Mahou mo Ken

Training

Mahou mo Ken

All rights to Harry Potter and its world, characters, and settings belong to JK Rowling. I don't own any of its characters, and I am not making any money off this.

Chapter two – Training

Harry awoke the next morning, feeling better than he had ever felt before. Contrary to other days, Ken had only put him through light stretching exercises, and they had spent their time talking, rather than training and learning. Ken claimed it was needed, to give Harry's mind a chance to relax and gain strength from what it had learned already.

As Harry literally bounced out of bed, he'd say it had worked. Slowly, he clenched and unclenched and clenched his fist again, staring at it, somehow feeling that his grip was stronger than it had ever been. His body was starting to react to his mind, just as Ken had told him it would do.

But this was nothing... nothing compared to what would happen once Ken started training him, training him for real, using the knowledge he knew he possessed somewhere... if only he knew how to use it.

Closing his eyes, he thought back to the explanation Ken had offered him as he slowly made his way through the kata Ken had shown him, Maya mimicking him, ever silent. Somehow, the girl was absolutely quiet while Ken was teaching, only boisterous and laughing when the lesson was obviously over... or just paused.

Ken's voice flowed through his mind, "The knowledge I gave you is there, Harry. It is in the back of your mind, in your subconscious, ready for you to release it when most needed, a trickle instead of a flood. Rather than driving you insane with a torrent of information, a torrent your mind couldn't hope to survive intact, my teaching will trickle, forming instincts and reactions, training you better than any teacher could." He heard her silence then as his mind replayed her slowly circling him. "Instead of you thinking about the correct action, my teachings will make you act. You will know the correct way, and you will do it, rather than having to lose precious time thinking through your options. Harry, you are strong enough to do things this way, one of the few who can go through the transfer and survive the strain on body and mind."

Harry opened his eyes, and grinned. He glanced at his window and frowned, as an owl came tapping. He shuddered slightly at the red of the envelope.

A Howler.

He grimaced. He'd better take it, or it would explode. And then he'd be in even more trouble.

He wished he could cast a silencing charm, if only the Ministry of Magic didn't prohibit underage people from using their magic. He opened the window, and took the envelope. The owl fled like the wind, and Harry grinned at its disappearance. He would flee, too, if he could.

Silently, he made his way outside, somehow avoiding a run-in with his family, and flew to the backyard, where he hid behind the shed. Ah, the shed... where he had spent so many uncomfortable hours, slaving with the tools of his Aunt Petunia, trying to clean her garden the exact way that she wanted it done. Which was, of course, always different from the way he did it.

He frowned, and opened the red envelope, now that it started to shake and vibrate violently.

The voice that came out was the voice of his best friend's mother, Molly Weasley, who had become almost like a surrogate mother to him over the last couple of years.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU WON'T BE COMING OVER THIS YEAR? JUST WHAT ARE THOSE RELATIVES OF YOURS UP TO NOW!? YOU WILL WRITE BACK TO ME THIS INSTANT, AND GIVE ME A VALID EXPLANATION, OR I WILL BE EXTREMELY CROSS! AND JUST IN CASE THOSE RELATIVES OF YOURS INTERCEPT THIS, IF YOU HAVEN'T WRITTEN BACK WITHIN TWO HOURS, I WILL PERSONALLY COME OVER THERE AND GET YOU!

Harry cautiously opened one eye, and glanced from under his arms, which he had thrown over his head. He couldn't help it... it was an instinctive reaction. It wouldn't be the first time someone had thrown something at his head while shouting was going on.

Glad that the Howler had ceased to howl, he sighed, and made his way back to his room. He fell behind his desk, and sighed. Finally, he drew a sheet of parchment out of his trunk, bit on the end of a quill for a good five minutes, then started scratching out a letter. One, he hoped, would explain things... without actually explaining things.

Half an hour later, he tied the parchment to Hedwig's leg, the snowy-white owl staring angrily at him. At least she had stopped trying to bite his fingers after the first five attempts.

"I said I'm sorry, Hedwig," he apologized again. "But the other owl wouldn't leave without an answer..."

Hedwig hooted indignantly, showing at once that she didn't care about other owls. Finally, she seemed to relent when she saw his pleading expression. She hooted once, gently, then flew off, the parchment tied to her leg. Harry sighed, and fell back on his chair. What a day... if the Weasleys ever talked to him again, it would be a miracle. Hermione might understand... but then again, she might not... at least Hedwig was still on his side. He didn't know about Dumbledore, but at least the old wizard had refrained from sending any angry letters after Harry had politely declined going to the Burrow, the Weasley family home. He had said he would be glad to help the headmaster, should it be needed, though. Perhaps that was why Dumbledore hadn't been angry with him.

He just needed his time alone, so he could learn. Learn the knowledge Ken had given him... learn the skills she would be teaching him... learn everything she had to offer, everything she wanted to give him.

He sighed, and flopped on his bed, mechanically chewing on some food he had liberated from the kitchen on his way up after listening to the Howler. He sat straight up. The Dursleys would be making things difficult for him, he just knew it. How could he keep them out of his hair? Even if he didn't practice his magic openly, they were still making it difficult for him... he hardly got any food, and he constantly had to make sure that he made not so much as a single noise. Was it any surprise that he was so adept at sneaking around, when his entire life, he had cultivated the skill of being silent?

Slowly, a grin spread on his face. He knew how he could keep them silent. It was the equivalent of having his cake, and eating it too... his grin widened, threatening to split his features apart.

Hedwig returned, carrying a letter, a normal one, from Ron, and one from Hermione. He sighed again, suppressing a momentary pang of jealousy. Apparently, Hermione was already at the Burrow. He didn't open the letters just yet, instead tying a new one to Hedwig's leg, this one sealed in an envelope, a small gold key present in said envelope right next to the parchment he had written. "Take this to Gringotts, Hedwig... they will give you something. Will you be able to carry it?"

Hedwig cocked her head, as if to say "Do you doubt me?" she then spread her wings and took off again. Harry grinned. This would be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with the Dursleys. He just knew it.

The snowy owl returned about an hour later, in the company of two large eagle owls, each carrying a box in their talons. As Hedwig landed, and her two companions dropped off their loads, she gave Harry an apologetic look, as if asking his forgiveness for not being able to carry everything herself.

"It's alright, girl," Harry comforted his feathered friend, running his finger through her smooth feathers with one hand, before feeding her a couple of treats with his other; he glanced at the three boxes, and grinned widely. After Hedwig settled down in her cage, Harry opened the first box, and extracted an envelope from it.

Mr Potter,

We at Gringotts pride ourselves at being accessible to the owners of our vaults.

As such, of course there is no problem with us if you wish to make a withdrawal via owl. In order to do such, it is essential that we receive your key, or a notarized duplicate of said key.

In other words, the proof you supplied us in the form of a key and a signed letter were indeed all we required.

As such, I am pleased to inform you that your request has hereby been fulfilled, and the requested funds can be found in the sealed boxes.

Only the owner of the key, and therefore the vault, can open the boxes. It would be wise to inform spouses, family members, or friends of this fact. The results of unauthorized entry are unpleasant.

Harry swallowed at the words. He could just feel the small wait before the written word 'unpleasant', and for a few moments he thought about what the Gringotts Goblins could find unpleasant. He grinned. At least nobody would be stealing from him here any more than they would try and get to his vault at the bank. He turned back to his letter.

As your owl was unable to carry the fulfillment of your transaction, we have supplied two running owls of our own to help.

For our most respected and good clients, this service is, of course, free of charge.

Should you have any more questions, or wish to deduct further business, I will always be at your service.

Griphook

Potter Vault Manager

Harry frowned. He had heard that name before… realization hit him. Of course! Griphook was the goblin that took him to his vault that first time, when he was still new to the Wizarding World! He smiled. Obviously, the goblin had been promoted. Vault Manager, huh? Harry's smile only grew wider. Good for him!

Taking a quick peek into the other boxes, he nodded to himself; realizing that the Goblins were the only ones he trusted not to stab him in the back for a few measly coins. Money meant nothing to him anyway… except for a means to make others happy.

Carefully, he waited until the evening fell and he heard his Uncle Vernon enter the house. Soon, the melody of tinkering silverware was heard upstairs, and Harry realized his family was having dinner. He waited some more until the sounds died out, and he was sure that everyone was done eating. That would be his chance… as his family digested their meal, they would be at their most calm.

Slowly, he exited his room, and walked downstairs, boxes in hand.

"What are you doing here, boy!?" Vernon growled, hands reaching for the armrests of his large chair, obviously threatening to haul his impressive bulk upright. Harry smiled calmly, and looked at his cousin, Dudley, and his aunt, Petunia.

"I have come to make you an offer you can't refuse, Uncle," Harry then said, eyes roaming his family. He opened one of the boxes, took out a large pouch, and threw it down on the coffee table of the meticulously clean sitting room, making it tinker as the item scampered across the table. Vernon reached for it.

"If this is one of your freak tricks…" Vernon threatened, but his voice stopped as he opened the pouch and a golden shine greeted him. "What is this, boy?"

"Money, Uncle," Harry said, shrugging. "Two thousand Galleons."

"Tha- that's a small fortune, Vernon," Petunia grunted.

Harry nodded. "The reason I am giving you that is simple. Two thousand Galleons, in exchange for two months. All I ask is to be left alone, free of being bullied or beaten," he stared at Dudley, who grinned widely, "And with enough food," he finished, looking at his aunt.

"We can't pay with this freak money!" Vernon shouted, getting out of his chair, his face purple, aiming the pouch with gold at Harry's head, then throwing it solidly. The boy held up a hand and caught the heavy bag easily.

"I thought as much," Harry said, coolly, not knowing where he found the calm from to talk like this to his family. Just weeks ago, he would have been cowering in fright of the beating he could see smoldering in Vernon's eyes. He reached into the second box, and drew out a stack of notes. Bank notes.

"Five thousand Pounds," Harry said, holding up the wad of cash. "For two months."

Vernon's eyes took on a greedy look. "Two months, huh?" he asked, grinning evilly. "That's a rather long time… last couple of years, you haven't even been here that long."

Harry sighed, and took a second bundle. "Ten thousand, but no more," he stated coldly. "With this kind of money, I can go to a hotel for that long, and still be better off. But, I'll make an added deal. Ten thousand, and I'll make sure I keep my freaky ways away from the neighbors. I'll even play the part of being your degenerate nephew who goes to Saint Brutus' School for the Criminally Inclined." Inside, he was chuckling at the look of greed in his family's eyes, and the part about playing a young criminal… well, it would still be fun, that's all. Who wouldn't want that kind of chance?

"Deal, boy," Vernon growled, grabbing the money. Harry smiled.

"You made the right choice, Uncle," Harry aid, smiling widely, putting the pouch with the wizarding money back in one of his boxes. Never mind that the gold in the Galleons was worth more than the ten thousand in paper money Vernon now held. His fat uncle got what he deserved, and Harry had bought his peace of mind.

"But dad…" Dudley whined.

"Be quiet, Dudlekins," Petunia crooned to her obese son. "Leave Harry alone for two months, and we'll buy you a very nice present when he's gone."

Dudley's eyes lit up, and Harry had to suppress a grin. He nodded to his family, made his way into the kitchen, and started eating. He was hungry, and this time, he ate until he was full. Nobody interrupted him, and Harry ate in complete silence… and total peace. The grin was still with him when he locked himself into his room over an hour later. He changed for bed, and tucked in, eagerly awaiting the time he fell asleep and met up with Ken and Maya once again.

Just before sleep claimed him, his thoughts wandered to tomorrow… for a few moments he wondered why his friends hadn't broken the doors down yet, but he knew that tomorrow, tomorrow would be the day he either gained his freedom… or lost it forever.

He awoke the next day, feeling even better than the day before, his second night of rest and recuperation in a row had done him wonders. Once again, he got up and did the hand-clenching exercise, staring at his fist as it formed and released, feeling the new strength in his veins pulsing with every move. Never before had Harry taken note of his physical condition, but now he started to think that maybe, Ken was right when she declared his physical condition atrocious, his strength and stamina non-existent. He drew a breath as he looked up and stared at his image in the mirror. His green eyes shone with determination. He would follow Ken's training program, building up not only his magic but his body as well, and he knew that he would be the stronger for it.

He left the house at around nine, after a hearty breakfast grudgingly provided to him by Aunt Petunia, and made his way to the library, conscious that his every move would be followed by members of the Order of the Phoenix, a group of people dedicated to the protection of the Wizarding society and presided over by his headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.

The same Albus Dumbledore that would be calling to his relatives' house at eleven that very night. He shook off the thoughts, knowing full well that he was no doubt being followed, as he had no doubt been followed that first time he left the house, and once again made his way to the library.

Feeling good and alive for the first time in over a week, Harry grabbed the books on Japan once again, and started reading. At noon, he left for a quick bite and returned soon after, somehow feeling capable of going for round two against the books, and quite happily went back to his self-imposed schedule. He wanted to know, needed to know, the history of Japan. He felt the burning need drive his actions as he read book after book on the end of World War 2, the Atom Bomb, and everything relating to the subject he could find in the library of Little Whinging.

He left the library at five, and made his way home. At six sharp, he joined his family at the dinner table, and once again he had a good and hearty meal, the second one he had gotten at this house… ever. That sharp realization was foremost on his mind as he ate, polishing off two full plates, thanked Aunt Petunia for the meal, and made his way back to his room. He sat on his bed, closed his eyes, and drew in a deep breath. Instantly, the day's stresses lessened. By the second breath, they were almost gone, and on the third breath he fell to the mindscape; realizing this time that he had done so intentionally.

Grinning widely at his mental Hogwarts representation, Harry looked around. More flowers were starting to grow in the grassy fields of his mindscape, and for a few fleeting minutes he thought he felt a breeze of wind rustle his hair. He looked up, at the almost-impossibly clear-blue skies and the big yellow sun, and smiled as he closed his eyes, content to be here, in his safe point in his mind, his mindscape.

Somehow, he got out of the meditational trance at exactly five minutes to eleven, and Harry sat himself down by the window and stared outside, waiting for his headmaster to arrive. He had written to the man that he would be glad to help out after all.

At exactly eleven, he saw a tall figure dressed in a long cloak walked up the garden path, and Harry felt his heart jump. Quickly and quietly, as old habits died hard, Harry made his way downstairs, opening the door before his headmaster had a chance to ring the door bell.

"What is going on?" Uncle Vernon demanded.

"I have a meeting with my Headmaster, Uncle," Harry replied calmly and respectfully. "As, at this hour, all decent people are inside, I thought it was safer to meet so late, rather than have him come by in broad daylight."

Vernon gasped like a fish out of water, his mouth working open and closed multiple times, before he turned and looked at Petunia, who had come out of the kitchen, obviously in the middle of a late-night scrub-down of her kitchen. She had heard Harry's statement as well, it seemed, as she stared back at her husband with an equally shocked expression, neither knowing quite what to say or how to respond.

"I knew you'd appreciate my thoughts," Harry said, a small smirk on his lips. "Headmaster, can we have this conversation in my room?"

For a moment, it looked as if the Headmaster wanted to talk to the Dursleys, but Harry interrupted him. "Headmaster, my relatives and I have worked out our differences," he said, smiling. "Part of the deal was that I keep the wizarding world away from them. Please, join me in my room?"

Professor Dumbledore nodded, and followed Harry up the stairs and into his room.

As the old wizard sat down in the only chair the room had to offer, and Harry sat down on his bed, he noticed that Dumbledore's wand-hand was blackened and shriveled, almost as if the flesh had been eaten away from it. "Sir… your hand…"

"Later, Harry," Dumbledore said, smiling gently. "A situation has arisen that required your help. You see… Sirius' will was discovered a week ago, and he has left you everything he owned."

Harry just stared at the man, the wound of his godfather's death tearing open anew. He could not say anything, and just sat there, looking at the headmaster, sighing deeply against the pain in his heart.

"For the most part, this is straightforward," Dumbledore went on after a few seconds. "You add a sizeable sum of gold to your vault at Gringott's, and you inherit all of Sirius' personal possessions. The most problematic of your legacy is that you were also left, Number Twelve, Grimmault Place."

Harry sighed again. "You can keep it… keep using it as headquarters," Harry whispered, unable to deal with this right now. The pain was still too fresh, he didn't know how he felt, let alone that he would know how to deal with owning a house and everything else that went along with that.

"That is very generous of you, Harry," Dumbledore said, gently. "However, there might be an added complication. You see, Black family tradition decreed that the house is passed down the direct male line, in which case it would rightfully go to you. However, there is also the possibility that the house has been put under an enchantment that would only allow it to come into the possession of a pureblood wizard or witch. In that case, it would go to the only pureblood member of the Black family… Bellatrix Lestrange."

Harry's right fist clenched as he struggled to remain sitting. His lips curled back, displaying a set of perfectly pearly white teeth. The very thought of the house going to his Godfather's killer made his stomach crawl and his intestines burn. Dumbledore remained silent, for a moment taking a good look at Harry, the normally present merry twinkle in his eyes was conspicuous in its absence.

"No," Harry growled. The window rattled, and for a moment, Dumbledore thought he could feel a tremor pass through the floor beneath his feet. However, if it wasn't his imagination, it was so weak and gone so quickly that he easily dismissed it.

"Obviously, we don't want her to inherit it, either," Dumbledore resumed after a moment, and the window had stopped rattling. "Fortunately, there is a very simple test." He waved his wand, the shriveled hand apparently still able to hold and use a wand quite agilely. With a sharp crack, a house-elf appeared.

The ugly little creature, with a snout-like nose, giant bat-like ears, and dressed in filthy rags. "If you inherited the house, you also inherited Kreacher," Dumbledore explained as the house-elf started shrieking.

"Kreacher won't!" the house-elf cried. "Kreacher is looking forward to serving miss Bellastrix! Kreacher won't go to the Potter boy!"

Harry's nerves were at an end. "Krecher, shut up!" he snarled, not wanting the ugly and filthy little demon to ruin his deal with his relatives. Kreacher's surprise got rid of Harry's anger in under a second, as the little creature gasped, grabbed for his throat, and was unable to utter a further sound.

"Well," Dumbledore said, the twinkle in his eyes back to full force, "It seems you have indeed inherited Kreacher."

Harry thought for a few seconds on keeping the house-elf with him. As handy as having a house-elf would be, he just didn't want to risk Kreacher. But… what to do with him? A grin suddenly came to his face. He found that ideas came to him faster now, since learning to shield his mind, and cataloging his emotions and memories behind the barriers he had erected under Ken's supervision.

"Headmaster, can I leave Kreacher in the kitchens at Hogwarts? That way, the other house-elves can keep an eye on him."

The headmaster nodded, obviously thinking it a great idea, although he looked a little shocked at the fact that Harry thought of it by himself. Harry turned to Kreacher. "Kreacher, I want you to go directly to the kitchens at Hogwarts, and work there with the other house-elves."

Kreacher just snarled silently, before disappearing with a loud crack.

"And now, let us pursue that flighty temptress, adventure," Dumbledore said, holding out his hand. Harry was still too numb about Sirius to seriously think about what he and the headmaster were doing. He had agreed to help the headmaster out in any way he could, and he would do so, but the re-opened wound of Sirius' death still plagued him.

Without question, he took the headmaster's left hand, the one that had not been hurt, and listened to the old man's suggestion that he hung on tight. The next moment, Harry went through his first side-along apparition.

They appeared in a small town, and Harry's curiosity beat out his depression for just a little while. Apparently, Dumbledore needed help to convince a new teacher for the school, and Harry was apparently perfect for the job.

Even though he didn't know how or why, Harry somehow managed to talk the Professor, a man called Slughorn, into coming to the school next term. They apparated back to the Dursleys, Dumbledore dropping them straight into Harry's bedroom.

"Now, Harry," the old headmaster said, sitting down in the chair while Harry took to the bed. "Why do you not come to the Burrow?"

Harry sighed, and looked at his Headmaster. "I am working on something, sir," Harry replied. "It is… I don't know how to describe it. It's like learning, only it's not… not like I've learned before." He sighed again, unable to express himself more without telling the old man about Ken and Maya, the training, and everything else.

"Yes, I've been made aware of your trips to the library. Although it pleases me greatly to see you take an interest in books, I must ask…"

"What do I hope to learn from muggle books, Sir?" Harry said, smiling slightly. As the Headmaster nodded, Harry replied to the question he himself had voiced. "Quite a lot, actually. Muggles…" he shook his head. "Non-magicals," he corrected himself, "are looking at things in a different light. That's what I'm doing… I'm looking at things differently. Do things differently from everybody else, and you're bound to learn something new, something interesting."

Dumbledore leant forward, eyes twinkling, clearly interested. "May I ask for an example, Harry?"

Harry closed his eyes, and nodded. "Try Legilimency on me, Sir."

Dumbledore sat back, apparently studying Harry. "To what purpose, Harry?"

"To show you an example, Sir," Harry said, eyes open, smiling slightly.

Finally, Dumbledore nodded, took his wand in his shriveled hand, and Harry shivered at the sight of it. "Legilimens," Dumbledore whispered, and Harry felt something set off every warning sensor he had deployed in his mind. If he had been in his mindscape, Harry was sure that the skies would be black as pitch, the sun obscured, and all his alarms would be ringing.

But he wasn't in his mindscape… and he was still warned. The emotion lasted but for a fraction of a second, but that was all it took for the hardwired sensors to slam into his shields, tightening them instantly. Dumbledore's spell struck the outer barrier of his mental defenses, and was deflected rather easily.

The look on the old man's face was an extremely pleased one. "You have learned Occlumency."

Harry nodded. "But a different way," he said.

"Can you tell me how?"

Harry sighed, then nodded. "It's like a form of meditation. One day, I found a place, deep in my mind. I read up about it, and managed to go from there. Ironically, it's thanks to Snape's constant violations of my mind last term."

"Professor Snape, Harry," Dumbledore corrected him gently. "So, you have learned Occlumency through a muggle discipline called meditation?"

"A non-magical discipline, yes," Harry corrected the Headmaster, secretly enjoying the feeling of being able to do so. "Calling non-magicals 'muggles' is like calling a black man a 'nigger'. Identifying a non-magical man by a separate word is racist. That is probably the reason why Voldemort got all that power… the entire magical community has got to learn to let go of their prejudices."

Dumbledore was silent for a few moments. "It seems you really are starting to look at things differently, Harry."

Harry nodded, thinking back to a book he read that afternoon, dealing with World War II. "During the second World War, there was a non-magical called Hitler. He killed millions, but going after a group of people based on their religion. For him, the Jews were responsible for all evil. Tell me, Professor. What difference is there between a deranged non-magical forcing people to wear yellow stars on their clothes, and the wizarding world that called ninety-nine percent of the global population a degrading term?"

Dumbledore swallowed, and nodded. "Although I can see a certain resemblance, I must point out that we are not in the business of killing muggles."

"Non-magicals, Professor," Harry corrected. "And may I point out that that may change if Voldemort wins? History is written by the victors, Professor. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Calling a person a derogatory term basic on magical talent is separatist, racist even, and it is the basis from which deranged lunatics like Voldemort can grow."

Dumbledore sat there, quiet, looking at Harry, staring at him for ten long seconds before finally nodding. "I can see that you have thought about this quite extensively, Harry, and I must concede a certain logic to your reasoning. I must ask you, however, what are you planning on doing with this knowledge?"

Harry grinned. "The Wizarding World should be brought into the 20th century, now that it is almost over. I will find a way to do so… I don't know how yet, but I'm sure I will; but it is a problem for when Voldemort is gone… if I can get rid of him, that is," Harry said, Sirius' death still fresh on his mind. "After that, I must get rid of the soil that grew him, or his evil will never die."

Dumbledore seemed to accept that explanation, and nodded. "Very well, Harry. That sounds like a good plan for the future. I can see that you are quite involved in your new studies… but if I may ask my original question. Why not come to the Burrow? You can study there as well as here, I'm sure." He held up a hand to stop Harry from answering immediately. "I am merely asking this for your friends' sake. They impressed upon me the need to answer this question."

Harry nodded. "Meditation is a difficult discipline, Professor. It involves the withdrawing of the mind from all conscious thoughts, even all feeling of the body. It is the mind detached from the body. It requires hours of training and incredible mental fortitude, and even though I am making great progress, I still require absolute silence. Distractions are… well, let's just say, distracting."

Harry and Dumbledore shared a chuckle. "The Dursleys leave me alone now," Harry went on. "I have good food, a roof over my head, and all the time to be alone. I can focus and concentrate without anyone distracting me, hours a day." He sighed. "I would be horrible company anyway… I barely have time to sleep, let alone enjoy my stay should I come."

Dumbledore nodded, understanding. He stood up, and shook Harry's hand. "I understand, Harry. Nothing remains for me but to wish you good luck with your studies."

"Thank you, Headmaster," Harry said, sincerely. Dumbledore disapparated five seconds later and Harry fell in bed and closed his eyes. Forgetting to take his clothes off, he fell back to his mindscape, and waited for Ken to appear. He just had to tell her about his first test of his mental shields.

"Good evening Harry," Ken greeted her apprentice the moment she and Maya appeared within his mental landscape, about twenty minutes later.

"Hi, Harry," Maya said as greeting, smiling slightly at him.

Smiling back at the two of them, Harry replied, "Good evening to both of you." His grin widened, and he looked at Ken. "Ken-Sensei… so much happened today."

Ken lifted an eyebrow. "I take it that your two days rest was helpful?"

He nodded vigorously. "It was incredible, Ken-Sensei. My Headmaster came by, just as he promised. We talked a while… about… things…" His happiness over the recent events vanished at the thought of Sirius' death. Shaking his head, he banished the thoughts for later. "Anyway, he tested my Occlumency shields. They held him out! I really doubt that he was going full strength, but I kept him out! And just like you said, I was aware that he was trying to get into my mind without me being in the mindscape!"

Ken nodded with a faint trace of a smile visible on her face. "I knew you would succeed, Harry. The amount of mental power you have wouldn't have let you fail."

Harry just continued to grin. "Anyway, we also talked about a lot of other things. One thing was strange, though… he asked me to go with him, and help him convince a new teacher for Hogwarts, that's my school. But, while I was with him, I asked if I could use magic to defend myself. He said that it wouldn't be necessary, but should it be needed, he would let me use any magic I saw fit to defend myself." He drew a deep breath. "Ken-Sensei, is it possible to allow me to practice magic, outside of school, even though I'm not of age yet?"

She remained silent, and looked at him, obviously thinking. "There are ways to disturb magic sensors and magical scanning spells. I know western magic pretty well… I have to, in my business… and I think I know the system your Ministry is using to keep track of underage magic use. They've either placed something on your wand, or they are keeping a tracking charm on your house. Or possibly both."

"Well… I ran into the charms twice. First time was when a house-elf cast a Hover Charm. The second time was when I tried to protect my cousin and me from a Dementor attack not far from our house." He frowned. "You know, they never went after me for blowing up my Aunt Marge using accidental magic."

Ken smiled. "That tells us three things, Harry," the Japanese Master said. "First, they can not detect who does the magic. Second, they can track you outside your home. And three… they can not track use of pure magic, used without a wand. This means that the use of a Seal could go through their scans without too much trouble." She was silent for a few more seconds. "I will start you off with Seals, Harry. From there, we'll progress to the use of other forms of magic, as well as the study of the sword. Finally, we'll end up with the higher-end skills… demon magic, and manipulation of the elements."

Harry just nodded, glad to be able to start learning for real now, rather than just accepting knowledge into the back of his mind, where it lay dormant until needed. And although it had come in handy with his discussion with the Dursleys and with Dumbledore, Harry was really looking forward to learning some real new magic skills now.

"Start by running around the lake," Ken said, indicating the mental representation of the Great Lake at Hogwarts. He gulped. Maya had a faint smile on her face, but remained quiet.

"Don't smile, my apprentice," Ken told the girl. "Run with him."

Harry just started jogging, Maya right next to him. As they ran, Harry glanced at his companion.

"Do you know why we're doing this? I've never seen Ken-Sensei so serious, so I didn't want to ask…" he asked, letting his question trail off.

Maya nodded. "Everything we do here makes us stronger. If we run here, we train our bodies for endurance. Thing is… it's a lot more intensive, so it will wear you down a lot more. You'll be sick in the morning again. I've been doing stints like this for years now, so I'm used to the drain. Although I don't want to be doing this every day either."

Harry just nodded, accepting the explanation as they made their way around the lake. As they progressed, Harry turned back to the girl. "You know, we didn't have a chance for a conversation like this before. How should I call you? I know that I'm supposed to call you senpai, isn't that right?"

Maya snorted. "We're the same age… you calling me senpai doesn't sound right to me," the girl replied levelly.

Harry shrugged. "You've been training longer than I have." He grinned. "Maya-Senpai it is."

The girl just shot him a rueful grin, but didn't reply to the bait. Together, they continued the trek around the lake.

Much to Harry's surprise, he and Maya actually finished one lap. Granted, he felt completely empty afterwards, while Maya was just sweating a little and patting his back as he stood there, panting deeply, completely bent over, hands on his knees. "You did fine for a first-timer, Harry," the girl said, grinning.

Ken nodded, even though Harry's bent-over form couldn't see it. "I agree with Maya. You did well, Harry. Now… let us begin the training."

Harry managed to look up as Ken held out her hand. "Mahou mo Ken the Plasmatizer asks the Seal… what are you?"

Again, Harry felt the magic in her teacher take physical shape, a larger-than-usual seal materializing before filling with Kanji signs. A deep, booming voice resounded through the mindscape.

I am confusion, and I am cloaking. I am the one who hides magic from prying eyes!

Magic washed out of her body, the Seal vanishing and spreading throughout the mindscape. Harry didn't feel any different, but he remained silent, waiting for Ken to explain. Somewhere deep inside, he was aware of already knowing this spell, but somehow, it was so difficult to really grasp it, as if it were at the tip of his tongue.

"This is a Hiding Seal," Ken explained. "It will hide your use of magic from detecting charms. It will also allow you to use your wand, but only within the protective bubble it creates. Outside of it, your wand will be traceable."

Harry nodded. "I understand," he said, finding that he actually did understand it. "How big a bubble does it make?" he then asked, aware that he should know this… as well as the answer to his next question. "And can't the Ministry detect my casting this hiding spell? And the bubble it creates can't be hard to find, either..."

Ken nodded. "Good questions. The size of the bubble depends on how big you want it to be, and how much magical energy you have available. If you don't have the reserve, you can will all you want, but it will never happen. As to the charm itself… what use is a magic-hiding Seal if it can be detected as it is cast? It was developed for use by the Plasmatizers while imprisoned or captured. It hides itself completely, even as it is cast. As you cast the spell, you will feel it first hiding itself, then actually start the bubble."

Harry swallowed. "I have heard you use that before while you cast the Seals, but I thought it was part of the incantation. What is a Plasmatizer?"

"A Plasmatizer is what you will be after you learn to master the art of Seal-casting, Harry. You must still invoke the name, even though you are in training, but you can not legitimately call yourself one until you have attained the rank of master."

Harry just nodding, somehow he had already known that, but just recalled that now. He looked at her with a glint in his eyes. "Can you teach me how to cast it now?"

Ken grinned. "That is what I am here for. Now, first, hold out your hand, and reach for the magic within you-"

For the next hour, Harry stood there, silent, eyes closed, his thoughts turning inward rather than outward. He did not hear Ken's voice per se, but his subconscious followed its calmly stated instruction to the letter as his conscious mind burrowed deeper into himself, reaching for something he had never reached for before.

The core of his magic.

Suddenly, he felt something… a whisper of a promise, a may-have-been or a may-not-have-been, something intangible. It was gone as fast as he had found it, and Harry let out a faint grunt without meaning to.

Feel the magic, and feel it come to you. Don't force it… it is a part of your body, and nothing moves on sheer will. Don't think about doing it, just do it.

Harry let out another grunt, and Ken seemed to understand him.

How do you move your arm? How do you move a foot? How does one walk, and how does one explain it to a person who never knew he had legs? Ken said to him, her voice not reaching where his conscious mind was at the moment, but still, her sentiments and the meaning behind her words echoed through his heart.

Feel the magic shape, Harry. Draw the Seal. Don't force it, don't think about it. Just reach out… and do it.

Maya snapped back as Harry's eyes flew open, his right hand suddenly jerking at the end of his moving arm, until the arm and hand were completely outstretched. A blank Seal appeared in between his fingers, three times the size of a playing card. It remained, as of now, unwritten.

"Good work, Harry," Ken said, smiling broadly. Her smile turned to a grin as Harry's head slowly turned to look straight at her, a faint smile on his lips as well, and she said, "Now… let us learn how to make a Seal that actually does something." He grinned back at her, and nodded slowly, before letting his concentration drop. The Seal vanished, and he let out a heartfelt whoop at his success. Maya smiled broadly, and Ken shook her head, smiling broadly as well.

00000

Harry awoke the next morning, feeling sick, weak, and tired. Of course he would feel like this… after last night's intense training session, he felt he had the right to be sick. The things he had learned were nothing short of incredible, and he still felt pride in his accomplishments. It felt so good to have a different kind of teacher, one who obviously cared for her students beyond what she was teaching them. Ken cared enough to praise his accomplishments, she cared enough to take him on, even though he was halfway around the world, and it no doubt placed incredible strain on herself and her student to come to him, each and every night.

He forced himself out of bed, and into the bathroom. Even though he was still sick, he wasn't throwing up anymore. That had been limited to those first couple of days, and even though he felt worse now than he had felt then, his body had at least learned to cope without that humiliation added to the experience.

After a long and freezing cold shower, he felt somewhat better, the icy water running the intensity of the night down the drain. He made his way downstairs, knowing it was too late to join breakfast, Uncle Vernon and Dudley no doubt already gone for the day.

Leaving just Aunt Petunia. He made his way into the kitchen, where she was busy with her mid-morning wipe-down of all the kitchen surfaces, and glanced around. Shrugging, he decided to see just how solid their deal was, and he made his way to the refrigerator. Slowly drawing it open, he stole a glance at her. She had obviously stiffened, and was now sweeping, rather than wiping, her cloth across the surfaces of her immaculate kitchen.

Taking enough food to feed an army, and sitting down at the pristine table, he began to eat. Aware that she was watching him, Harry forced himself to remain silent and quiet, just eating his meal, forcing energy into the body that had been forced to learn so much during the midnight training session.

Half an hour later, he washed his dishes, Aunt Petunia still staring at him. This time, her stare was one of pure shock, rather than unadulterated loathing, as she had stood there and watched Harry polish off the food he had taken from the fridge.

"Why?" she finally asked, her voice oddly neutral, as if she were afraid to insult him and make her nice bonus vanish. Harry had warned them all… do not honor the deal and the money would vanish.

"I was hungry?" he replied with a question.

She scowled at him. "You looked sick."

He shrugged. "I'm keeping my freak business away from you," he replied casually. "And now you're asking me about it?"

She scowled deeper at him, then turned and walked away, no doubt in search of something else to clean, leaving Harry to go back to his room in silence.

He shut the door, and resisted the urge to throw a sealing charm at it. Sitting down in the somewhat-exact center of his room with his legs crossed, Harry closed his eyes, and reached for the Seal. Heeding his summons, a blank piece of magical paper appeared in between his fingers of his outstretched hand. This alone did not constitute magic. It was the start of a spell, but it was the results that would be monitored by the Ministry, not the magic itself.

It would be impossible to see the difference between his own magic and the little spike the Seal would represent. Slowly, his lips formed words as his breathed gave them life. "Harry Potter, Plasmatizer, asks the Seal… what are you?"

Deep inside himself, he visualized the spell in the way Ken had taught him. To his surprise, the house at Privet Drive came rather easily to his mind. He focused on the upper floor, and it came to him with startling clarity. Imagining the dome of the spell, he anchored it firmly around the outer edges of his room, so that his entire room was covered by it, and none of his spells could accidentally trigger the detection charms of the Ministry… as long as he stayed within his room.

The words of the Seal boomed through Harry even louder than they were in real life. I am confusion, and I am cloaking. I am the one who hides magic from prying eyes!

The dome took shape, exactly the way he had envisioned it, and Harry grinned, giddy with his first success at Seal Magic. The very fact that no owl came to inform him of his breach confirmed that his spell had worked. Just to be cautious, Harry stared at the window, waiting for fifteen of the longest minutes of his life, he waited for an owl that did not come. Finally, he whooped with success, yet he calmed down quickly to make sure he did not needlessly annoy Aunt Petunia.

Grinning madly, he materialized a new Seal. It was blank, and he placed it against one wall. He drew a second, and placed it against the second wall. Slowly, he did the same with the remaining two walls. He closed his eyes, and envisioned the spell.

"Harry Potter, Plasmatizer, asks the Seals… what are you?"

Four voice boomed through Harry and through the air, in perfect synchronicity. We are folding, and we are Dimension. We make large what is small, and we make small what is large!

Harry's grin grew as his room expanded, magically enlarging until it was the size of a large Hogwarts classroom, providing him with ample space to perfect his spells. His grin threatened to split his face at his success.

The doorbell ringing shook Harry out of his post-success rush, and he slowly opened his door to listen in, trying to figure out who would be ringing the doorbell at this hour. As Aunt Petunia opened, and Harry heard the voices drift up, Harry felt shock coarse through his veins when the newcomers were invited in rather politely.

Harry swallowed the blockage in his throat. Ron and Hermione.

For just a few seconds, until the feet could be heard on the stairs, Harry stood there, totally in shock, not knowing what to do now. They would see him. They would see his room. His recently expanded room. The would see that he could do magic. He gulped, and the trance broke with a startling speed the moment their feet were halfway up the stairs. Years of listening, of quietly evading the Dursleys had taught him every sound in the house, including the sounds the staircase makes at the beginning, middle, and end.

He reached out, drawing his wand from his pocket, and whispering a concealment charm. He wasn't good enough with the Seals to do it that way, and he could cast magic now anyway. He flung himself on his bed, throwing a worried glance at the walls, now looking as they were, if only he couldn't feel the magic crackling in the air, his Concealment Charm battling the magic from the Expansion Seals, each one trying to overcome the other.

The door was pushed open rather roughly, and Harry 'distractedly' glanced up from the meditation book he had grabbed from his nightstand. For just a few seconds, the trio stared at each other, Harry smirking to himself, knowing it was only a matter of time before Ron and Hermione showed up. Their timing could have been better, however.

Ron and Hermione stared at Harry, unable to believe that they had just been let in by Harry's aunt, and that he was looking rather well, on his bed, reading a book, looking, for all intents and purposes, surprised at seeing them.

"Hey guys!" Harry greeted them, forcing cheerfulness into his voice.

Before he knew what had happened, Hermione had jumped him, her arms engulfing him in a hug. He wasn't really paying attention to everything she was blubbering into his shirt, even though he caught plenty of 'worried' and 'Dursleys' and 'hurt you' exclamations in there. He held out his free hand to Ron, still grinning. "Hey Ron," Harry greeted his friend again, silently taking him in. It was obvious that Hermione had gotten to Ron before they made their way over here.

He was wearing non-magical clothing, for one. A pair of jeans, a pair of Nikes, and a black t-shirt. It all looked rather good on him, even though it was painfully obvious that Ron himself was far from comfortable.

"Hey, mate," Ron said, clasping the hand tightly, an indication of his own worry.

"Sorry I couldn't come," Harry said, feeling lame for saying so. He sighed, and stared at his book. "I told Professor Dumbledore yesterday… I'm learning other things. New things. Oh, and I struck a deal with the Dursleys." He looked at his friends, Ron having claimed his one chair and Hermione sitting at the edge of his bed. He sat up and pulling his legs under him in a perfectly cross-legged position without thinking about it. "Now that they're leaving me alone, and I have all the food I need, this place isn't so bad."

Ron looked hurt. And now that Harry thought about it, so did Hermione. "Guys," he said, looking at them, staring into their eyes. "This is not about you. This is about me. About what I have to do." His voice broke. The things he had learned… those awful things he had learned. His fist clenched. "People close to me get hurt," he whispered in the deathly silence of his room. "I can't… can't let it happen again. I… I have to learn," he swallowed against the tears. Now that he was voicing his deepest thoughts out loud, he was surprised by the intensity of them, the raw emotional impact they had on his healing psyche.

"Harry!" Hermione shouted. Harry shook his head.

"No, Hermione. I only get people hurt. People close to me get hurt, they die, and there was never anything I can do about it. And now… now I have an opportunity. I'm learning. I'm learning new things about myself every day… and I'm never going to let anyone close to me get hurt ever again."

Both Ron and Hermione sat there, looking at Harry in what could only be described as a state of shock. Harry looked up from wherever dark thoughts were, and looked from one to the other. "And for me to learn… especially this… I need total peace and quiet. It involves meditation."

"Medi-whation?" Ron asked. "Does it have something to do with medicine? Like being a medi-wizard?"

"Meditation," Harry corrected his friend gently, shaking his head. "And it's got nothing to do with being a medi-wizard," he finished, looking at Hermione. She was staring at him in thoughtful contemplation. Harry looked back at Ron, and explained. "Meditation involves clearing the mind of all thoughts, of all emotions, and letting go of your surroundings. Basically, it detaches your spirit from your body. A deep enough meditation trance allows for the body to be put under extreme duress without you being aware of it."

"Even the…"

"Nobody's ever tried," Harry said. "Wizards and witches are incredibly superstitious of non-magical techniques. Nobody ever tried a Cruciatous Curse on a meditating person."

Ron seemed to accept that. "And for you to do that…"

"I need total peace, quiet, and solitude," Harry said with a nod. He swallowed, and looked back at his book. "You know I love you and your family, right?" he finally asked.

Ron nodded against the tightness in his chest, unable to speak. It was the first time that Harry said it so openly, and it felt strange to Ron to see how much it meant to him.

Harry looked up again, pulling his thoughts together again. "And you know that I would never do anything to hurt you guys, right?"

Ron nodded again.

"Then I know how hard it would be on everyone if I came, and just locked myself in my room, having it put under so many Silencing Charms that a herd of elephants could pass by outside and I wouldn't hear it, and only come out to eat. It would drive you guys batty."

Ron opened his mouth, starting to protest, then closed his mouth, and just nodded. "I think you're right. Mom would never let you stay in your room for hours on end."

Harry threw a worried look at the walls when an especially loud magical crackle resounded through his mind. Hermione frowned. "Why do you keep looking at the walls?"

Harry cursed inwardly. He had been looking more than he was consciously aware of. He sighed. "Can you guys keep a secret?" he asked.

Ron and Hermione looked angrily at him. "Do you have to ask?" Hermione asked, angrily, before Ron could.

Harry sighed, and shook his head. "This isn't about sneaking out after dark, guys. Can you guys keep a secret, from Dumbledore, from your family, from everybody but yourselves and me?" he asked, looking at Ron when he said the part about family. His two friends looked at each other with worried glances in their eyes, and nodded.

Harry sighed. "So be it," he whispered, and finally relaxed his hold on the Concealment Charms. As the room exploded to the size instilled into it by the Expansion Seals, Ron and Hermione's mouths fell open.

"I learned ways to get around the Ministry of Magic's underage magic detectors, and this is where I train to do magic. Different magic," he explained. "Thanks to Snape blasting my mind open last years while trying to teach me Occlumency, I have been able to access something that will allow me to learn a different kind of magic."

"This… this isn't regular Charm work," Hermione said, running her hand across the wall. "In fact, I'm not sure this is a Charm at all."

Harry grinned. "It's not." He held up his hand, and materialized a Seal. "It's a Seal spell."

"Bloody…" Ron started to curse, but too shocked to finish it.

"Now you know why I ask you about secrets," Harry said, looking from Ron to Hermione. "What I am learning is radically different, and it's just the thing I need to keep everyone safe."

Hermione sat down on the bed again, and put a hand on his shoulder. That single motion felt more comforting to Harry than that exuberant hug had felt earlier. "Harry, after everything we've been through. How can you even think that we won't be there with you in the future?"

"Yeah mate," Ron piped in. "You're not getting rid of us that easily."

"But… the danger…" Harry whispered, desperately trying to get them to see.

"We're your friends, Harry. We will be there with you. Until the end." Hermione swallowed, and he could see tears in her eyes.

Ron too, was subdued. "We'll get You-Know-Who," he said, trying to keep the quiver out of his voice and succeeding for the most part. "And we'll get him together."

"But-" Harry's voice was cut off as Hermione put a finger against his lips.

"Say 'thank you', Harry."

His mouth twisted into a smile, and his eyes twinkled at her in a way that reminded her oddly of their Headmaster. "Thank you, Harry," he said with a wide grin. Hermione and Ron shook their heads, smiling in amusement as well, and the tension broke.

"So, mate, where did you learn all this? It can't all be that medita-whation," he said, still falling over the word.

"Oh, but it is, Ron," Harry said, smiling at his friend's difficulty with everything non-magical. "This is all meditation." He looked at his two friends, realizing that they would, indeed, follow him to the ends of the Earth and beyond… and if he pushed them away now, they would come after him. At least, if they were with him, he might have a shot at protecting them. "The first thing it taught me was how to shield my mind. I think you guys will need to learn that as well… I don't want anyone to just read your mind and find out I'm doing some highly illegal underage magic here."

He chuckled at the fact that the magic he did was perfectly legal, and that it was the fact that he was underage that made it illegal.

Hermione nodded. "I'm sure we can find a couple of books in the library at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix," she said, already looking determined. Ron let out a groan.

Harry looked introspective, understanding dawning upon him that they would be hard-pressed to do this by themselves, without anyone there to help them. Ken had helped him, and he knew how invaluable help could be. "Who do we know that knows Occlumency?" Harry asked, focusing on his friends once more.

"Professor Dumbledore and Snape," Hermione said.

Ron shook his head. "If we want to keep this a secret, we can't ask them," he said, his voice laced with venom over the treatment Snape had given Harry last year. Harry nodded emphatically.

"Anybody else?" Harry asked, sounding hopeful they might find somebody who could train them in Occlumency… someone trustworthy.

Ron's face suddenly lit up. "I can ask Fred and George. For some reason, they managed to keep their pranks secret. I think they know Occlumency… otherwise, I'm sure Dumbledore would have gotten it out of them."

Harry nodded. "I think so too, Ron," he replied. "And I trust Fred and George." He sighed, feeling fatigue overwhelm him. His nightly training session was catching up to him, and emotionally draining conversations with his friends was not the best way to recuperate.

Hermione grunted under her breath before speaking up. "I'm sure they'll be delighted to help us… any chance to break some rules, and they'll jump at it."

Ron nodded at Hermione's assessment of his brothers. "They'll be so very proud of you, Harry," he said with a grin. "Breaking dozens of Ministry rules is a good thing in their book."

Harry chuckled, stifling another yawn, feeling his night catch up to him now that the excitement of the conversation fell away from him. Hermione caught on.

"I'm dying to know what else you're learning, and how you're learning it," she spoke calmly, looking into his eyes. "But you look exhausted, Harry. I'm relieved you're alright, and I'm sure Ron is, too, so we can have the rest of this conversation at some other time."

Harry nodded gratefully. "That sounds great. Thanks… and thanks for checking up on me. I'm glad to see-" he trailed off, staring at his blankets, not really knowing how to voice his thoughts. Ron and Hermione frowned and looked at each other.

"You're glad to see… what?" Ron asked, gently.

Harry swallowed. "I'm glad to see you care enough to come here," he whispered. Hermione broke out a smile, and hugged him.

"Of course we do, silly boy," she admonished as she hugged him. After she released him, Harry clasped Ron's hand, whose eyes mimicked Hermione's sentiments exactly, even though the boy was unable to voice them out loud.

"Before we go, just one thing," Ron said, smiling madly as he fell down on the bed next to Hermione and Harry. After Harry nodded, the redhead went on. "How did you get the Dursley's off your case?"

Now it was Harry's turn to smile widely. "I paid them off. Locked them in a binding magical contract even though neither them nor I knew what it was at the time. I pay them enough to make it really worth their while to keep me around for two months, and treat me well… and I promised I would keep my magic contained to these four walls, so the neighbors wouldn't notice anything." He laughed out loud. "I even offered to play up the role of the juvenile delinquent they keep going on about to everyone they know."

Ron and Hermione stared at him, neither speaking.

Harry's chuckles finally died off, and he resumed. "Anyway, I made it worth their while, they're leaving me alone, and I keep away from the neighbors. It works out for everyone involved… and they will keep their end of the deal, or the money they have gotten will disappear."

Ron broke out a loud laugh, while Hermione just chuckled, the last of their fears of the Dursleys double-crossing Harry melted away. A few minutes later, Harry was deep asleep, after seeing his friends to the door and scheduling the 'rest of their conversation' for tomorrow.

He slept deeply and soundly for a couple of hours, then went downstairs in time for dinner. As he ate, in total silence, he was very well aware of the Dursleys watching his ravenous appetite. Now that he could get all the food he wanted, he could feel his body gaining strength rapidly, the training in the depths of the night showing through.

After eating a meal that rivaled the one consumed by his extremely large cousin, Dudley, Harry retreated to his sanctuary and fell asleep once more. His deep sleep lasted until the depths of midnight, when he materialized in his mindscape, joined five minutes later by Ken and Maya.

Harry told them what had happened that day, his first successful casting of Seal Magic, the hiding spell's success, and the fact that his two best friends had dropped by.

"What can I tell them, Ken-Sensei?" Harry asked after he finally finished his story.

Ken was silent for a few moments, obviously deep in thought. "It would be best not to explain to your friends who I am," Ken said, calmly. "It would throw up too many questions you can't answer, and I would rather keep my existence a secret. I am sure you can understand why."

Harry nodded; he could indeed understand why. Ken's profession as the Emperor of Japan's Chief Bodyguard was not something one wanted blabbed to the world. "What I would suggest," ken went on, "is that you say to your friends that you have a new teacher, one who contacts you through direct mental contact. You need not say that I am from Japan, or even that you know my identity. Just try and explain that you trust me… if need be, tell them that the first thing I did was teach your mind to defend itself, even from myself. After all, I now require you to allow me and Maya entrance."

Harry nodded; it sure sounded like an explanation that Ron and Hermione might accept. "As to the difference of the magic that I am teaching you… just say that I am an unorthodox teacher, and that these are Japanese spells. Remember, the best lies are those that are based in truth."

Harry chuckled, and nodded. "That's true… you certainly are an unconventional teacher, Ken-Sensei."

Ken smiled, and dipped her head. "I will take that as the compliment I am sure it was intended as," she stated, and Harry's chuckles increased, and even Maya chuckled.

"Now, why don't you two run around the lake a couple of times?" Ken suggested, causing both teens to stop chuckling.

"Tw-twice?" Harry choked.

Ken nodded. "We need to build up the strength and the endurance of your body, and we need to do it quickly, so that we can get on with the physical aspect of the training. After you're done with the lake, we'll resume our lessons on the Seals."

Harry just nodded, and started off at a jogging pace, Maya right next to him, starting lap one around the lake.

After they finished their long run, Harry stumbled, and rolled over on his back, panting deeply to ease the burning in his legs. The run had started out better than it had yesterday, his body obviously starting to adapt, even after only one run, but the doubling of the length had been just a tad too much.

Ken appeared above him, looking down at him as he lay there, panting.

"Get up, Harry," she said gently. "You need to walk it off, or it'll hurt."

Harry just nodded dumbly, and somehow managed to wrestle himself to his legs. "Just walk with me," his teacher said, setting a very slow pace towards Hogwarts Castle. Harry, mind numb, just followed her. Maya was panting as well, but she wasn't nearly as exhausted as Harry was, and just walked along on the other side of the Japanese woman.

"Good," Ken said about ten minutes later, when Harry's breathing had finally equalized. "Now, let's start you off with a light martial arts exercise. It'll help the elasticity of your muscles as well, and then we'll get back to the Seals, okay?"

Harry just nodded. Anything Ken wanted to teach him was okay with him, and he could already feel the changes his body was going through were a good thing for his magic as well.

The 'light martial arts exercise' Ken had him going through wasn't too impressive physically, and Harry had to admit that he had grossly underestimated it from when Ken and Maya showed it to him. It looked a little like dancing, only without a partner, and a lot slower. Tai Chi, Ken had called it, and Harry thought that it looked a lot like making motions with your hands and striking poses with your feet. Nothing too impressive, or exhausting.

"Feel the motions," Ken told him. "Become part of the motions, and let the motions become part of you. Breathe slowly and evenly, in sync with the motions of your body."

Harry had tried, and followed his teacher and fellow student in the first Tai Chi exercise of his life. The moment he started it, and drew his breath the way he saw Ken and Maya do, he felt something odd flash through him.

Become part of the motions, and let the motions become part of you, Ken's voice drilled through his mind. He followed the exercise the way Ken and Maya had demonstrated, carefully following them as they exercised next to him.

His joints popped at the unfamiliar range of motion, his muscles protesting the slow and exaggerated movements. And through it all, he could feel energy coursing through his body, out from the lungs through his body when he breathed in, and out from his muscles to his lungs when he breathed out. It was an incredible feeling, and sweat was pouring down his face in small rivulets, even more than when he had been running.

"Wow," Harry muttered, the only thing he could still do as his hands rested on his legs, right above his knees, trying to steady the numb feeling in them. "Incredible."

Ken smiled proudly. "You did very well for your first time, Harry."

Harry slowly straightened out. "It was incredible, Ken-sensei. I could feel energy flowing through me. The moment we started…" he sighed and shrugged, failing to explain properly. "I could feel my breath going in, and going through my body. And I could feel my breath going out, all through my body."

Her eyes were ablaze, and Maya stared at him in shock. "Already?" Ken asked.

Harry nodded, somewhat apprehensively, not really understanding the look on his teacher's face. Finally, a broad smile broke out. "You, Harry Potter, are an incredible student. Obviously, your mind has learned to tap into the store of knowledge I have given you, and handed you the tools and abilities you needed to fulfill this exercise to its full extent."

"Ah," Harry muttered, only half-way understanding that it was indeed a good thing that had happened. He slowly started to smile.

"It took Maya nearly three months before she got the breathing part of the exercise down," Ken explained her apprentice's shock. Maybe shot Ken a rueful grin, then turned to Harry.

"I don't know how you managed it, but you sure are a fast learner," Maya said to him, smiling slightly. "Although now I'm starting to get jealous at how easy these things come for you."

Ken turned to Maya. "Don't be, my apprentice," she said. "The only reason Harry is learning at this pace is because I was forced to imprint knowledge upon his subconscious. And he survived with his sanity intact, somehow," she added the last part. "He is forced to learn at this pace, because he is too old to start learning in the usual way, and because his life is in mortal peril. Almost all other people would have either been driven insane, or would have died. It was a horrible risk I took… and I thank the Gods that it played out correctly."

"You gambled with my life?" Harry asked, not knowing whether he should feel proud because he survived, or appalled at the risk involved.

"I asked you, and you agreed," Ken returned with a slight smile. "It was you who did not understand the risks."

Harry sighed, shrugged, and nodded. "I guess. Anyway, I'm just glad it's turned out the way it did."

Ken nodded, smiling, and turned back to Maya. "You should not feel jealous, Maya. Your abilities still out pace Harry's, and they will for a good while to come. Even though he can learn techniques, and master abilities, quicker than you can… you have years of experience that he doesn't have. You have strength and endurance he doesn't have. It is the small things that matter most, Maya. Harry has raw power and ability. You are refined, know subtle techniques, and are able to do things that he can not, and will not be able to do for a good time to come."

Maya nodded, smiling again, now that she knew that her years of hardship would not be overcome so quickly.

Ken turned back to Harry. "Anyway, this success had earned another reward." Their teacher materialized a staff, and pointed it at the Whomping Willow. "This is called a finishing technique. Where the Kuzuryusen, for example, breaks down shields and protections, a finishing move is designed with a single, simple purpose in mind: destruction. Where any other technique has multiple applications, such as doubling for a cutting spell, a finishing move exists solely for the purpose of annihilation, and destruction. Be very careful with these."

Harry just nodded, his mouth opening slightly at her explanation, his eyes wide with shock. Ken drew a breath, and her brown eyes burned with energy. The tip of her staff glowed a strange, pale, blue-green as she whispered.

"Rasengan."

Magic imploded from the surrounding air at the tip of her staff, forming a sphere of incredible power and density, one Harry could feel the energy of, even at his distance. It took precious seconds to form, apparently, as the sphere remained at the tip of the staff, taking in a second magical implosion, making it grow. Harry studied it; noting the unusual way the magic worked through the sphere. It was almost as if magic was contained within an invisible sphere in some way.

As the sphere took a third implosion, and the spell obviously reached its full state, Harry could see that it was not an invisible sphere. Instead, the magic was twirling over and through itself, running in perfectly spherical circles, forming a sphere in and of itself, an incredible amount of magical energy twisting in on itself, a self-contained sphere.

The spell was launched from the tip of Ken's staff, exploding towards the Whomping Willow, once more taking out the ground it flew over, detonating against the tree as it hit, wrestling its roots from the ground, the entire tree spiraling while the magical energy reduced it to shreds.

Harry stared in shock as he witness the Whomping Willow be reduced to nothing more than a pile of wood-shavings. Finally, he shook his head and looked at Ken.

"Is this like that lightning bolt?"

Ken shook her head. "That was manipulation of the elements," his teacher explained. "It is a lot more draining, but elemental manipulation has the advantage that it can not be blocked. It takes a longer time than even a finishing move, drains more of your strength, but the results are stronger for it as well. However, where a finishing move is still firmly cataloged as magic, elemental manipulation is in a category of its own. Not everyone has the aptitude to learn it."

Harry nodded, understanding.

"Now," Ken said, smiling slightly. "Let's get back to the Seals. Seals magic, like all Japanese magic, has its foundation in the elements." Seeing his look, she added with a smile, "yes, the same elements as in elemental manipulation. Those elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Heaven. Now, the elements each have their own basic intricacies, and go way beyond their pure physical manifestations."

"For instance, Earth is also the element of bones and muscles within your body. They can be influenced by Earth Manipulation. When the Earth element takes over your thinking, you are aware of your physical limits, and you are sure of action."

"Water is the element of the plants, the rivers and the formless fluids. Blood and other bodily fluids are Water element, and the Water element makes people experience emotion. It is also linked with defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism."

Harry nodded, accepting the information, and knowing instinctively that he would remember it.

"Fire is the element of the moving things in the world. Animals, and especially predators, are Fire. Beings that are capable of movement and are filled with forceful energy are primary examples. The metabolism and your body heat are in the Fire Element, and it is linked intimately with drive and passion. If the Fire Element dominates your thinking, you are filled with motivation and desire, full of intention."

"Wind represents things that grow, and expand. Wind can be best represented by when we think of the Human Mind. We learn and expand mentally, and that is precisely what the Wind element does. Internally, Wind represents breath and everything to do with respiration, including the lungs. When Wind dominates your thinking, you have an open-minded attitude and feel extremely carefree. It is associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, and the likes of benevolence, compassion, wisdom, and electricity."

Ken swallowed. "And now we come to the most important element. The Element of Heaven, usually referred to as the Void, represents things beyond everyday experience, especially things comprised out of pure energy. Component particles and atomic forces also fall under this category, as are people who fall into a higher state of consciousness. The Void element represent your spine, your thoughts, and your creative energy. When Void element dominates your thinking, it boosts creativity, spontaneity, inventiveness. It is also linked with nuclear reactions."

"Void is also of particular importance, as it is the highest of the elements. Properly attuning you to the Void element will allow you to sense your surroundings, and act without thinking, all of it without using your physical senses."

Harry grinned. "Void is Magic, then?"

Ken shook her head. "Magic is in everything, Harry. But Void allows you to use magic in different ways, it allows you to sense your surroundings when you're cut off from your senses, and it allows you to reach deep within yourself and draw upon strengths you did not know you had."

Harry nodded in understanding. "So… the concealment Seal I cast is part of the Wind Element?"

Ken smiled. "It is part of Wind, and part of Water. Evade the magic detectors, in a defensive setting."

"I understand," Harry whispered, frowning as he thought things over. Suddenly everything was becoming clear, how every spell he had he cast could fall under these elements… or combinations of these elements. "So, the expansion Seal would be Earth and Water? Being aware of physical limits, and flexibility?"

Ken nodded. "Indeed. Now, let me show you have you can make different Seals, based solely on the elements you require."

Harry nodded, and settled in for the rest of his lesson, practically giddy with excitement on what was to come for him.

00000

The next morning, Harry woke up feeling even sicker than he had felt before. The new abilities Ken had unlocked within him were taking their toll, and the physical training he was going through was draining his body's ability to recuperate. He pulled himself out of bed, and stumbled to the shower.

Ice cold water woke him up some, and Harry stumbled downstairs, to get food. He needed food, he knew, even though he didn't feel hungry in the slightest. As soon as he sat down with a simple breakfast consisting out of milk and cereal, his attitude towards food changed.

The moment his first spoonful hit his empty stomach, his entire body seemed to scream out for energy, and in less than no time Harry's bowl was empty. As that first bolt of sugar-coated cereal energy hit his starving body, he felt himself get better. Forcing himself to keep a normal pace, Harry finished the rest of the cereal box, eating the last quarter of it without milk, as that had vanished as well. After raiding the fridge for enough food to feed an elephant, Harry made his way upstairs again, and fell into bed… and went straight to sleep.

He awoke about four hours later, just in time for the visit from Ron and Hermione. It was not a visit he was looking forward to, but it was one he knew was necessary. Now that his morning binge had completely digested, he was feeling somewhat better. He made his way downstairs, and had a late lunch, relieving his body's need for energy while he waited those last fifteen minutes before Ron and Hermione would arrive.

When his friends finally got there, they found Harry in his room once more, reading the meditation book while absentmindedly munching on an apple.

"Hey guys!" he greeted them jovially, smiling as they looked unsurely at his expanded room.

"Hey mate," Ron said, slipping into the chair and grinning as Hermione sat down on the edge of Harry's bed, much to the amusement of Harry.

"Hey Harry," Hermione said in turn, after she had sat down. Harry pulled himself upright, closed the book and put it on his nightstand. Taking one last bite, he finished the apple, and flung the core into the wastebasket with a practiced ease. He dug a new apple out of the fruit bowl on the other side of his bed.

"Sorry guys, but I'm a little hungry," Harry apologized in between bites. "Rough night."

Hermione frowned at him. "So, Harry… where are you learning these things?" she asked, her arms motioning to the expanded room.

Harry sighed, and nodded, aiming the apple core into the wastebasket. His hand reached out, and he pulled out a banana. Deftly, he peeled it while formulating his response. "This will never leave this room, right?"

Ron and Hermione nodded. "I found a book on Occlumency in the library at Headquarters," Hermione replied. "Ron and I will get right on it. Won't we, Ron?"

Ron agreed, although his response was less than enthusiastic. Harry dipped his head once, accepting that this was as good as he would get. "I see." He drew a deep breath. "Remember when I said this was all thanks to Snape blasting my mind open?" As they nodded, he went on. "Well, thanks to that, I had no defenses in my mind whatsoever. Anyone could just come in, and do whatever they wanted, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Anyway, one night, I was having a nightmare… and I screamed for help."

He drew a shaking breath, staring at his hands. "It didn't matter who. I just wanted someone to help me. And someone did. This person pulled me away from the nightmare, and showed me my mind. She taught me how to protect myself, and she is teaching me many things." He looked up, and glanced at both his friends. "And before any of you get any ideas, the first thing she taught me was how to protect myself, and that includes from her. She needs my permission to enter my mind now… and that is where I am learning. Basically, this is a direct mental connection, linking our minds, and she teaches me there."

Hermione let out her breath, her question obviously answered.

"So… this teacher of yours is a woman?" Ron asked, grinning.

Harry returned the grin. "Yes, she is, Ron. And no, I am just her student."

Hermione shot a look at Ron, who held up his hands and grinned disarmingly. The bushy-haired girl turned back to Harry. "But the things she's teaching you… I checked up on some things. Discreetly," she added, seeing Harry's frown. "And Seal Magic is an obscure branch of Japanese artillery magic. Only a few practitioners are left in the world. The Plasmatizers, or Seal-casters, were mostly wiped out during World War 2."

Harry nodded. "I know. But my teacher is unorthodox. She explained that the Japanese wizards were almost wiped out during World War 2, but she never said where she learned her skills. All I know is that she is now teaching them to me, and that I am not doing too bad, either."

"Well, obviously," Ron said, grinning, looking pointedly at Harry's expanded room.

Harry and Hermione just chuckled, feeling that the last part of the barrier that had somehow appeared between them was finally coming down. The rest of their visit was limited to light-hearted banter and conversation, staying as far away from school, training, or learning as was possible.

As much as he enjoyed their company, Harry felt somewhat relieved when Ron and Hermione finally bid their goodbyes, extracting a promise of same time, same place, next week. The moment his head hit the pillow after raiding the kitchen for dinner, Harry was asleep again.

00000

Harry's training kept progressing at a furious pace, Ken and Maya "coming by" daily for hours on end, teaching him the various subjects Ken had laid out for his training schedule. And even though Harry got two night's rest a week, the pace was hell, and hardly a day passed by where he didn't go either sleepy or hungry, his body's need for energy always present. Ken reassured him… the moment they would let off, after the summer break was over, he would feel better than he had ever felt before.

One night, Harry closed his eyes and let himself fall asleep. He awoke in his mindscape, preparing to do the exercises Ken had left him. This would be his second night without her.

Harry sighed as he started his push-ups before doing his customary five-lap run of the lake. Ken had told him she would be gone for a couple of days, there was a mission coming up for her, and Harry had accepted the training schedule she had left him. He wouldn't learn anything new, but at least he could work on his already existing skills, and train his body. Harry was grinning after his finished his run around the lake.

He was just about to start his Tai Chi exercise when he felt something faintly tapping on his shields.

He frowned, not expecting any company. Letting his sensors through his screens, he identified the visitor rather quickly, and grinned widely as he let the presence it.

The female form that coalesced took precious time to do so. Almost four-and-a-half minutes later, Maya finally stood before him, looking haggard, panting hard and deep.

"Harry," she whispered, falling to her knees. "Ken-sensei…"

Harry was besides her in a flash, clutching her in his arms to keep her from completely falling over. "Maya-senpai? What happened?"

"Ken-sensei," Maya whispered. "She was attacked… during her mission."

Harry felt his blood run cold. "How bad is it?" he managed to ask.

Maya shook her head. "I don't know… all I got was a mental probe… but it was cut off, and now I can't contact her again." She seemed to draw in on herself, and to Harry it felt as if she were shrinking as he held her. "Of course, I couldn't contact her unless she wanted me to… but now I can't find her… and she's hurt." Maya looked up, into Harry's eyes. "I know she's hurt, Harry. I can feel it."

Harry nodded. He understood. "I'll be there," he whispered, letting go of the hug. Maya shook her head.

"It'll take too long, Harry. I just wanted to warn you… it… it might be the last lesson… we had…" Maya's voice was breaking, and it took every bit of Harry's newfound emotional strength to keep himself together.

"I will be there, Maya-senpai. Ken-sensei is the best teacher I've ever had, the first teacher that actually cared more about me than some damn prophecy. It will be a very cold day in hell before I abandon her. I will be there, even if it is just as moral support for you." The girl just stared at him, before nodding.

"Where are you?" he asked, holding up his hand, a globe appearing above it.

Maya motioned for Japan, and the globe zoomed in. She motioned for a mountainous region, and the map zoomed in once more. Finally, she motioned for a single house, a bit apart from the others in the village, surrounded by ample grounds and forests.

"I'll see you in half an hour," Harry grunted, severing the connection before the girl's shocked face could be imprinted upon his memory.

As he startled awake, he grabbed for parchment and quill. First he scratched a message to the Dursleys, letting them know he would be gone for a few days, and that there was no reason they would have to enter his room. A second note was scratched and tied to Hedwig's leg.

It was a simple message for Ron and Hermione.

Something came up, and I won't be home for a few days. Please don't worry about me.

Can we schedule our weekly visit for next week? I don't think I'll be home by Saturday.

I will see you in a week and a half,

Love,

Harry.

Hedwig set out with the note, and Harry turned around to survey his room. A single hand-motion made his bed slip all the way to the back of the expanded wall. A couple more motions did the same with his desk and chair, as well as the wastebasket and his trunk. The center of his expanded room was now free.

He drew a breath. What he was going to do now was foolish and dangerous, he knew. There was a reason why Apparition was limited in range, and why Portkey travel always instilled forty-five minute calm-down between legs of an international journey.

He looked at the floor of his bedroom, and drew out a piece of chalk. Creating a pentagram, he labeled each corner with the name of one of the five elements. Closing his eyes, he summoned a Seal, keeping his goal firmly in mind.

"Harry Potter, Plasmatizer, asks the Seal… what are you?"

The voice boomed through him, filling him and draining him at the same time, and Harry could feel the power of magic envelop him. I am movement and I am displacement. I am teleportation!

Harry's eyes opened, yet they did not see. It was a good thing, too, for if he could see, he would have seen in his reflection in the mirror that his usually vibrant-green eyes were shining blue-white with summoned energy.

Around him, the pentagram lit up, containing the magic he was wielding, keeping it close, a five-pointed shield forming around him as he let the spell reach culmination, the boundary of the shield slipping just a tiny bit, filling his room was unchanneled magic, the air inside stank with the intensity of it.

Finally, Harry screamed when his body was pulled away, across boundaries of the dimensions, towards a destination that he wasn't sure he would make. After a final, heavy clap of thunder, his room was silent, the air stinking with ozone and left-over magical energy, the floor burned with the pentagram and the names of the Elements. And Harry Potter… was gone.

End of chapter

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