luckily always been like that after an especially hard beating. Maybe it was his magic which healed him? He wasn't quite sure if wizards could heal with the help of their magic, but it was the only explanation that made sense.

He took longer than normal to get dressed in one of his handed-down, and far too large trousers and t-shirt, but he hurried as much as he could and ten minutes later, he was down in the kitchen, only to ball his fists in disappointment when he saw that the slice of toast his aunt had placed for him on the table the evening before, so that Dumbledore could not accuse them if he brought back bad results, had vanished and only a few crumbs were left.

Dudley must have eaten it, even though his cousin hated dry toast, as he had learned when his cousin had caught a stomach bug last year, but he hated it even more when Rhian got something, even if it was only a singular slice of toast. He could only hope that his cousin had not also emptied the rest of the package, or he surely would be blamed once he returned in the evening.

Sighing in resignation, because in the end, he wouldn't be able to change it anyway, he left the kitchen and went outside to water the plants. However, in contrast to all the other times, he could not enjoy the chore. Instead it made him depressed as he came to realise that with the binding on his Dark Magic, his ability to communicate and sense animals and all things growing, had also disappeared.
After he had returned inside, he sorted the laundry and started the first wash load of at least three he would have to wash today and then set the kitchen table, so that his aunt would only have to fry the eggs and bacon. He also managed to clean the floors of the lower level, one of the chores he had not done yesterday, so when he came back, he would only have to clean them once more and not twice. Fortunately it was his uncle's short working day, where he only started after lunch break, otherwise, he would not have been able to do the floors, as his relatives would have been downstairs already.

However, when he had finished that task as well, it was already time to floo to his lessons. He sighed at the thought that he would have to weed in the evening. Hopefully he would be back before it got dark, or he would have to work with a flashlight which always resulted in him needing more time for the chore as he could only be able to use one hand for the weeding, while the other held the light.

So he went into the living room, took some of the floo powder and floo'ed into the Headmaster's office.
The Professor was sitting behind his huge desk, but looked up as he scrambled back to his feet after his harsh landing.

He fidgeted a little under the scrutinizing stare, knowing that Dumbledore would see the huge bruise that had formed around his left ear but to his disappointment the Professor merely remarked: "I see, you have not practiced your Metamorphmagus skills. I have to say I am disappointed."

"Professor, I wasn't able to practice… my aunt and uncle grew really mad when they saw my changed appearance. They don't want my…" he hesitated a moment as he felt a flush rise in his cheeks, but he forced himself to go on. He would never get help if he didn't tell anyone about his true home life. "...they don't want my freakish ways in their house…"
Dumbledore regarded him with yet another of those long glances, and Rhian held his breath. This was it. He had never trusted an adult with this secret, not after the threats of his relatives, but Dumbledore was good and strong….

Finally the Headmaster said: "I am sad to hear that."
Rhian's heart skipped a beat, but his frail hope was instantly shattered in the next moment. "However," the Professor continued "Sacrifices have to be made for the greater good, even from one as young as you. Maybe it is even a good thing. They will harden you, what does not kills us only strengthens us, my boy."

Rhian couldn't believe what he was hearing. His fists balled as rage quickly rose inside of him and replaced the hope he had clung on to. A loud, buzzing sound filled his ears and for a second or a minute, he could not hear what the old coot in front of him was saying as his vision turned red and he didn't want to listen anyway. Dumbledore, he realized, was not the slightest bit nicer or better than the Dursleys. The man was just as selfish and exploiting as his relatives.

But he would not allow it any longer, he would be exploited no more. From now on, he swore to magic, the only thing in his life he held dear, he would be the one using them. He would play along for now, and make sure that he would learn as much as possible from the old wizard, before stabbing him in his old back. He would listen to every word the Headmaster would tell him, but not believe any of it, however, he would use them to find out the truth and a path for himself, a parth where he could finally be himself and live in peace.

He felt a mask sliding over his face and a calmness covering his mind. The sounds came back as he automatically nodded to whatever question Dumbledore had just asked. He walked over to the chair he had sat in yesterday and sat down. The old coot, now looking far more pleased again, did the same opposite of him, pulled out his wand and conjured something.

It took Rhian a moment to come back to reality and realize that he was meant to look at whatever it was. Dumbledore had conjured another childhood picture, now of a beautiful teenage girl with flaming red hair and mossy green eyes.

"...then you will tell everybody that you have inherited your eye color from your mother. It will also work for our purpose, she was widely loved and admired…" Dumbledore was saying. However, Rhian found no similarity between his eyes and the witches. They both were green, but otherwise as widely apart as two shades of green could be. His mother's were of a dark, slightly dull shade, like moss in a forest, while his were bright and vivid, like young leaves or that one gem he had once seen in the widow of a shopping centre as he had accompanied his aunt to carry her bags. In fact, his mother's and his eyes were as similar in looks as he and his father had been before his transformation. In fact, if his aunt had not always ranted about her "useless waste of a sister" and the "useless freak she had married" he would not believed that those two had truly been his parents, but as it was, he had no reason to do so, and if the lie meant he could keep his eye color, he would play along.

"Now," Dumbledore continued, and he quickly redirected his attention back to the wizard. "Let us finally start with your first lesson. We have about one and a half hours left until Professor Tonks will arrive and I have a lot to explain to you. Listen well."

Nodding again, Rhian leaned back in his chair and waited for the old coot to continue.

"Light and Dark witches and wizards have been very different from the very beginning. Two opposites of one coin, I would say, if it did not mean that Dark wizards belong in the world. But they do not and that is very important for you to realize.

Dark magic arose from magical people who in their greed and egoism, twisted magic and her boundaries. They use cruel rituals with blood and living sacrifices to reach their material and self-centered goals. They do not care about the lives they sacrifice in the process, and over the centuries they have become addicted to power, death and causing pain.

Today there are many Dark spells and curses, all so very addictive, that using only one of them can mean your immediate fall, if one does not have an especially strong mind."
Dumbledore paused, and even though he could not believe that an entire group of people could be so inherently evil, but knowing that he needed to sound interested, he put a curious, but also worried expression on his face (at least he hoped that it was what his face looked like now) and asked:
"How can I recognize them if they are so evil?"

He snorted inwardly. True, he knew better than most children that there were people who were truly evil, how could he not with the Dursleys as his guardians and now Dumbledore as his teacher? But most were just ignorant, or frightened of repercussions and thus turned a blind eye to everything unusual that was happening in their surroundings.

No, he had never believed in that 'Great Evil' which could possess people and which the priest always talked about in the church on Sundays.

"A good question, my boy. There are two types of them and fortunately they are mostly easy to distinguish."

He continued to look curiously and eagerly at the Headmaster, waiting for the old coot's probably very prejudiced explanation. Somehow, Dumbledore reminded him of his aunt, whenever she talked about that "worthless daughter of Mrs. Poole" who had fallen pregnant last year, despite being only sixteen and all young mothers in general.

"The first kind of Dark witches and wizards are those who are not able to handle the Dark Magic they try to wield. In turn, they become deranged and mentally unstable. They are prone to sudden, explosive outbursts of anger and paranoia. To word it bluntly; they are just as you would imagine a crazy person. The second kind are those, who have succeeded in mastering the Dark Power. They are often ambitious and sly, back-stabers, you could call them. They plan and operate behind the scenes. They usually show no emotions, as due to the use of Dark Magic, they slowly become unable to feel even basic human emotions like love. Therefore, unlike like wizards who care about their family and friends, they hold no one and nothing dear besides their own goals."

Rhian wanted to roll his eyes. Of course, just like in those cartoons his cousin likes to watch, where the villain was always some dark, ugly, crazy and heartless man.

His first lesson continued for a few endless minutes in the same fashion; with Dumbledore prattling on and on about differences which, in the old coot's opinion, made Dark wizards evil, and in his own opinion cunning and intelligent. It didn't go past his notice that some of the traits and tactics the Headmaster described, where ones he as well possessed or had decided on, but he said nothing and just continued to listen attentively, even though he was quickly getting bored. He had hoped that he would at least learn some fact, surely magical people must have something like the muggle science? Or maybe the old coot thought he was still too young or too silly for real facts?

Whatever the reason, the lesson finally came to a end as an old grandfather clock chimed somewhere in the office and Dumbledore came to an halt.

"My, my, so late already? Time really flies. Your next Professor will arrive soon and I have to go downstairs and watch over lunch."

The Headmaster rose to his feet and Rhian's stomach chose that moment to announce its emptiness. However, after this morning, he did not expect to get fed during his school day any longer and said nothing, and just as expected, the old coot ignored the noise, gave him a false grandfatherly smile and left the office.

For a split second he wondered what he was supposed to do until the other professor arrived, but his attention was diverted when first the sound of rustling and shuffling and then of murmuring rose in the air. Confused, he looked around to see whether there was someone else, or better yet, a group of other people, because he could make out quite a lot of different voices, male as well as female.

By chance, his eyes landed on the wall opposite of him. He smiled as he realized that it was the portraits he had seen the day before who were whispering. However, now that the Headmaster was not in the room any longer, they clearly did not try and hold back their curiosity.

"So," a plump witch with grey curls finally decided to address him. "You are Harry Potter?"
"Yes, Mam'" he retorted as politely as possible. He hated nosy people, they reminded him too much of his aunt, especially if they were female.

"He doesn't look like much, I cannot even sense his magic," grunted an obese bald wizard, dressed in an expensive red and gold cloak with fur lining.

Another wizard snorted. "Of course not, he is only seven years old. It is already impressive that Albus can teach him at all. Just think how developed the core of magical children usually are at his age."

"I certainly hope you are right," grunted the obese one.

"Actually, you are both wrong," a female portrait suddenly said, the plate beneath her frame proclaimed her name had been Healer Dilys Derwent, Headmistress from 1741 to 1768.
(Not that Rhian could read it). It instantly made him weary after she made her introduction. Would the portrait of a Healer be able to see his abuse?

"I can sense traces of magical binding on him. What has the old fool done to you?"

"He bound some Dark Powers I have accidentally gotten from some Evil Wizard," he replied truthfully, too glad that she had only picked up on that fact and nothing more, to think about his words. However, he had not predicted the reaction he would get. A couple of portraits gasped and a haggard looking man exclaimed: "A Dark Wizard? Who had let you into Hogwarts.

"Now, now, gentlemen," a small wizard with a ring of white curls and a neatly trimmed beard framing his jawline piped in, before he turned to Rhian.
"Please excuse the rudeness of my colleagues. We are the former Headmasters of Hogwarts, you surely wondered already. I think it would only be correct of us to introduce ourselves. I am Headmaster Dippet."
Rhian gave the Headmaster a friendly smile and a wave, but as portrait after portrait adjusted their robes and said his or her name, his thoughts began to drift. He only snapped back to attention, as a smooth and cold sounding voice sounded.
"Phineas Nigellus Black." The wizard who had spoken had combed back, shoulder long wavy black hair which was streaked with silver strands. His dark blue eyes were piercing as knives, and unlike the other former Headmasters and Headmistresses, his robes were neat and completely black with the exception of a silver waistcoat beneath his outer robe.

Somehow, Rhian instantly liked the portrait. He was different from all the other bumbling witches and wizards. He seemed more intelligent and reasonable.
"Good morning, Sir," he retorted, but the portrait only eyed him silently for a long moment. Finally, as he was about to start fidgeting under the scrutinizing stare, Phineas spoke again: "You are doing well, my boy and you certainly have made the right decision. Never forget, knowledge is always power, regardless of where or how you obtained it."

"Stop spouting your Dark propaganda, no one wants to listen to it, Black!" A former Headmaster, who had not yet introduced himself, shouted, but Rhian did not listen to him any further. His mind had frozen at the words "Dark propaganda", so, did that mean that Phineas had been a Dark Wizard? Now truly curious, he glanced up, trying to find indications of the things Dumbledore had told him. And yes, the wizard's face was rather emotionless and he also seemed like the ambitious type, but the latter fit himself as well and was that truly so bad? Also, there certainly was no craziness in the man's eyes.
"Thank you," he smiled, unknowingly, one of the corners of his mouth stretched a little higher, transforming his smile into a smirk.

Their short exchanged ended as a roar suddenly sounded. He turned in surprise; he saw Dumbledore's fireplace blazing green and a second later a young witch, with bubbly pink, spiked hair and an outfit that reminded him of the muggle punks that were always hanging around the nearest bus stop at Privet Drive, stumbled out of the hearth with a curse.

However, before he realized who that person could be, he was distracted by a sound that was something between a disgusted huff and a sneering hiss. Turning back around to Phineas, he saw that the portrait was looking down at the witch with repulsion written all over his features. He threw the former Headmaster a questioning glance, who answered: "This, is the dirty Halfblood daughter of one of my less worthy descendants."

"Oh shut up, Phineas!" the witch snapped and he turned back around, just in time to see her straightening after having dusted her skirt off. In the next moment her whole expression changed, her dark scowl transformed into a bright smile and within two long steps she was standing right in front of him: "Wotcher, you must be Harry! Great to finally see you. You know, you are kind of a hero for all Aurors," she prattled in an awful speed. Rhian, who still was stuck at the thought that this woman apparently belonged to the wizarding police, a job he mentally connected with stern and trustworthy people and not someone so 'pink' and 'bubbly', didn't process even half of it, but automatically accepted the stretched out hand, only to get his own nearly shaken off.

"I know, I know, it probably sounds stupid to you, after all, you were a baby back then, but Dumbledore will make a real hero out of you and I am so excited to be part of your training! But now, let's start," she continued, walked over to the overly plushy and mismatched sitting area that was located in the left corner of Dumbledore's office, threw her shoulder bag down and let herself fall onto the couch.

Rhian followed hesitantly. Somehow he wasn't sure how he felt about the witch. She seemed nice enough, but she also was far too loud and 'colorful' for his liking. However, she must have noticed his hesitation, because she waved him over with a bright smile and said: "You don't need to be afraid Harry. My name is Tonks, by the way. No need to add a Professor or some such nonsense, I am just out of Hogwarts myself. I am not even finished with my Second Year of Auror training, so no need for formalities. You will get that enough with Moody."

"Um… okay," he agreed awkwardly and finally sat down opposite of her.
"So, I am here for two things: Firstly, to help you control and nurture your Metamorphmagus ability and secondly, to tell you a bit about Magical History. Don't worry, I will not be as boring as Professor Binns," she giggled and then proceeded to pull a pile of cards out of her pocket, not even noticing Rhian's confused look at the mentioning of a professor he didn't even know.

"Now," she continued, finally slowing down a little. "Changing your appearance as a Metamorphmagus is all about imagination. The more detailed a picture is in your mind is, the closer your magic will be able to imitate it. We will start easily. This," she explained and pointed to the stack of cards, turning one around and revealing a picture of short, grass green hair "are pictures with different varieties your appearance can change into. For now we concentrate on teaching you how to transform the different parts of your body, before moving on to more complex personas. Do you want to give it a shot?"

Rhian wondered if Dumbledore hadn't told her that he had already succeeded in changing his appearance completely. Deciding that he wouldn't ask about it, just in case Dumbledore would not want her to know, which would mean risking another punishment by the Dursleys, he just nodded and examined the card for a few seconds, before he closed his eyes and concentrated on the image in his mind.

After having gotten the hang on it yesterday, his magic rose quickly to his command and he could feel his hair withdrawing into his skull, shortening even further.
"Wow! You're a real natural at this!" Tonks exclaimed and he snapped his eyes back open. She conjured a small mirror and Rhian could actually see that he truly had succeeded this one his first try this time. Smiling in excitement, he stretched his hand out for a second card, only halting shortly to wait for an approving nod and proceeded to change his appearance further.

For the next couple of minutes his lesson proceeded in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, with him changing his hairstyle two more times, his nose once and his eyes three times, until Tonks apparently decided that he could handle the second part of her lessons as well and began to tell him with some pictures and worshipful words about Godric Gryffindor, the Founder of the House his parents had been in.

He listened attentively, glad to learn a little bit more about the wizarding world, but couldn't help himself by thinking that the late Knight sounded like a great bumbling airhead who rushed thoughtlessly into situations to defend ideals which were too unrealistic to ever be fulfilled completely.

The lesson came to a very abrupt end when Dumbledore's Grandfather Clock chimed again and his new Professor suddenly jumped up from the couch.
"Oh no, I forgot the time!" She exclaimed, swished her wand and making her cards gather in her pocket. "You have Moody next and he doesn't like lateness. By the way, do you already know some Healing Spells? You will need them once Alastor is through with you."

"Can you teach me one?" Rhian perked up, thinking that a Healing Spell was something he really could use.
Tonks seemed a bit surprised by his eagerness, but she shrugged and nodded. "Sure," she said and Rhian waited patiently as she drew her wand and pondered something for a second.
"I think the Episky Charm should be powerful enough, Moody won't go all the way with you," she continued and showed him the correct wand movement.

"But now we have to hurry," she pointed out once he had successfully healed a small cut which he he had gotten as he had cut his aunt's roses last week. "I still have to show you where your next lesson will take place."

Rhian's eyes widened as he watched her going to the office door and opening it. He had thought that he was not allowed to actually leave the office and see Hogwarts. However, his curiosity only lasted for a few minutes, as he realized that Tonks was just leading him down to the floor below the office, into a totally deserted corridor. Dust was hanging from torch holders and the windows to his right were actually so dirty that he couldn't see through them.

Nearly at the end he saw light leaking out from under the closed door and that was where Tonks led him to, before entering without knocking.
"Good afternoon, Sir," he heard her greeting someone and the voice that answered sounded oddly raspy. "Good morning, Tonks. Did you bring the kid?"
"Yes, he is…" she answered, stepped to the side and revealed the view to the most disfigured man Rhian had ever seen. He tried not to flinch, but as an odd, electric blue eye focused in on him, he was sure that he had shown some reaction.

For a long second he could do nothing else other than stare at the face that was not only missing an eye, but also a piece of the man's nose. Moody's dirty blonde hair was starting to grey, weary and uncombed like the mane of a shaggy lion. One foot was also missing, or maybe half of his leg, but Rhian could only see a wooden stump peeking out from under a heavy leather coat. There was also a gnarled cane leaning against the desk next to him which made Rhian shiver at the mere sight of the tool. He didn't want to imagine how much pain this caine could cause, it seemed worse than uncle Vernon's belt.

"Don't be so shy boy and come in. I am one of the good people, an Auror. You know what that is?" Moody suddenly addressed him and Rhian quickly stepped into the room, nodding in affirmation.
"Don't be so harsh with him, Sir. He is only seven," Tonks recommended her boss lightly, but Moody only grunted and continued.
"I am here to get you in shape and teach you some professional duelling moves," the old Auror paused and Rhian stiffened as he was thoroughly examined from head to toe. He wanted to squirm, he never liked such strong attention on him, but he forced himself to straighten and stand quietly.

Moody reminded him of a soldier, and he knew enough about soldiers to be aware that they liked a good posture. After some more agonizing moments, the Auror finally said: "We have a lot to do. Better get started. Tonks, you can leave now. I will see you this evening at training."
Tonks saluted, before turning on her heels and leaving him alone with the scary Auror, who sat down on a small desk, the only piece of furniture inside the room, with the exception of three strange puppets standing in front of the right wall.

"Now, listen boy. What we will be doing is strengthening your physical fitness and your reflexes. I will use a mixture of traditional workout training and specialized Auror training. We will start with your stamina," Moody explained, stood up and limped into the middle of the room, where he proceeded to pull his wand out and mutter a spell Rhian had not yet heard. At first he thought that the spell hadn't worked, as nothing had been conjured or changed, but then he saw that the floor in front of him was moving like a muggle treadmill.

When he didn't jump onto the moving piece of floor immediately, Moody barked: "Get started, boy," making him actually flinch this time. He quickly obliged, fearing the heavy cane the Auror was leaning on.

"Thirty minutes," his new tutor grunted and limped back to the desk, where he proceeded to sit down again and watch Rhian for the entire half hour.

Luckily he had always been a good and persistent runner, thanks to the nearly daily 'training' he got from his cousin and gang of kindergarten friends. 'Harry Hunting' had always been one of their favorite free time activities, and while Dudley couldn't run even if his life depended on it, one of his friends was quite quick and lasting.

Therefore, as Moody finally stopped him, he felt only a little flushed but not actually tired.
"You are better than I expected," Moody pointed out and made his way over to the puppets.
"Dumbledore gave me a list of spells he has already taught you. These are dummies the Auror department uses for training. They will try to block your spell with a shield when you use an Offensive Hex and attack when u use a Defensive one. Later, I can even charm them to strike back and duel with you, but we will leave that for some other time."

Rhian watched as Moody pulled his wand out once more and pointed it at the puppet that stood in the middle. The dummy shivered and lifted a hand that was clutching a rather plain looking wand.

Moody stepped to the side, so that he could move in front of the target and ordered: "Reducto!"
He needed a second to realize what his Professor wanted from him, but then cast the spell quickly.

A shimmering blue shield appeared in front of the dummy and his spell was reflected. His eyes widened as it came shooting back at him and he quickly stepped to the side to avoid being hit. Hadn't Moody said the Puppet wouldn't retaliate yet?
"Stronger! You will never stop an opponent with such a weak Reducto!" Moody barked and he quickly repeated his spell. This time, he let more of his magic flow into his wand arm, fortunately the Metamorphmagus lessons had taught him enough control to at least conduct his magical flow, and the red beam that came shooting out of his wand time was much broader and darker.

The spell shot through the shield, hit the dummy and Moody shouted:
"Alarte Ascendare!"
Making sure that he put enough force into the spell from the beginning, he cast and the dummy flew high up into the air, where it turned once before falling back down and landing perfectly in its old spot.

"Confringo!" The Auror barked and Rhian blasted the dummy against the wall. It went on in this fashion for more than three hours. In the end, Rhian was exhausted from the constant use of magic and the relentless moving around the dummy.

He was relieved when Moody brought him back to Dumbledore and the old wizard announced that he could return to his relatives for the day.



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