Harry lowered the weights with a slight clank and sighed. His arms felt remarkably like jelly and that was slightly disturbing. Maybe he had worked them a bit too hard? He wasn’t sure as he was going off guesses here. All he was doing was trying to lift what he could as many times as he could. That was exhausting and didn’t really last long. Maybe this called for a different book, something that could help him figure out the right way to do this. Surely there were books on exercise he could reference. Everything he had learned in quidditch and done for years was of no help here. It was an entirely different type of exercise. The phone rang and he sighed.
He headed downstairs, glad for the distraction. Resting his arms sounded like a lovely plan, given all he had done as well as his chores. He reached the phone and responded as politely as he could manage, “Dursley residence.”
“Tonks?” Harry was rather confused. Why was she calling him?
“Wotcher. Yeah, the reading is this afternoon, remember? Do you think you can make it to that library near the house right after lunch?”
“Sure, that also lets me get my chores done. I can even do some studying before then.” Harry was mentally running through his list of chores, trying to work everything out.
“Right, then I will see you there at one o’clock.”
After he hung the phone up his aunt asked from the living room, “Was that one of your… friends?”
“Yes Aunt Petunia.”
“And this one knew how to use the phone?” There was a degree of disbelief in her question, because surely a freak wouldn’t know how to use a phone.
Harry rolled his eyes, glad that he couldn’t be seen. “Yes. Her father is muggleborn and works as a lawyer so apparently their house has phones and magic.”
His aunt sniffed derisively and Harry took that as his cue to escape so he could knock out a number of his chores. Weeding the garden was actually quick work, seeing as that was a usual task and weeds really didn’t have that much of a chance to make a strong presence in the garden. Every day he did something out there and it showed. He tidied the house, which was thankfully not very dirty and then headed upstairs, happy to get away from his Aunt. He went to the beat up desk and sat down to go through his books. Looking through the Special Forces book he saw the mention of After Action Reports, which was summarized as basically going over what did and didn’t work in an engagement so you could learn from your mistakes and successes. That sounded useful and a great way to learn from the various encounters he had had.
Moving the book to the side, Harry got out a new sheet of parchment and started writing down what had occurred at the Ministry as best as he could remember. He was surprised by just how much he did remember now that he thought about it. That was rather surprising. A great deal of it seemed etched into his thoughts. Then he wrote down the mistakes, things where he knew they had screwed up. It was a depressing list but also shorter than he had expected which made him frown. Was he forgetting something? He then wrote up what they had done right and that was a larger list and was sort of grouped by name as each person had done different things well. For all that had gone wrong and poorly during that fight, they really had done rather well overall and kept their heads. Thinking about this he really wanted to see what the others could come up with if they did this as well. He sort of doubted that Ron would do this, as anything outside of schoolwork was certainly not going to fly.
Writing out short notes to each of those at the ministry covering what he wanted along with some other information such as how he had been and the like, Harry then thought about the fact that he hadn’t gotten any communication from any others. It was irritating as he really could use his friends as he tried to deal with his grief over losing Sirius and his grief over leading his friends into a trap. It was like he was being ignored for no good reason. No, he didn’t need to think about that right now. If he focused on that too much, either Sirius’s death or the lack of contact, he would get quite depressed again and he was trying to avoid that. There were things he had to get done and he honestly didn’t have the time.
If there was something keeping the messages from getting to him then maybe there was something that could stop Hedwig. He frowned at that. Given everything he just couldn’t risk his owl. No he needed another way to get these out. “Dobby?”
The House Elf appeared with a soft pop, looking excited to be there. “Yes Harry Potter sir?”
“Could you take these to Neville, Luna and Hermione? I’m probably going to see Ron later so I can deliver his I guess. If not then you can deliver these to Ron and Ginny.” He handed over three of the letters.
“Certainly Harry Potter. Dobby can do this.”
When the house elf disappeared before he could thank the excitable elf, Harry turned to Hedwig who was glaring at him. He blushed and said defensively, “Look, I know you are amazing at this but someone has been screwing with my mail and I didn’t want to put you at risk over it. I would rather keep you safe than let you get hurt over something this unimportant.”
Hedwig continued to stare at him for a moment and then bobbed her head. Harry let out the breath he had been holding. A reprieve from a grumpy owl was a good thing. “Thank you Hedwig.”
He went back to his books, noting the time and saw there was a whole section on how important communication was. These military units had the best communication gear money could buy and they also used hand signals when they needed to do things silently. It was certainly something to think about. There were diagrams in the books with some of the hand signals and he could see where it would be useful. Maybe something like that would be nice to have? He wondered if he would be able to get actual military training manuals as they certainly would have better and more focused information on this. He would have to talk to Hermione about that. Out of everyone he knew she was the one who actually knew the most about finding and buying books in either world. Maybe he should actually make a list of the sorts of things he would want to look for?
His guilt rose up, reminding him what his folly had caused. Hermione, his most consistent friend, had been almost killed because he hadn’t bothered to listen to her. She was almost always right but oh no he knew better. His temper seemed to control him more often than not and he just didn’t need that, not anymore. Things were so dangerous that losing his temper could cause more people he cared about to almost die. Everything he had read about the SAS showed that they were generally level headed, especially in combat. His life was in danger thanks to Voldemort so he needed to think before he jumped into things, because it wasn’t just his life on the line. The Ministry had shown that clearly, painfully. He knew that Hermione would not let him go off and face danger without her and Ron was the same. There was no way he could take off without them. And the other three just happened to be there when it all went down but Harry was sure a number of the DA members would have been there for him and fought just as bravely. If he acted rashly, like he usually did, all these people would be put on the line as well. He had to do better.
A glance at his clock let him know what time it was. If he was going to meet Tonks then he had to get going. Grabbing his wand, the few books he wanted to return, and then stuffing his invisibility cloak into his empty book bag, he hefted it and headed downstairs. He didn’t bring the knife because he had forgotten it had melted at the Ministry. He had stared at it sadly for a while last night, realizing that yet another thing that had connected him to Sirius was gone. In his folly he had lost something that was now a precious reminder of better times. He sighed, to clear his thoughts and said, “Aunt Petunia, I’m heading over to the library.”
His Aunt glared at him and then nodded, not saying anything.
With a sigh, Harry exited the house and headed towards the Library. He disliked his relatives considering how they treated him and had his whole life but they were also all he had left. Maybe if Sirius had lived and had managed to prove his innocence then he would have been able to go live with his godfather, but that avenue was fully closed. And he was certain Dumbledore wouldn’t really give him any other options for places to stay. He was rather insistent that Harry come back here. Basically, Harry would have to make do until he managed to leave the house which wouldn’t be until his birthday next summer.
As he walked towards his old sanctuary, he realized that he basically ensured that he had to stay at Durzkaban until then because he had acted rashly. He really did need to get a handle on his emotions before they got him killed. Maybe there were some books on that at the library? Sure, he was reading and studying far more like Hermione than he usually did but it was so boring at the Dursleys and it wasn’t like he got the Prophet or the Quibbler to keep him occupied. Harry frowned, he needed to know more if he was going to keep others safe and the only way to do that was to learn, something he really hadn’t taken all that seriously until now. No more slacking, he just didn’t have the option anymore. It wasn’t about NEWTs but rather about his friends and desperately hoping that they would survive till the end of this, that he would survive the end of this.
He stopped and rubbed his face with one hand. He was trying but it wasn’t like it was an overnight process. Unfortunately magic couldn’t just give him this knowledge he would have to work for it. Maybe he needed to really get Hermione in on this, as she knew far more about studying than Harry did. Maybe he should talk to Luna as well, because she had a different way of looking at things that could make a difference? Then again, Harry realized that he should also send something to Susan, to see if there was anything her Aunt could do to help him in this insanity. She was most definitely an untapped resource, what with being the head of the DMLE. With a sigh, he realized that he had been so focused on doing this all on his own that he had actually been neglecting all sorts of resources. The SAS books were clear that such units used any and every advantage they could get to accomplish their missions. Perhaps what he needed to was let others in, no matter how much it scared him?
Not seeing Tonks anywhere about, he headed into the building. Once he disposed of the books he didn’t need anymore, he asked the Librarian where there could be books on Anger Management and the like. He followed her directions quickly, moving through the stacks to the right place and stood in the aisle staring at all the titles. He had no clue what might or might not be good so maybe he should go with something that sounded decent? He grabbed a few books on the subject, one on grieving for a loved one, as he knew he needed help with that, and then spotted a few titles that had him freeze, stunned to see anything of the sort.
His eyes seemed glued to the titles and they spoke of healing from childhood abuse. He swallowed dryly, his hands sweating some in nervous reaction. Would going through something like that help? He knew that the Dursleys had treated him poorly his whole life but would it qualify as abuse? There was no doubt what Hermione’s answer would be if asked, so maybe he should look into this? When he reached out and took hold of one of the books his hands were shaking so maybe there could be something to this? It wouldn’t hurt to read… right?
Once he checked out the new books, he went outside to wait. Why had he done that? Why had he picked up those books? It had been an impulse like the one that had lead him to the SAS books and his impulses rarely led him wrong. He shook his head to clear it. He really had no intention of dealing with that now as delving that deeply into his emotions just seemed primed for failure. Sitting on a bench he let his mind drift, trying to forget everything.
“Wotcher Harry.” Tonks came from around the side of the building and called out her greeting.
Pushing away the depressive turn his thoughts had taken, he replied with false cheer. “Hi Tonks.”
“So, are you ready to go?”
He shook his head, “No, but let’s do this.”