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Life is Beautiful

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Life with the Dursleys.

 

Harry layed in his cupboard feeling pretty sad about his life. It was dark. He was cold. Hungry. Slightly damp. Nobody loved him. And he wasn't sure what day it was.

 

He was nine.

 

Life sucked.

 

He thought he could remember a time long ago when life was better, when he was happy and loved. Or maybe that was just his hope flaring up again. Hopeful delusions to keep him sane. Hope really was a bit annoying, especially as it never did him any good. He hoped and hoped to be saved from his terrible life but... what good would that do?

 

And Harry was bored. Really really bored. There was nothing to do in his cupboard but be alone with his thoughts of misery. Nothing to do but dwell on how bad his life was. And as he was doing all of that dwelling and mourning of how miserable he was he came upon something deep inside himself.

 

Something really warm.

 

Now, he wasn't sure if he was having some sort of sensory hallucination, or if he was finally dying or something, but deep deep inside his mind (or was it soul) was a nice warm bubble. So he dug deeper and deeper into his thoughts until he came across one thought that seemed to make everything seem a little better.

 

Could have been worse.

 

That was... right. How had he never thought of that before. Okay, he was hungry, thirsty, cold and wet... but he wasn't injured or anything. He wasn't dead. He was living, breathing, safe... basically. And... and... that was an amazing thought. Harry suddenly thought that he could have been hurt by his uncle, or shouted at, or... or... killed with a frying pan.

 

But he was alive.

 

He was.

 

And it was amazing.

 

Harry took a moment to try and find his heartbeat, pressing his hands all over his body searching for it. And then he found it. On his neck. A steady thump thump thump that was so... soothing. And strong. And beautiful. Harry had an amazing gift inside of him. He was lucky he wasn't some lamp post or mail box. He was a living, breathing human.

 

No matter if everyone thought he was a freak, he was alive.

 

And Harry took a deep breath, smiling at his realisation that he was alive. His heart was beating. He could see. Hear. Smell. Breathe. Think.

 

And it was beautiful.

 

Harry suddenly felt very happy. He couldn't help the smile that beamed on his face. And as he leaned back into his dirty mattress, he slept well with the thought that he was worthy enough to live.

 

 

The next time Harry was in the garden, doing 'chores', he made sure to take a good look around. At all of the beautiful flowers. The beaming sun. Clouds drifting so carelessly across the sky, as pretty as a picture. And he berated himself for not acknowledging it all before. It was beautiful. Everything was so beautiful.

 

He picked one of the flowers, and sniffed it deeply, smiling like a loon. Harry was so happy, being just content with what he had. He didn't need anything else. He was happy where he was, and he would be happy with less. Harry had been taking his whole life for granted, letting it pass him by and never savouring the moment. He had been greedy and miserable. But now he was content and happy.

 

Harry remembered the toy horse he had in his room. He didn't feel like he cared as much about it any more. He didn't need something of his own. He was fine just to breathe, and walk, and garden, and think about his lovely lovely life. Sure, some things weren't that great, but some things were amazing.

 

 

On his next walk to school he smiled all the way there. He could walk, run, move, jump, swim (more like float because he didn't know how to swim). And Harry couldn't help but smile. He was so lively. He could do so much. He had so much. Life was a beautiful thing.

 

He decided to skip that morning, just because he could.

 

And as he did so, ignoring the funny looks he got and sneers, he almost laughed. It was so freeing. Just being able to do what you wanted, ignoring the imaginary confounds that everyone followed. He could wear a dress. He could like the colour pink. He could sing, and dance, and skip. He could try his best in class. He could smile at everyone, no matter if they didn't smile back.

 

Because Harry knew a secret that they didn't, he knew that live was wonderful, and they couldn't see it. He would tell them, if they asked, but they wouldn't understand. Not really.

 

That day he skipped to class early, gave his teacher a beaming smile, which she didn't return, and sat in his seat, starting to read through his book. He'd been taking books for granted too. Everything for granted. He had seen school as just a place to be bullied, harassed and sneered at. Now he could see it as the a wonderful place it truly was. A place to learn and be happy.

 

 

Dudley and his friends were chasing him down the road, playing 'Harry Hunting'. Harry was laughing all the way, enjoying the fresh air rushing past him, the wind in his ears, the skip in his step. Because, honestly, what was the worst that would happen? Dudley's gang would beat him up? Pain? Pain was only temporary, and it could be worse. Someone could kill him out of no where, a piano could fall from the sky, he could have a heart attack.

 

What was a little pain compared to that?

 

When they caught up and Harry stopped, not feeling like running any more, instead looking around the park they had ended up at in wonder, Dudley asked, feeling perplexed,

 

“Why'd you stop running? You're not out of breath!”

 

Harry smiled at him, a bright happy smiled, which made Dudley annoyed since he didn't feel happy, and replied,

 

“I didn't feel like running any more. You can beat me up if you like, but I'd like to stay in the park. You can join me if you want to?”

 

Dudley shook his head, feeling very confused. Piers said,

 

“Its not fun any more if the freak doesn't care.”

 

And everyone started to run away from 'the crazy kid'. Harry smiled and waved back at them, calling out,

 

“Have a nice day, see you at home.”

 

Then he turned and layed down on the grass, loving how much life was in the park, and staring at the sky in new-found wonder. Being carefree and happy had helped yet again, in stopping Dudley's beatings. Harry supposed it didn't matter much, it didn't really make much of a different.

 

 

Harry had made friends with the spiders in his cupboard, named them all in fact, but wasn't too sad when they all eventually died... because everyone had to die in the end. He had cried the first time, when Fiona, a large brown spider, had died, even going so far to hold a funeral, as he loved life so much. But the next time it happened he came across a realisation that death was important, for life to have any meaning. If people lived forever life could not be cherished for the miracle that it was.

 

His spiders died, the trees died, his parents died, and eventually he would die. And when that day came he would be ready, not that he wouldn't try to live life with joy while he still could.

 

 

Harry thought he liked the colour purple best, purple and yellow. He wondered if one day he would buy himself some new clothes. He didn't really need them to make him happy, rags covered him well enough, he didn't really need money at all, all he needed was food, water and maybe shelter. But, it might be nice to have something in that colour, perhaps just a patch of fabric or a shoe or something.

 

He had already given away his stolen (from Dudley) toy horse to the children's donation box down the road. Other people would have more fun with it. He barely played with it any more, too content with his own imagination, the park and his spiders. He often played in the park, enjoying the swings, slides, and most days just the grass. Running around, dancing, singing to himself.

 

Harry liked to think he was good at singing. It was something he often liked to do. Even if it wasn't particularly manly. He liked a few 'manly' things too though. Like running, skimming rocks across a pond he had found, and talking to snakes. He didn't think he was that feminine, not that he would have cared if he was, mostly that prejudices didn't really matter and were usually irrational, so it was safe to ignore them. He ignored most things about society; grudges, prejudices, politics, and sometimes science. Although, it was interesting to explain things away with scientific principles, Harry thought it was better to simply enjoy what was there. Harry still was a bit wary of the laws of society, and didn't want to hurt anyone, but he wasn't sure if he would really mind prison all that much. There'd be lots of food there, probably more than he already got, plus new clothes.

 

But there wouldn't be a park, and that made all the difference.

 

Even if Harry could live happily enough without it, he still liked the place.

 

 

Harry's teacher was a bit confused by him, since he now tried his best on all the work. But didn't bother putting his hand up, as he didn't need the recognition. She was starting to think he wasn't a cheat or a delinquent, but Harry didn't really care about her opinion anyway... or anyone's opinions.

 

She approached him one afternoon, when he had decided to stay after class and draw. He was depicting the sky, something he stared at often, and imagining it in his mind. It was pretty realistic, and Harry was proud, but he would have been fine if it turned out terrible anyway. He quite liked to draw, he had realised, but could live without it. As he didn't have many opportunities to, as the Dursleys never liked spending money on him.

 

The teacher, a red headed woman, that reminded him of someone from a dream, who was quite short and had frizzy hair, sat beside him. Gazing at his pretty picture in wonder. She said, after a moment,

 

“That is very nice, Harry, I didn't know you could draw.”

 

Harry turned to her with a smile, something he always did, no matter who he was talking to. Always smiling, that boy. He used to always frown, now that she thought about it. He said in a very soft voice, giving her one last smile before turning back to his picture,

 

“Everyone can draw, miss.”

 

She nodded at that, a little shocked at such a kind tone coming from someone she used to scorn quite often. It was quite unfair of her, he had only been a child, but she had thought him a menace based on rumours around the school and his own guardians comments. She said softly,

 

“I'd like to talk to you about your school work.”

 

Harry smiled at her again, and it was quite a sweet smile. Not at all worried, as some of the children might have become had she mentioned school work in an out-of-class setting. He was completely relaxed actually, at home, as if he were with a long time friend.

 

“Oh? Is there something wrong?”

 

He said quietly, adding a deeper blue to certain parts of his drawing, giving it more depth. How was he such a good drawer? She had never seen him in class. Perhaps his guardians let him draw at home often, but a niggling thought in the back of her mind told her that they wouldn't. She said calmly, trying to match his tone,

 

“You've been doing very well, actually Harry. You have one of the best test scores in the class, and your homework is always very well done. But, you never contribute to lessons, and you used to do quite poorly. I was wondering about your change of attitude.”

 

Harry paused for a moment, and in that moment she could see how very small he was. She wondered why that was, since the rest of his family was quite large. Perhaps he was adopted? That might explain some of the ire they seemed to hold for the gifted boy. He folded his picture up very neatly and pulled a tatty book out of his bag. A book she had never seen before. And briefly flicked through the pages to glue in his picture. Once he was done he zipped up the bag, placed it under the desk, and very calmly turned to her, another smile on his face.

 

Harry seemed so... happy. It was like nothing she had ever seen.

 

“Miss, can I let you in on a little secret?”

 

She smiled at him, finally they were getting somewhere.

 

“Of course, Harry, I won't tell anyone.”

 

With that Harry paused, shook his head, and said in a conspirational tone, quite different from his usual bright tone.

 

“Actually miss, it is completely up to you whether you want to tell people, but I don't think many people really know the secret miss. They can say it, hear it, almost understand, but it takes a unique person to truly believe it is true. Would you like to know what it is?”

 

She was actually quite excited now. What had this... prodigy child discovered that would make him so different from before? What had he uncovered or been told? He was so happy now, doing so well in school, and seemed to get in much less trouble after school as well. She nodded, and he said softly, very sincerely,

 

“Life is beautiful.”

 

And she paused. Not really understanding.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

He simply looked at her with a fond expression, an expression that he could understand something that she didn't and he didn't blame her.

 

“Exactly what I said. Life is beautiful. And not many people can understand that. And that is the secret that I discovered, and the secret that I now fully believe.”

 

She nodded warily, a little confused, and wanting to get the conversation back on track. Life was beautiful. Yes. But she didn't see what that had to do with anything. She said,

 

“Well... okay. That's nice. But can you tell me about your school work.”

 

Harry sighed, looking a little sad, but then brightened up quickly, smiling at her again.

 

“Nothing has really changed. I still know as much as I used to. But now I simply don't try to be bad, and try to be how I really am. And I don't answer questions in class, because I don't need to. The other children would benefit more.”

 

She nodded, slowly, thinking she understood.

 

“And why did you try to be bad?”

 

Harry tilted his head the side, eyes gleaming, as he said,

 

“Because people wanted me to do badly, and back then I thought their needs counted more than my own. Now I know it is neither, and simply that there is no good reason for me to pretend to be something I am not.”

 

She nodded again. So... people wanted Harry to do badly? But who?

 

When she turned back to Harry she realised he was picking up his bag to leave. She called out to him,

 

“Where are you going, home?”

 

Harry shook his head,

 

“The park. If you really want me to stay I can, but I thought you might need a little time to think.”

 

Then he left.

 

And she thought.

 

And she was still confused by the end of it.

 

 

On Harry's tenth birthday, he was amiss at whether to do anything or not.

 

Birthdays were always extravagant occasions for his cousin Dudley, with many gifts, praises and trips. This year he went to the local amusement park while Harry was left with Mrs. Figg. She seemed to notice something was different about him, but she didn't ask, merely saying she wanted to start a fire in the other room to warm up the house.

 

Even though it was summer.

 

But Harry let her be, not really feeling curious about her. She was free to do what she wanted. And he was more than happy to stare at her new painting for a couple of hours, while her cats tried to get his attention. He had a bit of an uneasy feeling in her house, but let it go as it didn't feel very important.

 

Harry's birthday had never been celebrated. As far as he could remember. The most he ever got from the Dursleys were more chores, or a promised present only to be given nothing. It was a little cruel now that he thought about it. But today, he was sure that everyone had forgotten, and it was a Saturday with not many chores, so he had the afternoon free to do as he wished.

 

Almost like a birthday gift.

 

Harry decided he would simply go for a walk, as normal, and ponder a bit.

 

As normal.

 

 

It had been a few months since his birthday and his aunt was becoming suspicious of him. She hadn't noticed his 'odd' behaviour before, of smiling and being generally happy and polite, because she liked to pretend he didn't exist, but she was noticing it now.

 

Harry could tell by the wary glances she would send him, and more insults to see if he would be effected. But he just let them bounce off of him, time passed very quickly and what good did it do to dwell on such things as insults? Aunt Petunia had then realised than he seemed happier in the garden, so she didn't let him garden as much. Harry didn't really mind, living was enough for him.

 

She simply got more and more infuriated when it didn't affect him at all. One afternoon she had gotten so mad as to slap him hard across the face, leaving a red hand print that she would later cover up with make up so as not to be shown when he went to school. Harry simply sighed at her, asking a quiet,

 

“What is it, miss, have I done something wrong?”

 

And Aunt Petunia stared at him in fear, whispering,

 

“What is wrong with you child?”

 

Harry looked up at her, smiling brightly which seemed to frighten her more, not that he cared, he liked smiling thankyouverymuch,

 

“I'm not sure, mam, may I continue cleaning?”

 

She nodded, racing quickly out of the room, and once she was out of sight Harry began to sing to himself. It made cleaning more fun for him, not that he really minded. Sure, he liked gardening better, but it would do no good to be upset about something so trivial as cleaning, since he had to do it everyday. Instead he taught himself to enjoy it, by playing a game of trying to get every speck of dust, and if he got bored of that simply drifting off into his own thoughts, and cleaning on auto-drive.

 

That night as he locked himself away in his cupboard, humming happily but quietly enough so no one would hear, he heard a faint conversation drifting through the wall of his aunt and uncle.

 

They were worried about his mental health.

 

Or in their words,

 

“We can't let the freaks find out what we've done to him!”

 

“Then we never let them find him, he's a good cook anyway, we don't need to-”

 

“No. They will collect him soon enough, as soon as he gets that blasted letter. We need... We need to get him help.”

 

“But he's still living in a cupboard, and doing chores, how can-”

 

“Vernon, if the freaks find out they will kill us. We'll give him Dudley's old toy room, feed him, I can start doing some of the chores and you get him a therapist.”

 

“Are you sure, Pet?”

 

“Yes. If the freaks find out... I don't want to know what will happen to us.”

 

 

Harry tilted his head to the side, smiling at his family as a fourth chair was placed at the table,

 

“Good morning, shall I start breakfast?”

 

All three heads swivelled towards him. His aunt looked quite pale, his uncle worried as well, and Dudley looked hungry. Harry simply smiled and waited, he had plenty of patience, and he wanted to try out some new recipes anyway. He had borrowed a book from the library, a cook book, one afternoon. Originally he had simply gone to have a conversation with the librarian, to say hello, but she seemed to expect that he wanted to read something so he borrowed the first thing that came to mind.

 

His aunt quickly said,

 

“No. No. You sit here.”

 

She gestured to the chair.

 

Harry simply smiled at her, brightly, unnerving her, and sat down, a little curious as to why everything was changing. He was perfectly happy with how things were, but he supposed it wasn't too bad of a thing if things changed.

 

Then something quite strange happened.

 

Aunt Petunia cooked breakfast.

 

For everyone.

 

Even Harry.

 

Harry stared at the plate in front of him for a moment before eating, thinking that maybe the Dursleys simply regretted the errors of their ways. He supposed that was okay. And eating a full breakfast was a bit of a novelty experience, a nice thing to cross off his bucket list perhaps if he ever made one, although he felt a little sick afterwards.

 

It was Sunday, so there was no school, and Harry was about to get up to start the rest of his chores for the day, since they didn't like wasting their time in telling him what to do, when he was stopped by a hand on his arm. He turned to see it was his aunt, who smiled thinly at him, which he returned with a bright smile, and told him to sit.

 

He sat again, humming lightly under his breath, and smiling widely, until Uncle Vernon broke the silence with his gruff voice,

 

“You will now be staying in Dudley's second toy room. It will be your room. Clean out anything you don't want and shove it in the attic. You and your aunt will be going clothes shopping this morning, and tomorrow afternoon you have a therapy session.”

 

Harry simply nodded, not really that surprised by the turn of events, since he had heard it last night. It had taken a while to realise the whole breakfast thing was connected to 'feeding him'. Aunt Petunia started to speak, and he turned to her, beaming,

 

“You will not be doing as much chores as normal. Just gardening, because I know you enjoy that, and cooking dinners. Keep your room clean, don't bother us, and we won't take all these privileges away. Now put on some shoes and we'll go shopping.”

 

 

Harry had already been wearing shoes so he simply waited patiently by the car, singing softly to himself and staring at the sky. It was nice and beautiful today, although he thought he might prefer cold weather in general. Not that he would chose one over the other if he had a choice; it was nice to be surprised by things like that.

 

His aunt came out of the house, ten minutes later, looking a little surprised to see him waiting patiently by the car.

 

The car trip was quiet, and probably awkward for Aunt Petunia, but Harry felt as he always did, happy to be alive and in wonder at all the beauty surrounding him. Every day he found something new, and he never thought he would stop cherishing life for the miracle that it was, never being so grateful to having that epiphany last year which let him see the world through clear eyes.

 

His aunt simply glanced at him warily as he smiled.

 

When they went shopping, he didn't really mind what he got, and neither did his aunt, as she simply handed him thirty pounds and told him to buy whatever clothes he wanted with that money. Harry quickly left the new and expensive clothes store, and found a nice second hand store which had things sold for almost a third of the price.

 

He wondered what he wanted. Not really wanting anything other than the rags he already had, and thought back to how he wouldn't mind things in the colours purple or yellow.

 

So Harry just picked what he thought looked cool, and he didn't care if it would be a little strange to wear it.

 

He bought two dresses, one purple and one green. The purple had small sleeves that ended above the elbows, like a T-shirt, and had beautiful embroidered gold bits and patterns of other fabrics. It was tight-ish to his waist, and then parted off like a skirt, so if he spun around it would spin too. It was a pale purple, perhaps a lavender colour or near enough to it.

 

The green one was more like a dressing gown than a dress, maybe something Japanese, and was a dark shiny fabric, with a black waistband about as thick the small sapling's trunk in his garden, which was some sort of elastic because it shrunk to fit around his waist and torso. There were little white lines all over it, some swirls, some straight, and Harry could imagine wearing it around the neighbourhood. Maybe pretending to be a samurai.

 

He bought some baggy jeans, as he had always wondered what jeans would be like to wear instead of the stretchy sweat pants that Dudley used to wear. And a red T-shirt with some sort of logo that he didn't bother to look at. Harry also bought some leather boots, that were probably made for girls based on how dainty they looked, but didn't really care because he could pretend to be a cowboy or a horse-rider. He bought some cheap undies and socks, as the ones he had now were scratchy. And stretching his money to the limit he bought a big baggy dark brown jumper, with big pockets, and a hoody.

 

When he returned to his aunt, giving her two dollars change, she asked what he had bought and he showed her.

 

“Dresses?!”

 

She said, sounding appalled.

 

Harry simply smiled,

 

“They were pretty, mam.”

 

As they left for back home he heard her murmuring to herself,

 

“Smartest thing I ever did arranging therapy.”

 

Harry let it bounce right off of him. It was only an insult. And decided to go to the park later, wearing his purple dress, whilst his aunt burnt his old rags.

 

 

When he returned back from the park, Harry set to cleaning out everything he didn't want. So he did. Everything in the room except the bed, the book case (which was too heavy), the chest of drawers and his clothes was moved up into the attic. The room was completely bare, even the desk that used to belong there was moved. All the toys, books, the lamp, even the pillow from the bed (but not the blanket because Harry thought being warm was nice) had been moved.

 

When his uncle entered the room to check if Harry had finished, he was shocked to see the small boy sitting on the floor and drawing, paper leaned up against a tatty book, with only one thing he could see.

 

His school bag on the book shelf, which was falling to pieces.

 

He said warily,

 

“Boy, where did it all go?”

 

Harry looked up, smiling brightly at seeing another person, not really caring who it was, and replied,

 

“In the attic like you said, sir. I tried to move the book shelf, but it was too heavy.”

 

Uncle Vernon was confused,

 

“Didn't you want any of the other stuff?”

 

Harry shook his head, returning to his drawing, murmuring quietly,

 

“I want for nothing, sir.”

 

Harry absently wondered if he could move the spiders upstairs, and give them the bookshelf. It would be a nice place for webs, and if Harry made sure to clean his own room, which still felt a little weird to think about, he could make sure they were never found and his friends were kept safe.

 

Even if everyone had to die one day, it still hurt when they did.

 

Chapter Text

Introductions to a real family.

“Hello, my name is Dr. Davies, but you can call me Melanie, or Mel. You must be Harry.”

Harry smiled up at the doctor. She seemed nice. But he would have smiled for anyone. He nodded his head and said sweetly,

“Hello Mel, its nice to meet you. And yes, I am Harry.”

She smiled at him. Mel was blonde with shoulder height hair and blue eyes. Her face was very soft looking, and was thin and oval-like. Her cheekbones were highly arched, but she didn't look like a snob. She was quite thin and was wearing black-framed rectangular glasses, black leather shoes, a grey skirt that reached her knees, and a green and white striped sweater.

Harry thought he liked her.

It was his first therapy session.

Mel said,

“Well, take a seat then, wherever you like.”

Harry didn't really see how much of a difference where he sat made, so he simply took the second closest seat the Mel. A high backed chair which wasn't too far from the comfy couch. As he sat, she took down a note on the book she was holding.

He thought the room was a little strange. It was a bit like Dudley's toy room used to be, he still hadn't gotten used to thinking of it as his room, even though it had felt more homely once he moved the spiders upstairs. This room had two couches, two red arm chairs, two high backed chairs, and one black leather swivel chair (where Mel was sitting). There were a few paintings on the walls, mostly of cute animals which Harry didn't really understand. There was one exit, the door he had entered through, and an emergency phone on the wall, as well as a first aid kit. A lot of toys, drawing kits, and plushies were on the floor around them.

Harry wondered absently if she would ask him to play with them, he honestly didn't know what he would do since he was more used to using his imagination now, but was sure he could find a way to combine imagination and toys. Not that he knew she would ask.

“So...”

She folded her hands in her lap, smiling kindly at him. Harry couldn't help but smile back, why not?

“Would you like to tell me about your outfit?”

Harry didn't stop smiling as he looked down at his dress. He saw nothing wrong with it. His aunt had gone very pale when he wore it to school, and everyone had given him funny looks, but Harry didn't really care. It was nice, and he had picked it out. He was wearing his purple skirt-dress today, along with his leather boots.

He looked up and said, with a fond face,

“I thought it looked pretty, miss.”

Mel smiled back at him, taking another note in her book. Not that Harry minded.

He leaned slightly back in his chair, thinking it smelled a bit like incense, and just waited for her to speak again. There was no rush.

“Do you know why you're here today?”

Harry smiled,

“Well, miss, I know this is a therapists office, so I am to assume therapy. Although, I'm not very sure why my aunt and uncle have brought me. They often do things I can't understand.”

Mel titled her head to the side, making her hair fall lop sided slightly,

“Like what?”

Harry paused,

“Perhaps judging people when you've never met them before. Or assuming that if something is correct for one person then it is the same for others.”

Mel looked a bit shocked by his answer, before a pleased smile broke out on her face, and she wrote something, before saying,

“That's very wise.”

Harry smiled at her brightly. She really was quite nice.

“I don't know if its wise, it just seems a little strange to me, miss.”

Mel paused for a moment, scribbling something else,

“Why do you call me 'miss'?”

Harry squinted at her for a moment,

“Would you rather I called you something else?”

Mel shook her head,

“No, just call me what you want to.”

Harry shrugged, smiling after a moment of contemplation,

“I don't really mind, miss.”

After a moment of silence Mel spoke again, and Harry wondered what she was actually trying to do. Was there some sort of hypnosis going on that he didn't know about? That would be cool.

“Your aunt says she is worried about you. What do you think she's worried about?”

Harry stared up at the white ceiling for a moment, and then the yellow wall, just to the left of Mel's eyes. He really didn't know. Everything had been like that for a while. Eventually he turned back to her,

“I'm not really sure, miss. Perhaps she thinks I'm mad or something. I don't really know.”

Mel nodded. Then smiled. And Harry smiled back.

“Could it have been your dress, do you think?”

Harry shook his head,

“They can't see into the future, and I got this dress, and my only other dress, yesterday. They organised therapy before then.”

Mel's brow furrowed for a moment,

“Why did you get the dress? To make a statement that you didn't want therapy?”

Harry shook his head, smiling a little bemusedly at her.

“They simply told me I could buy some clothes for myself, whatever I wanted.”

Mel nodded in understanding,

“So you didn't like your clothes before?”

Harry chewed up his lip a bit,

“I didn't mind them, miss. They weren't too bad. I simply think that they didn't want to give you a bad impression of them based on the clothes they gave me.”

Mel was starting to look a bit alarmed,

“What was wrong with the clothes?”

Harry hummed for a moment, smiling brightly, before saying,

“Well... they were torn in many places. And quite dirty because I wasn't allowed to wash them. And they were hand-me-downs from my cousin, miss. But I didn't mind them, not really.”

She looked even more alarmed, and then quite stern, but Harry simply kept smiling at her,

“Harry... how does your family treat you?”

Harry paused,

“Now or before?”

Mel gulped slightly, as if bracing herself,

“Before and now.”

Harry hummed again, running his finger along an embroidered part of the dress, loving the pale purple colour, before saying,

“Well, before I suppose they weren't very nice, neither are they now.”

Mel said,

“What do you mean by that? Did they ever hurt you? Touch you inappropriately? Call you names? Starve you?”

Harry simply smiled at her,

“My aunt and uncle never hurt or touched me, although my aunt slapped me once, I'm not exactly sure why. They did, and do, call me many names, but it doesn't matter much. And I'm not sure what you mean by starve?”

Mel took a breath, writing things very quickly, before saying,

“Starve as in not feed you. Or feed you less. Perhaps you missed one meal for dinner, whilst still not okay it is not abuse. But not eating for a day or more than a day is starvation. And if they all got to eat more than you, whilst you barely had enough, is also neglect.”

Harry nodded, and Mel paled,

“There were some weeks when I had done bad and they thought it best to lock me up and not let me eat. But, its not too bad if you think about it.”

She asked,

“Lock you up?”

Harry smiled back at her,

“In my old room. The cupboard under the stairs. They gave me my cousin's old toy room yesterday.”

Mel nodded, now quite determined, and said,

“Harry, please be patient but I need to make a phone call.”

Harry nodded, still smiling, and started to sing softly to himself. Mel walked over to the big red phone on the wall and quickly rung a number.

After ten minutes of speaking to the person or persons on the phone she returned to her seat, a little shocked that Harry was still sitting in the same spot singing to himself, as if only a moment had passed. He looked so small, now that she thought about it, she hadn't seen it before because she had been more focussed on his dress. Which was quite pretty. Harry did have a sort of feminine look to him, even without it.

“So Harry?”

Harry looked up at Mel, smiling. And she wondered why he smiled so very often. How could he be so happy, after living the life he had lived? Mel would have to investigate.

“Yes, mam?”

Harry thought Mel looked a bit proud of herself, but he didn't take much notice of it. More interested on what she was going to say.

“I've called the police, to investigate the Dursley residence while they are out. To check the cupboard under the stairs. If they do come back with evidence they can remove you from them, and you will be moved into a foster home.”

Harry nodded, not really phased. Eh. New place, new flowers. He just wondered if it would be okay to visit the park in Surrey, or perhaps take his spiders. But it wouldn't be so bad if they couldn't come, they would get on fine without him. And they were going to have babies soon anyway. Mel continued,

“You'll only have to visit back to pack up your belongings, and you're only allowed to do that since the Dursleys weren't physically abusive. A Social Services adviser will be there with you, and you will be completely safe. If you don't feel comfortable collecting your belongings yourself, you can instruct someone else what to take. You also have some choice of where you can be moved to, since this year there were less foster kids than normal. And we will be continuing therapy twice a week, if that's okay with you?”

Harry nodded, still smiling, and Mel couldn't help but be amazed. Was this child really happy? Not bothered at all that everything they had ever known was being swept under them? What was the story here? How could she help? Did Harry even need help?

Harry was a little curious to what this new place would be like, but he was determined just to wait until he got there. He wondered if he would have to do so many chores in this new place, and what his room would be like, and since he wasn't embarrassed at all of what had happened to him he asked just that.

“Will I have to do chores there? Cooking? Cleaning? Gardening? And will I get a room? I don't mind, but I am curious.”

Mel stared.

Maybe Harry would need some help after all.

After that things were a little different than normal. But Harry was still allowed to visit the park while they, he, Mel and Mr. Johnson (Social Services Representation) waited for the police to carry out their investigation. He had left his school bag and drawings at the Dursleys, so he simply did what he normally did while at the park, which was lie on the ground and look at the clouds.

Mel had come over and sat on the swing, watching him, which Harry found a little odd but didn't comment. She eventually asked,

“What are you doing? Don't you want to play on the swings or slide?”

Harry smiled and turned to her, happy to be there, and happy to be breathing the fresh air around him and observing such beauty yet again,

“No, mam. I think I'll watch the clouds today. You're welcome to join me if you'd like.”

And surprisingly, she did. Harry was a little confused, but then quite happy, perhaps Mel might be a believer in the secret of life?

In actuality, Mel was trying to bond with Harry so that he would find it easier talking to her in the future. She was quite surprised he had revealed the Dursley's abuse so quickly, he didn't seem to know what it meant at all. Maybe he simply didn't know what they had done was wrong, he was quite young after all.

When she looked over he looked happy, like he normally did, and perfectly content watching the sky. Mel did as well, but Harry... when she looked at him he looked much more interested than her. And it made her wonder what he saw or thought about.

Eventually, a few hours later when it was afternoon, Gerald, Mr. Johnson, returned and said that the Dursleys had been arrested for child abuse, and that the cupboard had been discovered. Harry had stood up, brushed off his dress, and skipped over to the company car without a care in the world. Gerald had given her a 'look', slightly confused how an abused kid was so happy, but simply shrugged and drove them both to Number 4 Privet Drive.

Harry made two requests. Simply because he didn't want to see Dudley, he wanted to see new people, and that he had nothing to carry his belongings in.

“Could I please not be placed in the same foster home as my cousin, and could I have a bag or case to place my clothes in?”

Both requests were accepted, and that was the only request Harry made. For quite a while. Even as he had been placed in his new foster home.

Mr. Johnson, who had accompanied Harry to collect his things, and given him the case he had already brought, had been a bit shocked by how barren Harry's room had been. And clean. There was only a bed, empty bookcase, and dresser, with no toys or books or posters. He had been slightly more surprised when Harry pulled out a green dress to put in the black case, but less than before since the boy had already been wearing a dress. Then, the only other things he packed was a tatty book and his school bag, filled with supplies.

The small raven haired boy had thanked him, bowed actually bowed, and skipped down to his therapist.

Kids.

Harry's new life didn't feel much different to his old one, even if it actually was. He had been relocated, to a foster home, that evening, not far from Surrey, a place called Sutton. Which was just a short drive away. They had a nice front garden, with a vegetable patch, and the house was about three times the size of Number 4 Privet Drive. It was a dark wood, with many windows, and had a slanted roof.

Harry had simply smiled, accepted the surprising hug from Mel (did therapists normally give hugs? Or maybe just child therapists?) and walked over to the steps. Two middle-aged looking people stepped out, later known as Susan and Ted Murphy. They said Harry could call them mum and dad or Susan and Ted. Harry decided mum and dad would have been too personal for him.

They were brown haired, with streaks of grey, in different shades. Susan had dark hair tied in a bun, and was quite thin, wearing a floral dress, hazel eyes and kind smile. Ted had short light brown hair, combed slightly but still messy, wore jeans and a loose hanging shirt, was a little on the chubby side, but still taller than his average height wife, and had blue dulling to grey eyes with lots of smile lines and wrinkles. Perhaps he was older than his wife.

Harry introduced himself, giving a curtsy, just because he could, ignoring their shocked looks, and gave a wide smile, before being led inside, followed by Mel and Mr. Johnson. Apparently they wanted to 'have a talk' with the foster parents, so Harry was led away by two other children who suddenly appeared. Both were older than him, the girl was brown haired like Susan, with long hair falling down to her shoulder blades, hazel eyes, but had more of a Ted looking facial structure, and was wearing jeans and a pink vest, she looked about fourteen. And the other, who was a boy, didn't look like he was related at all, had black hair cut short, brown eyes, a soft face, was very tall, and was also wearing jeans and a long sleeved plaid shirt tucked into his pants, he looked about eighteen.

They both smiled at him and the brown haired girl took his hand, while the black haired boy took his case. Harry simply followed, as they led him past a kitchen/dining room and bathroom, to a room at the end of the hall. They opened the door to a green walled room, with a small bed covered with pillows and a duvet. There were empty shelves on the wall, a small bookcase already filled with some books, and a small mirror on the wall above the dresser.

It was bigger than both his old rooms.

The brown haired girl turned to Harry and ushered him to sit down on the bed, which he did, smiling at her. The boy placed his case on top of the dresser and said,

“Hi, I'm Rick. Welcome to the house, you're the first foster kid they've taken in, in a couple years.”

Harry smiled. The girl said, sitting next to him on the bed,

“I'm Joan. You can call me Jo if you want. Welcome, I'll be your foster sister.”

Harry smiled at both of them before saying,

“I'm Harry. Its nice to meet you.”

Rick said in shock,

“Are you a boy?”

Harry nodded,

“Yep.”

Joan asked, a little confused, while Rick just looked at him with his head tilted,

“Why are you wearing a dress then?”

Harry shrugged,

“Its pretty.”

Eventually Rick smiled, his hair moving in front of his eyes as he nodded in understanding,

“I get where you're coming from, Harry. I don't see why everyone has to follow the rules of boys wearing jeans and not liking purple. It just doesn't make sense.”

Joan nodded in agreement, reaching out to feel the dress before pulling back, looking unsure,

“Is it okay if I touch it?”

Harry nodded, not really caring, as she pulled at the sleeve murmuring how it was 'really soft'. Rick chuckled and sat himself up on the dresser, his legs almost reaching the floor, and said,

“So, Harry, would you like to tell us where you're from?”

Harry turned to look at him, smiling slightly, and feeling a little amused at how interested his new foster sister was in his dress,

“Surrey.”

Rick nodded,

“And why're you with us?”

Joan scolded him, pulling abruptly away from Harry,

“You can't just ask that! Its very personal. How would you have liked it if someone asked you as soon as you got here? Huh?”

Rick looked thoroughly scandalised, and bowed his head in apology, before saying,

“You don't have to tell us Harry. But I'll tell you about me if you tell me about you.”

Harry nodded, not really seeing the big deal with all of this. Why keep secrets unless it would get someone hurt? He had no reason to be embarrassed, it wasn't his fault, and he was perfectly content to continue living there anyway.

Perhaps Harry could ask to tend the garden here, that might be nice.

Rick told his tale, and Joan settled down on the bed, flicking her shoes off, leaning against the wall with her knees drawn up. She patted the space beside her, for Harry to sit, and he did so, first unbuckling his leather boots, which she also examined after giving him a questioning look. Afterwards murmuring a quiet 'you have good taste'. And Rick began,

“Well, I was brought here when I was twelve. My father was a drunk, after our mother died when I was six, and often spent his nights taking it out on me and my older brother. We were too scared to tell anyone, but a neighbour heard me scream when he broke my foot one night and me and my brother were sent here. Mum and Dad adopted us, as we were their first foster kids, and I've been here since.”

Harry looked at Rick sympathetically, with his legs flat against the bed and back straight against the wall. Rick said,

“Do you want to say what happened to you?”

Harry shrugged, and Joan stopped fiddling with his boots so she could listen, whilst Rick looked at him intently, both freezing.

“Well, I've lived in Surrey with my aunt and uncle ever since my parents died in a car crash. Everything stayed pretty much the same over the years, and I can never remember a time when they didn't think of me as a freak or a burden, and they didn't mind telling me so. They never beat me or anything, apart from the occasional slap and letting my cousin do whatever he wanted. I suppose what was probably the worst was being locked away and starved. You see, my room was a cupboard, a small one, under the stairs. I was also made to do all the chores around the house, all the cooking, cleaning and gardening, and the only clothes I ever got were my cousin's old rags. They also told the whole neighbourhood that I was a delinquent and a liar, so I never had any friends, and I never really tried my best in school. Then I started acting strangely, so they sent me to a therapist, not wanting to get found out, and I answered Mel's questions... and here we are.”

Joan and Rick were nodding solemnly to him, but not showing him pity. He didn't really mind either way, and simply stared up at the blank ceiling, continuing to talk,

“It wasn't too bad there. It could have been worse. And I don't think I would have been too bothered staying there. But, its always nice having enough to eat and perhaps a warm bed, and I've always wondered about seeing more of the world than just my neighbourhood.”

Harry smiled back at them, seeing them look slightly shocked. Joan said beside him,

“You wouldn't mind staying there? Where they treated you like a slave?”

Harry nodded, humming lightly to himself, and she said,

“You know it was wrong what they did, right? They were wrong Harry, you aren't a freak, or a burden, or anything else they said, and you deserve better.”

Harry simply shrugged, stood up, opened his case and took out his tatty drawing book, ripped out a new page, and started to draw a flower from memory. Joan flicked through the book, muttering to herself, and eventually turned to Rick, who was still a little shocked from what Harry said before,

“These are really good, Rick.”

She passed the book, and Rick gasped,

“How old are you?”

Harry looked up and smiled,

“Ten.”

They glanced at one another. They'd both thought he looked about eight.

Mel sat on a dining room chair, surrounded by Mr. Johnson on her right, and Mr. and Mrs. Murphy across from her. They were sitting pensive, with a cup of tea each, after offering both of them one and being declined, wondering about their newest child.

When Harry had first arrived they had thought it was a little girl called Hariot, since 'she' had been wearing a dress and even curtsied, but had been told by Mel that Harry was a boy, but simply found dresses pretty and sometimes did strange things (like curtsey). Now they were waiting to see how this beautiful young boy with black hair and startling green eyes, cute as a button, had needed to stay with them.

Mr. Johnson, the social worker began,

“Harry was recently found to be in an abusive environment, his aunt and uncle's, and has since then been removed from there. He was starved, locked away for long periods of time, sometimes weeks, has been verbally abused, and has been worked like a slave, doing chores for hours every day. This afternoon he was taken away and brought to you, to stay until a family wishes to adopt him, or until he reaches an age which he can leave. And of course, if you want, you could adopt him.”

They both nodded, never quite getting over the fact that children, such innocent children, could be abused. The world seemed like such a cruel place sometimes. They turned to Mel, wondering why she was there, since there was usually only one social worker assigned to a case. Mel began, understanding their questioning looks,

“I am Harry's therapist.”

They nodded.

“And because of Harry's past a few things are very important for him. Harry mustn't do chores, as he may believe the only way he is useful or allowed to stay is doing them. Also, based on how the Dursleys reacted to being arrested, naming Harry some awful names, it is safe to say he has been verbally abused as well. So it is important to help with his self-esteem. You shouldn't shout at him if he does wrong, as he has been shouted at so often and never praised, instead simply sit down and talk to him about things. Harry is quite a happy child, from what I have seen so far, but I also fear that his smiles may be a mask for what he is truly feeling, perhaps he has blocked away his feelings even from himself. So, it is important, that if he becomes emotional, to be there for him, so he can start to accept emotions. Harry, also, used to live in a cupboard, it is important he understands that his room is his room, because it is possible that he will think he deserves less. Eating is also important, but I have been told you have dealt with other neglect cases before, so I will assume you know the basics of what to do. I will also be seeing him twice a week from now on, so whenever you would like to organise that is fine, and here is my card.”

Mel handed over a small cardboard card,

Melanie Davies
Child Psychologist
4733 982 100

“Please call me as soon as possible, and we can organise some days for therapy.”

They both nodded, and Mel and Mr. Johnson stood to leave.

Ted turned to his wife,

“Shall we see how the kids are doing?”

She smiled back at him,

“It would be nice to see how Harry is settling in.”

Chapter Text

 

Life with the Murphys.

 

Harry's life was basically the same. He still stared at the sky, and drew, and went to the same school, but now when he got home he didn't have to cook, clean and garden. He had guardians who said they were proud of how he did on an exam when he got the best mark, as he still did, and who sometimes hung his drawings up on the fridge, or asked for him to draw specific things. Like the stars instead of the sky, birds or specific places. And Harry had a room now, a big room which he didn't really need. He didn't really need any of it, but it was still nice to have.

 

He had asked Susan if he could garden once, and she had told him he didn't have to do chores here. He had shrugged, gardening was quite nice, but he didn't want to upset her, and it wasn't very important. Harry got offered new clothes as well, anything he wanted, or at least that was what it felt like, but Harry had enough clothes. Two dresses, one shirt, one pair of pants and a jumper. What else would he need? So he had declined their offer.

 

They did buy him a new school bag, though, as his old one was Dudley's second hand one for Kindergarten, and was only held together by duck tape and will power.

 

School was different too. Kids were nicer to him, and the teachers who had used to sneer now looked on with guilt. Harry wasn't exactly sure why, since everything seemed basically the same, but he supposed the Dursleys had been on the news, for 'horrendous child abuse', and people had realised that what they had said about him wasn't true. Harry didn't mind either way, people could think what they wanted, it was up to them.

 

Mrs. Figg had died, he had read it in a newspaper one morning, but hadn't paid much attention to it.

 

Sometimes kids asked him if he wanted to play with them, and Harry would simply smile and tell them he was busy. He knew he should befriend someone but he didn't feel like it. They all felt so... different to him, and they couldn't understand the things he did. Harry simply sat and stared at the trees, the beauty all around him, just as he did before. Because life was still beautiful, and he would still think so even if he had everything in the whole entire world.

 

Some days he would lie and stare at the sky for hours, imagining himself flying, or swimming, or turning into a chicken. Some days he would sit in his room, on his bed, and look through his window, out onto the street. Some days he would draw in his tatty book, more and more pictures. Ted had once asked if he wanted a new one and he had said he didn't mind, they settled that when he ran out of pages they would buy him a new one. Some days he didn't do anything at all, and he would lie in bed, with his homework finished, and simply look at the paint on the wall. It was like how the wind blew, he just flowed with it, preferring to exist in the moment, rather than worry about the petty problems of the future.

 

He got to eat a lot as well. Three meals a day. And he showered a lot too, and always got to clean his clothes. Although, it was actually Susan who cleaned them as he wasn't allowed to do any chores at all, even when he offered.

 

He had foster siblings now, which were nothing like cousins, and they often said they worried for him. They often said they were proud, loved him and hoped he liked himself. That the Dursleys were terrible people who lied. Harry had thought his ex-relatives had lied for a while, for years before he was taken away, and didn't really have low self-esteem, but he simply didn't care much for other's opinions anyway to correct them.

 

They sometimes played board games, or read books together, or watched movies. But Harry didn't really mind what they did, even if he preferred his sky, grass, drawing and garden. His guardians, even though they wished he called them parents, took him places too. The cinema, amusement parks, zoos, all the places he wanted to go before he realised that there was something so much more important that materialist living.

 

Harry was happy with what he had, and didn't want anything else.

 

His therapy with Mel continued as well, and soon he stopped calling her 'miss' and started calling her 'Mel', mostly because that was how he thought of her in his mind. When she asked how he was so happy, Harry asked what reason was there to be sad. She told him that the world was sometimes cruel, unfair and painful and it was okay to be sad and Harry said,

 

“I can't be sad. Not when the world is so beautiful. When life is so beautiful. Everything around us is amazing. Every-single-thing, and finding something to be sad about when everything is so incredible just seems impossible. Because its not important.”

 

Mel had asked him if he ever got sad, and he told her when his friends died he was sad for a while. She asked who had died, and he said the spiders he used to share a cupboard with, who all had names.

 

Mel asked about school, home, how he felt and what he wanted. Especially the last one. And he would always tell her the same thing,

 

“My heartbeat, in my neck, so I can listen to it. The sky so I can watch it change, and clouds move past. The trees, so I can count the leaves and watch them fall over the seasons. The small birds that are always moving, always hopping, always singing. But, even then I don't need them, all I need, and want, is the knowledge that life is beautiful. I like some things, but I don't want them, because I already have them, and if I lost them, I would still be happy, because I don't need them. I like to draw, to sing. I like my foster siblings, and my guardians. I like the flowers in the garden, and the spiders in the corner of my room. I like to garden, but I don't want or need to, because I am content with how things are.”

 

One time Harry asked her if she wanted him to be sad, and that was why she wanted him to want something. And Mel said that she didn't want him to be sad, but she was worried that he was suppressing his emotions, other than happiness, as a coping mechanism for the Dursleys abuse and that if he was, then he needed to accept them.

 

Harry had smiled and shrugged.

 

He didn't think happiness was that wrong, and it wasn't even really happiness, but contentment, something much more long lasting.

 

Once he told Susan that he liked to garden, she finally let him, and he would then spend hours out there, helping the flowers to flourish, sometimes with his family watching him from inside the house, most of the time wondering how such an awful thing could have happened to such a wonderful boy.

 

 

Almost eight months had passed, his eleventh birthday was nearing, and the move into high school was close at hand. Ted and Susan had recently adopted him, finding him too much like a son to let him go into the foster system, and be given new parents. They had, of course, asked him first, and he had said okay, because 'why not'. Harry had asked why they would adopt him, since they would lose the foster money from caring and they replied 'we care so much more for you than we ever would for money'.

 

Joan and Rick were excited, although Rick was going to head away from home that year to live with his fiancée, Sarah, but would still visit often. Joan had turned fifteen in May, and was experiencing the wonders of Year 10 - being almost at the top of the food chain was a change for her which she wasn't adverse to. She was happy to finally be Harry's real sister, but Harry thought it would take a while for him to think of her as such. The Murphy's had asked him if he wanted to keep his last name, and he had agreed, mainly because 'Harry Potter' sounded a lot cooler than 'Harry Murphy'. Although, he wouldn't have really minded if it had changed. They did add a middle name, so that his new name was changed to Harry James Murphy Potter. Which Harry also thought was cool.

 

'Cool' was becoming his main describing word, because Rick used it so much, even though Harry didn't care about much of anything. He had acknowledged in therapy that sadness was okay, but he honestly was pretty sure that he wasn't suppressing emotions and was actually just happy with life. Which he had managed to get Mel to admit was a 'possibility'.

 

That morning Harry got up, had a shower, slipped on his green dress (which he thought he was growing out of a bit), and headed downstairs to have some breakfast. Mel had okayed him making breakfast sometimes, which Harry didn't mind doing at all, but the family still didn't let him cook much as they didn't like how he was the best chef in the house, as it reminded them of his past. Which he still didn't care about, which worried them as they thought he had low self esteem.

 

Harry didn't know why they made things so complicated.

 

That morning everyone was sitting at the table, Rick dressed in a suit for some reason, but Harry was dressed in a dress... so, he supposed it didn't matter, even if Rick didn't normally wear a suit. Susan had made bacon and eggs for breakfast, and Harry served himself some eggs on toast, with no bacon, ignoring the slight glare he got from Joan and the muttered,

 

“You are worthy enough to eat bacon, Harry.”

 

Ah, the self-esteem issue again.

 

Mel thought he had self-esteem issues as well.

 

Harry simply didn't need bacon. How hard was that to understand? He shook his head slightly, before giving everyone a bright smile and happy 'good morning'. His guardians smiled back, but Rick simply said,

 

“I don't get how you can be so happy this early in the day.”

 

Harry shrugged,

 

“Well, I used to get up at five so this is alright.”

 

The others nodded in understanding, and Harry thought they were just so serious all the time. Life was beautiful, enjoy it, stop worrying. But, no matter how many times he explained it they didn't seem to understand. He just wanted his family to be happy, but he already knew that it might not even be possible for anybody else to understand the secret of life.

 

Ted was sorting through the mail, flipping letters down onto the table, before he stopped. Harry turned to him, smiling as usual, Ted holding out a letter, saying a little confused,

 

“Its for you.”

 

Harry never got letters, because no one knew where he lived. When the Dursleys abuse case had come out to the public, a lot of people wanted to mail sympathy letters, which Harry didn't want, so where he lived was never shared.

 

This was an odd occurrence.

 

“Thank you.”

 

He said, taking the letter from his father's confused hand. The man shrugged before continuing on with the mail. Harry turned the letter over, reading his exact address which was a bit creepy.

 

Harry Potter

 

Bedroom at the end of the hall,

 

Number 12 Acres Street

 

Sutton

 

But, he shrugged, counting it as some stalker probably and opened it up, interested in what his stalker wanted. Would it be interesting to have a stalker? Harry was curious.

 

The letter was not what he had expected, at all.

 

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

 

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,

Supreme Mugwump, International Conted. Of Wizards)

 

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all the necessary books and equipment.

 

Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.

 

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

 

Deputy Headmistress.

 

Oh.

 

Well then.

 

That actually explained a lot. Before Harry had his life changing revelation, there had been a few incidents which he just couldn't explain. Before he didn't care about his appearance at all, when his aunt had cut his hair terribly, it had grown back the next day. Harry had thought he had superpowers for a while, but when he couldn't get it to work again, he thought it might have just been a fluke. Back when he still cared about what people thought of him, and the teachers accused him of cheating, their hair had mysteriously turned blue.

 

Was all 'magic' about hair?

 

Hair magic?

 

It would be interesting.

 

He turned to the supplies list on the second page, seeing out of the corner of his eyes that the rest of his family was interested in the contents of the letter, just like he had been.

 

UNIFORM


First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupil's clothes should carry name tags.


COURSE BOOKS
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1)
by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic
by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory
by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration
by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions
by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection
by Quentin Trimble


OTHER EQUIPMENT
wand
cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
telescope
1 set brass scales
Students may also bring, if they desire, an owl OR a cat OR a toad.

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICK

Harry looked up from the letter and said,

 

“Hey guys?”

 

The family turned to him, curious as well. Harry said, without a falter,

 

“Magic is real, I'm a wizard and they accepted me into their magic school. Can I go?”

 

They stared. Ted and Susan left the room, while Joan and Rick took the letter from him and read it. After reading through it they looked up at him, Rick said,

 

“Is it a joke or something?”

 

Harry shook his head,

 

“I don't think so. I've done magic in the past, but I can't do it on command.”

 

Joan asked,

 

“What magic?”

 

Harry said,

 

“I made my hair grow a lot longer one night, and I dyed my teacher's hair blue from a distance.”

 

They stared at him.

 

Harry was glad he had such trusting foster siblings, but he could understand. Harry didn't see the point in lying, so they knew he was telling the truth.

 

 

In the kitchen...

 

Susan said sternly,

 

“I say let him go.”

 

Ted rose an eyebrow,

 

“We don't even know if its real!”

 

Susan paused,

 

“Then we write them a letter, and tell them we don't know, and they will come and show us.”

 

Ted said,

 

“What if its all just a joke?”

 

Susan sighed,

 

“Then he will go to ordinary secondary school. Like we planned. Its an easy enough thing to do. And if Harry wants to go, and its real, then he sure as hell will. He's never lied, you know that Ted, and that means he honestly believes this. Harry is not an idiot, he's the smartest kid in his year, in perhaps the next year too, you've seen his test scores, he wouldn't believe in something like magic with no reason.”

 

Ted nodded,

 

“Maybe he saw it before or something.”

 

“Exactly, and if he wants to go, he will. Because Harry normally doesn't want anything, and we need to assure him that he is worthy to want things. I have a feeling that if magic is real, and we allow him what he wants, he will want more things, and he will start to understand that he deserves things. Like bacon!”

 

Ted smiled at his passionate wife who loved that boy so dearly. If he wanted to go to a magic school then that was okay by them.

 

Susan wrote a quick letter to the deputy, hoping to clear it up, and she sent it in the post that afternoon.

 

 

Minerva McGonagall sat in her office, sorting through the last of the letters she needed to send off. The quill was an automatic quill, and all she had to do was hand the letters to the owls, which were positioned and ready to go. She had been doing it all morning, as there seemed to be more and more muggleborns every year. She didn't understand why, mostly because she hadn't taken Muggle Studies in her Hogwarts time so she didn't know much about their society.

 

But she knew more than most, as she was the teacher to introduce them to the magical world. She was also the one to give them a book on how to handle their magic without learning spells, if they didn't want to attend Hogwarts. As some muggle parents didn't want their children in that world.

 

A few owls had returned with letters straight away, from pure-bloods, whose acceptance was simply a formality as all of the prestigious families in England wanted to go to Britain's best magical school. She stood, once again, to collect the letter from the owl flying through her wide open window.

 

McGonagall pulled it from the owl's leg, and noticed there was no House Ring Stamp, which the letters usually came with. Probably a muggleborn one then.

 

She opened the letter.

 

Dear Minerva McGonagall,

 

My name is Susan Murphy, and I am the mother of Harry Potter. We received a letter, just this morning, about a 'magic school' and... were wondering if someone could come and explain it to us in more detail. Since we have never heard of magic, do not know where to get school supplies, how to travel to the school, or if magic is actually real.

 

Please reply at your earliest convenience,

 

Mrs. Murphy.

 

McGonagall dropped the letter to the floor. Who was the mother of Harry Potter? What of the Dursleys?

 

And had Harry never heard of magic?

 

 

Harry was sitting in the dining room, at the edge of the table, drawing the symbol that had been on the emblem of his letter. Ted and Susan had explained that they sent a letter to the school, and if Harry wanted to go then he could. Harry sort of understood what they were doing, trying to get him to want things, and he didn't necessarily want to go to Hogwarts, but he didn't necessarily not want to go.

 

He thought learning about magic would be interesting, and perhaps he would be able to see even more beauty in life, that he hadn't been able to see in the normal world. Like if zombies were real or something.

 

“I win!”

 

Harry turned to see his fo- just sister, jumping up and down, dancing, and out of her chair. They had been playing Yahtzee, and had just counted up the scores. They had said Harry could play too, but he was already busy drawing up the logo, something that seemed quite important in his mind. For some reason. Harry wasn't sure why yet.

 

“I win! Oh yeah! You lose you lose! I'm a winner!”

 

Harry jumped out of his seat and took Joan's hand. She looked a little shocked for a while, before she took his other hand and they started to dance. Just swaying basically, and sometimes twirling. Because Joan was taller she always wanted to lead, and Harry just didn't care, so he let her. Susan turned on the music, and started to dance with Ted, whilst Joan swung Harry around and around.

 

Rick just stared, as he normally did, at the chaos that his family sometimes became, and packed up the board game, mumbling 'she got a lucky roll' under his breath.

 

Harry giggled as Joan dipped him, and she smiled brightly, happy to know her brother was always so happy when dancing. But then she faltered slightly... Harry was always happy. She knew that wasn't right, and they had all talked about it, but... he still was. And she wasn't sure if that was good or not.

 

Half way through the song there was a ring on the door and everyone seemed to freeze. Ted turned off the music. Joan took Harry's book and packed it away. Rick placed the Yahtzee back on the shelf. Susan went to answer the door. And Harry just stood there, staring at the chandelier, which was so beautiful.

 

Joan came back and placed Harry back down in his seat, as sometimes he could just stare at things... for hours. When he had first came they hadn't told him what to do at all, and after school he had just stared at the sky for... eight hours, and then gone to sleep. They had all been so shocked that they had forgot to get him dinner.

 

Something they never forgot ever again.

 

Susan came in, looking a little nervous, trailed by a purposeful looked woman, with a very stern face, hair tied harshly in a bun, and a weird green dress, which didn't look like much of a dress at all. Susan looked vaguely happy, and said,

 

“This is Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress that invited our Harry to the magic school.”

 

Harry turned to look at the new woman, not really that fussed, and once he had, went back to looking at the ceiling like he had been. Joan giggled slightly, at how cool her brother was with everything that happened, and Rick sighed, used to the behaviour by now. After a few moments, Harry stood up, walked over to the woman, and held out his hand for her to shake. She took it and said,

 

“Who might you be, young lady?”

 

Harry smiled brightly,

 

“Its nice to meet you. I'm a boy by the way, and my name is Harry. I believe you think I'm magic?”

 

McGonagall blinked in shock, staring at Harry's dress, before she composed herself and said,

 

“Yes. That would be right.”

 

Harry let go of her hand and sat back down, wondering to himself. She was very stern looking, a bit like his aunt in that regard. But, she could be nice. Harry would smile to her anyway, of course, as he liked smiling.

 

Susan said abruptly,

 

“I'll get some tea. Would you like some Minerva?”

 

McGonagall nodded politely, and she asked,

 

“What about everyone else?”

 

Joan said she would. Rick said he didn't want any tea. Ted said yes. And Susan didn't ask Harry, as Harry never wanted anything, and he would simply say 'I don't mind'.

 

 

McGonagall noticed that Harry wasn't asked, but didn't say anything, thinking that the boy looked happy enough and nothing seemed too amiss. She took a seat, to the right of Lily's boy, who was simply smiling at her in a very sweet way, and she couldn't help but smile back.

 

The other's sat as well, a girl who was around fifteen, right next to Harry, and took a hold of his hand, at which the cute boy giggled. A dark haired boy, that looked a bit like Regulus Black as a child, sat next to, who she assumed was the father, looking like Remus Lupin except a bit fatter. Susan, Harry's 'mother', came back with a tea tray and gave everyone but Rick a cup.

 

Even though Harry hadn't been asked.

 

But, the boy didn't argue at all, and simply sipped the drink like everyone else, smiling happily, his green eyes gleaming. He looked so happy, around these people, and McGonagall had to wonder what had happened to the Dursleys. So she asked,

 

“If you don't mind me asking, I was wondering what happened to Mr. Potter's previous guardians, the Dursleys? Have they passed away?”

 

Suddenly the atmosphere around the table was a lot cooler. And the girl next to Harry tugged his hand a little tighter. The Regulus-look-a-like narrowed his eyes at her. The father placed his cup back down on the table. Susan's skin tightened around the eyes, and her jaw clenched.

 

And Harry was still perfectly happy, without a care in the world.

 

He made her wonder a bit.

 

The girl next to Harry was the one who spoke, a voice of absolute hate and disgust,

 

“Those animals have been put in prison for what they did to Harry! Where they belong!”

 

McGonagall's eyes went wide and she stared in disbelief. Had it really been that bad?

 

“What happened?”

 

This time Susan spoke, sending a look to her daughter for her to keep her temper. The girl simply held Harry closer to her, and to McGonagall's amusement, Harry simply stood out of his chair and sat onto her lap, whispering to the girl who was staring at him in surprise,

 

“It was what you wanted, and you were going to pull my arm off if you continued like that.”

 

She smiled at Harry, hugging him tightly, and Harry smiled back, a little brighter than before.

 

Susan explained, ignoring Harry and the other girl as if it happened often,

 

“They locked him in a cupboard, starved him, called him a freak and a burden, and made him work like a slave. And now now he doesn't believe he deserves anything and is under the impression that he isn't allowed to want anything! Harry has such low self esteem and we love him to pieces. Those disgusting people are gone from his life now, and everyone is better off for it.”

 

McGonagall glanced at the smiled child, sitting in the young girl's lap. Low self-esteem? Isn't allowed to want anything? Is that why they didn't ask Harry if he wanted tea?

 

She heard the young boy say,

 

“I don't have low self-esteem, I'm perfectly happy.”

 

Everyone at the table rolled their eyes at that, and the father said,

 

“It is okay to be sad, Harry.”

 

And Harry smiled at them, an honest smile if McGonagall had ever seen one, and a few of them sighed. They descended into a familiar silence, except for Harry who was humming.

 

After a few moments McGonagall broke it,

 

“So, what would you like to know?”

 

Susan smiled at her, so many smiles in this house hold!, and said,

 

“Could you show us some magic, so that we know its real? And tell us where to buy school supplies? And how to get Harry to Hogwarts? And when the school year ends? And is it a boarding school? And maybe explain some things about the magical world?”

 

McGonagall nodded, pulled out her wand, making everyone look a bit confused, and explained,

 

“This is a wand. It is an instrument every witch or wizard needs to control their magic and make it work.”

 

She cast aguamenti spell and filled up her own empty tea-cup with water. The family sat, shocked, as most muggles got, when she showed them magic. Harry simply smiled at her, unchanged or shocked by the event, which made McGonagall a little wary. Saviour of the wizarding world or not, if a child wasn't excited about magic, it was less likely they'd want to learn it.

 

Then she explained the the family about Diagon Alley, and how if they held Harry's hands, or another limb, he would be able to lead them through the muggle repelling ward and into the magical world. She explained Gringotts bank, and how Harry should do a blood test, just in case he was heir to some other families. It would also show potions or spells at work on the boy, but she didn't think that would be important as his parents and Dumbledore wouldn't have placed any harmful spells on him.

 

She talked about how magic outside of school was forbidden, and how Hogwarts started on September first and ended June fifteenth. How they caught a train to and from Hogwarts, and there was a barrier, in between Platforms 9 and 10, with muggle-repelling wards. She explained muggles, pure-bloods, half-blood, muggleborns, and the prejudices, all in very basic form. Along with the Statute of Secrecy, which didn't apply to Harry since they were his family. The muggle-repelling wards could be ignored if Harry showed them the wall, so they knew it was there, and then they could all walk through to see him off onto the train, which left at 11 'o' clock.

 

McGonagall also spoke about Harry's fame, his name the Boy-Who-Lived, the war and You-Know-Who. She suggested that Harry wear a hat or something to cover his scar, which was famous, whilst they travelled around the alley.

 

Then she left, with intent to forestall Dumbledore from finding Harry's adoptive family, because he was the one to leave Harry with the Dursleys in the first place, and didn't deserve to know about his life.

 

 

After McGonagall left, to go who knows where, the family descended into silence, all listening to Harry singing happily under his breath. They had never been able to find out where he learnt so many songs, and sometimes he simply seemed to make them up, but when he would sing they often stopped to listen because his voice was so sweet. Even if the songs often didn't make much sense.

 

I've got a bee in my bonnet,

Or did I lose it in my pocket,

In a locket, what a racket, break the habit,

That a rabbit? That just jumped oughta that hat,

And I can't say that it mattered,

It sure splattered, that applause, and the cause,

Of the raucous.

Those tricky, picky magic makers,

They make the gangs go a quakers,

Cause magic is real,

What a steal,

And my last meal,

Was made, by a paid, magic fairy,

With no dairy, cause I requested,

It'd be bested, with more juice and jam,

More fish and ham,

And they made it tasty,

So there's no wasting,

With their magic sticks,

And sticky tricks,

So I ate it, and I paid it,

That magic fairy, With the canary,

And she said 'oh dear oh die',

Cause she can fly, and I saw the sky,

It was pretty, eyes of a kitty,

With those pretty fangs, and sharpened bangs,

They say haircuts have no spells,

But I can see the shampoo smells,

Of frosted water from a stream,

That had a certain witchy gleam,

So I drank it, before I thanked 'em,

And they said,

'Little head,

Its time for bed'.

 

Harry yawned, and walked over to his room, flopping down onto the covers, ignoring the smiles his family sent each other as they said how 'cute' his song was.

 

Harry liked singing.

 

Chapter Text

 

A trip to Diagon Alley

 

Harry stepped forward towards the Leaky Cauldron, his family holding on for dear life. Apparently they felt like they were being forced somewhere they didn't want to go, an effect of the repelling wards. Eventually after much dragging, lazy promises, and giggles from Harry they managed to make their way inside the dingy establishment.

 

Joan held tightly to his hand, she was always more protective of him, and the rest of the family separated their many limbs from his. Susan was blushing slightly at how much of a fight she had put up before travelling inside. At least travelling through the wards once meant they would be able to see the place again. They all heard Rick muttering under his breath at how it was such a poor defence system and the Wizarding World was bound to be discovered sooner or later.

 

Harry was wearing jeans and a red shirt today, since his dresses were in the wash, along with his baggy brown jumper. Ted was slightly relieved, simply because they were meant to be keeping a low profile because of Harry's celebrity status. Harry almost skipped over to the bar, ignoring the slightly depressing and dusty atmosphere, and approached the barman with a beaming smile.

 

The forty-something man with kind eyes and tired wrinkles smiled softly at the exuberant child. If only everyone could be as excited about magic.

 

“What can I do for ya, son?”

 

Harry smiled giddily, having a certain feeling in his bones that made life seem so much more exciting. It was as if there was something in the air, that tickled his skin and sent sharp zaps to his nose. A buzzing, that was everywhere. And Harry couldn't get enough of it, letting his normally calm self become even more happy than normal, there was more beauty,

 

“Would you please tell me how to enter the alley, fine barman?”

The barman grinned, introduced himself as “Tom, although some get so drunk that they call me Benny”, and started to lead Harry out of the place. Joan caught up, looking worried as Harry had fled her grip, and didn't want her baby brother to be kidnapped.

 

He was far to trusting.

 

The whole family spotted him, Susan sighing contentedly at seeing so much enthusiasm in her child, not simply a desolate calm, and made their way over.

 

Tom simply introduced himself again and explained what to do on the brick wall, saying a wand was necessary.

 

Then the entered, and most of their breaths were taken away.

 

Except Harry, who simply looked around the place with veiled curiosity. He had really only been interested in the energy, which was stronger here, but wasn't too invested in all the pretty colours and lights. He had already seen the same at an amusement park.

 

He led his shell-shocked family with a smile on his face, looking around the place for something pretty to look at. It was all pretty, really. And brimming with life and a certain whirl-i-ness that Harry couldn't place. Like a strong wind or snow storm.

 

Harry brushed this off, and followed his mother along the street, as she had regained most of her senses.

 

They stood out here, in their muggle garb. Some people wearing dresses, almost everyone was wearing dresses here to his happiness (kindred spirits?), and some frilly shirts or fancy pants. There were tailored boots and done up hair styles. Not jeans and shirts.

 

But, Harry didn't care, like with most things that people cared about. Standing out or hiding didn't make much of a difference in his eyes. Sure, life was meant for living, but you could live just as happily both ways.

 

 

The bank was nice, if a little intimidating. As his family walked in they all read an message on the wall, carved out of metal, which Harry chose to ignore. He was somewhat glad he did when he felt some of the 'magic hair energy' settle onto his family once they finished reading it. Was it another ward perhaps?

 

The bank was big, white, pristine, and run by goblins. Almost the whole family had been shocked by the revelation, whilst Harry hummed bemusedly. Harry was shocked every day by things he hadn't noticed the day earlier, he was used to shocks, so the magic simply seemed like one of those things. The goblins were short creatures, just taller than Harry, with a prideful disposition and stance of a warrior. Some held swords, shields or other weapons, whilst others held cruel smiles that warned that once you entered that bank it would be worse than any other.

 

You were throwing yourself to the sharks.

 

Harry didn't hesitate to walk inside, intrigued by the busy place and numerous people bustling about. There were counters with goblins situated behind on stools, with various levels of helpfulness. Harry moved onto his tip toes, just to see if someone would notice, and strode calmly over, ignoring his family's wariness.

 

The goblin was a goblin green, like he had expected, and had grey hairs around its nose and ears, with a bald head. It had black beady eyes and sharp ears that reminded Harry of elves from fairy-tales. He couldn't tell if it was male or female, or if goblins even had genders, so he didn't try to. It snarled at Harry when it saw him, placing down some manuscript written in another language, to say gruffly,

 

“What do you want?”

 

Harry smiled, used to people sneering at him, and said brightly,

 

“I'm wondering if I could have a blood test, inheritance test I think it was called. And then I want to draw some money out of my vaults, and maybe check the history of them.”

 

The goblin narrowed its eyes,

 

“You'd have to speak to your account manager. Next.

 

Harry's family had caught up, and there were many raised eyebrows at the dismissive manager of the goblin. However, used to dealing with difficult people, Harry didn't lose any of his cheer. If anything he smiled slightly wider, finally taking in the protective magic that made him feel as if his possessions were protected, humming all around him.

 

“Who would my account manager be?”

 

The goblin snarled, making Joan squeeze Harry's shoulder in worry. She didn't like to see how well Harry was handling its cruel tone, as if he had heard it many times before,

 

“How should I know? I'm just the goblin for this teller! Its not my business to know who's who or what's what.”

 

Harry nodded in understanding, whilst Ted wondered about the organisation of the bank,

 

“Who would know?”

 

It simply glared at him,


“I don't know. I only got here last week. Just... go away.”

 

Harry smiled, waving politely, as he moved to the next empty teller. This goblin looked vaguely the same, except instead of being bald had luscious blonde locks, which it looked very proud of. As Harry stood there, backed up by four tall people, it simply sighed in resignation and said,


“How can I help you today, sir?”

Harry smiled, not phased in the slightest by the nice tone now as he was by the cruel one,

 

“Would you happen to know who my account manager was?”

The goblin seemed surprised,

 

“You mean you don't know? I suppose if you're muggle-born you wouldn't, but I would have expected them to already assign you one when you were ten.”

 

Harry said,


“I'm not muggle-born, my parents were magic.”

That much Harry had been told by the deputy headmistress that visited. The goblin looked even more surprised, the blonde hair bobbing slightly as it shook its head. It grumbled to itself,

 

“What is this bank coming to? I remember the days when goblins were feared as the mighty ones they were, and now we can't even muster enough respect for someone to leave our mail alone. Wait a second, I'll call Flesh-Killer from management.”

 

The others exchanged weary glances at the 'Flesh-Killer' name, and stepped up in a defensive position slightly. Harry absently wondered if they had brought weapons with them, and what good they would do.

 

The goblin called out in some guttural tones, making most of the goblins turn to see before they returned to their clients. After a minute or so, a shorter-than-normal goblin with grey hair, a large dagger fastened to its belt, and extra sharp teeth, thumped confidently over. It turned to Harry and said,

 

“Harshaw said you don't know who your manager is and you aren't muggle-born. Follow me and we will sort this out.”

 

Harry and his family wondered after the irate looking goblin, although most of them looked irate, Harry less warily than others. They were led down a hall, to a small office, which was impeccably neat. He spotted a few bits of dust as he always seemed to spot, a remnant of his dust-spotting-game, but studiously left it alone. He didn't want to be disrespectful, and the dust wasn't that big of a deal.

 

Flesh-Killer stood behind his desk, ruffling through it, before he pulled out a metal bowl. He unsheathed his knife and placed it on the table, Rick unconsciously stepping back slightly when he saw the sharp edge. He said gruffly,

 

“I would ask who you were, but I would have to confirm it anyway. Cut your hand and spill blood in the bowl, for a blood inheritance test. Then I'll sort everything out.”

 

Harry shrugged and made a fairly large cut on his hand, making Joan wince and Susan's eyes go wide. It only stung slightly, and he was used to pain from Dudley's escapades. The goblin looked a bit shocked, as normally people just pricked their finger, but decidedly not to mention it. As there was no reason to. Harry drained a few drops of blood into the golden bowl and then stood backwards, letting blood drip onto the floor.

 

Flesh-Killer pulled out a scrap of parchment and placed it onto a glowing symbol. Words quickly started to form and after a few minutes it was finished. He handed it to Harry.

 

Harry James Murphy Potter

 

Born : 31st of July 1990 11:59PM

Death : - - - - - -

Mother : Lily Potter nee Evans

Father : James Charlus Potter

Godmother : Alice Jane Longbottom

Godfather : Sirius Orion Black

Magical Guardian : Albus Brian Dumbledore

Guardian : Ted Franklin Murphy

Guardian : Susan Poppy Murphy nee Jones

Account Manager : Griphook Nageous

 

Heir to House Potter

Claim on House Slytherin

 

Affinity : - - - -

Wand core : - - - -

Natural Magics : Ritual, Parstlemagic, Legilimency, Air

 

Binds

40% magical block (fades 9 years 359 days) Instated by Albus Dumbledore

100% Occlumency block (fades - - - -) Instated by Albus Dumbledore

5% Blood magic protection (fades 14 days) Instated by Lily Potter

Tracking bind (fades - - - -) Instated by Albus Dumbledore

30% Life Force drain (fades - - - -) Instated by Tom Marvalo Riddle

Animagus Bind (fades - - - -) Instated by Albus Dumbledore

 

Potions

Oculis Obscuratis (permanent) Instated by James Potter

Mild Loyalty Draught (fades 7 years 34 days) Instated by Albus Dumbledore

 

Bonds

Soul Bond (unfinished) Tom Marvalo Riddle Instated by Tom Marvalo Riddle

Betrothal Bond (semi-rejected) Ginerva Roe Weasley Instated by Molly Weasley

 

Harry passed the parchment back to the goblin, watching in fascination as its face turned into a threatening grimace. After fully reading it through it said gruffly,

 

“I recommend you visit a healer to get these blocks removed.”

 

Harry blinked.


“Okay.”

 

Because what else was there to do?

 

Get angry?

 

Waste his energy getting angry?

 

That wouldn't do any good. Wouldn't help him at all. It would only make him feel worse, and act rashly. Sure. Albus Dumbledore had controlled his life to a terrible extent, and put blocks on things he hadn't known existed until today. But, Harry couldn't work up the emotion to hate him or dislike him. Who was he to deserve his hate? Why would Harry let someone make him feel such a toxic emotion?

 

He was happy. He was. And that man had done some terrible things. But everyone did terrible things at one point. It was just how life was. There was good and bad. Life and death. And both were important to balance out the world. Something Harry had accepted a long time ago. And this blip. This tiny blip in his life, with a headmaster who had wanted to control so much, didn't really bother him.

 

Would he even remember the name in ten years time?

 

Would he even care?

 

There were much better things to do than stew on thoughts of hate and anger. Even sadness. Life was just too short to live it in misery.

 

Sadly his family didn't feel the same way.

 

As soon as they saw the list of potions, binds and bonds, they seemed to simultaneously come to a decision.

 

That Albus Dumbledore was their enemy.

 

Harry didn't have the heart to tell them not to.

 

“You can get whatever you want Harry.”

 

Susan cooed at him, smiling at his 'adorable' expression. Harry sighed contentedly, happy to have such a lovely family, but also a little exasperated because of her constant mothering and desire that he 'want' something.

 

Adults, honestly.

 

Ted warned,

 

“Darl, the letter said only an owl, cat, or toad.”

 

Her expression furrowed and she plucked the letter from her husband's grasp, scanning the words, and murmuring under her breath,

 

“Students may also bring, a cat or an owl or a toad. Hmm...”

 

She paused for a moment before saying,

 

“They didn't say you couldn't bring another animal. I think only three is a bit restrictive.”

 

Ted frowned,

 

“I don't know, Sue, if the school says...”

 

She shook her head,

 

“Its magic, and its not like we're sneaking our Harry in with a broom.”

 

Ted relented, rolling his eyes at his wife. He gave her a pointed look,

 

“And here I thought that you were meant to be the responsible parent.”

 

She murmured to him quietly, thinking Harry couldn't hear her,

 

“Have you ever seen him this excited?”

 

He frowned again,

 

“He's always happy...”

 

“But excited?”

 

He shook his head. She smiled, giving him a kiss on the cheek before wandering over to where Jo and Rick were looking at the eagles. Ted turned his eyes to his youngest, watching him watch her with a bemused expression. He kneeled down beside him, seeing calm green eyes look at him, and ruffled his hair,

 

“You're just acting excited, aren't you?”

 

Harry shrugged, smiling at him fondly,

 

“It makes her happy.”

 

He sighed,

 

“You shouldn't pretend to feel something you don't.”

 

Harry shrugged again,

 

“I am happy, just not as happy as she thinks.”

 

Ted looked at him with a vague sort of sadness for a moment before he patted his cheek and sent him off to look for a pet.

 

Harry wondered around the pet shop, or Owl Emporium, whatever it was called, wondering what might be nice. The shopping trip had gone reasonably well after the whole 'binds and bonds' blip. After acting like chickens with ruffled feathers for a while the family headed down to Harry's trust vault. There was a lot of gold, and a few interesting books lying around, nothing too spectacular but interesting all the same.

 

After taking out money, making his guarding guilty because they couldn't afford to pay, Ted didn't have a very high paying job and the pound to galleon exchange rate was outrageous, they headed out to buy supplies. The whole family kept encouraging him to 'buy things', a bit of a novelty, since Harry hadn't gone shopping since replacing his backpack.

 

After going to the vaults Flesh-Killer led them to a Goblin Healers, for the best clients. It was more pricey than the normal healers, but they said it was a better service and they were professionals “we won't air your dirty laundry to the press”. Harry saw a prickly looking goblin, “Macrass is the name”, who had red eyebrows and was completely bored. He spent the next hour lying on a cold metal bed, being poked at, and occasionally waved over with what he could now recognise was magic.

 

Macrass said he used to have malnutrition, but that had faded away, and that there were a couple weak bones, but it couldn't be helped. He destroyed all the bonds and binds, except for the Life force drain and Partial Soul Bond, which were both instated by Tom Marvalo Riddle. Apparently it was a bit of dark magic that was too advanced for the goblins to fix on short notice, and it was better to make an appointment with a curse breaker. Since Macrass could tell it was a soul related curse, which made the two individuals 'soul mates', they shared souls. Harry was made to drink a foul tasting drink for the loyalty potion, which he didn't mind, told that it would wear off in a week or so.

 

As Flesh-Killer maybe conned/convinced his guardians to get wards put around the house, making Harry tune out, he wondered what having a soul mate would be like. Sure, it was dark magic, but it was still a soul mate, sharing something extremely intimate. Harry hadn't matured enough to think about relationships in that manner, but it didn't stop him wondering about what it could be like to feel that way about something. After realising the beauty of life he'd always found it hard to care more about people than everything around him. He did love his family, but he also loved the clouds above his head, it was hard to think of what he loved more.

 

And whether he even needed to choose.

 

They first went to the robes shop. The shopkeeper suggested ordinary black robes, which Harry wouldn't have minded, but his family simply rolled their eyes and told him to get the 'nicest', code for 'what he wanted'. Harry eventually came out with some dark purple robes with a cream lining, which were meant for girls, and some plain black robes. They also bought some under clothes, more casual wear, which mainly consisted of dresses and sparkly clothes from a muggle-born owned store. Although, it was going out of business since many new witches and wizards were scorned for wearing muggle-like attire.

 

He also bought some fancy boots, which made a funny clacking sound when he walked on the cobblestone pavement.

 

Harry didn't care either way, but the wizarding clothes made him feel itchy and that comment was enough for everyone to move to a whole different business.

 

It made him sigh.

 

After that they moved to a book store called Florence and Blots. Buying all the school books specified, and a few other books on obscure magic, cloak making, wand lore, and something called 'the Animal within: the guide to becoming an Animagus'. Jo bought a few Herbology books, since most of the wizarding plants could be planted in the muggle world, and Rick bought books on Wizarding Etiquette, History and Law.

 

He was wondering about how the separate society worked.

 

They visited a funny smelling Apothecary, for Potion ingredients, and Ted bought Susan a unicorn hair bracelet for good luck, which had a Notice-Me-Not spell on it so the neighbours wouldn't ask questions.

 

Then they went into a creepy wand shop, with an even creepier shop owner, and Harry felt a very oppressive magic settle over him. But, he simply hummed and acted like he didn't feel it, smiling politely when the silver haired man tried to stare into his soul. Ollivander didn't find any deciet, no masking or manipulations, and for a while simply looked at Harry as if he were a different creature. Saying,

 

“What are you?”

 

Harry smiled, looked around the place, and replied in an equally mysterious tone just for giggles,

 

“Looking for a wand, sir.”

 

That snapped the old guy out of his thoughts, and he spent the next half hour breaking things with sticks by accident, and holding things that felt like empty shells, whilst his family went from 'excited' to 'bored'. Except Susan who looked happy, seeing as he was acting excited. Harry decided that it would be a nice thing to do to let her soul rest a little easier, she would probably be very worried if she found out he felt exactly the same way as he always did discovering a magic world than he did without.

 

At one point Ollivander gave him a power wand, 11 inches holly wand with a Phoenix feather wand core. It suited him somewhat, perhaps a distant part of him from years ago, and his magic, but now they were better off without each other. The wand maker looked a little shocked that the wand hadn't been for him, muttering 'curious' to himself for a while, before they continued on.


Two hours later Harry walked out of the store with a 12 inches long dark wood wand with a unicorn hair core, and leaving words of wisdom,

 

“That is a wand I never thought I would sell, simply because it is contradictory. Dark wood is best for Dark magic, a wood that is thought of as cursed in this time, and was once revered. It lusts after violence and cruelty, wants power. Unicorn hair is the exact opposite, a core that is innocent and is best for channelling Light magic. It wants peace and equality, wants 'goodness'. My father once told me it was a perfectly balanced wand, and I told him it was a wand I never should have made. The third wand I ever made. Because casting any spell with it means that half of the wand always wants to rebel against it, a constant battle. I never thought there would be a person it suited.”

 

Harry shrugged, smiled, and let Rick lead him to the pet shop.

 

Now he was wondering about thinking of what animal he should bring to school with him. It didn't matter much, but he had a soft spot for spiders and snakes, since he could talk to one and the other was born out of combined interests: his cupboard. If only Fiona could have lived longer, she would have been a lovely friend to keep.

 

Harry passed the owls, seeing a snowy white one hoot at him, and the shop assistant say that she never tolerated anyone. He gave her an almost imperceptible shake of his head and continued on, it felt a little like the phoenix wand from before, as if she suited a version of him from years ago. He glanced at the small cats and kittens, which jumped over each other to look at him with their large eyes. He scratched a white fluff ball behind the ear, feeling the purr deep in his heart, but continued walking.

 

Harry came to his siblings, who were looking in at the snakes, and chuckled to himself when he heard what they were all saying.

 

'D'ya think I could bite one of them before I get caught? There's so many of them I bet they wouldn't even notice if one went missing.'

 

'Ple-ease Jerry, they're two-legged, you'll get zapped before you can sink your teeth in'

 

'Its so boring in here. What do they expect us to do all day?'

 

'I miss my mummy.'

 

'Shut up George, I want to get picked, then I can plan my escape.'

 

'Vote for me for leader of the snakes, I will bring us to the resistance and we will be victorious, feasting on the flesh of our enemies.'

 

'Don't be stupid Salsazar, they've put magic on the cages, we'll die before we escape.'

 

'Did anyone see a mouse? I thought I saw one.'

 

'I'm living with idiots.'

 

Harry leaned over and hissed at the group, who were acting a bit like the kittens from earlier,

 

'Hello snakes, how are you?'

 

Harry saw his family turn to him in shock out of the corner of his eye. Jo grinned at him and said,

 

“You can speak to snakes, that's so cool!”

 

The snakes all paused in shock, turned their heads as one, and then burst into chaos,

 

'Speaker! Speaker!'

 

'Free us mighty snake lord.'

 

'It has been so long since I have heard from you, I thought only in India did true speakers remain.'

 

'SPEAKER!!'

 

'Hi, my name is Jerry, and I would love to be your pet snake'

 

'I'm surrounded by idiots, please free me speaker.'

 

'I am the elected leader of the snakes-'

 

'Hey no you're not!'

 

'-and I order you to release us in the name of the resistance, if you have any mercy at all.'

 

'He's not stupid enough to do that, he knows we'll eat him if we ever get out.'

 

'Well HE KNOWS NOW, god, I'm trying to free us and you give away the whole game plan.'

 

'Its not my fault your game plan is so terrible!'

 

Harry smiled at them fondly, before shaking his head and continuing on to find another pet. Rick and Jo following him now, wondering if he could speak to any other reptiles.

 

After another half an hour of touring the shop Harry picked an animal, and was then forced to buy it even when he said he didn't mind. But, buying it was still nice, and Harry was happy to have a new friend to take with him.

 

He ended up getting a toad. A classic, ordinary, green one with not much to say.

 

Harry wanted a friend which wouldn't bother him much, so he could spend his time taking in the beauty of life.

 

Let others think what they wanted about his 'not cool' pet.

 

Chapter Text

 

The train trip and Sorting.

 

The next month passed neither quick nor slow for Harry. It was the same for him, things felt the same, but his family acted differently around him. His sister cried once, sad to see him go, and gave him a present. A new drawing book, white with flowers she drew herself on the cover, with a double binding, and a new set of pencils. His brother went back to Diagon Alley a few times, to get new books on magic and a family owl that they named Chocolate. Rick said the Wizarding World was interesting, and he wanted to explore.

 

Ted talked to him more. He stayed up late with Harry, letting Harry sit in the big green chair for clients, and told him about how proud he was, how much he'd miss him and how nice it would be to make some friends. His father tried to teach him about the way of the world, about how nothing was always alright, how some people could be cruel. And Harry would nod along, pretending he didn't already know. He was starting to wonder if honesty was necessary, just the same as lying. His mother looked at him with love like normal, but there was a sad sort of look in her eye. A look he couldn't quite place. Susan said she would miss him when he went away, they all did, and he wasn't sure how to feel.

 

Harry loved them. Well, he thought he did. But, in his life previous to the Murphys he'd never really known love. He'd seen love. Seen mothers holding the hands of their young daughters, smiling at them with untainted fondness, pushing strands of unruly hair behind their tiny tiny ears, their eyes shining with something. He'd seen the way Ted looked at Susan, that subtle blush on his cheeks when she caught him staring, that tone in his laugh.

 

Harry was happy.

 

But... he didn't know if he could really love. Truly love. Love like everyone else. Maybe one day in a distant part of his mind he accepted that when he was little he'd been loved. He'd loved his parents who had died in a war. A deeper part of him loved his old relatives in a twisted sort of way, because he'd always wanted to them to love him back. Like they loved Dudley. Another, larger, part of him loved everything around him.

 

Every beautiful thing that caught his eye. Every drop of morning dew he watched slowly slide to the ground. Every flap of that butterfly's wings. Every tear that fell from his sister's eyes as she cried and said “I'll miss you Harry, you send us a letter everyday! Tell us all about magic, would you?”. Every drop of blood spilled when he saw a child fall to the ground. Every ray of light that felt like a warm kiss on his head. Every chitter of the cheeky squirrel that he named, the one he saw in that park he loved in Surrey. Every cloud that blew above his head, that made him wonder. Every cold cold night that made him think of cold cold cupboards.

 

A cupboard he used to hate, but now he loved.

 

But did he really love it? Love it, truly? Or was it a detached fondness that felt like love. Did he even know what love was? Could he smile those loving smiles like everyone else, when he accepted not only the good but also the bad? When he loved all of life? Was it right to love the evil in the world, that made him hurt, that used to make him cry?

 

And was it love?

 

When Harry looked outside he saw the beauty he wanted to cherish. When he looked and counted those many leaves on is favourite tree he saw something that mattered so much more. More than the newest toy or more than what they thought. Something so simplistically boringly magnificent that often people overlooked it.

 

And there was a pain in his heart, a pain he didn't know if he really felt, when he thought about his new family. They were everything the eight year old him had ever wanted. They cared, loved him, whisked him away from the pain of the old and into the love of the new. They gave him a real room, clean clothes, nice food... But could he love them?

 

Harry wasn't sure if the price of happiness was worth the price of lovelessness. 'Lovelessness', his new favourite word, because he preferred painful truths over sweet lies. Maybe Mel was right. Maybe he really was just a sad boy pretending to be happy. Maybe he was only excusing his own entrapment with imaginary tales of beauty that wasn't there. Of beauty that didn't make all the badness go away.

 

But, Harry didn't feel like that. He didn't feel repressed... He didn't feel sad. Well, he did. Just not like everyone else. He was sad when he saw Fiona die, all those years ago. He was sad when he heard about a kid from school having an accident and breaking her arm. He was sad when the Dursleys got locked up, and sad that they were so broken that they needed to break others. He was sad when he saw a butterfly get water on its wings, fall to the ground, and not get up again.

 

But he didn't cry. Didn't sigh. Didn't mourn. Didn't scream and yell and tear and destroy, because of all that sadness. Anger. Guilt. Harry didn't let it pull him down, because there were better things to think about. More beautiful things. And if it were up to him, which it wasn't, and someone asked him to measure all the goodness and all the badness and say which there was more of, he would say goodness.

 

Because to have goodness you needed badness, so perhaps the badness was part of the goodness or something just as convoluted. To have happiness you needed sadness, perhaps? And he was happy. Harry was incredibly calm and content. He was perfectly fine to live his life achieving nothing, doing nothing, but staring at the sky above him. And he used to be sad, terribly sad, when he thought there was no goodness in the world.

 

But it was fine now.

 

And maybe he didn't really understand the sad look in his mother's eye when she spoke of him leaving, because he would be happy where ever he was, but he didn't think about it too long. For if he thought of all the goodness, badness, and everything in between he'd end up starving to death because he forgot to eat.

 

 

Harry hugged his sister one last time, planting a gentle kiss on her cheek, and said softly,

 

“Oh, don't be like that Joan, I'll be back before you know it.”

She smiled at him the sad smile they all seemed to smile so much these days, and replied,

 

“And don't you let that crooked headmaster get you alone! Rick was researching it and apparently magical guardians are allowed to do that, but don't worry, we'll catch him up to no good before you know it.”

 

Harry simply smiled at her fondly, and turned to his mother. She brushed a hand down his cheek and said,

 

“Go on the train dear, and we'll send you a letter in a week or so to check how you're settling in.”

 

He looked up at her with large green eyes, blinked, and then started to walk towards the train. The girls waved goodbye as he took his trunk and toad, jumping up and onto the train with a skip in his step, humming good-naturedly. The girls waved him goodbye, Ted and Rick not there, as Rick was on a date with his fiancée and Ted was at work.

 

Harry looked around for a compartment, wondering which one he should pick, and watched in fascination as his normally calm toad jumped out of his hands. Well. Frank was doing a runner then. He shrugged and checked the nearest compartment, walking out of it when he saw it full of glaring girls. Harry wouldn't have minded sitting with them but the whole thing was completely full.

 

He opened the next one, finding a similar situation, and continued on down the train. Compartment after compartment was filled, and when they weren't completely filled he was shooed away as he wasn't part of the 'click'. Harry smiled a small smile to himself, wondering where his toad could be off to, as he checked the next one.

 

Perhaps it was his muggle garb? Rick had told him that there was some racism against non-magicals, and most magical creatures that weren't wizards. Well, it wasn't going to stop him. Harry had quite liked wearing dresses, even if it wouldn't have been that bad just wearing rags, and felt oddly freed by them. Maybe he was a chained boy inside, or something else preposterous.

 

A group of fifth years told him to go away, and Harry wondered if it would be better to simply sit down in the hall. It would certainly be easier, and there had been an interesting patch of ceiling not too far back that had caught his eye.

 

He placed his trunk up against a patch of wall, and sat on the top, singing to himself softly.

 

Harry gazed down the hall playing 'spotto' with the people. He'd originally wanted to stare at the ceiling but then his father's voice rung in his head, telling him to be social. People watching was a more social game, after all. Even if it probably wasn't what his father had had in mind.

 

After ten minutes of looking for red heads, to no avail, Harry wondered if he ought to abandon the game.

 

So he did.

 

And ended up staring up at the ceiling anyway.

 

 

“Hello? Are you ignoring me?”

 

Harry looked down from the ceiling, to look a brown haired girl. She had frizzy hair, a darker shade than his whole family, and was looking at him with hands on her hips, tapping a foot on the ground impatiently. Her voice was shrill, a bit like Aunt Petunia's, and her eyes were narrowed as she scrutinised him.

 

Harry smiled at her, not unnerved by her reproachful look, and said,

 

“Hi there.”

 

She waited for him to say anything else, huffing slightly when he didn't. Then she rolled her eyes and said,

 

“Well. Hi. May I ask what you are doing just sitting there in the middle of the hall?”

 

Harry blinked.

 

“Sitting.”

 

Was it not obvious?

 

She glared,

 

“I am not an invalid, I'll have you know, and can see that just fine. Why are you there?”

 

Harry smiled at her in understanding, was he losing his mind or had her hair gotten slightly frizzier? He decided to apologise pre-emptively, often people thought he'd done something wrong, so saying 'sorry' in advance normally helped. It was always better to avoid enemies, simply as there was not much of a reason to have them.

 

Perhaps she was offended by him sitting there.

 

“Oh, sorry, I couldn't find an empty compartment. Was I in the way?”

 

She softened slightly, one arm falling from her hip, and said,

 

“No. No, I just didn't know why you were sitting there is all. My name is Hermione, perhaps we can sit together?”

 

Harry shrugged.


“I don't mind.”

 

Hermione smiled at him, a slightly puzzled expression on her face, and he followed her to the empty compartment. It was a two minute walk which was spent in silence. She didn't really know what to say, and he didn't feel the need to say anything.

 

They arrived at a small compartment, with three-seater seats facing each other, a chubby shy-looking brown haired boy sitting to the left.

 

Harry walked inside without pause, not bothered by the other person, and placed his trunk on the overhead compartment, before sitting by the window. Hermione paused for a moment before sitting beside the other boy, twiddling her thumbs.

 

The boy was staring at him, looking very nervous, and Harry sent him a happy smile, wondering absently what he was nervous about.

 

“MynameisNevilleLongbottom.”

 

He squeaked.

 

Harry tilted his head to the side, not fully understanding. The brown haired boy repeated more slowly,

 

“My na- name is Nev- Neville Longbottom.”

 

Harry nodded his head, pointed to Hermione, and said,


“That is Hermione Granger.”

 

She paused, gesturing at him to introduce himself. He smiled guilelessly, wondering what exciting things might be out the window, before saying,

 

“I'm Harry Potter.”

 

Neville's eyes widened, but he said nothing, and Hermione started to prattle on,

 

“Oh really? I've read all about you, in the The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Greatest Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century. I think its fascinating what- And why are you wearing a dress? You are a boy, aren't you? Or did they get that wrong? I suppose they must've. Is it actually Harriet Potter, or perhaps... Were you raised by muggles? Its mostly speculation I think. Just to let you know, boys in the muggle world don't wear dresses, but its an easy mistake to make...”

 

Harry let her blabber on for a while, glancing every now and again at Neville's toad which seemed to be squirming a lot in his lap. It looked an awful lot like Franklin, making him once again wonder about where his own pet had got to. Should he go fetch him? It was probably the responsible thing to do... But was it right to take away his toad's freedom? If Harry had known it wanted to escape so much he would have let it go a while back.

 

He changed his attention to the window, looking out and sighing deeply to himself. Was it a sign of love that he missed his family, somewhat? Not to a huge degree where he would go back to them. He wasn't dependant upon them for happiness or life. But, there was a small itch at the back of his throat that felt a little like tears when he thought of their own sadness. They had said so much that they would miss him... maybe they were rubbing off on him that he felt like he missed them too.

 

“...and it was all a big shock! A witch? I'd only ever read about it in stories, and I didn't indulge in them for a long time. But I suppose there is a lot of truths in fiction. Quite a lot. Have you read all your school books yet? I don't suppose you have. I'd never expect 'Harry Potter' to do that, you're probably a Griffindor like your parents, right? Charging into a battle and what not. I'd like to go into Griffindor, it seems like a good house. Dumbledore went there, don't you know? And he's the most powerful wizard of the age...”

 

Harry tuned her out again, thinking he probably should have been listening. He had in fact read all of his books. A lot of them with Joan by his side, as she pointed at all the weird and wonderful. Harry had always been partial to books, not really for the knowledge, but the stories you could create in your mind. He sighed, leaning back into his chair, and was about to count the dots on the ceiling when he heard a very loud 'ribbit' and saw a toad go soaring across his vision.

 

“Trevor!”

 

Neville cried in dismay, the only thing he had said after Hermione started speaking a while ago. He leapt clumsily across the compartment, only for the toad to escape out the open door and jump down the hallway. Harry hummed to himself, and said quietly,

 

“Its probably going to find Franklin.”

 

Neville turned to him,

 

“What?”

 

Harry smiled,

 

“Franklin. My toad. He escaped the moment I boarded the train.”

 

Neville stared. Slowly moving away from the door and sitting back down. Hermione was watching the exchange with little interest, an embarrassed flush on her cheeks. Perhaps she realised she hadn't stopped talking for many minutes.

 

Harry wondered if these were what friends were, then shrugged the thought off like so many others.

 

Neville said shyly, although had seemed to lose his stutter from earlier,

 

“You have a toad too?”

 

Harry smiled back, finding the shocked look in the other boy's eyes quite curious,

 

“Why wouldn't I?”

 

He leaned back in his seat, looking at Harry with a new glint. A new curiosity. Hermione proclaimed loudly,

 

“You lost your toad, we'd best go look for it.”

 

Neville murmured to himself,

 

“My gran will murder me if I don't get him back.”

 

Harry shrugged, happy to just follow along.

 

The next half hour was spent going from compartment to compartment, with Hermione asking if anyone had seen a lost toad. Everyone replied in the negative, although Harry did get to see some interesting people along the way. Most of the people weren't very recognisable, they just were. But some were quite interesting. There was a blonde girl with pigtails, the only one he saw with them. There were a number of red heads, packed together and watching a spider, two of them twins, one with a smudge on his nose who scanned over them as if looking for someone. There was a group of fourth years playing poker, with sweets as payment, and they entered just as someone won the whole pile. There were two people kissing, quite fervently, and Hermione and Neville both exited with blushing on their cheeks, whilst Harry continued on as if nothing had happened. There was one dark haired boy sitting alone, looking moody. And two older girls casting spells at one another, for good or for bad Harry didn't find out.

 

After almost the whole train had been searched Hermione stopped, looking a little annoyed. Neville looked on the verge of tears. And Harry was brushing non-existent dust off his dress, tracing the pretty patterns. It was the green one, it used to come down past his knees but now it was just above them. He was getting taller. Interesting.

 

Hermione said,

 

“Look, Neville, I'm sure your toad will turn up, but we've looked everywhere.”

 

The boy sniffed, conspicuously rubbed his eyes with the flats of his palms, and started to trudge back to the compartment. Harry followed, just as before, this time skipping lightly as he travelled back. They all sat back in their spots and Harry wondered if Hermione was going to start speaking again.

 

It was Neville who spoke first.

 

“Aren't you upset about your toad?”

 

It wasn't an accusation, he just sounded curious. Hermione looked to have forgotten that little titbit, and was looking at Harry as if he were a puzzle she couldn't figure out.

 

Harry said softly, choosing to look out the window again,

 

“Franklin is a free spirit. If he wants to go I will let him go. I'd hate to be the cause of someone's sadness.”

 

Neville looked thoughtful, whilst Hermione snorted and then said,

 

“Your toad is a pet, they're meant to be kept close to you to keep them safe.”

 

Harry shrugged. She was allowed her own opinion. She leaned back, looking smug, as if she had won some sort of argument, and Harry simply smiled at her. Neville eventually said, breaking the easy silence that had formed,

 

“Why are you wearing a dress? I don't know much about muggles, but from what Hermione said boys don't wear dresses.”

 

Harry asked,

“Am I a boy?”

 

Neville nodded.

 

“And is this a dress?”

 

He nodded again.

 

Harry finished,

 

“I suppose boys wear dresses then.”

 

Neville looked thoughtful again, it looked like a used expression, and Harry smiled at him. Hermione huffed from where she was sitting,

 

“Do you think you can just do what you want because you're famous? Everyone knows that boys don't wear dresses. Its just a fact.”

 

Harry shrugged. She could believe what she wanted, plenty of others had sneered down their noses at him for wearing pretty clothes. He wondered, faintly, if she was being serious. By her expression she was, but her logic didn't make much sense. Harry supposed it didn't matter.

 

Hermione huffed again, did she want something? Was she trying to start a fight? Prove something?

 

After a minute of silence, one that could easily be mistaken as uncomfortable, she stood up, pulled her trunk down, and left.

 

Once she was gone Harry turned to look over at Neville, who looked pensive. He had a kind sort of face. His eyes were the colours of dark chocolates, like the truffles that Ted sometimes brought home, and his face was a round sort of one. Some might call him ugly or fat, Harry thought he looked a bit guileless, sweet perhaps. But he sometimes found it difficult to see the flaws in people, because their better attributes shone more to him.

 

The rest of the trip passed in silence. Neither boy said anything. Harry changed into his school robes by pulling his black over robe over his dress. Rick had told him that there was no rule about the undergarments, only that during feasts and celebrations the uniform over-robe was required. He could wear whatever he wanted the rest of the time, at the moment it didn't really matter though.

 

 

Harry walked with the rest of the first years into the Great Hall. What made it 'great'? Size? History? He smiled when he felt a familiar tingle wash over him, not nearly as much as at the Hogwarts wards, but a nice one all the same. The magic felt heavy, like a thick snow blanket, but warm, like hot chocolate and hugs. It felt kind, like the love from a mothering bird, but defensive and sharp, like the bird's beak.

 

Harry felt eyes look at him, just briefly before they moved on. He'd heard his name called before, by a sharp looking blonde boy. He'd been about to answer when Professor McGonagall brought them into the hall. He'd met a black haired girl called Lily. She seemed nice. But in the end she'd said she didn't want to be friends with a boy, because he'd give her cooties.

 

Harry didn't ask what cooties were.

 

Names were called, many names, too many names to remember. He payed special attention when Hermione and Neville were sorted, both to Griffindor, as well as Lily Moon, to Slytherin. There weren't many people left, and as “Malfoy Draco” was called he wondered if perhaps he wouldn't be accepted.

 

“Potter Harry.”

 

Harry stepped up to the stool, aware of whispers emulating from almost all corners of the hall, even the teacher's table. A sallow hook nosed black haired man stared him down with beady black eyes and Harry smiled at him, making the man pause. A red-headed boy behind him looked at him with a squinted expression, and Draco Malfoy, the blonde boy from earlier, watched him with veiled weariness. Neville smiled at him. Hermione huffed and looked away.

 

Harry felt the hat placed on his head.

 

My, my, my, I haven't seen a head as calm as this in many years. How to sort you?

 

A smooth voice echoed through his head and Harry played with the fabric of his dress, curious and distracted.

 

Life is beautiful, that it is, that it is, young one. You have potential, that's certain, and the ability... Mmm... Parstletongue? Interesting. Love, certainly. No ambition at all. A fair amount of cunning. Courage... Or... But wisdom, buckets and buckets full. It is quite clear where you belong, and dear Rowena would never forgive me if a mind such as yours was sorted elsewhere.

 

“RAVENCLAW!”

 

Harry stepped off the stool, a bright smile on his face, and made his way over to the blue bannered table. There was silence. Then a roaring applause. He sat down next to a thin blonde boy who was almost a head taller than him. He held out a hand and Harry shook it.

 

“Hi, the name's Terry Boot. Never thought you'd end up here...”

 

Harry simply smiled, and listened to everyone's names in a dull urge to remember them. He was meant to try and make some friends, right?

 

 

Franklin returned to his bed that evening, never giving off the impression that he had ever left, and as Harry watched the moon in the sky outside he did nothing to dissuade him from that.

 

Chapter Text

 

Flight of the Ravens

 

Ravenclaw Tower was an intriguing place. In all of Harry's life he'd never truly been anywhere this high up. He'd been to museums, amusement parks and churches, but Hogwarts was a castle. A place hundreds of metres above the ground. And Ravenclaw Tower was one of the places with the best views.

 

It was high up.

 

A fact acknowledged by the windows that wouldn't open. Harry could gaze and gaze for as long as he wanted but the windows were sealed shut. He was fine with it, but it made him wonder in a slight fit of morbid curiosity if they'd had to seal them because someone had jumped.

 

It made sense.

 

There were twenty eight dorms over all. Fourteen dorms per gender. Two dorms per year. The higher up one went the older one was. And all the dorms were basically identical. There were large panelled windows on the walls, looking out across the lake and forest beyond. There were six beds, all single beds with lush blue curtains pulled around. There was a bathroom en suite, with only a shower, sink, and mirrors that talked. The tiles were white and blue, in different shades, and Harry couldn't help but count them.

 

There was a mechanism on the girl's and boy's stairs so that someone of the opposite gender, with vulgar intentions, could not step up them.

 

A common room was at the bottom of the stairs, a fire pit in the centre, with couches, chairs and tables situated around. It was well lighted and warm, but Harry suspected it could become cold in the summer months, to suit the weather.

 

There were paintings on the walls, of previous famous Ravenclaws, with an empty frame the size of a car labelled 'Rowena Ravenclaw'. The paintings talked and laughed, like real people, and made Harry wonder about immortality. Were they truly alive? Or was it only a twisted mimicry? He loved them either way, no matter their pompous acts or manipulative smiles. His first night there they went digging for information, but they were Ravenclaws so he wasn't really surprised.

 

There was a house library, on a bottom floor, with books on an array of different topics that surely would have intrigued Rick if he had been there. Harry had simply stared at them, in the early hours when he could not sleep any longer, and read over the titles with a sense of detachment.

 

The whole place was new and interesting. The winds, skies, people, were all different. All beautiful. The smiles, snorts and sneers that graced their lips were wonderful and befuddling. New and intriguing. And Harry couldn't help but watch them, like a spirit flying up above them, and smile at their actions.

 

Harry shared his dorm with three other boys. He'd forgotten all of their names as he hadn't truly been paying attention. Two had been excited to meet him, and asked many questions on what it was like to be the Boy Who Lived, and what things were truths and lies. The other snootily lifted his head and walked into the bathroom to have a shower, muttering about celebrity pandering under his breath.

 

Harry wasn't sure who he liked better.

 

 

Harry awoke early that morning, his lack of sleep mostly due to the snores of his dorm-mates. He didn't mind, remembering the days of the Dursleys when his uncle would sometimes leave the TV on, blaring at an unreasonable volume, just to keep him up at night. There had been days or nights when he had gotten no sleep at all, since he'd been made to finish chores all through the night.

 

It wasn't that bad.

 

He took a short shower, and quickly changed into a light yellow shirt with a pink smiley face and black pants. Harry slipped on his fancy wizarding shoes and took his book bag down to the common room, intent on reading through some of his books again. They had been interesting, and until he was sure that visiting the house library was allowed he would be stuck rereading what he had already read.

 

Not that he minded much.

 

He sat down on the floor, leaned up against one of the windows, and brought out his book on Herbology. A few other Ravenclaws were also awake, reading, and he saw a couple glance over at him. Harry smiled at them briefly before returning to his book, making a few vague notes on a parchment bound book.

 

Apparently wizards didn't use notebooks, and Rick had said it might be easier to fit in if he used the correct stationery. Harry couldn't help but humour him, even thought fitting in was not on his mind in any sense of the word.

 

 

After a few hours more and more of the house began to wake. His blonde haired room-mate that had acted snooty towards him last night took a seat on the chair next to Harry's patch of floor. He pursed his lips and said haughtily with a sense of hesitation,

 

“Good morning.”

 

Harry smiled back, waving slightly, before returning to his book.

 

Harry noticed the prefects gathering around the fire-pit in the middle. A burly looking black haired girl called the house to order,

 

“Now, I know the other houses normally explain house rules at the end of the first night, but we thought they might sink in more if they were done when everyone had had a proper night's sleep.”

 

There were a few murmurs of agreement and a few murmurs of 'be quiet' to those which had begun to talk, after a minute or so the whole house had settled down in silence. The prefect continued,

 

“So, for the new first years I would like to say welcome. Welcome. This is Ravenclaw, the house of knowledge and wisdom. Last night you were given a tour of the house, the dorms, common room and library. This morning we wanted to explain some rules.

 

“The first and most important rule is remembering that sleep, food and breaks are just as important as studying and good grades. There have been a few cases where stress or sleep deprivation have had detrimental impacts on the mind and magic, and there has even been deaths. So, look after yourselves.”

 

The shortest, blonde haired, prefect now started to speak, his voice much deeper than the girls,

 

“The second rule is more of an expectation. There will be no slacking in this house. No Troll or Dreadful scores, without good reasons. And there is an expectation to study or research at least once a week. Ravenclaw has a reputation to uphold, and it is important to keep that reputation.

 

“The third rule is to look out for one another. There can be rivalries, duels and debates, but we don't want to see house-mates sabotaging each other or endangering one another. Take care of each other, defend one another, and help each other if you can. Older years are expected to show the younger years around until they know the school, please remember this.

 

“Lastly, is about house rivalries and friendships. It is not against the rules to befriend someone from another house, but it is looked down upon. They are different from us, and its important to remember that. Hufflepuff and Slytherin are our main rivals, Hufflepuff because they think hard work can make up for intelligence, and Slytherin because they often have an ambition to be better than everyone else. Be warned, people are sorted into certain houses for a reason. Try to remember that.”

 

A boy with purple-dyed hair finished,

 

“Those are the house rules, but there are other things to remember. Keep your dorms clean, as our head of house sometimes likes to check in. Don't be afraid to ask questions, not everyone knows everything. Report bullying to the prefects or Flitwick, our Head of House. And, try to come to breakfast early, it sets a precedent for organisation and prestige.”

 

Harry couldn't help but wonder if he needed to follow the rules at all, wasn't it Joan who had told him that sometimes the rules didn't need to be followed? That he needed to think for himself?

 

He simply sighed and went back to his book.

 

 

Harry stood up from breakfast, wondering where Franklin had got to. Terry Boot walked beside him, chattering about how different the Wizarding World was from the Muggle World. Harry nodded every now and again, his self-proclaimed friend smiling a little wider as they travelled.

 

Breakfast had been like normal, not too much not too little. A few of his house-mates had gorged on the fatty cuisine, a few of the older year girls, and occasional boy, didn't eat much at all, if anything. He'd been getting funny looks all morning, a few people coming over to talk to him and feeling off-put when he simply smiled and answered calmly. Harry couldn't help but feel that they'd expected him to act differently.

 

Professor Flitwick, a short man with pointy ears like a goblin, had handed out time-tables, stopping by Harry for a longer moment than the others. He had commented that Harry had eyes like his mother, and perhaps her intelligence as well. Harry wondered if intelligence was hereditary, and if perhaps she knew the secret to life as well.

 

“...And they don't even have telephones! How do they contact one another?”

 

“Owl, obviously.”

 

The snooty boy commented as he passed them. Terry paused thoughtfully, turning to Harry,

 

“What do you think, Harry? Is it good or bad how behind the times they are?”

 

Harry shrugged, smiling indulgently,

 

“Are they behind?”

 

Terry blinked, looked at him curiously, before continuing,

 

“Well I think that they should at least have letter boxes...”

 

 

McGonagall tapped the chalk board loudly with her wand,

 

“There are four main types of Transfiguration. The first is changing an inanimate object into an inanimate object. The second is changing an animate object into an animate object. The third is changing an inanimate object into an animate object. The fourth is conjuration, a sub branch of Transfiguration. Can anyone tell me which is the most difficult to attempt?”

 

Hands shot in the air all around the class room, whilst Harry looked around curiously, smiling all the while. McGonagall pointed with her wandless hand at Hermione from the train.

 

“Yes, Ms Granger?”

 

“An inanimate to an animate, because not only does one have to change the shape, size and material of the object, but also the nature of the object.”

 

She piped up, looking smugly at the scowling Ravenclaws surrounding her. They had Transfiguration first, with the Griffindors.

 

“Good, five points to Griffindor.”

 

Hermione beamed. McGonagall continued,

 

“In Transfiguration there are three main spells based on the animate, inanimate and exchange of them, convergo, mutatio, and alium. Followed by a second part based on size, parvus, non omis, and magna. And then a sub branch of numerous add-ons. Today we will be attempting to change a match into a needle with the phrase convergo parvus foramen. Remember, it is possible to transfigure with the same base each time, for example using convergo for an animate to animate transfiguration, but it makes it more difficult and can sometimes backfire on the user.”

 

She tapped her wand on the board, the spell appearing before them, and asked,

 

“Can anyone tell me why we will be changing a match into a needle, instead of, say, a desk into a pig?”

 

A number of hands were raised once again, Harry hummed lightly to himself, taking notes calmly of the lesson. Terry, who sat next to him, nudged him and whispered,

 

“Why aren't you raising your hand?”

 

Harry shrugged,

 

“I don't need to recognition.”

 

“Quiet back there! Five points from Ravenclaw, Mr. Potter, pay attention.”

 

McGonagall said, and Harry smiled at her calmly whilst half the class glared at him. Terry looked at him apologetically and went back to note taking. She rolled her eyes and picked from the Griffindor side again.

 

“Ms. Patil?”

 

The girl nodded,

 

“Is it because its an inanimate to an inanimate?”

 

McGonagall smiled proudly,

 

“Close but not quite, two points to Griffindor. That does make it easier, good for starting with, but it is also because of the similar size and shape of the objects. This makes it easier to transfigure and needs less focus. Now, you have until the end of the lesson to attempt to change the match into a needle, the wand movement is a simple flick. Get to it.”

 

Harry gazed at the matchstick in front of him with something akin to fascination. Around the class people were attempting, and failing, to change their needle. Harry smiled to himself, picking up his wand which buzzed under his hand, and pointed it at the match. He whispered, flicking the wand slightly,

 

“convergo parvus foramen

 

His wand bucked under his hand slightly, the dark wood seemed appeased whilst the unicorn hair was revolting against the type of magic. Transfiguration must be dark then, Harry mused. After a moment the core and wood seemed to come to a temporary agreement, feeling Harry's calmness, and decided to funnel his magic out in the correct way.

 

A moment later a shiny needle was sitting in front of him.

 

Nobody noticed, and Harry placed his wand back into his pant pocket, wondering what to do now. He pulled out his drawing book and sketched it, ignoring the shouts around the room.

 

“Miss, I did it!”

 

Said Hermione shrilly, half an hour later, her hand flying about in the air like mad. McGonagall walked over,

 

“Ten points to Griffindor for being the first to change it.”

 

Harry simply continued drawing, ignoring the looks he got from the other Ravenclaws.

 

 

Charms was next, and Harry almost skipped on the way there. The snooty boy simply turned up his nose at Harry's enthusiasm, making him smile wider. Terry walked beside him, having a slight trouble keeping up.

 

“What are you so happy about, Harry?”

 

Harry turned to him, grinning like mad,

“Its such a beautiful day today!”

 

He called, glancing every now and again at the beams of sun below his feet. Terry panted slightly, walking very quickly to keep up,

 

“Well, yeah, I suppose... But would you stop doing that? You look a little weird. And why aren't you wearing school robes anyway, you're not meant to dress like a muggle here.”

 

Harry simply continued smiling,


“Rule 81 of the Hogwarts Rule Book is that students only need to wear school robes on feast days and special occasions. The rest of the year we're allowed to wear whatever we want.”

 

Terry sighed exasperated,


“But, no one else is wearing whatever they want. Don't you want to fit in?”

 

Harry shrugged,

 

“Fitting in is for puzzle pieces.”

 

Terry simply shook his head and started walking with someone else.

 

 

Harry reached into his book bag only to brush across something slimy. His eyes widened minutely and he pulled Franklin out of his bag, who was 'ribit'ing happily. Harry winked at his pet and placed him on the table.

 

He was currently alone in the library, the rest of the Ravenclaws deciding he was too weird to hang out with them. Harry hadn't really minded, having the same treatment at his old school before they learnt the Dursleys were lying, and simply continued on with life like normal.

 

It had been three days since his arrival at Hogwarts, and already he was finding interesting things in almost every corner.

 

After Terry had decided he was too strange to walk and sit with, Anthony Goldstein, snobby kid, had attempted to be his friend. Attempted being the most important word. Harry's ideas were too radical (not caring about other's opinions) and for a pure-blood used to people looking up to him it was too different to handle. After two boys had given up on him the other Ravenclaws in his year didn't really know what to do. He was the Boy Who Lived, apparently, and that was interesting, but they were starting to believe they couldn't trust the books written about him.

 

They mostly seemed to avoid him now, which was completely fine with Harry, since he appreciated solitude just as much as company.

 

The only one who really talked to him was Neville, since Harry sat with him for Herbology, and Neville said Harry was his friend. Sometimes, when Neville wasn't hanging out with the other Griffindors, he would look for Harry in the library. Harry thought that might become a problem soon since he was starting to find better places to sit, such as on the Quidditch Pitch or at the Astronomy Tower, and he wasn't one to deny himself without a good reason.

 

Hermione was offended that he was in Ravenclaw, and was still annoyed because of what he said on the train.

 

Harry couldn't seem to remember what he said as it didn't seem important.

 

There was also a red-headed Griffindor boy, suspect of being a Weasley, who had a sort of hesitant determination to talk to him. Sadly, said Griffindor boy, didn't seem to know where the library was, and thus couldn't find Harry even if he wanted to. Harry was intrigued by this, but not enough to stop reading.

 

One of the perks of being a Ravenclaw was when you were seen in the library no one instantly accused you of destroying books, like what happened at his old library after Dudley framed him for some of his library related crimes.

 

The teachers had different reactions to him. McGonagall seemed disappointed for some reason, a reason Harry couldn't even begin to guess. Quirrel tried his best to ignore him. Dumbledore looked at him with kindness, something Harry couldn't ultimately believe since he had cast all sorts of blocks on him. And Snape, the potions professor, looked at him with confusion.

 

After getting a general view of the school populous Harry decided it was silly to try and understand people's thoughts and would make much more sense to simply read more.

 

Based on the slight tilt of Franklin's torso, Harry thought his toad agreed with him.

 

 

“Harry Potter, our new celebrity.”

 

Snape sneered, marking off the roll. Harry was in potions, his very first potions class, and he felt excited, like with all his classes. He wondered, absently, if Snape would have spat his name like an insult if he had changed it to Murphy like he had the option to in the past. It didn't truly matter now, Harry thought, used to people sneering at him, and he continued on drawing in his brand new note book.

 

His teacher's beady black eyes surveyed the class room with barely hidden contempt. They had class with the Hufflepuffs and Harry had to question whether the professor had something against their houses or children in general. Snape walked out from behind his desk, finished with the roll, and strode out to the front of the room, robes billowing like smoke behind him. Had he used a spell to make them do that? He started to monologue dramatically,

 

“There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don’t expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few… Who possess, the predisposition… I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death. Then again, maybe some of you have come to Hogwarts in possession of abilities so formidable that you feel confident enough to not pay attention! Mister Potter.”

 

Harry looked up from his drawing of Franklin, the second one that day, and smiled amiably at his professor. He could feel eyes shining on him like torch beams from all sides, the Ravenclaws wary and the Hufflepuffs not knowing what to make of him, since he smiled at all of them. He said softly, with a glowing smile on his face,

 

“Yes, sir?”

 

Snape paused for a second when he looked him right in the eye, whatever that was about, and barked,

 

“Since you seem to think you know all the answers already, answer me this, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

 

Harry paused for a moment, seeing a few other Ravenclaws stop themselves from raising their hands and risking Snape's ire, thinking over the book he had read in the last couple days before saying,

 

“Would it be Draught of the Living Death, sir?”

 

Snape sneered, his face scrunched up in dislike, and Harry smiled at him placatingly, just like how he used to smile at Aunt Petunia. He snarled,

 

“Was that a question or an answer, Potter?”

 

Harry remarked,

 

“Either, Sir.”

 

The professor let out a heavy breath, looking like he was stopping himself from rolling his eyes, and sighed, annoyed,

 

“Ten points from Ravenclaw for your cheek.”

 

Harry nodded, smile still on his face, and paused, wondering if there would be anymore questions he asked.

 

Snape continued with the lesson, as if he was simply too tired to deal with Harry.

 

“Now, today we will be partaking on the journey of preparing a Boil Cure. I know, very intriguing, and I would hope, for your safety and my sanity, that you do not see fit to disrupt the class in future. Pay attention, as this is one of the most dangerous and complicated branches of magic there is. Yesterday, during the Griffindor/Slytherin class there was an accident because some students did not follow the recipe given. Follow the recipe. Begin.”

 

Harry, for one, thought the explanation was lacking, and by Franklin's reproachful croak and toady glare, he was in agreement. But, there was no need to argue, so he simply walked over to the supplies cabinet and brought out the ingredients needed.

 

He was working on his own, since no one wanted to sit with him.

 

 

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he looked over the teachers surrounding him. It was the monthly staff meeting, a time to talk about the students, complaints and general thoughts of the houses. Minerva sat to his right, acting like a perfect deputy. He liked to think he could manipulate someone into acting like a follower, but truly if one did not have the right personality then it was not possible. And Minerva certainly was a follower.

 

He was interested to see how the students were going, truly he was, but most importantly he wondered about Harry Potter. Dumbledore had affected his life to such a degree, placing him with his relatives, blocking off his magic, that he wondered how the boy would turn out. He certainly would never have suspected a Ravenclaw, but, with a week of looking through the muggle school records he could see that he truly was somewhat of a child prodigy.

 

He had observed the boy, noticing how the rest of his house seemed to ostracise him, and knew he had to fix that sooner rather than later. One could not have a hero that didn't care for people, and if Harry had no friends then he certainly wouldn't care to the right amount. Luckily, Ron Weasley seemed intent on befriending the boy, which would certainly help.

 

Dumbledore listened with half an ear as the staff went around, talking about their houses. Like every year there were teachers with concerns, a few abused Slytherins and Hufflepuffs, a few trouble makes, the Weasley twins up to their usual pranks, and the questions they always asked him. Well, mostly what Severus asked him. Why do you insist on placing Griffindors and Slytherins in the same classes?

 

And he would smile his grandfatherly kind smile until he backed off. House rivalries were important, especially for the future, it could be dangerous to have alliances between the Light and Dark. Giving too much power to singular individuals who didn't know how to handle it. Dumbledore didn't get his titles by letting people do whatever they wanted.

 

“Well, yes I do wonder why she wasn't in my house if she acts like you say she does. Perhaps it is more about wisdom than intelligence. Best not to question the sorting hat, it usually knows best in these circumstances.”

 

Ah. What he was waiting for. Flitwick's turn.

 

“There are eleven first years in my house this year, a little less than last year, and all of them seem to be quite well balanced individuals. I do have a few worries, Padma Patil seems to be missing her twin, easily rectified but still something to watch out for. The second year boys are having many fights with the second year Hufflepuffs, I simply cannot comprehend why.”

 

Pomona shrugged,

 

“Boys will be boys, but we must make sure this does not hurt them. Young children such as these need nurturing, and it is important we do so.”

 

The other teachers nodded slightly.

 

Filius continued on, talking about Ravenclaw. And Dumbledore found it hard to pay attention, since he usually just reviewed the memories later in his pensive anyway, until the name he'd wanted to hear about popped up,

 

“And Harry Potter, well. He is definitely one to look out for. Have any of you noticed his practicals, as well as his answers? He's learnt most of the first year charms up to Christmas, and its only been a week. I simply think the boy is shy, he doesn't answer questions unless asked directly, and there have been some instances where I've caught him staring out into space. It makes me worry.”

 

A few of the other teachers looked surprised, especially Minerva,

 

“I've not noticed anything extraordinary about him, but I also haven't been so focused on him. More on that Granger girl, than any of your Ravens.”

 

Pomona said,


“Well, I've certainly seen his efficiency with plants.”

 

And the teachers continued on, listing a few things they'd noticed about the boy, before they moved on, along with Dumbledore's attention.

 

And there was a question left in his mind, what was the power he knew not? Could it have something to do with the boy's natural abilities of magic, even with so many blocks on his skills?

 

Chapter Text

 

Continued isolation and care-free attitudes

 

“Did you... Is that... Can I see?”

 

Ron Weasley had finally managed to bungle up enough courage to confront Harry. For some reason. Harry thought he was a strange boy, so interested in seeing him. He understood that he was famous, apparently, but he hadn't done anything too interesting in his life. Was Ron a researcher interested in his deflect of an in-deflectable curse?

 

He shrugged away these thoughts and sent the wiry red-head an easy smile.

 

It had been almost two weeks since he began Hogwarts. The Ravenclaws were avoiding him, and sending him looks in the hall. In the first week a few others had tried to talk to him, but they found his constant smiles unsettling, as well as his unprejudiced answers. They simply couldn't understand how he didn't hate Hufflepuffs.

 

The teachers gave him looks as well, and asked him more questions in class than they used to. Harry would answer absently, more focused on the drawings he would try to create and the growing buzzing he could sense in his finger tips. It was as if his magic was growing bigger, and it made him feel more complete inside, and more free.

 

Even though he hadn't felt caged since his revelation in the cupboard all those years ago.

 

Professor Snape and Professor Flitwick had an almost unhealthy interest in him. Professor Snape seemed to glare and insult him every time his eye caught on Harry, mostly followed by a point loss. Harry's smiles didn't help in the slightest, and on a few occasions his professor had ducked him points for smiling threateningly.

 

This was met by following glares from his dorm-mates, who assumed Harry had somehow angered the professor. They seemed to be in the mindset that professors and teachers in general could do no wrong. Harry inexplicably thought about his old primary school teachers that used to sneer at him, before letting the thought drift off into the vacuums of nothingness.

 

He dealt with Snape like he dealt with everyone, in an in-discriminant manner. He would smile happily, answer politely, and always address him as sir, like he did with all adults. Except Mel and his parents.

 

Professor Flitwick saw him as some sort of child prodigy, and watched him intensely in all lessons, as if trying to work out a puzzle. Harry didn't let him know that he felt his eyes on him, happy to let the professor think he was ignorant, and continued on with life like he normally did.

 

Currently he was in the library, with Neville, reading through a book on Quidditch, since their first lesson was tomorrow. Neville was nervous, flicking through his potions book, as he bemoaned his fate as Professor Snape's go-to-guy for blame. Harry happily listened, trying vaguely to calm down the only one who talked to him, before continuing to read. Most people found his silence and general ambivalence unsettling, Neville didn't care and said he liked Harry anyway.

 

They'd, apparently, bonded ever since Neville had heard they both had toads.

 

Harry felt a sense of detached fondness that hung outside his heart like fragile glass. He theorised that he would need to wait a while for trust to truly set, like sediments in a river.

 

“What?”

 

He said to the flustered boy who had taken a seat in front of him.

 

Ron nervously tugged at his uniform,

 

“Your scar!”

 

Harry smiled, before brushing away the bangs that covered his peculiar lightning bolt. As he did so he felt a buzz of magic come from it, and pushed the feeling away as curse residue.

 

After that, Ron had apparently been initiated into their 'group', to Neville's discomfort. The Herbologist sent Ron uncomfortable looks every now and again, making Harry wonder what might have happened. He was also shier, and seemed to stutter more than before.

 

Ron was one of seven children. He had five brothers and one sister, and he was terribly jealous of anything that so much as moved. Harry noticed he always referred to him as 'pampered' and 'rich', making him wonder whether life at the Dursleys was better than Ron's life. He then dismissed the thought, as he reminded himself that comparing one's pains did no one any good, and different people had different tolerances.

 

 

“Bu- But Harry! What if I fall?”

Harry smiled Neville a fond smile, placing his drawing book down to work through the newest string of nerves his 'friend' was feeling. Honestly, Neville was really the only person who talked to him, excluding Ron who mostly talked at him, and he treated calming him as a type of hobby. He reached over the library table to pat his hand, making the other boy blush from embarrassment, and said soothingly,

 

“And?”

 

Neville's eyes widened in that adorable fashion that they were want to do. Harry heard Trevor croak from somewhere in the background, probably trying, and failing, to follow Franklin on his newest escapade, and smiled to himself. He spluttered, his face slightly red,

 

“I could fall!”

 

Harry sighed,

 

“Yes? And? You fall. Okay. Maybe hurt yourself. Madame Pomphrey will heal you very quickly. A few people laugh, big deal, they'd laugh anyway. So?”

 

Neville blinked, then laughed ruefully, sighing to Harry,

 

“I don't understand how that made me feel better, but it did.”

There was a moment between them, a beautiful moment, where they just stared at one another. Then Harry smiled dismissively, taking his hand off of Neville's, and went back to his drawing. Neville blushed again, why?, and picked up the potions book he was reading from the table. For someone who studied potions so much one would think Professor Snape would hate him less. But no, it seemed he had a similar grudge to the one he had of Harry.

 

A few minutes later, interrupting their peaceful silence, Ron crashed into the library, looking like he'd run there. He collapsed down in the nearest chair, his eyes wide with excitement, and exclaimed,

 

“Flying lessons! We have flying lessons tomorrow!”

 

Harry nodded, focussing on the shading of the animal paw, and Neville answered for him,

 

“We found out this morning when we read the time-table.”

 

Ron sighed dejectedly, sensing the atmosphere, and said quietly,


“It must suck to be in Ravenclaw, I mean, you have to read all the time, and you have flying lessons with the Hufflepuffs.”

 

Harry shrugged, smiling, and Neville countered sadly,

 

“But we have to fly with the Slytherins.”

 

Ron groaned.

 

 

Flying lessons didn't turn out to be that bad at all. For Harry. Neville fell down, like he predicted, and had his remembrall stolen, only for Ron to 'defend his honour'. Really he was fighting with a blonde Slytherin, since they had a blood feud (Harry looked it up), who he'd noticed was looking at him in a similar fashion to the way Ron used to. At least before Ron took the mantle of Harry's 'best friend'.

 

Apparently he'd become his best friend without him even knowing, personally Harry thought Neville was better best friend material but saw no reason to break Ron's delusion.

 

Whilst Neville crashed and burned, half-literally, Harry soared like he was born for it. The other Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs, looked at him with barely concealed jealousy, and hatred in some instances, but Harry ignored them. The wind in his hair, and cold air in his lungs, along with the death-defying leaps made him feel more alive than ever. Flying had moved up on his list of favourite things to do just behind drawing, and just above magic tasting (when he felt the magic around him, making something warm hum in his chest, and scar).

 

After his lessons Harry made his way down to the Hospital Wing to visit Neville, since he didn't have much else to do, and brought his remembrall. Ron had left it on the ground, forgetting about Neville, in favour of a shouting match with the blonde Slytherin (Harry wondered if he had a crush or something), even though it was why he started fighting in the first place. Apparently.

 

Harry sat at the bedside of the unconscious Neville, watching him shift slightly in his sleep and murmur things like 'why a toad?' and 'I hate pumpkin juice'.

 

He gazed around the place, noticing the slightly soothed expression of a grimace on the healer's face, and struck up a conversation.

 

“How long have you been a healer?”

 

The woman looked surprised for a moment, before smiling, like Harry would expect since most people did like to be the centre of someone's focus. She answered,

 

“Almost twenty five years. I didn't always work at Hogwarts, I was an emergency nurse at St. Mungos for a few years, but then the headmaster offered me a job, and, well, I'd be stupid to refuse. He told me he hired me because of my choice in music, but I think it was something else, though I'm not sure what. Albus is a crafty man, but I believe he has the good of the community at heart, and I suppose you wouldn't want a stupid man in charge of a school.”

 

Harry smiled at her, making the woman melt, and said,

 

“What made you want to be a healer?”

 

Madame Pomphrey guessed it was going to be a long conversation and took a seat, not far from Neville's bedside, organising potions,

 

“I'd always cared, you know. Some kids like to think they're the centre of the world, and everything they know is right. And I suppose I was a bit like that myself at fourteen. I thought, and I've changed a bit now, that squibs ought to be put down at birth, for their own good, and that muggle-borns needed to be treated just like everyone else. I know better now, that people are just people, muggle, wizard, squib, and we all need to be treated the same. But, I basically got into medicine to promote my own political agenda, I was a bit of a cunning Ravenclaw in school.”


Harry nodded, thinking that perhaps people could over come their prejudice after all. He smiled proudly at the healer, thinking that even if she might be a bit stern she had a good heart.

 

“Squibs?”

 

The unfamiliar terminology felt a little insulting on his tongue, and he felt his own magic roil uncomfortably. Maybe he'd heard it somewhere else before.

 

She chuckled uneasily, the wrinkles near her eyes tightening minutely,


“Oh, I often forget you're muggle-raised. Normally they go have a check up with me the moment they get in the school, some people can be a bit iffy about magic you see, but I suppose Albus has your living arrangements all sorted.”

 

Madame Pomphrey looked slightly thoughtful at the end, before snapping herself out of it and answering,

 

“Squibs are people born from wizards and witches without magic or with a low amount of magic. Argus Filch, the caretaker here, is a squib. Really Albus felt sorry for the boy and kept him on, why else would he clean when the house elves are perfectly capable?”

 

Harry blinked, wondering why he'd never heard of this caretaker, before dismissing the thought. Not many people talked to him, he sometimes forgot because he was so used to being alone.

 

After a few minutes of silence, her staring at him, Harry staring out the window, she got up and continued with her business. Harry leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and began to hum lightly to himself. It was a tune he always hummed, even though he had no real reason as to why.

 

It was a mystery, one he felt wasn't too important to solve.

 

Neville awoke half an hour later, complaining about something called Skele-grow and fractured bones, before staring at Harry in shock. Apparently he hadn't expected him to visit. Harry simply smiled like he usually did and handed him the remembrall, and said Ron had forgotten to give it to him.

 

They spent a few hours talking about nothing, both smiling for different reasons.

 

 

Harry wasn't quite sure, but he had a feeling that there was something off about Professor Quirrel. It wasn't because of the constant smell of garlic, or the burning headaches, or even the uneven stuttering, there was something in his magic which simply confused him.

 

Harry had taken to feeling the magic around him as often as possible, a new power he developed ever since his magic started to grow. This had the side effect of causing him to hum That Song (as he called it), the one he couldn't place but the one that made his heart sing, but it was ultimately worth it. Every time he reached out with the calming waves of his own energy to feel around him, he would often come to a warmth from others that made him smile.

 

No matter the mood, personality, appearance, age or gender, the feeling around others always seemed positive in the magic regard. They were swirling with this energy, more or less, and it filled up their entire being with life and love. It was a gift, a beautiful gift, that they all seemed to take for granted. Sometimes, even, if Harry squinted he could swear that they seemed to shimmer or glitter with the magical light. There was simply something about the energy that permeated from the very walls that made happiness fill his entire being.

 

From what Harry could tell there were three main types of magic. The first was a seductive one that made his stomach do flips. Many Slytherins, a few teachers, and even a few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs possessed this innate magic. It was emotional, fed mostly off of anger and pain, but was also beautiful and rolled like waves, crashed over him when he went near, and tried to entrap him in its deadly vines.

 

The second was a shinier one. It was less hurt and primal than the other. It didn't need to seduce its prey. Instead it shone with less impactful emotions, barely any, and relied more on intelligence and facts. It held onto certain things, like sacrifice and love, but mainly it let emotions slither around it, sourced to the other magic. It didn't hate the other magic, if it was even capable of hate, but it didn't like it either. The shiny magic accepted it existed, but tried to avoid the other, even going so far as to steer the bodies that possessed the magic away from the seductress one.

 

The third was Harry's favourite, and less common than the other two. It was a calm neutral type. It flew above the other two, not understanding their avoidance, and tried to bring people together in an indirect and non-invasive sort of way. It didn't rely on emotions, or ideals, but a clear head. Harry felt this magic around him, coming from the centre of his chest, and curling around protectively. It didn't blare out like the others, trying to mesh with other magic, but also didn't fly out like a vine and try to entrap. It just was. It just hung around him, hugging like a protective mother, and said to him 'you do what you want'. It was impassive unless something else was needed. And it accepted Harry like Harry accepted it, being the main reason spells came so easily.

 

Everyone seemed to fit with one of these types of magic, on a scale of some sort.

 

There was, of course, a few exceptions.

 

The first of which being Argus Filch, the caretaker, who felt empty when Harry finally found him. He felt like there was something buried inside him, deep inside him, which was under a mess of chains and rotting flesh. He had magic, not much, but some, and it was constantly defensive and angry. It reared back whenever anyone, except his cat, approached him. He did have magic, and might not be a squib as so many people thought, but his magic was too busy trying to help him to be useful in anything else.

 

Harry still hummed when he felt it, the protectiveness, although bitter and angry, was also fiercely loving and put off a certain buzz.

 

The second was Professor Snape. Professor Snape was a bitter, rude, terrible teacher, even Harry could see that, and he took out his frustrations on those he taught. His magic, however, didn't reflect that in the slightest. It tried to be calm waves, but ended up like a beautiful dark kiss. It curled around the professor, embracing him carefully, but stayed just outside his eye sight, just so much that he would never know it was there. But, there was also another type of magic entwined with his. A deep velvety voice that rumbled impossible promises in his ears, and entrapped him slowly, as if it were trying to cut off his circulation and numb him from the feeling.

 

Harry felt, deep down, that one person was only meant to have one type of magic. It was wrong to have more.

 

The third was Albus Dumbledore. His magic, at first feel, felt like the shiny magic, rolling around in merry glee. But, it was an illusion, just a paper thin layer of glitter, that hid the mess of black vipers underneath his skin, that longed for bloodshed and control. Ruthless. Without mercy. And praying for a kill. His magic made Harry tingle uneasily, and try to glance the other way when it shot at him like an ice spike. Even if Harry kept on smiling.

 

The last was Professor Quirrel. His magic was like Snape's, seductive, protective, but there was also another magic. More tightly entwined. Almost choking him with its grip. As if it wanted him to suffer.

 

Quite different to the normal protective nature.

 

All those who had different magic, so far, had terrible personalities. Filch was pure mad for revenge against magic-users, hoping to torture the school populous. Professor Snape wanted the same type of fate on those he disliked, including students and other small children. Dumbledore was wrapped in deceit and lies, hoping to manipulate his next victim to do his bidding.

 

Why would Quirrel be any different?

 

But, Harry didn't let it phase him. He knew that the men were bad, would probably wish him harm, but it wasn't any different to how his life used to be like. They weren't worth his fear or rage, if he had any left to give, so he didn't. He smiled. Nodded. And pretended that he didn't see the evil that lurked under their skin.

 

There were clouds to watch, why would he want to mention it?

 

 

“Harry, my boy, please take a seat.”

 

Harry stepped into the headmaster's office, looking around in something akin to fascination and reassurance. He'd expected a place like this. A place filled with trinkets, odds and ends, books and sweets. All things to trick the mind into security. The problem that the man probably hadn't anticipated was that Harry was already secure, anywhere and everywhere, and there probably wasn't much he could do to dislodge that security.

 

He didn't follow the request straight away, disregarding it as if it wasn't a veiled order, and instead wandered over to where a fiery red bird was sitting. They looked at one another curiously, both feeling out their magic, and met in the middle with a surprised squawk and amused hum. Harry tilted his head, singing lowly, only for the bird to start to sing the exact same song. The air filled with happiness and after a moment or so they nodded to each other, in acceptance.

 

Harry turned to look at the headmaster, who was giving him an inscrutable look under his half-moon glasses. He also had a look of frustration or impatience, perhaps he thought Harry taking a look around was a power play or something. He sighed, ignoring the man's icky magic feeling him out, carefully touching his own (which was still growing). Harry politely asked his magic to behave, to leave the icky magic alone, before he sat down across the desk.

 

Harry smiled, a smile which Dumbledore returned, and reached over to take a lemon drop when one was offered. Why not? He doubted they were poisoned since Dumbledore had just had one, and he didn't feel any different than before.

 

The sweets were placed down and the headmaster gently placed his hands on the desk.

 

Harry was curious as to why he was called up here. Students weren't normally sent up, to his knowledge, and he wondered amusedly if this could be one of his manipulations. He almost felt sad for Dumbledore, since his plan would probably fail, before realising he didn't care in the slightest.

 

They both waited for a while, evident that they wanted the other to speak first, and Harry simply smiled.

 

After his thirtieth glance around the room in half as many minutes Dumbledore gave in.

 

Harry acted like they hadn't just been sitting there in silence for fifteen minutes, for absolutely no reason.

 

“So, how've you been settling in to Hogwarts so far?”

 

Harry smiled,

 

“Fine.”

 

Dumbledore blinked, probably wanting another answer, and Harry lifted his hand up to study the back of it. To think that every hand was different. Hmm.

 

“Have you made any friends?”

 

Harry shrugged,

 

“Have you?”

 

Dumbledore blinked again, before taking it as a joke and laughed it off. The undercurrent of unease was easy to see.

 

Harry turned to look at the peculiar bird again, and hummed That Song to it. The bird hummed its own, and Harry felt their magic roll over one another, dancing together, like the winds and waves at the beach. Dumbledore noticed Harry's attention was on his bird and said,

 

“Oh, that is my phoenix familiar, Fawkes. He is quite partial to toast.”

 

Harry nodded absently and they continued to sit.

 

After a few more attempts at small talk Harry was sent on his way, not really understanding why he was there in the first place.

 

When he was gone Dumbledore cursed to himself, glaring at Fawkes when he had the gall to hoot in amusement.

 

 

“You never talk about your life before Hogwarts.”

 

It was a statement.

 

He and Neville were hanging out in the library, as they usually did, after finishing off their homework for class. It was the day before Halloween, (“Also called All Hallows Eve” Neville told him) and the library was practically empty as people flitted around, excited for the holiday. Harry felt a small pang, that faded quickly, when he realised that this was the anniversary of his parents death. He then realised that he had new parents, and that without death then life would have no meaning to it.

 

Harry was currently ignoring the looks from Hermione Granger, the girl he met on the train, whilst Neville remained oblivious. She had been looking at him more and more, and Harry realised she probably felt some sort of kinship with him since they both liked books and were both being isolated. Harry didn't really mind if she watched him, and he'd speak to her if she spoke to him, but he wasn't bothered enough to try and speak to her.

 

 

Realising Neville had said something Harry nodded, wondering why he was asking.

 

Neville looked at him curiously, trying to take his attention off the book he was reading, one about magical theory.

 

“I heard you lived with muggles. My gran doesn't mind them, she's Light after all, and fully supports the muggle-born and half-blood rights movement. But, she is a little uncertain about muggles. My uncle says their pests, only when gran isn't around, but he also pushed me out a window so his opinion can't really be trusted.”

 

Harry flitted a glance over at Hermione, who had gone back to her reading, and didn't doubt she was listening in. Did he care?

 

He turned back to Neville, sighing, and said,

 

“Well. I did. But I don't live with the same ones. I got adopted by the Murphys, and now have a mother and father again. Its interesting. And I do care about them.”

 

Neville was used to Harry's odd was of thinking, and his even odder philosophy, but was surprised that he was interested and truly cared for someone. He had a hope in his heart that Harry would care about him like that someday, that he'd have a true friend.

 

“What about before that?”

 

Neville was slightly reluctant to ask, only because he didn't want to pressure his friend to talk about something he didn't want to. He wouldn't want to talk about his parents, and they didn't even die. He wasn't sure if Harry was bothered by his out-of-school life.

 

Luckily, Harry wasn't.

 

“My old relatives are in prison now. They got arrested because they kept me in a cupboard, made me do all their chores, and rarely fed me.”

 

Neville stared.

 

Harry hummed and went back to reading, only to be assaulted by a hug not a minute later. It knocked him off balance, and he and Neville went tumbling to the floor in each others arms. Neville blushed, looked away slightly, and Harry simply hummed the song that made his heart soar, looking over at his friend with fondness.


A real friend.

 

That was how Ron found them two minutes later. The red-head simply rolled his eyes and started to complain about 'the greasy dungeon git' for a few minutes, whilst Neville scampered to sit back up.

 

Harry thought he liked cuddles.

 

 

Halloween passed relatively peacefully. There was a small bit where a troll got let in, and the school panicked for a while. They'd thought Harry was injured or dead or something, when he was actually out by the edge of the Forbidden Forest, playing fetch with Franklin. Franklin was a toad so it didn't work at all, and he ended up hopping off to find a fly to eat.

 

Harry cloud-watched for a while, thinking that even if he moved to America the sky would still be the same.

 

While they went out to look for the famous Boy Who Lived, Neville had spotted him missing, they stumbled across Hermione Granger in the girl's lavatory. Apparently Ron had insulted her in Charms, meaning she missed the feast. She could have died if it weren't for the quick thinking of Hufflepuff prefects and Professor Sprout, who were first on the scene.

 

The Ravenclaws simply sneered as the Hufflepuffs gloated over house points, Harry sitting by the window and looking out across the grounds.

 

It had been a nice few months, he thought to himself, whilst he stroked Franklin's rough skin, the toad 'ribit'ing happily.

 

Chapter Text

 

Her eyes, his face, Harry's thoughts.

 

Magic thrummed under his fingers, filling him up with something larger than life, and Harry hummed That Song. He seemed to be humming, or even singing, it more and more as time went on. As his magic grew. As it grew almost too much.

 

Slightly painful even.

 

Harry wasn't a very curious person, or even one that felt interested in general things. He was perfectly happy to live in a bubble that consisted of his dorm, his classes and the occasional look out the window. But, he also wasn't the type of person which preferred to sit and do nothing, even if he didn't mind it.

 

Harry had a disregard for rules, a love for life, and a castle to explore.

 

Something about magic made a curiosity burn in his chest that he hadn't felt for a long time, and Harry couldn't help but chase the feeling.

 

So, in between classes, 'Neville Time' (as he'd called it), pandering to Ron, feasts, sleep, and ignoring hateful glares, he would walk around, seemingly lost, for something interesting to catch his eye. Harry talked to paintings, gargoyles (who didn't seem to like him), ghosts and even Lady Hogwarts, although she never answered back. Harry had just the slightest feeling that she was truly listening, and decided to follow it, as instincts rarely steered him wrong before.

 

It was the December holidays, and almost everyone had returned home for Christmas. The Murphys, in their latest letter, had left the decision up to him. They worried for him, wondered after him, and missed him, but they ultimately left it up to him. Apparently they didn't want to force him to do something that he didn't want to do. Harry wasn't too bothered, and even if his heart did ache slightly for them, he knew he could live without.

 

There was just... something in the castle which called at him to stay. So he did. As he was not one to dismiss feelings to do with the magic he so highly trusted.

 

Christmas had been just three days ago. Not his first Christmas, nor as interesting as his first at the Murphys, but still filled with more presents then normal. He got a maroon coloured jumper from Ron's mother, for a reason he still didn't understand. She seemed to be under the impression that he'd never gotten a home-made jumper before, even when Joan attempted to make him one last year, attempted and failed. Although, it didn't stop him wearing it, no matter the looks he got.

 

Neville gave him a pair of socks, much less than anyone else, but Harry understood the meaning behind them. Neville accepted, and understood, that Harry simply didn't want things like everyone else. A fact which made him smile a little brighter.


Ron got him Quidditch through the Ages, even when Harry had spoke of no interest in the game. His delusion seemed to have progressed to the point where he believed that Harry was a Quidditch fanatic, and his best friend. Rick and Joan got him a magical miniature piano. Apparently they had found it in Diagon Alley, and if he said the word enlarge then it would turn fully sized. His mother got him a toad jacket, a small coat for Franklin she had sewn. And his father got him a book, one called Ten or more magical creatures.

 

In their letter correspondence, often reserved to Harry's ramblings, he'd stated an increased interest in books. Along with what being a Ravenclaw meant. He assumed his father wanted him to have a book to read, that wasn't strictly approved by the Ministry of Magic. Apparently, Rick had been investigating wizarding laws, and was in the firm belief that it was corrupt.

 

The last present was gifted to him anonymously. It was an invisibility cloak, which he left at the bottom of his trunk.

 

Harry had no real fear of getting caught, so he sought no need to hide himself.

 

 

Harry followed the whispy magic in front of him. It was as if it were calling to him, telling him to walk. He knew he could fight it. He could scream and shout. He could tell the magic he refused to follow its call. Harry could throw the first tantrum in years at this daunting, dangerous, piece of magic.

 

But he didn't.

 

He simply smiled and followed the wisp, that tried to drag onto his own magic.

 

Harry breathed in deeply as he walked through the abandoned halls, watching as shadows flickered in the clouded moonlight. He could almost taste the bitter sweetness of it, the vipers, and he knew almost instantly that this sadistic magic belonged to his headmaster. He hummed lightly to himself, interested in his new ability to smell magic. Taste magic.

 

He'd always felt it before.

 

But he brushed this away, smiling at the thought of adventure, and followed along.

 

Harry wasn't one to say no to adventure, if it came calling to him, since life could be just as fun doing things than not doing things. Still, it was yet to be known whether he liked watching the sky more.

 

He heard his dainty shoes clack on the marbled floor.

 

Clip.

 

Clip.

 

Clip.

 

Harry wondered if anyone was still awake, bar Dumbledore, who could hear him. He wondered if anyone would stand up, yawn, drag themselves out of dreams or nightmares, and stop him. He wondered if they would give him silly points or detentions. He wondered if their mouths would open in shock as he disobeyed their silly rules.

 

And such silly, silly, rules.

 

Harry liked to think that he could bend those silly rules. That he could simply skip with the fairies and sing to the mellow hum of the magic that so completed him.

 

Sometimes he wondered if he would miss the comforting presence of magic if it went away. If he would still be happy.

 

Before realising that such thoughts would only breed doubt and sadness.

 

Clip.

 

Clip.

 

Clack.

 

He stopped. Just outside what seemed like an ordinary room. Harry called softly out to Hogwarts, not caring if she heard him,

 

“And I hope you have a nice night, my lady.”

 

Some would say talking to thin air was mad. Harry would say that one could not be sure that it was simply thin air.

 

He stepped inside, feeling that wisp of magic curl around his centre dangerously. It wanted him to be there. It wanted him to stay put.

 

Harry looked around, walked slowly, curious as to why he was brought to such a room. The first thing he noticed was Dumbledore, hiding behind an illusion like the one at the top of the Great Hall. The second he noticed was the large ornate black rimmed mirror in the centre of the room. It loomed above him, and would have looked foreboding if he was anyone else.

 

He ignored Dumbledore, shrugged slightly, and smiled at the pretty thing. It was wrapped in a magic of its own, and he wondered what it did. Perhaps this would be Harry's end. He could be walking to his end. And something in the centre of his scar screamed in fear, a fear he hadn't felt in a long time, and told him to turn around. It told him it didn't want to die. It told him that dying would be awful and terrible.

 

Harry hummed That Song to himself, drowning out the noise which wasn't there. It was more like a feeling.

 

He stepped in front of the mirror, ready to be faced with life's very truths. He looked it up and down, watched his own figure as it followed his exact motions. He hummed again, drew out a finger to touch the cool surface, and watched as the mirror's magic swept around him like a wave of heat.

 

It made Harry's head spin, a bit like a head rush, and he giggled lightly to himself.

 

He looked at his own reflection, seeing how much he had changed since the Dursleys.

 

Harry had filled out slightly. He was taller. His hands no longer pulled tight against his skin, and his eyes were less sunken. Through his yellow night-dress he thought that he could only just count his ribs, unlike before, and he watched in fascination as his eyes seemed to shine with energy. He pulled a hand across his lips, they seemed almost girlish now, and watched himself for a long time, smiling all the while, before he turned to go.

 

At the edge of the doorway a voice stopped him in his tracks.

 

“Harry, my boy, what are you doing here at this time of night?”

 

Harry turned, a bright smile gracing his lips, as he looked at Albus Dumbledore, who had stepped out from his illusion. The man looked ruffled, annoyed, and it only made Harry tilt his head in curiosity.

 

Harry stepped back into the room, looked up at the ceiling which curved with grace, and then back to the manipulative man which still could not see, even with half-moon spectacles upon his face. He said softly,

 

“I could say the same to you.”

 

Dumbledore blinked, before he laughed fakely. Maybe it would have fooled him if he couldn't smell his magic flaring with anger. Harry simply smiled in return, knowing that nothing he could do would truly help the old man to see the errs of his ways.

 

“Its an interesting mirror, isn't it.”

Harry tilted his head to the side slightly,

 

“It seems no different to any other to me.”

 

Dumbledore's eyes widened minutely. Harry could practically hear his brain going through the different meanings of what he said. The mirror could have been a test of some sort, he supposed. Harry probably failed. Testing to fit others expectations was simply a waste of precious time. Dumbledore said, walking over to the grand mirror, and looking at it longingly with haunted eyes,

 

“Have you worked out what it does?”

 

Harry shook his head minutely. He stepped beside the man, ignoring how his magic recoiled in disgust, and ran a finger over the cool surface, watching as it buzzed. He read small words at the top, engraved in gold, and murmured them under his breath,

 

Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.”

 

Dumbledore chuckled from behind him, a malicious intent in the sound which Harry barely made out, and said 'wisely',

 

“I show not your face but your hearts desire. Do you know what it means now, my boy?”

 

Harry glanced back at him, removing himself from the mirror, and stood just beside him, peering at his long grey beard. He was tempted to run a hand across it, but was distracted with the question.

 

“It shows your greatest desire?”

 

Dumbledore nodded, patting him condescendingly on the head, and started to monologue. Harry simply walked over to a blank stretch of wall and leaned back, closing his eyes and letting the old fool's words wash over him like a gentle mother's touch. For some reason he smelt apple elderflower juice in the air when he thought that, and realised he was thinking of Susan.

 

“That it does, that it does. Your deepest desire. The happiest man alive would only see himself when he looked, he would use it as a normal mirror. It reaches down into your heart and pulls out your deepest want, need. Something you would give up everything for to get. Truly, to know, is a curse and a blessing. Many men have wasted away in front of this mirror, slowly killing themselves, and I warn you, Harry, no matter what you see, you should stay away from it.”

 

Harry nodded, not truly agreeing or disagreeing with his words. He pulled the small piano from his pocket, ran his hands over it, and glanced up through his bangs at the man who had stopped talking. He was now looking at him impatiently.

 

Deciding to humour him Harry asked a question,

 

“What is it that you see, sir, when you look into the mirror?”

 

Dumbledore looked taken aback for a moment, probably not expecting such a basic question. After a few moments, many spent staring into the mirror, he said softly,

 

“When I look I see myself holding a pair of thick woollen socks.”

 

Harry nodded, and placed the piano back into his pocket. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing in the chilling air, and then made a decision.

 

He started to untie his shoes.

 

“What about you, my boy, what do you see? Your parents perhaps? A friendship with the young Neville Longbottom? The death of the dark lord? Do not fear what I will say, I will not judge you, for when I once looked the desire was quite different.”

 

As Dumbledore continued to ramble Harry managed to pull off both of his shoes, and then started with his socks. They were the green ones that Neville had bought him for Christmas. Harry remembered a few weeks before, when he was still there, that he had hinted “they match your eyes” before blushing and walking away.

 

Clack. Clack.

 

He placed them down on the stone floor, and glanced up, to see his headmaster had finished speaking. Dumbledore looked half bemused half concerned at his lack of shoes, and Harry simply smiled reassuringly at him. Finding that he didn't care in the slightest that this man had bound his magic, only that it was his choice to smile and he needn't follow the social norm of 'grudges'.

 

Harry walked over, his footsteps muffled by the socks on his feet, and stood once again in front of the mirror.

 

He saw nothing but himself.

 

Harry murmured quietly,

 

“I see only me.”

 

And he could almost hear Dumbledore stiffen in shock behind him.

 

He turned to Dumbledore, pulling off his socks, and handed them to him. Dumbledore's eyes widened, looked a bit worried, and gave him a questioning look.

 

Harry smiled,

 

“You have your deepest desire in your hands, do you feel happy now?”

 

To Harry, he looked the same. Even when he thanked Harry for them, still looking slightly shocked from Harry's proclamation.

 

At the edge of the door, with his shoes in his left hand, and feet burning lightly at the icy cold of the stone, Harry said,

 

“Strange how short-sighted being invisible can make you.”

 

Then he walked away, leaving a dumbfounded man gripping socks for dear life as he stared at the image of his dead sister, and imprisoned love.

 

 

“You're just like your father...”

 

Professor Snape slurred slightly tipsily, whilst holding a bottle of Fire-whisky in his grip, and drinking it thoughtlessly.

 

“Arrogant. Cruel. Stupid. He deserved to die, I tell you. Always breaking rules, hurting people, he just didn't care. Like you. Like you. How dare you smile at me like that? Taunt me in my own class. Oh, oh, I ought to take off a gazillion house points for this. Curfew, breaking curfew, just like him, as if it didn't matter at all.”

 

His professor's beady eyes stared at him in something mixed between confusion and hatred.

 

“Why are you here anyway?”

 

Harry sat down beside his professor, who was seated out in a lower classroom in the dungeons, and fiddled with the piece of glass in his hand. It was a broken piece of bottle, one of many, and he'd followed them, like a trail of breadcrumbs, to his drunk professor.

 

It was a late night, two days before term started again, and he had been exploring again, after a solid five hours of cloud-watching and giggling every time he ran into Dumbledore in the halls.

 

Adults were so silly.

 

He still seemed upset over the mirror incident, and looked quite confused at how Harry could be happy. Harry simply thought it was amusing to see him struggling to find another manipulation plot.

 

Harry shrugged, a gesture that made the professor growl.

 

Then he simmered slightly, and took another swig of a drink that burned Harry's nostrils. He shivered slightly, the professor's magic acting less calm than usual, and placed a hand on the professor's arm. A comforting one.

 

Professor Snape began to cry. They weren't like normal tears. They were harsh, vicious, sobs that felt almost like an attack. They grated uncomfortably against Harry's ears, felt whiny and cruel, and reminded Harry of a dying cat. He simply smiled, squeezed the professor's arm, and waited him for to become more coherent.

 

He took another swig of his drink.

“You know what day this is? Huh? Did that good-for-nothing aunt of yours ever tell you? I know I should have stopped him, that awful meddling old coot, but what could I have done? I was a death eater, you know, really nasty business, and 'kidnapping' a child wouldn't have gone well. He has my life in his hands. Well, you do more than him. I have a life debt, a fucking life debt, to the Potter line after your father 'saved' me. And Lily, poor sweet Lily, I swore an Unbreakable Vow to protect you. Fuck.”

 

Harry leaned his head back against the wall, and listened to his professor rant for a while about 'the unfairness of it all'. He talked briefly about his abusive upbringing, Dumbledore's machinations discovered too late, how he didn't actually understand what magic was, and eventually got around to explaining more of the first topic.

 

January second. Can you believe it? So many years have passed already. Every year, without fail, until I called her a mudblood and joined the Death Munchers, we'd meet out in the snow and dance. I know, I know, you're gonna say 'oh what’s so special about that?' or something. I dunno. But, dancing with Lily... It was like something else. The way she moved, glided, around in the snow. The light flush on her cheeks, her smile, I... It was a miracle she'd dance with ugly-nosed me. She was my best friend, you know, the most beautiful eyes. And every year we danced, like old friends, laughed and cried about our hardships. Talked about the weather. About what her awful sister had done that holiday. About my awful father...”

 

Professor Snape turned to him, seeming to notice Harry for the first time, and said,

 

“You're like her, you know? You are. So smart. So... And your smile, its like hers. You know?”

 

He bubbled up into tear filled laughter, drinking again before it transitioned into sobs.

 

“He didn't deserve her. He was so terrible to her, treated her like dirt, and she still loved him. I'll never know why. Maybe he gave her a love potion or bound her or something, she was never the same. But her eyes, she did still look like herself, and I suppose I'll never truly know.”

 

Professor Snape's head fell back against the wall and he sighed in despair, talked a bit about how he never wanted to be a teacher, how people ruined the art of potions, and said that Harry was actually okay at it.

 

He closed his eyes, sighing deeply.

 

“Do you miss them? At all? Or are you really so happy? I can't understand how you're always smiling, Harry. How can you live in such a hard world and always smile?”

 

He sniffed, wiping tears from his eyes, and turned his drunken eyes back at him. Professor Snape stared at Harry for a long time, looking right into his eyes, and Harry met them with understanding. He whispered,

 

“The eyes are the windows to the soul. Really. One look in your eyes, I could have mind-read you. But I don't. You know why? Because I know what I'll find. You wont be like him. You don't act like him. Your friends aren't like him. You don't smile like him. You don't think like him. You don't have enemies, or even friends, you just... drift. Your eyes are hers. You're more her than him, but every time I look at you I see his face and... I don't. I stay out of your thoughts.”

 

Harry said quietly, as if not reading someone's thoughts was a favour,

 

“Thank you.”

 

Professor Snape suddenly laughed uproariously, lifting his drink into the air, and called out,

 

“Hear that? He said thank you for not violating his privacy. Merlin. The Dursleys have messed him up good, I'd best get him out of there before he goes back. But, no. Oh wait. I can't.”

 

Harry shrugged, looking back at the back of his hand, and was taken by surprise when he felt lips on his. His eyes widened minutely and he just sat there, staring, as Professor Snape kissed him softly.

 

It lastly ten seconds, and the older man drew away with deep regret on his face, whispering,

 

“You have her eyes.”

 

Harry sighed, brought a hand to his professor's cheek, sighing at how soft it was, and said,

 

“The living don't live for the dead.”

 

He stood, wiping the saliva off his lips, disentangled their magic, and handed Professor Snape the Christmas gift he'd been carrying around for weeks.

 

It wasn't anything special, just a small gemstone.

 

Harry turned and left, not looking behind him until he was all the way back in Ravenclaw tower with a book in his hands. The family owl, chocolate, tapped him on the shoulder, and he opened the latest letter.

 

Harry dear,

 

You'll never guess what Rick did...

 

 

Harry sat in the library alone, a book on magic that didn't quite make sense in his lap. What he read, what he was told... it didn't make sense. It didn't fit what he felt and smelt and tasted. It didn't describe the energy that encompassed him. It simply seemed like someone was hiding the true secret of magic.

 

Perhaps it was like the secret of life, maybe it wasn't secret at all.

 

“I just don't understand you!”

 

Harry placed down his book.

 

The bubble had finally burst.

 

“You're a Ravenclaw, and yet no one takes you seriously. You read constantly, yet you never answer questions in class. You're a hero, yet you never try to help anyone. You grew up with muggles, but you act like a pure-blood. You're an outcast, yet you're friends with popular people. People glare at you constantly, and you don't care in the slightest. You were rude to me on the train, but are polite to everyone else. You're parents have died, yet you're always smiling. You hate me, ignore me, for no reason why. You pretend to be stupid, but you have no ambition.”

 

Hermione Granger panted as she finished ranting.

 

Harry smiled at her, making her scowl at him, and she wondered off.

 

 

The next day he was sitting by the lake, absently watching a couple snogging across from him, and drawing them. He tapped his fingers on his book, watched in the corner of his eye, as Neville glanced over at his drawing and turned beet red.

 

Ron looked over as well and said loudly,

 

“You can't do that! Its an invasion of privacy.”

The boy said whilst reading his letter without permission.

 

Harry simply sighed and returned to drawing, absently humming That Song under his breath.

 

Half an hour and three games of Exploding Snap later Ron trudged up to the castle, in a foul mood, and Neville settled down beside him, staring over at the lake. Harry turned to him briefly, wondering what this was about, and waited.


Two minutes of silence passed, the type that sunk into your bones, and Neville spoke,

 

“Why don't you like Hermione?”

 

Harry said vaguely,

 

“I don't mind her.”

 

Neville replied,

 

“Ron hates her, because she's a know-it-all, but you don't hate anyone. Why are you ignoring her, when you can clearly see she wants to talk to you? Not that I mind, she said Trevor was ugly, but I don't get it.”

 

Harry sighed, placed his book down, and leaned back to stare up at the sky. It was more clouds than sky that day, so there wasn't much to see.

 

“The first time I saw her she was arguing about me sitting in the train's hall. I was apparently blocking the way, perhaps. The last time was when she said boys couldn't wear dresses. I didn't argue, didn't comment, did nothing but smile, and gave her no reason to think I disliked her. I really don't care.”

 

Neville nodded, before pausing. He had that look on his face, a look he got a lot more once he returned from his grandmother's, and had an extreme expression of hesitance.

 

“Do you... do you care about anything at all?”

 

Harry paused himself.

 

He did wonder whether his love for everything had created a sort of apathy in his life. He'd always been slightly aloof, but caring for nothing seemed... wrong somehow. He did love. Very much. But did that mean he cared?

 

Harry shrugged, before saying softly,

 

“I think I care for you.”

 

Neville blushed, and they both went back to doing nothing, a warm atmosphere surrounding them.

 

Neville thought it was nice to have a friend, even if he was slightly strange.

 

Harry wondered what it said about him that all his friends were Griffindors. If you could call them friends.

 

Chapter Text

A battle of giving in.

 

Hermione was inducted into their group a few weeks later, intent on 'studying' with him. Truly, since Neville had told her that Harry did not hate her, she had been vying for his friendship. Harry thought it only proved how sweet Neville was, that he would reassure a girl who insulted his toad, only because he couldn't stand to see her hurt.

 

Harry thought, with no resentment at all, that the major reason she wanted to be his friend was because everyone else found her too unbearable to handle. He was basically her only friend. Even though he did not truly count her as a friend.

 

She was more of a... hanger-on, like Ron.

 

Hermione only hung around in their 'group' because she wanted him to like her. But, Ron and Neville only let her stay because they thought she was Harry's friend. When, really, Harry didn't care in the slightest.

 

It was confusing. Interesting. And Harry simply smiled at the tension that seemed to always surround them.

 

“And there was a three headed dog!”

 

Ron shouted, drawing attention of some of the library occupants, to be soon shushed by a worried looking Neville. Hermione added,

 

“It was standing on something, a trap door. Meaning it must be guarding something.”

 

Harry hummed in amusement, going back to his first attempt at Arithmacy. He'd seen some of the elder Ravenclaws having a fight over it and had decided that it was too cloudy to go cloud-watching. Not that it would have normally stopped him, truly it was simply an unneeded excuse to try out something new.

 

He'd read through the beginners book, and was trying some problems. Harry was also starting to think Franklin was a genius, since he kept hopping onto the right numbers and such. Perhaps he had misjudged him.

 

“I at least expected you to stop him. What were you thinking? You could have been killed!”

 

Scolded Neville, looking thoroughly scandalised. Hermione hung her head in shame whereas Ron simply sneered at him.

 

“If we hadn't gone there, by accident mind you, then we would've never discovered the mystery. Snape, yes, is obviously to blame. He's been limping since Halloween, when the troll was let in.”

 

Hermione blanched at the memory. Ron continued, speaking passionately,

 

I think he let it in. As a distraction, so he could steal whatever is being guarded.”

 

Neville sunk backwards into his chair, looking defeated, when he saw Hermione's thoughtful look. Harry watched out of the corner of his eye, smiling fondly, as Franklin jumped off from the small sofa and made his way over to the tower window. They were all in Griffindor Tower, since three fourths of them were Griffindors, and Harry had followed along when they asked.

 

She said, in a I'm-better-than-you sort of tone,

 

“And it was a creature wasn't it? That was guarding it? Hagrid is the one rumoured to know all about them, we should ask him. He... and at Christmas you said he couldn't hold his liquor, if we can trick him into talking-”

 

Ron was nodding along with it, looking enthusiastic, and had seemed to overcome his hatred for the girl who always bossed him around. Neville shouted, his arms flailing about,

 

“This is crazy! We can't just ask about some secret thing that is being hidden for a reason. The teachers will keep it safe, we need to believe that, and even if they didn't then how are we, first years, meant to help?”

 

Hermione huffed in annoyance, and Ron said,

 

“But Snape is a teacher, he's probably going to use his knowledge to get past the three headed dog thing.”

 

The two nodded in agreement, and stood up, looking like they were waiting for Harry to follow. They glanced at him, looking impatient, and a few seconds later Hermione said,

“Harry? Are you coming too?”

 

Harry noticed that morning, when he had met Dumbledore's eyes and smiled, that he had felt two things that he did not feel often, in that degree. The first was curiosity, a burning curiosity to find out what was at the third floor corridor. The second was shame, a shame about his home-life, that he had never felt.

 

Of course, he had brushed away these feelings, thinking that the sky was more interesting, and that there was nothing to be ashamed about.

 

A moment later he realised it was Dumbledore's newest plot, something that left him highly amused.

 

Harry smiled up at them,

 

“I think I'll stay here. Have fun.”

 

Then he went back to his book, seeing Neville look relieved and the others look annoyed, before they strode out of the tower.

 

 

The icy air filled his senses, like icy magic, and he breathed in deeply, his eyes closed. The grass under his fingers tickled like a feather's touch, and he was reminded of his last birthday and the way Joan had woken him. The sky above him roiled uncomfortably, quite unlike the magic inside him which roiled in calm waves, barely restrained.

 

Franklin was balanced atop his head, croaking lightly in his sleep, and Harry was sitting, with his legs crossed, and feeling the magic that consumed him. He must have looked quite a sight, from those nosy people glancing outside of the Ravenclaw windows, with a toad on his head. Although, he supposed, it was too early in the morning for them to be awake, no matter how much they liked to preach about the precedent of early breakfasts.

 

Harry breathed in deeply through his nose, staring unseeingly in front of him while he concentrated on the innate ambient magic around him.

 

His own magic was still growing, along with his senses, and he was finding it difficult to contain. Before Harry had let it hang about him, like water droplets, but now it had grown too powerful to let it be. He did not cage it or chain it, but he did whisper it sweet apologies and promises to try and get it to stay safe.

 

Harry didn't want to harm anyone.

 

He winced slightly as his magic pinched him. He'd been feeling that more as well. The subtle pain as it tried to override his senses, tried to control him. Neutral magic like his, which was neither shiny nor seductive, was the most hardest to control, for it longed to be something. It wanted to be shiny or seductive, not both or neither, and it was only calm because of Harry's own calm mindset.

 

His fingers burned, like holding a piece of ice too long, and he smiled a gritty smile through it.

 

He was no stranger to pain. No stranger to that dull constant pain of hunger, or the sharp fickle pain of Dudley's fists. But this was a different type of pain, a pin needle pinch, a burn every now and again, a hiss in his mind which wanted chaos and destruction, as well as peace and love.

 

Harry wanted to let life be life. Let it be chaotic and peaceful. He didn't want to pick a side, no matter how much his magic tried to convince him.

 

But as his magic grew, as it swirled dangerously in his heart, he felt it become harder and harder.

 

Harry opened his eyes, wondering if he could sooth his magic by letting it out, letting it free, and if saying sweet things was not what it needed. He didn't want to be responsible for his own sadness, and since the magic was him just as much as it wasn't, he didn't want his magic to be sad.

 

He held out his hands, arms straight in front of him, and focused on that swirling mass around him. Harry wanted it to be free and happy, like he was. He wanted it to feel calm and content with life how it was, and not need to be light or dark. His magic could be anything it wanted to. So he let it out.

 

A storm swirled around him, the wind screamed and the earth rumbled in terror. His magic lashed out its anger at being compressed at the trees nearby, splitting them in half and killing them ruthlessly. It pulled the water from the deep pits within the ground and ripped it through the ground, like a surgeon's knife through a pliant body. Water swirled in the storming air around him, like a hurricane, and wanted to destroy it all.

 

Harry's magic was angry.

 

It pulled that water, getting closer and closer to where Harry was, as if in an attempt to drown him, and Harry looked at it with his eyes open. Prepared to die. He was not afraid. His life had been good. There was nothing to be sad about.

 

Everything whirled around him, the air shrieking at the tension around it, like a dying cat, and it flew towards him.

 

Icy water pulled from below surrounded him, like the bubble-head charm he had read about with the opposite effect. He couldn't breathe, his eyes opened wide and stared at the magic that hissed hatefully at him.

 

Harry was going to let the water in, to let it fill his lungs, as there was nothing else to do. And he opened his eyes, how had they closed?, feeling them sting as they looked through muddy water, watching as Franklin absorbed oxygen through his skin, not really bothered, like Harry, at the water that suddenly surrounded him.

 

And perhaps the reason Harry didn't move, didn't try to break free, didn't try to scream or speak, was because it was his magic. Who was he to deny himself? And perhaps another reason was that he didn't want to die, he wanted to live, but he couldn't stop destiny. And maybe it was that Harry finally had a friend and a family, more than he ever wanted, and it was okay to leave.

 

Perhaps it was the fact that in his last moments he was happy...

 

And he closed his eyes.

 

Let his heart slow.

 

Thought of that beautiful sky.

 

And...

 

Breathed. Air filled his lungs and he looked around, seeing the water was gone. His skin was wet and icy cold, proof that he had been close to dying. Harry couldn't help the brilliant smile that graced his lips when he realised that his magic hadn't killed him. Hadn't needed to be restrained.

 

It felt almost... sorry, guilty, repentant. And Harry reassured it that it was fine, he had been telling it to hide itself, and that it was okay to do that. The magic still felt bad and gathered itself, trying to heal all the poor dead trees, trying to put the water back, trying to stitch up the broken earth. Harry petted it softly, finding a strand of it with his nose, and stroked it calmly.

 

The magic seemed to purr.

 

And Harry realised that the magic was happy now, too, just like him. It wasn't angry anymore. It still hurt slightly, like he was bursting at the seams, but it didn't try to hurt him. It was as if it couldn't help it.

 

His magic had accepted that it was calm. It no longer wanted or needed to be light or dark, one or the other, and had accepted.

 

Harry realised his magic was different to the other calm magic he had felt. They were fighting in a constant struggle, where their magic wanted to be one or the other, but they refused it, controlled it. It had felt like that with a blonde Slytherin girl, her magic had been calm, but she'd had to focus and control it, to stop it becoming seductive and cruel. Or, perhaps like that older red-headed Hufflepuff who lied to her magic, said that it could be either, but still held it in an iron grip.

 

Or even the half-goblin Professor Flitwick, who battled fiercely like the goblin's at the bank. He didn't want to pick a side, so he subjected his magic to calm maddening nothingness.

 

But Harry's magic was happy. Free. It swirled around him in calm content waves, curling protectively around his middle, tickling his ears, and exploring the area around him like a curious puppy. It looked at him in adoration, friendship perhaps, and a deep love that neither shiny nor seductive magic possessed.

 

Harry smiled back, realising that to many it would seem like he was smiling at nothing, and didn't care in the slightest.

 

 

Snape sucked in a harsh breath as Harry entered the class room. Harry noticed that after the 'kissing' incident he had been avoiding even glancing at him.

 

He wondered what was different now.

 

And then smiled as he realised that his free magic was thickening the air around them, in playful exploration, which could also be confused with menacing searching. He simply hummed That Song, which was on his mind more than normal, and took a seat next to a glaring Hufflepuff. Hannah Abbot, he thought her name was, suddenly looked a lot less annoyed, and instead gazed at him with gentle eyes.

 

Harry realised, with a slight twitch of his already smiling lips, that his magic was trying to calm her down, not liking negative energy. He told it, more like thought to it, that life being beautiful consisted a lot around free will. That it should leave other's minds alone.

 

His magic calmed slightly and retreated back inside him, making his stomach ache painfully, and the whole room let out a breath.

 

Harry saw Snape shake himself out of his daze and begin the lecture on the proper way to prepare asphodel leaves.

 

He hummed and started to take notes, his magic laying dormant inside him, like a sleeping dragon.

 

 

The large bird looked down at him with a blank expression. Like always. Harry ached to make it smile, since it never did, and by his magic's attempt at tickling the painting, he thought it agreed with him.

 

“The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?”

 

Footsteps.

 

Harry thought. But instead smiled brightly and said,


“How are you, George?”

 

The bird narrowed its eyes, glared at him, and spoke harshly,

 

“Mad child, I know you know the answer. Tell me and leave me alone!”

 

Harry continued grinning, a slight maniacal tilt on his lips as he did so,

 

“Have you spoken to any of the other paintings yet?”

 

The bird gave him icy cold eyes which would have sent chills down anyone else's spines.

“Are you finally ready to tell me how you got turned into a bird man?”

 

The bird continued to stare, annoyance blazing from its eyes, and Harry finally answered,

 

“Footsteps.”

 

The door swung open, George giving a sigh of relief, and Harry nodded politely, before walking inside.

 

 

Neville stared at his Transfiguration homework. They were by the lake, enjoying the sun, whilst Ron and Hermione scoured the library for references on Nicholas Flamel. Harry could have told them he was a famous alchemist and the inventor of the philosopher’s stone, but was feeling, surprisingly, relieved to be without their presence.

 

He supposed being with such demanding people for hours and hours was different to dealing with Aunt Petunia. They were all as equally annoying, but Aunt Petunia never said she was his friend before nagging him. She simply ignored him and ordered him about.

 

Harry quite liked Neville, and his magic, better. It was an even distribution of shiny and seductive. The shininess reflected his personality and general purity, along with his intense loyalty and love. The seductiveness was his inert defensive stance. As magic was basically an extension of one's self, in some ways, it tried to protect Neville when he was too frightened or cowed to do so himself.

 

Harry's magic seemed to be close friends with Neville's magic, and often their time together was spent with his trying to coax out Neville's, or calm Neville.

 

Splash.

 

Franklin jumped into the lake.

 

“But... But... What?”

 

Neville spluttered, reading through his essay again. He looked over at Harry with large doe-like eyes. Harry was simply lying back and watching his own reflection in the water.

 

“That doesn't make any sense. The question was why we used certain phrases at the beginning of Transfiguration spells. Convergo, mutatio and alium, to be specific. You said that phrases weren't necessary at all, and spells were just a crutch, like wands. But... But... magic is all about spells and wands. Why would they exist otherwise?”

 

Harry spoke in a dreamy tone about his discoveries,

 

“I theorise that due to years of inbreeding, the dominant trait of magic has been growing duller, giving magicals less power and control. Do you truly believe that Merlin used a wand? Wands are to channel the small amount of power available, whereas spells are to focus the jumbled minds of witches and wizards, who no longer organise themselves.”

 

Neville stared in disbelief,

 

“Don't you need those to do spells?”

 

Harry shrugged,

 

“I haven't truly attempted much magic out of class.”

 

Neville blinked, thought for a moment, before saying warily,

 

“Transfigure a rock into a sword.”

 

Harry shrugged again, stood up, and started to walk along the lake bank in search of a rock. He found a suitably large one and picked it up, before walking back over to Neville. He sat again, held his palm out flat with the rock on top, and asked his magic to change it into a sword, politely, in his thoughts.

 

A few moments later the rock morphed into a large sword, and Harry gently handed it to Neville, who stared at it in fascination.

 

They sat, in silence, for many moments. Harry returned to look at the lake, and Neville felt along the shiny surface of the sword. After many seconds of silence Harry heard another splash, and turned to see his newly made sword disappear into the lake.

 

Neville looked at him wide eyed and whispered,

 

“You can't tell anyone you can do that.”

 

Harry tilted his head in a silent question, smiling fondly at his friend. Neville answered,

 

“I don't know a lot about history, but I do know that people are scared of things they can't control. You... They can't control you.”

 

Harry simply nodded, neither agreeing nor disagreeing, and went back to his lake watching. Neville tore up his homework, cast an incendio correctly for the first time, and handed Harry a piece of blank paper to fill in the 'correct' answers.

 

They wouldn't speak of the incident for many months.

 

 

Harry sat in the headmaster's guest chair, staring at Fawkes who stared back. They shared an amused squawk and chuckle, before Harry hummed That Song. The bird cocked its head to the side and hopped off its perch, briefly flying over to a number of trinkets hidden amongst some of Dumbledore's books.

 

They were all Light books, with many complicated spells and chants, and no non-ministry approved rituals or blood magics. Harry thought it amusing that the resident Light lord didn't truly know much about light magic.

 

Harry stood, following the bird thoughtlessly, until he was at the section of wall. There were many spinning, smoking and humming trinkets, even a few which looked like genie bottles. He smiled at the phoenix, tilting his head curiously, until he saw something that made him blink once.

 

Harry James Potter.

 

There was his old name and... a smoking machine. The smoke was white. There was also a small black box with the phrase in-active. Harry wondered what it meant.

 

“Ah, my boy, sorry to keep you waiting.”

 

Harry turned around to see Dumbledore at the door. The man seemed to be searching his face for something, something he could not see, and then eventually seemed satisfied. Harry walked over to the empty seat, sat down, and said curiously,

 

“What were those machines under my name?”

 

Dumbledore's eyes widened and he brought out his wand. Harry's magic curled protectively around his head and other magic organs in advance, watching warily as the older man's magic spat at his cruelly.

 

He lifted his wand to Harry eye's and said,

 

“Sorry you had to see that, my boy, Obliviate.”

A bright blue spell flew towards him and Harry stared it down. His own magic caught it and burned it to a crisp. Something from his scar whispered in his mind to pretend to be confused, the same thing that hadn't wanted to die, and Harry obliged, looking around as if the spell had hit.

 

He sent the scar something that resembled a gentle hug, trying to thank it, and he simply got cold confusion in response.

 

Dumbledore looked at him analysingly before saying,


“So, I heard you had befriended Ms. Granger?”

 

Harry hummed under his breath before answering, his own magic screaming in rage at the other magic.

 

Harry's puppy had just turned into a wolf.

 

 

He layed down in one of the comfy library chairs in the Ravenclaw Library. Harry had a book on spells in his hand and was looking up what the Obliviate spell was.

 

A MEMORY CHARM (Obliviate), also known as a Forgetfulness Charm, is a spell that can be used to erase memories from an individual's mind. It is classified as Dark-Neutral, and is sanctioned by the Ministry because of the necessity for the Statute of Secrecy.

 

He placed the book down, feeling thoughtful, before deigning thoughts on Dumbledore's machinations not worth his time.

 

Maybe he would take Franklin for a walk.

 

 

Harry sat on the Owlery roof, his bare feet hanging down, legs stretching into the abyss. The Ravenclaws had stolen his shoes, their first act of joint bullying, to see if they could get away with it. Harry didn't mind, not entirely reliant on his shoes, and let them keep them. Perhaps, like Dudley, they would grow tired of it if he didn't care.

 

It was as if he were flying up there, above the clouds, surrounded with nothing but the faint noises of owl hoots, the tiles digging into his thighs, and the whining of the treacherous wind. His magic was tired, scared, angry, from defending Harry so well, and he thought it was perhaps still working through the sickly magic of the spell.

 

He smiled and closed his eyes, leaning his head back and breathing in the fresh air around him. The sun kissed his face with adoration, and his heart sung That Song when immersed in the calm atmosphere.

 

Chocolate had just sent off his latest letter, and Harry was wondering about what he was going to do. He had never wondered something like that before, happy enough to let life pass as it wished, but now... was different. He was still happy, greatly so, and had more friends than ever (or only one perhaps). But, he was also beginning to grow paranoid about the protections of the stone. Paranoid about whether Neville would share his secrets. Paranoid about whether his best friend could be trusted and-

 

Harry opened his eyes and stared down below.

 

Paranoid.

 

Since when had he ever been paranoid?

 

He smelled Dumbledore's manipulations at work, the man who had tried from day one to seal his fate, and he couldn't help but laugh at the incredulity of it all. A man as old as his own grandfather could not trick someone as young as him, even with all of his spells at his disposal. He was an old man too stuck and ignorant in his ways to see that Harry was simply different to them. He had a greater understanding. A greater love.

 

Harry focused on the paranoia, which now felt skin deep, in his mind, and asked his magic to destroy it. His magic sent him waves of fatigue and love, but acquiesced. A moment later Harry felt almost boneless, stress falling from his shoulders, and he breathed a great happy sigh of relief.

 

Artificial emotions, how quaint.

 

He pulled himself up to a higher tile, being careful not to slip, and layed down on the chilly stones of the roof. It was late evening, classes had finished an hour ago, and he thought it a perfect time to have a nap and give his magic some time to recuperate.

 

Half an hour later he opened his eyes to feel someone knocking on the roof.

 

“Can I come up?”

 

The voice was unfamiliar, high pitched, a young boy's voice, and Harry replied tiredly,

 

“I don't own the roof, do as you will.”

 

He closed his eyes again, feeling vibrations under his back, as someone did the same as he had done, and used the rungs along the pipe as a ladder to climb up. He heard a shuffle, a hiss as warm feet met cold floor, and the wary steps of someone who might be afraid of dying, or afraid of death. There was a loud thumb as someone sat near him, and Harry heard a breath exhale, and felt the touch of a thigh against his fingertips, which was draped far away from him like the wing of a snow angel.

 

“You could fall, you know, and no one could save you.”

 

Said the voice. It sounded like false confidence and assured superiority. Harry yawned before opening his eyes.

 

And there was Ron's maybe crush. He was a boy just taller than Harry, by a thumb's length, with school clothes of a higher quality than everyone else. His skin was pale and fair, eyes a murky grey, and hair a blinding platinum. His face was pointy and aristocratic, like so many other's with long lasting lineage in the wizarding community.

 

He sat, legs crossed, back straight, right across from Harry, facing the edge off the roof. Hung around his neck was pendant, a shield coloured black and green, with a dragon leaned against each side.

 

“Santimonia Vincet Semper.”

 

Harry read aloud the small words printed across the shield's crest.

 

The boy looked right at him, stared at him, and said,

 

“It means purity will always conquer, in Latin.”

 

Harry nodded, not that interested, and looked up at the sky.

 

“My name is Harry.”

 

Harry said quietly after a few moments of silence. The boy simply rolled his eyes and replied haughtily,

 

“We all know that. I am Draco Malfoy, Heir to the House Malfoy, with lineage as pure as freshly fallen snow.”

 

Harry murmured under his breath, ignoring the affronted look he got,

 

“And freshly fallen snow is so easily tainted, don't you think.”

 

Draco scowled,

 

“I don't know what you're inferring, but my blood is clean.”

 

Harry closed his eyes, content to let the other stew in the tense atmostphere, before an impatient voice broke his serenity,


“I know what you're doing.”

 

Harry hummed,


“Watching the sky?”

 

Harry opened his eyes to see the other boy sneer, it looked ugly on his porcelain face. Draco spat,

 

“I can see that. No, I mean I know how you're playing them all.”

 

Harry hummed, not having a clue what the other was saying. But Draco just continued.

 

“It took me a while to work it out, you are a good actor, but now that I see it is as clear as day. What did you do to the Hat to put you in Ravenclaw? It was a brilliant plan mind you, makes me almost jealous I didn't consider it. I mean, you can't exactly call a Ravenclaw an evil. And your friends, I guess you saw how Dumbledore watches you just as anyone else does. Two Light scions and a mudblood, well played, well played. For a while I wasn't convinced, I thought it could have just been a coincidence that you weren't there on Halloween, but I can see it now. You were pleased when you heard about the troll attack, I could see it in your eyes. Don't even tell me how you brought a troll into the school. I was wary of you at first, but I think it would be better if we were allies. I have power, cunning and connections, and you have a lot of cunning and a huge amount of magical energy. I even see the way Uncl- Professor Snape looks at you. He must have annoyed you or something. I would like to know your plans, but at the same time I can see it must be hard for you to just give them away, but, what do you say, allies?”

Harry said quietly, not 100% sure what Draco was talking about,


“Sure.”

 

And then the other boy left the roof, leaving Harry to his nap.

 

Perhaps he had made some sort of mistake in his tired mind, but perhaps not. Wasn't ally just a synonym for friend?

 

He liked friends.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Numb fingertips.

 

“So Mr. Potter, I thought I would just check in, see how you are adjusting, as I like to do with most of my Ravens at some point. Any troubles? Problems with the class work? Perhaps issues at home?”

 

Professor Flitwick linked his fingers over the table, looking at Harry with a focused expression, whilst Harry simply smiled back. He could feel his magic, controlled and wound tight around the half-goblin, held under lock and key. His own magic prodded the other's in something akin to sympathy.

 

“No sir.”

 

Which was of course a lie.

 

After the 'shoe incident' his dorm-mates had waited a couple weeks, wondering about reprisal or consequences. They had been testing the waters, so to speak. Harry, of course, hadn't been bothered by their antics in the slightest, and found that wearing no shoes made him feel even more connected to the magic of Hogwarts.

 

Given no reaction, they had taken to petty bullying and pranks, in an effort to show Harry that he didn't belong there. That he wasn't smart enough for the house, even though he gained the highest marks of the year.

 

They seemed angry and ruffled that he didn't react to them, that he didn't care. They tried, they truly did, to get under his skin, Harry had dealt with Dudley's bullying since the age of three, so they were of no comparison.

 

Harry did notice some of the teachers watching the subtle bullying, especially Professor McGonagall who had taken points for not wearing shoes and had muttered something about 'harmless pranks'. He wasn't sure if stealing someone's school robes, shoes and miniature piano was a prank or not, but didn't have the heart to tell her any different.

 

He also noticed that his magic was decidedly upset with them, and often spoke of vengeance and protection. Well... his magic couldn't speak, but it did spit some awfully obvious feelings of anger and revenge. Apparently, being released had made it more loyal than ever, something that Harry wasn't sure how to feel about.

 

Professor Flitwick was one of the teachers that had noticed the bullying, but he seemed to be in the mindset that only if Harry came to him would he act.

 

He stared intently into Harry's eyes, the boy simply smiling back absently, and stroking the toad that had somehow appeared in his lap.

 

“Is your sleeping arrangement to satisfaction?”

 

Harry nodded, remembering how his pillow was missing, and had heard chatter of kicking him out of the dorm.

 

The charms teacher blinked, looking pensive for a moment before deciding something. He smiled reassuringly, in a way that projected the thought that Harry needed reassuring.

 

Harry looked at him curiously, a slight tilt to his mouth as he saw Franklin jump down and explore the room.

 

“And I was wondering about your home life. I understand that Albus is your magical guardian, as you know, and has organised it, but... I do have some concerns, Mr. Potter. Do not worry, I'm not accusing you of anything, but I did notice how you did not return home to your relatives for the Yule Holidays. Was there any reason for that, you can be honest with me?”

 

Harry smiled charmingly, before saying dreamily,

 

“I felt a compulsion to stay at the castle. It called to me.”

 

The professor sighed at his enigmatic student, and continued the meeting.

 

 

Harry was starting to wonder how big his magic would get.

 

Not that he didn't mind, it was nice to have his magic able to explore more and do more, but at the same time it made him curious.

 

He'd found that having that much magic was starting to hurt. Sometimes it would be a pinch, just above his elbow, or on his chest, and sometimes it would feel like heart burn for many minutes. Some days he would be reading, when he would realise the tips of his fingers and toes were numb. And sometimes he would be staring at something, and his eyes would suddenly sting, and water.

 

His magic would give him affectionate nuzzles, and guilty smells, but it couldn't stop these random bursts of pain. And as it grew in size, the pain got worse.

 

Harry also noticed that people more in tune with their magic would stare at him. They could feel his magic, smell it perhaps, and it would make them relax and become almost boneless. That was how it would be in most cases anyway, Professor Snape would only stiffen, and not meet his eyes. Dumbledore, even though he tried to feel his magic, never could, because Harry's magic would shy away and become defensive.

 

Harry had suspicions that all of Dumbledore's compulsions and attempted mind altering spells were starting to leave a bad impression on his puppy.

 

 

They stared at him.

 

And he smiled back.

 

And they continued to stare. Sometimes as if he were a puzzle they needed to work out. Sometimes as if he were hiding something, everything he truly was. Sometimes as if to guess if his constant smiles was a mask. Sometimes to see how truly powerful he was.

 

But always staring for some reason or another.

 

Draco, and the other first year Slytherins, looked at him analysingly. He often met their gazes with a bright smile, and they would wink or glance at him in return.

 

Neville looked at him in adoration and worry. On many occasions he reminded Harry not to show off his wandless spell-less magic. He said others wouldn't understand, and that he wanted to protect him. Harry agreed simply because there was no point in disagreeing. He wasn't afraid of the consequences, as he knew he could live with anything life threw at him, but he also wasn't excited to face them.

 

It was a wary balance.

 

Hermione looked at him almost obsessively. She wanted him to be her friend. Her possession. Harry wasn't sure she truly understood how friendships worked. As the weeks passed, and she continued to hound him into joining 'their' mystery, he could almost see the longing in her eyes. The desperate hope that he would like her, talk to her, agree with her, be her friend. And Harry would smile, and she would smile hopefully warily back, all with the heart hurting wish that he would be as devoted to her as she was to him.

 

But, her devotion was built on delusions, not loyalty. She believed him to be a socially awkward Ravenclaw, with few brains, and a loneliness that needed to be filled. She saw him as an ignorant muggle-raised child like her, who was actually a Light scion in the making. Hermione believed him to be a hero even when he wasn't sorted into Griffindor, even when he only answered her questions with a smile. Hermione wasn't Harry's friend, she was the Boy Who Lived's friend.

 

Harry couldn't say he really cared.

 

Ron gazed at him in something similar to confusion. Harry suspected that soon he would abandon him, since soon he would wrap his mind around a few things. That Harry was a Ravenclaw. That Harry liked books. That Harry didn't care about Quidditch. That Harry didn't care about Slytherins. Or Hufflepuffs. Or anything that Ron truly cared about.

 

Harry wasn't destined for his sister. Harry wasn't destined for the Light. Harry wasn't destined to follow the mysteries that always followed him. Harry wasn't destined to be Dumbledore's puppy.

 

He thought that perhaps it would be for the best that Ron left him. To have a new beginning. It wasn't as if he had cared for the hanger-on more than anyone else. Harry thought the only ones he truly cared for at the school were Franklin and Neville. They had come to be like his family, like the spiders he used to call friends, and Harry's heart ached for them.

 

Almost painfully.

 

And Harry let his heart ache, because he knew if he didn't let it then he wouldn't love anyone. He knew he would only be a shell. He knew that although it was easier to be ambivalent to everything, and harder to love all that people hated, he knew that it was better to love. Better to understand that life was beautiful, even with all the chaos and pain, and numbness in his fingertips...

 

Harry knew it was harder to smile, but he smiled anyway.

 

 

He watched, in fascination, as Hagrid, the grounds-keeper, brought out a baby dragon from his wooden hut. Its brown wings were the size of Harry's head, and it cawed tiredly as Hagrid held it protectively to his chest.

 

Harry could have sworn it said 'Mama. Mama.'

 

He looked back down at his book, not overly interested, even if Franklin was watching it in fascination.

 

 

George glanced at him in worry, his bird beak scrunched up slightly,

 

“Which came first, the phoenix, or the flame?”

 

A circle has no beginning.

 

Harry simply smiled at the guardian, saying genially,

 

“How are you, my friend?”

 

His words were anxious, and yet he still managed to sound stoic and uncaring, a skill Harry wouldn't mind learning,

 

“I fear for you, mad child, for I have heard whispers from the living and the dead that you will not be welcome in your dorm. This is a great pain to me, to see such a, mad, wise mind, be prosecuted. The wise are meant to be cherished, and you will only grow wiser, that much is obvious, be I a seer or not.”

 

Harry blinked, the news that his dorm-mates were planning to kick him out not coming as much of a surprise, and he answered the riddle,

 

“Thank you, George, a circle has no beginning.”

 

The door opened, Harry seeing Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein overcoming their differences for a common enemy. He couldn't quite find it within himself to be mad that his 'madness' had brought them together, even if it did lead him astray, as seeing rivals unite was always something to be proud of.

 

His magic burned beneath his skin in anger, an anger that Harry overshadowed with love.

 

It only cooled down when he promised they could walk by the lake the following afternoon, with Neville's magic (like a play-date), and experiment with the water.

 

 

On the second night of Harry sleeping in the Ravenclaw common room, a prefect approached him. Harry settled down on the floor, by his favourite window, with his Arithmacy book, his dorm blanket, and magically expanded trunk. Due to the amount of books and clothes he bought, and was suspected to buy in the future, his parents had decided to get him a larger-than-normal trunk, which was actually recommended to Ravenclaws.

 

Harry thought it fitting that he had bought it before he had even been sorted, and then wondered if perhaps the Sorting Hat did not pick people based on personality but the trunks they buy. Maybe it was better that way.

 

“Mr. Potter, this is the second night you are going to sleep in the common room. Please explain why.”

The red-headed girl, with dazzling blue eyes, and lips that made the word 'botox' cross his mind, had her hands on her hips, and looked down at him disapprovingly. It was a well known fact that Harry Potter was not like the books. Instead he was known, by rumours and truth alike, as a dim-witted lazy half-mad half-blood with no respect for magic's traditions.

 

Harry didn't think they would be consoled by the thought that he had no respect for muggle traditions either.

 

He smiled a friendly smile up at the prefect, who looked slightly taken aback, one hand falling from her hips to hang loosely beside her.

 

“By decree of the Ravenclaw First Year Boys, in an unanimous vote, I have been banned from the dorm for not belonging there.”

 

She blinked, and took a moment to decode what he said. Then paused thoughtfully. She said hesitantly, her other hand falling down,

 

“Has... Has this happened before?”

 

Harry smiled politely,

 

“In what way?”

 

She stuttered,

 

“Th- The bullying. Has it happened be- before?”

Harry could feel her magic turning guilty, reflecting her own emotions, and realised it was the prefect's job to stop bullying in the house.

 

“Only in the nature of stolen shoes, clothes and pianos.”

 

She blinked again,

 

“They stole your piano?”

 

Harry smiled again, thinking it odd how she missed the entire point, but not feeling the need to put her back on track,


“Only one.”

 

 

Later that night he would be returned to the dorm, sleeping once again in his bed.

 

The next week he would be subsequently removed again, this time with no one questioning why. They didn't look at him as he slept beside the window, and the only one who did was the red-headed prefect who sent him apologetic smiles.

 

 

Harry sat out at the Owlery roof again, watching as Chocolate flew off into the horizon and beyond. He wondered what it would be like to fly, to feel the air beneath his wings, wind in his feathers. Flying on a broom stick was not truly flying, was it? It was a mimicry. A good mimicry, but still a mimicry.

 

Franklin layed, sleeping, beside him on the roof. Harry wondered if toads were cold blooded, since he didn't at all seem to be bothered by the icy and chilling conditions.

 

He heard a familiar thump thump thump of a person climbing the rungs on the ladder. It was self-assured, confident, and reminded him of 'silent but deadly'. Like a ninja.

 

Draco Malfoy his brain supplied.

 

Harry had made a new game of trying to guess who a person was by their footsteps alone.

 

So far he was most successful with Draco and Neville, if only because he was slightly more invested.

 

“I can't see how you can stand it up here.”

 

The haughty voice called, growing closer and closer, footsteps louder and louder, clunking against the polished stone with his polished shoes. Harry replied, stroking Franklin's back,

 

“The view is nice.”

 

Draco sniggered, chuckling under his breath,

 

“Its also about the most dangerous place you can go in the whole school.”

 

He paused, and Harry could almost feel his impatient breathing, as if his lungs were taking too long and he just needed to do everything so quickly.

 

Everyone seemed to be in such a rush here, like everywhere. The never seemed to stop.

 

“I don't know why you still speak like that when we're alone. I'm your ally now, I know the plan, do you truly think I'm going to go to someone with pensive memories? They incriminate me too, you know? They won't find anything. Is it Legilimency you're worried about? I do have shields, I'm not incompetent. Why?”

 

Harry continued to stare at the horizon, listening with no interest as Draco started to have a bit of a break down.

 

“I've followed all your barmy clues. The looks you send Quirrel, Dumbledore and Snape. Your fascination with toads and water and, Merlin, the lake! I've watched you read that Arithmacy book of your fifty thousand bloody times. I've seen you draw those pictures, taken the picture you left for me, the one of that flower, and tracked it down. Asphodel. Lily. It has to do with your mother, mudblood mother, or is she not a mudblood? I've seen every single thing you've tried to tell me, every single non-existent thing, and I don't get it. What is it? Can't you just say it out loud so I can have confirmation?”

 

The air was stagnant with tension and hesitation. Harry brushed it away like he did almost everything, and didn't even spare his new friend a look. What was Draco on about now? Before he seemed to have the delusion that they were going to take over the world, and now he thinks a flower drawing he gave him has some grand importance.

 

But he sighed, smiled, and closed his eyes for a moment, breathing in the icy air that surrounded him. He felt the pain stir again, in his stomach, and realised that his magic had pulled itself away from Draco when the other boy got angry. It didn't seem to trust the blonde, and had tried to reprimand Harry for his trust in everyone.

 

His scar, something that didn't talk much in case it was an emergency, had professed its tentative agreement.

 

Harry looked over briefly, and could almost hear the click as Draco thought he had worked out some grand puzzle. The boy met his eyes, and said,

 

“I get it now. Dumbledore has you under a binding so you can't tell anyone. No wonder you're a Ravenclaw, you were a genius to tell me like that.”

 

And he left the roof, leaving a very bemused raven behind to watch the sun set.

 

 

Ron gaped at him, barely suppressed rage at the surface, and screamed like a banshee.

 

“HOW CAN YOU NOT BE CURIOUS IN THE SLIGHTEST?!? HOW CAN YOU NOT CARE THAT THE SCHOOL IS IN DANGER! HOW CAN YOU JUST SIT THERE LOOKING ALL SMUG WITH YOUR STUPID RAVENCLAW BOOKS AND JUST SAY YOU DON'T CARE! HOW CAN YOU TELL ME THAT YOU DON'T EVEN WANT TO BE IN GRIFFINDOR? HOW CAN YOU BETRAY YOUR PARENTS LIKE THAT? I TRIED! I DID! I FOLLOWED YOU AND TRIED TO BE YOUR FUCKING FRIEND BUT YOU ARE INTOLLERABLE! WHAT KIND OF IDIOT DOESN'T LIKE QUIDDITCH AND DOESN'T HATE SLYTHERINS?”

 

He seemed to be under the mistaken impression that Harry would care about his outburst. Feel guilty, perhaps? Instead Harry simply smiled at the irate red-head, watching in curiosity, as he fled the library with a book about Nicholas Flamel, without checking it out.

 

Neville and Hermione stared after him, making Harry wonder about what the outburst had been about.

 

--FLASHBACK--

 

Ron looked at Harry with an excited expression, and beamed,

 

“We found Snape skulking around the third floor, acting suspicious, and are going to go to McGonagall this afternoon.”

 

He seemed to be looking to Harry for some kind of recognition or praise.

 

Harry smiled his normal smile,

 

“Okay.”

 

--FLASHBACK--

 

Neville sighed,

 

“Was that expected?”

 

Harry shrugged, going back to his Arithmacy book, humming That Song under his breath. His magic had been very pleased at the red-head's abandonment, since their magic's didn't mesh well.

 

Light magic always tried to reject other types of magic, quite like the people that beheld it.

 

Hermione looked at him, desperate for approval, and sneered,

 

“I never liked him anyway, he called me a know-it-all with no friends. It was the whole reason I was away on Halloween.”

 

Like Ron she seemed to be under a delusion. Her's being that she thought he disliked the boy.

 

Neville simply looked at him knowingly and took a leaf out of Harry's book, by going back to his book and pretending nothing happened. Harry followed. Then Hermione. And the three all read in silence for the afternoon.

 

 

“Potter.”

 

Harry smiled happily, looking up from his drawing. He was in the dungeons, told that he needed to leave Ravenclaw Tower for some reason, and had followed Franklin for half an hour. The toad had taken this as the perfect place to settle, and Harry, seeing no reason to deny his beloved companion, simply sat on the cold floor and began to draw.

 

He looked up into the obsidian eyes of his potions professor, which had skulked over to him, looking quite stoic and blank. Gone was the disdain and hate that could normally be traced in every wrinkle of his face, and Harry thought he looked... pleasanter. His magic seemed to agree, and was sniffing the professor's magic, like an overexcited puppy would, making Harry give a fond smile, which confused Professor Snape.


“Sir.”

 

He said cordially, wondering if the professor would hex him if he went back to his drawing while they were talking. Harry didn't care about the consequences but... Well, his reasoning for his latest action was lost upon even himself.

 

He placed the book down, beside the dry patch where Franklin was sleeping.

 

The professor twitched briefly, with an expression that spoke of frustration and annoyance. His voice fit this quite well, by being tight and barely restrained,

 

“I have just spent the last hour looking for you, Potter. May I ask, what are you doing here?”

 

Harry smiled, something which made Professor Snape's eye shut involuntarily in an uncomfortable twitch, and said politely,

 

“I followed my toad, and then drew.”

 

It was short, succinct, and he thought an answer straight to the point was something his professor could appreciate.

 

Evidently not, by the balled fist and mutters of 'followed his toad'.

 

After a few moments of tension, he said,

 

“Well, I would like to have a little chat to you.”

 

With that his potions teacher swiftly turned around and strode down the empty hallway, his shoes making a frustrated clicking sound on the damp ground. Harry wondered if he could add his professor to the footsteps game, before standing up and following along at a more sedate pace. He noticed how Franklin was following them, curiously as the toad was well-known for.

 

Well, well-known to Harry for.

 

They travelled in stiffening silence, which Harry ignored, and soon passed through many halls and stair wells to come to an office of some type.

 

A primly man wearing stark green robes and a large constitution huffed at them with crossed arms and said,


Password?”

 

There was a greater enunciation of 'pa' for a reason Harry couldn't possibly want to comprehend, and a 'death to dunderheads' later they entered the pristine office of one sir Snape. It was simple, almost barren, with only a set of bookshelves (all with potion books), a desk, two chairs, and a drinks cabinet.

 

Professor Snape removed his overcoat, before going over to the drinks cabinet and pouring himself a orangey-liquid that smelled like strong liquor. He swirled it around before gesturing Harry to one of the seats at the desk.

 

This one was a black one, with stiff puckered leather, and minimal cushioning. Harry let out an amused hum when he realised how much worse it was compared to Professor Snape's own chair, which was soft and fluffy.

 

The professor stalked over, across the desk, and sat, taking a small sip from his drink, before looking his beady eyes over the brim.

 

They sat in silence, a little like Dumbledore's game, and Harry smiled at the other, making the professor slightly unnerved, before looking over around the office. He noticed a sign on the open door, since the painting hadn't closed (evidently eavesdropping), that said,

 

The Office of Potions Master

Severus Snape

Office Hours are 5-7

Go away.

 

It made Harry ponder its effectiveness of repelling students.

 

Harry saw a wand flick, from outside his vision, and heard the dull thud of the closed painting and English accented curse of the guardian for it. Franklin hopped under his chair, and Professor Snape failed to notice his entrance to the room at all, too concerned with the 'talking contest' he had going with Harry.

 

“Potter.”

 

Harry returned to look at the teacher, wondering if the game had finished, and saw him glare.

 

“Sir?”

 

Professor Snape exhaled deeply when he met his eyes, placing his drink back down onto the table, and placed his hands flat on the surface. He didn't seem to be the type of man who would fidget.

 

Harry noticed the drink smelled different to the other one he'd been drinking, and decided it smelt more ordinary.

 

“I suppose since I have called you here, I will be the first to speak.”

 

Harry nodded his acceptance, as if there had been a choice.

 

The professor sighed once more and looked anywhere but Harry's face, turning slightly pink, and cleared his throat quietly,

 

“I may have...”

 

He didn't finish and Harry had to wonder if he had been called here to witness someone try to string sentences together.

 

“When you last...”

 

Harry leaned back into his chair, smiling as normal, and counted the amount of potions books on the opposite shelves. Was there really that much to say about potions?

 

“It is not...”

 

43. Well then. Harry did suppose he was a Potions Master. Then again, did the books come with the room.

 

“Mr. Potter!”

 

Harry snapped his head back to the struggling man, noticing the glare.

 

“Yes, sir?”

 

Professor Snape lost his steam and simply sighed unhappily,


“Please pay attention, I had thought you were a Ravenclaw.”

 

He said the last part a bit wistfully, and Harry had to wonder if he had had some sort of affair with a Raven in his school years.

 

“Now. What I have been meaning to say, is, that last time you saw me. Alone. When I was, um, inebriated, I was not of sound mind. And when I, um, kissed you, that was not correct. It was highly inappropriate. And I regret the action dearly.”

 

Was than an apology? And was an apology necessary?

 

Many would have said that someone should have apologised for locking someone in a cupboard for almost a decade and starving them. Many may have also said that beating someone as a child in a game called 'Harry Hunting' was an offence worth commiseration. Perhaps some would have shown compassion and given an apology for believing neighbourhood rumour and declaring Harry the source of the local pet deaths.

 

The Dursleys also asked him to apologise for being born, as that was a grievous offence in their mind.

 

It made Harry consider how much an apology was necessary.

 

He said quietly,

 

“I believe, sir, that you said I had her eyes.”

 

Why restrain himself?

 

The previous embarrassed professor suddenly baulked, going very pale, and looked over at his liquor cabinet.

 

Harry continued, wondering if saying such things were dangerous,

 

“You also, since then, have been unable to look me in the eye.”

 

Professor Snape stiffened, becoming more pale by the second, and said,

 

“I lied. I was drunk. I lied. Your father... was not a bad man. He was a good man. To her. To me he was an abuser and a bully. To her he was a darling and a noble boy. He was her saviour. He was her arms to cry in. He was what she went to when I broke our friendship. He treated her well. He loved her dearly. He loved you, I expect.”

 

Harry sat in the silence that followed, not too phased by the information regarding his former parents, and more interested in how his potions teacher had managed to make his voice sound both loud and quiet at the same time. Maybe he was in cahoots with George, Ravenclaw's guardian, who could sound both stoic and anxious.

 

Deep black eyes focused on him again, looked at his eyes, his face, his hair even. It carried on for almost ten seconds before he continued,

 

“You are not your father. Nor are you your mother. You have her eyes. You have her hands. You have her cheeks. You have his face. You have his hair. But. You are neither of them. Potter, you are a walking contradiction. You are said to be the most dim-witted Ravenclaw, by everyone's rumour, even when you perform perfectly. You have grown up in a god awful house with that god awful woman, yet you smile every single day to every single person you glance at. You should hate me, for I tried to hate you, but you didn't, perhaps couldn't.”

 

Professor Snape took another sobering breath,

 

“You are not her.”

 

Harry was kicked out a minute later, and went out to the lake, to spend the afternoon bathing in gentle sunlight.

 

Exams were a week away, and he was the only Raven that wasn't worried.

 

Chapter Text

 

Faces, the truths and lies.

 

“My boy, I must impart upon you a spot of wisdom.”

 

Dumbledore told him, as Harry sat by the lake, skimming stones. Apparently he had finally realised that asking Harry to his office every time they had a chat was not only inconvenient, but didn't intimidate him in the slightest.

 

The grey bearded man stood beside him, appearing to look out upon the lake, whilst actually looking at Harry from the corner of his eye. Perhaps he thought that standing whilst Harry was sitting made him superior somehow? He could only guess, as people tended to do things that didn't make sense most of the time, in almost all areas of society.

 

Often solitude was the only time Harry felt the world made sense, as if when it was only him, then he wasn't surrounded by people that had layers of motives for an end goal that wasn't strictly in sight.

 

He sometimes theorised that people weren't truly trying to get to their goals, but fill in the empty silences of life. As if they needed something to do with themselves. Or that they needed to try and forget their past mistakes and pains. They needed something to occupy the empty vacuums in their hearts, so that they did not lose the will to continue. So that they did not simply lie down and let themselves die.

 

Harry noticed the socks Dumbledore was wearing were the ones Harry had given to him, green, the colour of his eyes.

 

He wondered if there was some symbolism and manipulation involved in the reasoning for Dumbledore wearing them, or if the old man had simply accepted their tedious and strenuous relationship, and the socks represented that.

 

“I have been told that you and Mr. Weasley have had a falling out. A very important thing to remember is that people make mistakes, and it is important to forgive them and give second chances. Mr. Weasley is one such person, and it would be silly to end such a fruit-bearing friendship over one little fight.”

 

Harry didn't comment that it had been Ron who hadn't wanted to be his friend any longer.

 

He didn't mention that he hadn't seen Ron as a friend at all in their months of companionship.

 

Instead he smiled obligingly and let the headmaster continue on with his delusion,


“Of course sir.”

 

He also didn't mention how Ron clearly didn't want to be his friend, even now, and was being manipulated by Dumbledore.

 

Harry's magic spat angrily at the deceit, whereas his scar hummed in amusement.

 

Harry continued to smile as Dumbledore made his way back to the castle, and talked to Franklin about the exams which would soon follow.

 

 

It was probably quite suspicious, being out here all alone in the dead of night, but Harry decided he didn't quite care.

 

“Ah, Mr. Potter, I've been meaning to talk with you.”

Harry smiled at Professor Quirrel, realising right away that this was most probably a trap by the maliciousness of the other man's magic.

 

Oh well.

 

“Of course sir.”

 

He followed the purple swish of the defence professor's robes around corners and down stair ways, until they made it to an abandoned corridor.

 

Something in the back of Harry's mind told him that it was the third floor corridor, and he could only sing That Song quietly, as his magic prepared for a fight. He tried to sooth it with calming words as he was led past a sleeping Cerberus and down through the pits of the devils snare. Vines and grumbled roars awoke a survival instinct deep within him, and his scar screamed at him to run far away from the enemy.

 

Harry ignored it all, feeling something akin to relief and sorrow at the same time. He loved life, he truly did, but spending all of his time avoiding death would only fill him with regrets and hesitance. He wanted to be the kind of boy who could gaze into the fiery depths of oblivion and not lose himself because he was not afraid. Harry had realised the beauty of anything and everything, the deep understanding that he was so small in a world so big, and standing there, following this dangerous man through the hallowed halls of treachery and certain death only made his mind clear to what truly mattered.

 

He knew he could run. He knew he could fight. He knew that some, almost all, feared death or feared life. But Harry knew that death would most likely would be just as beautiful as life was, the other side of the coin so to speak. And he feared neither. Harry could only smile as he realised that he might meet his end, for he feared the end less than the beginning (for in the beginning he didn't know the truth).

 

Harry couldn't help but feel like he felt in front of the mirror all those months ago, with Dumbledore's sickening magic by his side.

 

A sense of calm and contentment.

 

 

“What do you see, child, when you look into the mirror?”

 

Harry was looking into the depths of Mirror of Erised once more, seeing himself as he always was. He turned to the de-turbaned man, Voldemort on the back of his head. He said softly,

 

“Only myself, sir.”

 

He heard the raspy voice of the second face himself,

 

He speaks the truth.”

 

And Harry said, smiling all the while,

 

“Would you like a cup of tea?”

 

Both man and wraith looked at him as if he were truly mad. And perhaps he was, offering the Dark Lord a cup of tea, but Harry remembered it always seemed to calm Uncle Vernon down when he grew mad. He couldn't help but want to sooth the agony of that incurable want that Voldemort felt.

 

Harry didn't often feel sympathy for those who could not understand life's beauty, but he realised that this was one such occasion, since Voldemort had endangered everything just for what was inside the mirror. This sad angry man was risking everything, for a single thing that he could not reach.

 

Professor Quirrel muttered to himself about 'crazy children' for a few moments before turning around.

 

Red eyes bored into his soul, Harry's own magic defending against the magical attack, and Voldemort's eyes narrowed.

 

Occlumency. Interesting.

 

Professor Quirrel walked backwards towards him, the red eyes never leaving his face, and Harry stood, watching with an almost indifferent smile.

 

I wonder...”

 

The Dark Lord purred, standing just in front of him, peering down.

 

“...if the mad Ravenclaw outcast is only a mask. How is it that one so brilliant at defence as you would be revered such an idiot in the house of the wise? How is it that the Malfoy scion watches you so intently, speaking of an ally in you? How is it that the child who likes to wear dresses follows a dark lord down into a chamber alone and does not blink? It would make one wonder who he is hiding from. Dumbledore, perhaps? Is the Boy Who Lived not as Light as the world has been led to believe?

 

And Harry watched in fascination as another influential figure in the wizarding world made their own decision about him. How someone said to be such a genius of the Dark could come to the conclusion that every action Harry made inside the Hogwarts walls was a lie.

 

So, Harry smiled, a normal smile, and the Dark Lord cackled madly at him.

 

He raised his wand, so it was pinching right in between his eyebrows, and bellowed,

 

Obliviate.”

 

The spell filled his mind for less than a second before his magic purged it. Harry's scar screamed to act confused and go along with what the more powerful wizard wanted.

 

It had a greater sense of self preservation than Harry.

 

“How did I get here, sir?”

 

What did it say about him that he used the same tone with the Headmaster as he did with the Dark Lord?

 

And what did it say about them...

 

 

Professor Snape looked at him with haunted eyes the next morning. Harry didn't quite know why, didn't quite understand, but as he only stared into his mother's green eyes, he did wonder. That perhaps there was another day where he thought of her.

 

Maybe he thought of her everyday.

 

At the end of the tedious Potions lesson, spent pondering the finality of life, Harry couldn't help but whisper to his cold-hearted professor as he left the room.


“Loved ones never really leave us.”

 

And it was true. As, loved ones were in memories. In thoughts. In faces that one had never seen before. In eyes. In children. In trinket, tokens, wands and vaults. In laws and movements. In spells and potions. Love ones reflected the world around them.

 

Harry didn't know whether this made it harder or easier to love someone. As, you would always remember them, but you would always remember they weren't there. He knew most people felt an ultimate grief that eventually passed. Harry felt as if he were accumulating sadness, from every spider and friend he watched fall. As he never forgot them. As he was reminded or poor sweet Fiona at every cobweb

 

Luckily, the happiness that shone in his heart and wonderment that followed him like a lost dog managed to overrule a heavy heart, and make it so much lighter.

 

That Song followed him in the back of his mind as he thought this, balancing at the top of the Astronomy Tower ledge, walking across small banister, bare footed, and looking out across the ever changing and ever the same grounds.

 

 

After the Quirrel confrontation, Harry had walked back to his dorm under the power of the imperius. It was something he hadn't read about before, and felt quite strange, as if he were happy with nothing weighing him down. Which was often how he felt.

 

Harry didn't need to fight back against the Dark Lord's spell, so chose to simply follow the instructions, ignoring Franklin's beady eyes on him at all times.

 

Lord Voldemort had muttered something about a stone and Dumbledore, making Harry wonder about Hermione and Ron's interest in the secret treasure beneath the three headed beast.

 

But, he soon tired of such a repetitive way of thinking, and about something so silly, and went back to the common room floor to sleep, dreaming of clear skies and smiling family faces.

 

 

A week later, after exams had passed, Harry sat in an abandoned room, near the Hufflepuff Dungeons. He was tired after days of almost non stop spells, his magic reflecting his mood quite well by curling around him and doing the magic equivalent of napping.

 

In the tests he had done it all with a wand, and words as well, since Neville had badgered him so politely ever since the Transfiguration homework by the lake.

 

Ron had rejoined their group, more distant than before, and when the boy thought Harry was not watching he would send him scathing looks and belittling sneers. Harry pretended he didn't see it, smiled at him like he always did, ignoring Hermione's bewildered glances.

 

--FLASHBACK--

“Harry!”

 

He turned to look, with faint amusement, at an exasperated Hermione, who looked close to pulling her hair out. She kept glancing at Ron, who was currently in an argument about the virility of Daphne Greengrass. Argument as in Neville blushing heavily and trying to change the subject, whereas Ron was loudly saying that she was quite beautiful and it was a shame she was in Slytherin.

 

Ever since he had returned to the group he'd been trying to feel out Harry's opinions on girls and Slytherins, along with, in a slightly creepy and borderline incestuous manner, boasting the good qualities of his own sister. Another delusion centred around the hope that Harry would eventually marry her.

 

And Harry was eleven.

 

“What is it, Hermione?”

 

She blinked at his warm tone, before smiling back at him. Apparently, she hadn't yet realised he used that tone with everyone.

 

Then, Hermione realising what she was about to say, suddenly scowled,

 

“How can you let him just be your friend again? After what he said? He said that you betrayed your parents, and that you were an idiot for not liking Quidditch-”

 

She didn't mention Slytherin, which was a large part of Ron's speech, making Harry wonder if she had bought into the house biases.

 

“-,and that it meant you weren't a true friend! He's annoying, lazy and bemoans any work. He only wants to be your friend because you are the Boy Who Lived, and I think... I think he's taking advantage of your... Now, I'm not saying you're stupid, Harry, because I know you can be smart in your own way. But, I think he's taking advantage of your... your... slowness for his own gain. It must be so hard for you in Ravenclaw, but, I don't think you should be this naïve. I think Ron is just using you.”

 

Hermione took in his face for any hint of offence or anger, and when Harry simply smiled good-naturedly back at her, she let out a sigh of relief. She'd probably been worried that calling him stupid would have offended him.

 

And, if Harry had been anybody else it probably would have.

 

He simply smiled, not replying to her, and she sighed as if it was such a 'Harry thing to do'.

 

He didn't point out that he was doing better in classes than her, and he was the only one to have spotted Dumbledore's manipulations. Since, honestly, people in general were so wrapped up in their own problems that it took a lot to convince them of anything.

 

Harry let a large grin grace his face as he looked at the bewildered and red Neville Longbottom, musing that perhaps it was why he liked him so much.

 

Ron boasted loudly,

 

“And you should have seen her looking across the hall, with her flirty eyes! She was so into me.”

 

--FLASHBACK--

 

Ever since that day when he ignored Hermione's observations she had been even more set in the views of his status as 'dim-witted Ravenclaw'.

 

The girl did not doubt authority but apparently she doubted the choices of magic hats.

 

And, judging by the looks she sent Neville's way she seemed to think he belonged in Hufflepuff.

 

Knock. Knock. Knock.

 

Harry said nothing as he heard multiple knocks on the ceramic doorway, framing the room. His magic stretched out lazily, and Harry felt the nervous energy of Neville's magic, soothing to fidgety boy.


“Harry, can I come in?”

 

Harry found it refreshing that even though the only thing he was doing was staring blankly at a wall, Neville still had the courtesy to ask. Not that it would have bothered him too much if he didn't, it was simply things like that which reassured him that his friend truly did understand him.

 

“Sure.”

 

He heard the hesitant footsteps make their way right behind him, a tentative pause, as Neville was deciding whether he should sit or not, and then the thump as he did so. Harry turned his head to see a maroon jumper wearing, chocolate button eyed, boy stare at him imploringly.


They sat in silence for a few moments, Neville hoping to be asked why he was there, and Harry not bothered by the silence.

 

As with most silences Harry had encountered, it was the other who broke it.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

He was curious.

 

Harry smiled,

 

“Staring at a wall.”

 

Neville giggled, a sound that shocked the boy, proved by his immediate transformation afterwards to a beetroot colour. He slammed a hand over his own mouth looking mortified with the thought process of 'I did not just giggle'.

 

Harry smiled indulgently, waiting for his friend to gather himself.

 

Eventually Neville was centred again, and he started the conversation.

 

“I've been looking for you.”

 

Harry hummed non-committally, picking at his fancy shoes which had eventually been returned to him when Ravenclaw was losing too many house points for his state of dress.

 

“I looked all over the castle. The library. The dorm. The Astronomy Tower. The Owlery roof. The lake. The Great Hall. The Dungeons. Why are you here?”

 

Harry said something that could have been mistaken in being philosophical, but blatantly wasn't to anyone that truly thought about what he said,

 

“I'd already been there, thought I needed somewhere new before I forgot the rest of the world.”

 

Neville looked like he understood, in his own sort of way, before saying,

 

“I heard the main reason Dumbledore sent you to live with those muggles was for the blood wards, so I thought I ought to find out how those worked. Just in case, you know? And I was looking it up, and blood wards need three things to work, they need blood relating to the recipient, close family, they need the recipient to be there for a certain amount of time to recharge them, and they must be a wizard, and...”

 

He looked nervous now, sad as well, and gazed into the green depths of Harry's happy eyes as if he were looking for the answer. Neville smelt like dirt, Herbology had been last, and this certain... Neville smell which Harry couldn't place. Like flowers and sunshine and rain and Indian food. It was less the smell and more the feeling of understanding that hung around him. There was always a certain look in his eyes that said he understood when Harry said or did something. He understood the indulgent smiles he gave to Ron and Hermione, or the distant looks he would give the horizon, or even the almost apathy that he acted upon.

 

In that moment Harry hoped that he was understanding Neville.

 

“...and, high emotions. Now, these emotions can be about one of two things. They can be high happy emotions, like love or pleasure, or they can be low sad emotions like pain or anger. We both know that there was no happiness in that house.”

 

Harry wasn't entirely sure what Neville was trying to tell him.

 

“And, one of the main reasons why blood wards are used quite often is that it is very easy to attach monitoring systems to the recipient, where accidental magic, emotions and injuries can be recorded. But, blood wards also aren't the most protective wards that can be created, and there is also quite a large risk inside them.”

 

Harry only blinked with the information that Dumbledore knew about his suffering. It was expected.

 

Neville looked at him as if he was searching for something. Something in his eyes, or on his face, or even in the small unique fingerprints in his fingertips. He was looking for something. And Harry couldn't tell what.

 

His voice was quite soft, almost cracking at how soft it was, but he continued on,

 

“The large risk to blood wards is that they rely so heavily on emotion. If the people inside do not feel high enough emotions for one another then the blood wards do not continue on. If there is no love then it does not register the people inside as family, or if there is no pain then it does not register the person kept inside as a prisoner.”

 

Prisoner.

 

So, there was a name to what he had been before. Harry took a moment to test the name out in his mind, wincing slightly as his magic lashed out at the word, feeling disgust, and his breath almost hitching in shock as his scar agreed quietly. That the word was disgusting. Both his magic and his scar seemed very offended, almost insulted, by the word itself, and wanted to bury it under mounds of sand and bury that sand in mounds of water until the word was trapped at the bottom of the ocean.

 

Prisoner.

 

His stomach clenched painfully as his magic tried to attack the word from within.

 

Harry hummed That Song lightly under his breath as his magic roared in rage. It remembered the hunger, the tears, the pain that it's Harry used to experience. It remembered the storm before the calm. It remembered the anguish.

 

Harry's magic was the type of magic that had been brought up in a war zone. Every day filled with growing hunger from famine, making famine fighting magic, and the toils of slavery, wanting to help but relenting. Harry magic still remembered Harry Hunting as if it had been the one hunted in the first place, as back then it sort of had been. Harry's magic had been the thing that made Harry a freak.

 

They may have been reunited, and Harry may have become forgiving and understanding, but his magic hadn't.

 

Something Harry wasn't sure what to think about.

 

The moment of thought passed and Neville continued to explain, wary about the consequences the information might have on his calm friend. Harry, as far as Neville knew, had never stopped smiling or being happy in all his time at Hogwarts that year, and he didn't want to upset his calm companion.

 

“So, there is a large risk that is taken. Within a place protected by blood wards the emotions within such a place are magnified until they reach the requirements needed, searching for either love or pain, and to see which the person felt more to the recipient. When Dumbledore created the blood wards, he knew this would happen. That you would either be subjected to a decade of pain or a decade of love. And... And... I'm not sure what's worse. Whether he knew what your relatives were like, what they felt about you, what would happen, or... Or if he didn't check up on you even once.”

 

Harry let that information wash over him.

 

He turned back to the wall.

 

He'd always had his suspicions that Dumbledore had knew about his life at the Dursleys.

 

And, looking back on it Harry didn't truly care about what had happened. It was the past now, and it hadn't bothered him at the end of it. Simply because the Dursleys didn't seem to matter compared to the grand scheme of life. At one point in time it had felt like it would never end, would never be over, and he would be stuck playing slave to them forever. Before Harry realised that certain things were more important he had been so fragile and despairing, always thinking about what he didn't have, what he wanted.

 

Now, it wasn't bad at all. Even being back there wouldn't be so bad. But, now he had a family. A friend. A toad. And even if he lost all of them it wouldn't be so bad... The only question he truly had was why Dumbledore wanted him to suffer? Yes, he was apparently a celebrity, but there wasn't much that was special about him. And, even before Dumbledore had discovered any of his personality he had been interested.

 

Harry sighed, turned back to Neville who was looking at him worriedly,

 

“The past is the past.”

And Neville looked into Harry's eyes, and looked like he understood.

 

That it simply didn't matter anymore, and that the Dursleys were only memories of a past that didn't need to be remembered.

 

Neville smiled at his friend, glanced at the wall Harry had been staring at for so long, and said,

 

“So, want to come over to mine in the holidays?”

 

Chapter Text

 

The conch.

 

They had decided, or Harry's family had decided, that they didn't want him visiting Neville that summer. Apparently they wanted to meet Neville and Neville's guardian first, to make sure it was safe for Harry. So, it was goodbye until next September.

 

Harry placed a small kiss Neville's cheek, smiling when he saw the other boy blush and pull away, glancing nervously about him. He had come out of his shell a great deal that year, but he was also still deeply concerned about what others thought of him.

 

“Bye.”

 

Harry said, and waited for his friend to decide what parting they wanted to indulge in.

 

A few moments later he decided; a handshake. It was slightly impersonal but Neville was still blushing from the kiss, and didn't want to hug Harry in case he got kissed again.

 

Green eyes shone with mirth, holding his hand out to be shaken, eyelashes fluttering stray dust away.

 

Neville awkwardly shook his hand, his face bright red and lips turned in a nervous smile, before bidding him farewell.

 

“Seeya Harry, have a nice holiday.”

 

Harry squeezed his hand reassuringly, noticing how his friend glanced anxiously over his shoulder at who Harry assumed was his gran. The lady was stiff, grey haired, with harsh dark chocolate eyes, thin lips forced into a frown, deep green robes and a bird hair piece perched upon her hair. She looked at Neville with disapproval, tapping a foot impatiently, before glaring at the boy.

 

Neville let go of his hand, grabbed his trunk from the ground outside the train, and walked meekly over to his grandmother. They waved at one another once again.

 

He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Hermione looking at him with watery eyes. She pulled him into a possessive hug, poking him with the edge of her trunk, and said,

 

“Oh, I'll see you soon Harry. You will owl me, won't you?”

 

Harry simply smiled at her, used to the behaviour, and waited until she let go, the smell of fresh parchment and mint filling his nose. Her parents, who stood behind her, looked on with wide smiles, the mother whispering something about 'friendship' to the other.

 

Harry waved at them, before setting off to look for his own family.

 

The train station was crowded, parents and guardians milling around looking for their offspring. Some stood with tight smiles and disapproving eyes, some looked on with teary gazes and motherly hugs, some stood with impatience, not looking forward to the reunion with their children. Harry heard a high pitched voice berate her sons from a few feet away,

 

“-and I get a letter saying you had persecuted poor innocent Hufflepuffs! Now, a prank is okay every now and again, but it is not a prank if it is bullying. And, you, Ronald, dear, your exam marks were dreadful. I do love you very much, but I simply think you need to spend more time on your studies. Are you sure it is wise to be such close friends with that boy, you know what they say about Ravenclaws? Percy dear, I am very proud of you, becoming prefect and with almost four O's, you've done very well son-”

 

Harry turned away from the group, not feeling the need to say goodbye to Ron, and looked over the protruding heads for his mother and sister. Rick and Ted had decided to wait at home, as stated in their latest letter.

 

“Harry! I missed you so much!”

 

Harry giggled as Joan swept him into her arms, holding him close, and showered his face with sloppy kisses. Other kid's faces would have burned red in embarrassment, or shoved away their siblings, but Harry simply smiled a happy smile and accepted the hugs and kisses with open arms.

 

Susan leaned over, extracting him from his sister's grip, and embracing him tightly. She scolded Joan slightly,

 

“Now dear, if you hugged him any tighter he wouldn't have been able to breathe.”

 

His sister huffed, pouting playfully, and murmured something about 'but he's so cute' under her breath.

 

Harry felt two palms on his face, as his mother leaned back to look at him, and watched her eyes flit around his expression. She smiled warmly at him, her brown eyes shining with love, and said softly,

 

“We missed you so much, and letters are nothing like seeing you again. Were those your friends? The boy you said goodbye to you, and girl who accosted you?”

 

Susan smiled slightly wider at that,

 

“Was it everything you imagined? Filled with unicorns and magic fairies?”

 

In that moment, it seemed to be only his mother and him on that train station. All the noise from the other travellers quietened to a dull roar, leaving just her eyes and words. The tired wrinkles on her face. The softness in her gaze. And he smiled at her, like he was want to do, and she hugged him again, breathing in the scent from his hair, whispering,

 

“We missed you.”

 

“MUM!”

 

Harry was broken from his reverie by the groan from his sister.

 

“You're going to embarrass him in front of all his friends!”

 

She pulled back, looking concerned, and Harry said,


“You're not.”

 

And they set off, trunk in hand, toad on head, off towards the family car.

 

 

The moment Harry walked through the front garden he realised something was different. There were wards around the house, heavy wards. It felt like thick sludge trickling down his neck, like water pounding on his back with the force of a waterfall. They were defensive and protective, harsh and unforgiving, but loyal and wholesome all the same.

 

Joan dragged him by the hand into the house. Susan walked at a more sedate pace, Harry's trunk in her right hand, and toad in her other.

 

Harry wasn't sure if he felt more complete back at the house, but soon decided it was more to do with his family than the property.

 

As soon as he was pulled through the front door, he felt himself be picked up into another set of arms. He felt hard defined muscles and the smell of new books, soon realising that he was being hugged by his brother.

 

“Harbear.”

 

His brother said as a greeting, always one for ridiculous nicknames.

 

“You're back!”

 

After almost a minute of silent hugging, music starting up in the background when Joan turned it on, and Harry was released from the tight hold.

 

He couldn't help a fond smile when he thought of how much his family missed him while he was gone at school.

 

His father looked at him with pearly blue eyes, smiled at him, and ruffled his hair, before mumbling,

 

“I've got to speak to you later, just you and me. Meet me in my study after dinner?”

 

Harry nodded, seeing no reason to disagree, and took Joan's hand, noticing her smile as they started to dance to the slow music in the background. Franklin jumped off of his head, from where he had escaped from Susan's grip, and went to explore the building. Harry's magic unwound, relaxed, and seemed to let out a breath of relief as it recognised his family.

 

Dinner was late at night, after he had unpacked and re-adjusted to his bedroom. They regaled him with stories of their year. Rick and his fiancée Sarah broke off the engagement, spoke quietly in the tense silence about how he caught her cheating. Joan did well on exams, fifth in her year, and won a trophy for swimming. Ted got a promotion at work, after three years, and was moving up in the world, apparently. Susan started pottery, and got more involved in 'modern society',

 

“Oh, and Harry dear, I just wanted to ask you something.”

 

He turned to her, swallowing the pasta in his mouth, and waited patiently. She smiled reassuringly, and got the rest of the family's attention, waiting for Jo and Rick to finish their conversation on the worthiness of university.

 

“So, I've joined a social awareness group, as you know, and something came up in one of the latest meetings. Its sort of a gender identity thing, which is completely different to sexual orientation, and I just wanted to make sure. So, its called being transgender, and its when a person is born in the wrong body. As, they have the mind of a girl but are born a boy. And, this lady in the group was talking about her daughter, sorry I mean son, who always wore boys clothes, and wanted to be called Michael, and referred to as straight as he liked other girls, so wasn't a lesbian since he was a boy, even if he was born a girl. Harry dear, and I was thinking, about how you always wear girl's clothes, and like to cook so much, are you transgender? Are you really a girl? Its completely fine if you are, we're completely accepting, and if you're not ready to talk about it yet that's fine, but I just wanted to ask, just in case.”

 

Susan waited, looked at him reassuringly, and Harry smiled back in reply. He said softly,

 

“No, I'm not a girl, I simply like dresses and fancy shoes.”

 

They all nodded, Rick mentioning something about gender stereotypes, and continued on with their meal.

 

 

His legs swung over the edge of the too big leather chair. Harry was still too short that they didn't reach the floor.

 

He was in the library, or his father's study, bookshelves lining the walls, with a desk beneath the window and computer placed on top. Scattered red and black spiral notebooks lined the walls, and he and Ted sat, facing one another, the heater purring behind them, in plushy black leather chairs.

 

His father's features were old, wrinkled, and lit by the soft orange glow of the lamp beside them. The overhead lights had broken, and the bulbs needed replacing, something Jo was cycling down to the store to get tomorrow. Ted looked at him, as if he were a precious jewel, and played the silence game.

 

However, this silence game was different than with the others than when he played it with his father. It was one he had played before. And, unlike Professor Snape or Dumbledore, his father was not trying to intimidate him, or gain the upper hand by not speaking first. No, he could simply appreciate that the silence left room to think.

 

He was not afraid of the silence.

 

“Harry.”

 

His tone was soft, warm, and Harry smiled obligingly at him, waiting for the talk to begin.

 

“Now that you're eleven, I thought I ought to have a talk to you which I had with Rick when he was your age. And all the other foster boys which have come through here.”


Ted paused, perhaps waiting for a reaction other than smiles, but continued when nothing changed.

 

“Well, at an age like yours you may start to have peculiar dreams, ones that...”

 

And that night, lit by the soft orange glow of his father's gentle face, Harry was given the talk. He wasn't embarrassed or shy, he didn't hint he had expected it, and simply agreed when his father told him to talk to him if he were ever worried about anything.

 

When he stepped out of the door, blooming with new information about his body and unavoidable future, for better or for worse, he took a walk by moonlight. Franklin dutifully hopping beside him. And Harry decided, that if he ever did fall in love, he would cherish her like the clouds or glistening stars above his head.

 

 

Harry entered Rick's room, two weeks into the holiday, and watched as the boy wrote diligently in a note book for a while, before he was noticed. There were tears running rivers down his brother's cheeks, which he would try to wipe away, and a pensive expression on his face.

 

He knocked on the door, watched as Rick stiffened, then turned, and beckoned him inside. There were faint tear tracks on his face, his eyes red rimmed, but he simply sniffed and said,

 

“So, little brother, what can I do for you?”

 

Harry sat down on the bed next to him, watched as his brother closed the book he was writing in, and moved to look at him. He said softly,

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Dealing with Neville's nervousness for a year had given him a heightened sense of empathy, since so many things upset his friend. Harry understood sadness, in a distant sort of way, and that people needed reassuring. He was trying to be less isolating, since he knew that a large part of life was making and preserving human bonds. Harry would be perfectly happy living in complete isolation in the middle of the mountains, but couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to make other's happy, and to help others.

 

It was something he hadn't felt until that year, a sense of empathy to others, and care, since he had loved the clouds just as much as any person. His childhood had trained him with a sense of self preservation that made him only consider his own needs, but living with people who wanted to give so much and a friend who understood him, led to the thought process that he needed to think of others.

 

Rick looked faintly surprised, but grateful, and said,

 

“I'm okay, Harbear. You know, sadness is okay sometimes. I'm sad, because I loved Sarah, and she didn't really love me, but that's okay. Its okay to be sad. Because I know it will get better, and I know I have you, and mum and dad and Jo. Its okay to be vulnerable sometimes. Its okay to trust and be betrayed.”

 

He looked at Harry beseechingly, as if he wanted his little brother to understand, and Harry simply gave him a smile. The same smile he always seemed to give. Rick sighed, reaching out to clasp Harry's hand in his own, and looked down at his lap, eyes still watery,

 

“Sometimes people hurt us, like your old relatives, and we never really get over it. They leave scars that reach too deep. But, what we've got to remember, is that nothing is bad forever, and everything always changes. It always gets better.”

 

Harry pulled one of his hand's out of his brother's tight grip. He was squeezing it like if he let go he would fall apart. And, he reached up, gently, and wiped the tears from his silk soft cheeks, smiling a warm smile and echoing Rick's own words.

 

“It will get better.”

 

 

“So, Harry, how has your school year been? Your parents told me you were accepted into a boarding school, by your biological parents inclinations. Care to tell me about it?”

 

Harry smiled wryly at Mel, and spoke of Neville, late night walks, and the fascinating designs of the castle. He didn't speak of magic, as Neville and his parents told him not to, and normally what they said was generally a good idea.

 

It was good to see Mel again, even if he did not consider himself in need of therapy, and he even got to show her Franklin, who looked quite amused. They discussed his outlook, and Harry admitted to having a greater empathy for others. Instead of like his old school, where he simply watched people like specimens, he had truly tried at Hogwarts to understand them. Dumbledore's manipulative intentions, Professor Sprouts kindly nature and ruthless protective streak, Ron's easily diagnosable jealousy and bigotry, Malfoy's assumptions.

 

Just like dust spotting, footstep decoding and Neville calming, understanding the wild motives and thought processes of others was an amusing game. Especially with their world's silly ideas on magic.

 

 

They were at the beach.

 

Ted had rented a beach house for them to stay in, for the last month of holidays, and Harry was wandering around the numerous coves and walkways absently. Franklin had disappeared, he'd been missing for almost six days, and no one but Harry and Jo had noticed. He'd told her that his toad would show up eventually, as it normally did.

 

He was collecting shells, many almost the same, and placing them in his recently gifted red bucket. He'd named it Red Rodger, for the sake of alliteration, and had started to collect shells en mass five days ago. There wasn't truly a reason for it, since Harry would tip them back into the raging ocean waves when he was finished, but often life's most interesting things were futile pastimes.

 

The wind was warm, and burrowed deeply under his rainbow jumper. It was low necked, almost dipped in sequins, and did not reflect sunlight very well, meaning in summer he overheated. Luckily it was cold, and wet, which disheartened most people, but encouraged Harry. Everyone but him was inside the house, playing Yahtzee for the twentieth time, and other 'campers' were doing the same.

 

It was drizzly, misty, cold most of the time, but the breeze was warm, and the mist often thinned. The sand was soggy and cold, dipping treacherously between his toes, and Harry sometimes giggled aloud at the ticklish feelings underneath him. His magic reached under the sand, scanning for fancy shells. It didn't truly play fair, and last time Harry had been out walking it had dug up a huge conch, pinkish white, with swirly patterns along it.

 

The holidays were lazy, with no one doing much of anything, and Harry didn't mind it that way.

 

Weeks ago it had been almost hectic at their house, with Susan's parents invited over, and Ted's parents conspicuously absent. They hadn't been in contact since the wedding, not approving of Susan, as she was 'frisky'. In all honesty, they hadn't agreed with her progressive views on equality for same-sex couples, and had been hard core Christians, not to reflect how all or even most Christians were usually like. They seemed to use their religion as an excuse for bigotry, taking passages of the bible at random to support their views. Harry had nothing against religion, or even against their opinions, but thought it slightly sad that they would twist something like that.

 

Harry couldn't help but wonder what they would have thought of a magical adoptive grandson.

 

After the family luncheon a few days later, at Jo's questioning, he had manipulated his magic into conjuring a vase of roses. All had been shocked, especially Rick who was in the belief (after reading many magical books) that magic required a wand. Susan had praised Harry, but also warned that the Ministry forbade under-age magic.

 

But, apparently, within their newly made goblin wards it had been undetectable, an unknown perk. The wards were centred around a ward stone, hidden from all of their minds, and warded itself. People had to be specifically keyed to enter, and any under compulsion charms or with the intent to harm or kidnap would not be allowed entrance, even those keyed into the wards. This was a precaution they wanted to take in case one of them was ever put under the imperius.

 

After Harry's display of magic, Jo 'oh'ed and 'ah'ed as he floated things, helped the plants in the garden grow and cleaned the entire house. Then he fainted, due to the large magical drain, and, after much coddling and worrying, was banned from doing strenuous magic for the rest of the summer.

 

A few days later they travelled to the beach, bringing emergency portkeys to be worn at all times, and pepper spray. Rick said that magicals hadn't created a defence against pepper spray, as they were so behind the times that they didn't know of its existence.

 

 

Harry sat on the sand, not bothered about getting his legs dirty under his dress, and gazed out at the sunrise. His sleep schedule wasn't exactly normal, making him wake at early hours, or sleep at unreputable times. Mel had tried to convinced him long ago that this state of unrest was his minds way of telling him something was wrong.

 

Harry liked to think he was a restless spirit.

 

It was a beautiful morning, the sea a dainty ebony, tinged with the fiery eyes of the fading stars. It was quiet, enough that one would have heard a stone drop far out at sea, and peaceful, bar the dull crashing of the waves. There were pebbles scattered every now and then across the sand. Harry's magic had grown bored, and would often pick them up and skim them across the water.

 

It was free, almost like another person, and often did things of its own accord. Of course, never in front of Susan, as she had banned it, and never something that endangered Harry. His magic was strangely apathetic to the fates of others, and seemed to hold resentment for the world as a whole. Quite like Harry's scar, which had befriended Harry's magic, and the two often whispered, in the nonsensical language of magic, about things that were surely nefarious.

 

His magic seemed almost wary of the scar now, as it hissed something angrily, and hedged itself to stop skimming stones.

 

Harry had noticed things about the scar as well. It was scared of dying, that much was clear, and disapproved heavily on Harry's attitude on life. It had a deep hatred for Harry's family, only tolerated Neville, but held a large encompassing fondness for Hogwarts. It was slightly sadistic, sometimes saying heartless and violent things without thinking, and had tried to cast compulsions upon Harry, quite like Dumbledore. However, his scar was a part of him, inside his head, and he couldn't help but want to free it like he had freed his magic.

 

Birds could be heard, off in the trees which were far away from the sand, and Harry stopped his thoughts to listen to them. He closed his eyes, calmed his magic, and let the sounds of the surf and early morning calls sooth his content spirit.

 

A deep pain rocketed through his chest, and Harry's breath stopped suddenly. He kept his eyes closed, felt how his magic tried to help, but only made it worse. It seemed to realise this, and as he started to gasp and choke for breath, it flew away from him in panic, digging itself into the sand as if to shield Harry from it. A moment later and his lungs filled with air again, the stabbing pain changed to a dull throb, and Harry cooed to his magic soothingly.

 

It smelt sad, guilty and apologetic, but Harry simply stroked a strand in the air that was near his foot, and said it was fine.

 

The episodes of pain had been getting worse over the holiday, brief instances of shallow breathing, insomnia, acute pain behind his eyes and in his stomach. His whole hand had become numb for almost ten minutes once. Harry wasn't sure what was happening, but he knew it was getting worse.

 

“Oh well.”

 

He sighed to himself, opening his eyes again to look at the ocean.

 

What will be will be.

 

 

Harry sat by the poolside, wearing the pale yellow dress Jo had bought for his birthday, and gazed out at the people swimming. He hummed That Song lightly under his breath, as his magic stirred in interest.

 

A girl walked over to him, a tight two piece bikini strapped to her, and towel around her waist. She was blonde, had shiny blue eyes, and had a very unimpressed expression as she gazed at something past Harry's head, off in the distance. She had an ear ring, only one, and was chewing pink gum.

 

Her sights changed from far off in the distance to Harry. She saw his dress, then his face, and did a double look.

 

After a few moments of staring she walked over, and sat herself down on the green plastic lounge chair beside him. For a while she said nothing, and simply looked out at the pool like Harry was doing. She glanced at him, curious to what he was staring at.

 

“I'm Max.”

 

Max said, drawling.

 

Harry said nothing, not buying into the social expectations of Name Trading. He simply smiled at her for a few moments, waited to see if she would say anything else, before turning his eyes back on the pool.

 

 

The next day they visited the pool again. Jo's excuse had been something about finding Franklin, but Harry had seen the friends she had made yesterday. She hadn't told Susan, perhaps embarrassed by her mother, and instead had hung around with older girls, playing Marco Polo in the water.

 

Harry sat on the wall, slowly devouring the ice cream Joan had bought him, and observed the place around him. His scar was surprisingly distant, probably plotting something, and Harry noticed his magic was searching for something. A pain started deep in his spine.

 

After an hour or so he leaned back on the brick wall, lying against it, back flat, and looking up at the sky. There were no clouds above him, the sky an eerie blue, and Harry stared into the unchanging abyss.

 

“Whatya doing?”

He heard the familiar voice of Max, trying to sound casual.

 

Harry hummed non-committally, before saying softly,

 

“Cloud watching.”

 

There were vibrations against the wall as Max clambered up to lie on it like him. She leaned back, her feet pressed flat against his, and looked up at the sky. After a while she said,

 

“There's no clouds.”

 

Harry giggled,

 

“Its why I'm watching out for them.”

 

He noticed her feet were slightly wet, and she smelled of chlorine. Max had been swimming, probably in the noisy pool beside them. Harry hadn't gone swimming, since he didn't know how to swim. He would have, but it was crowded, and there were better things to do.

 

They lied in silence, for almost five minutes, before Max spoke again.

 

“Why were you wearing a dress yesterday?”

 

Harry shrugged, a futile gesture since she couldn't see him, and said,

 

“It was pretty.”

 

He reached out with his magic, not overly surprised to find she had none, and danced it across her skin. Max giggled, and Harry let his magic draw back, hearing her murmur something about 'ticklish winds'. Normally his magic liked to check people, to make sure they were safe, as it had started to do at Hogwarts. After the Quirrel incident it had been more protective of Harry, taking the time to 'scan' everyone he spoke to.

 

Max broke the silence,

 

“Do you live around here?”

 

Harry said shortly,


“We're on holiday.”

 

“Where're you from?”

 

“Sutton.”

 

“I'm from London, live in a really creepy house with my step-dad and his many cats. He married my mum a year ago, then she left me with him, and I've been there ever since.”

 

Harry wasn't sure what to say, so he didn't say anything. Max continued,

 

“We're moving here. He's a bit nutters, but he's awfully protective, and when I got a boyfriend in London he said we'd move. I mean, that's just crazy, isn't it? Moving house because you don't want your daughter to date! I'm thirteen, almost a grown woman.”

 

She didn't say anything else.

 

 

Harry sat by the cove, the cold polished stone burning lightly under his thighs, and he smoothly felt along the shell he had. It was the conch, his magic's cheat, and it had given it to him as a gift. He blew into it sometimes, when the birds called, so he could join them. He didn't need to but it was interesting to see how some of them flew over to him.

 

“Didn't think I'd see you again.”

 

He wasn't awfully surprised that Max, the girl he had seen only three times, had found the cove he had found after two weeks. He heard a plonk as she sat herself down beside him, her dress sliding against his shorts.

 

Harry was wearing deep blue shorts, and a green dotted singlet. It was warm, and Susan had said all his other clothes were in the wash. He was wearing his hat, a maroon purple coloured one that reached all the way around his head, Ted had glued some of his best shells to it.

 

Max said again,

 

“Its a nice beach, isn't it?”

 

Harry hummed, smiled at her warmly, and she smiled back. She was chewing gum again, purple coloured, and looking out at the sea. It was calm that day, the waves small, and there were a few people swimming. They hadn't swum when it was rough, afraid of the sharks or their children drowning.

 

Max laughed at him, around her gum, and looked deep into his green eyes,

 

“You're a weird kid, you are. I don't even know your name and I already told you my life story!”

 

Harry murmured quietly, his voice echoing through the cove,

 

“Maybe you just needed someone to talk to.”

 

She smiled at him, shaking her head lightly, and looked back out at the ocean.

 

They sat in silence again, the faint roar of the rolling waves filling their ears. Harry occasionally blew into the conch. Max looked at it, fascinated,

 

“Do you want to be my boyfriend?”

Her cheeks were burning, and she didn't look at him straight on. Harry sighed,


“Not really.”

 

Max didn't look surprised, or even sad, just a little disappointed. Harry handed her the shell. She laughed a little bitterly,

 

“Is this my consolation prize?”

 

Harry shrugged, singing lightly under his breath, and they both lost themselves in thought, Max blowing into the shell, like Harry did, every once in a while.

 

They both knew that was probably the last time they would ever see each other.

 

 

Franklin appeared five minutes before they had to leave, with a pink bow tie around his middle, and a look that said clearly 'don't ask'. Harry simply smiled, picked him up, and placed him in his new hat. He whistled as he made his way over to the family car, climbing over Joan's lap to sit in the empty middle seat, a seat no one apparently wanted to sit in, ever. His sister laughed at Franklin, seeing his new state of dress, before Rick picked up the toad, out of Harry's hat, and freed it from the embarrassing compound.

 

Harry had never seen his toad look quite so disgruntled before.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Meeting kings and sunsets.

 

Harry sat on the floor, legs crossed, arms rested on his knees, staring up at the piles of summer homework on his bed. He'd finished it with Jo in the first few weeks of holidays, at Susan's insistence. Now he was sitting and listening to the wards surrounding the place. They buzzed quietly, vibrating the air around him ever so slightly.

 

That Song played in the back of his mind. He wasn't sure what instrument it was, but it felt right. His magic swirled around him, almost dancing to it, and Harry swayed ever so slightly. It probably wasn't normal to hear music in one's mind, especially a song that had simply appeared months ago, but he simply smiled and hummed along.

 

He didn't know how long he stared at that same spot, only that he did, and only that his thoughts were coming together. That something was coming together.

 

Harry didn't quite know what, but a small smile graced his lips anyway.

 

“Harry, what are you doing?”

 

He heard a soft voice coming from the doorway, and watched out of the corner of his eye as Jo pulled her night dress tightly around herself and stepped into his room. She stumbled over, plonking herself down next to him, and layed a heavy arm over his shoulder.

 

Jo yawned, saying with half-closed eyes,

 

“Its only five in the morning, why are you up so early?”

 

Harry replied quietly,

 

“Couldn't sleep.”

 

He wasn't quite sure whether it was the truth or not.

 

She smiled a knowing smile at him and batted at his back playfully with her free arm. Jo snuck a hand under his neck, tickling him mercilessly, and as sparks of giggles encompassed him he fell to the floor. She pounced, jumping on top of him, and continued to tickle until his gut hurt and his lungs heaved unevenly.

 

They separated, both smiling like loons, and sat back.

 

Jo looked out the window, looking over the garden, and sat on Harry's bed. She pulled the blue striped duvet around herself, beckoning him up onto the bed, and waited until he was snuggled in beside her. She shivered as Harry's cold toes poked hers and said playfully,

 

“Oi! You're feet are cold, get them away from me!”

 

Harry laughed again, pulling his legs away, and they settled into a comfortable silence. She eventually pulled him up against her, his head lying against her chest, and stroked his hair softly. Their breaths mixed together, warm snuggled under the blankets, and they both looked out on the sunrise as it started.

 

“What were you really doing up, Harry?”

 

Jo said, the words sounding thick in her throat, as if she didn't truly want to ask. As if she just wanted to cuddle him close, and not question why he would be staring at a wall at such an hour.

 

Harry shrugged, making her pinch his cheek slightly, and send him an amused look. She raised an eyebrow,

 

“Are you my brother or not? I can see that you were up for a reason, don't just shrug it off.”

 

Harry smiled at her, turning to face her, before leaning himself against her shoulder. She wrapped an arm against him once more, speaking in hushed tones,

 

“I was coming to check on you, make sure you were sleeping well. I was only awake because... Well... I never did truly go to sleep, did I?”

 

In that moment Harry noticed that unlike normal, Jo smelled of alcohol and cigarettes. The smell made his heart pick up, pinch him uncomfortably, and he felt his scar pain slightly.

 

It didn't like the smell of smoke.

 

“Do you remember at the holiday house, how I told mum that we were looking for Franklin when we really weren't? It wasn't just because I'd made some friends there. There was this girl... Georgie, real cute red head, and... and... well, I really liked her. Has dad given you the talk yet?”

 

Harry nodded minutely, choosing not to remark upon the faint blush on his sister's cheeks.

 

“Well, mum gave me a similar talk not too long ago. And, well, I don't really know how to say this...”

 

Jo seemed to be waiting for him to give her the answer to a question she hadn't truly asked. Harry didn't know, so he said nothing, simply giving her time to speak.

 

Her breathing evened out, becoming deeper, and for a while he wondered if she had fallen asleep.

 

“Georgie is my girlfriend, and you can't tell anyone. Not even Rick. I don't want them to know. Its just... Mum and dad, they care a lot, they do... But I want some freedom to become my own person. Not a worker bee like dad, or a 'neighbourhood lady' like mum. I understand that she wouldn't care that Georgie is a girl, she wouldn't even treat me any different, but... I wished she knew that it... It does kinda make me feel different.”

 

Harry wasn't sure why she was telling him this, but sought no reason to stop her.

 

“Well... I just thought you should know, if anyone would.”

 

She bent down next to his ear, breathing hot breaths against it, and whispered in a conspiratorial manner,

 

“You are my favourite brother after all.”

 

 

Harry followed Susan and Rick into the bank. It was just like before, with goblin guards in heavy armour stationed at ever exit, almost identical sneers on their faces.

 

He watched, humming lightly under his breath, as some people shied away from their blood-thirstily glances, some sneered in return, some did not even look, and some tried to placate. A small brown haired girl with almond shaped eyes bowed to them, only for the goblins to ignore her.

 

Harry watched, listening to the metallic twang of his feet on the warded ground, as Rick and Susan lined up at an empty teller. She put a hand on the small of his back, to comfort her or him he didn't know, and tapped a foot nervously at the look a goblin was sending them. Harry smiled at her reassuringly, making some of the worry sink out of her shoulders, and she smiled back, pulling a strand of his ever growing hair behind his ear.

 

It was growing long now, and if he didn't watch it carefully it would act like it was in a thunderstorm, charged with the magic he possessed.

 

His magic curled around him, slipping under his arms and over his neck, trying to make sure he was alright. That morning Harry had had the shakes, uncontrollable shivers that left him unable to walk. His magic had flown away from him, and hid just outside his room, until he stopped. Each day as his condition worsened he felt the guilt emanating from his magic grow.

 

The line shortened until it was just them standing behind the counter. Harry thought the goblin was vaguely familiar, but couldn't be sure.

 

Rick bowed, mumbling something under his breath, and the goblin bowed back with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Let your coffers never empty.”

 

Susan smiled, a slightly tight smile, and moved Harry slightly behind her as the goblin's eyes roamed over him. She was in extra-protective-mother mode, ever since Harry fainted from over use of magic. It had been amazing to see what he could do, and even more so when Rick told her that most wizards, if not all, used wands to do magic.

 

Her son was so precious.

 

But, she didn't want him hurt in any way, shape, or form. Especially with what had happened already in his life.

 

She bowed as well, trying to be polite, and said quietly, as Rick had instructed her,

 

“Merry meet. Let your enemies quake at the sight of you, and your vaults overflow.”

The goblin bowed back, its hair draping down its shoulder which was tied in a pony tail,

“Let your coffers never empty. What can Gringotts do for you today?”

 

It straightened up, pushing its pony tail back over its shoulders, and stared at them. It was the longest hair they had ever seen on a goblin.

 

Rick said formally, after having memorised the proper protocol for many magical creatures. He had decided to study magic, even if he couldn't do it, instead of going to university. He wondered what his parents would say to that.

 

As he smirked slightly to himself he realised he didn't care what his parents thought. It was his life, his choices to make, his mistakes to make, and a university degree wouldn't complete him as a person. He had felt, ever since Sarah left him, that there was something missing from his life, and hoped magic could fill that.

 

“We are here to take money from Mr. Harry Potter's trust vault, for school supplies.”

 

The goblin stared at the child who was being forcefully hidden behind his mother.

 

“And does Mr. Harry Potter have his key?”

They all blinked.

 

“Key?”

 

Susan said, looking a bit confused. The goblin sighed, turning around and calling out in strange guttural sounds. A few goblins turned before one raised a hand and scurried over. It bowed to the other goblin, wearing only one dagger compared to the other's four (that were visible), and said almost reverently,

 

“I am Griphook, Potter account manager. And on the date of the 25th of November, 1981, a Potter trust vault key was activated for Mr. Harry Potter, and given to his person. Mr. Harry Potter has entered his accounts five times over the course of the past ten years, the last withdrawal occurring on August third, 1991. Mr. Harry Potter has responded to no letters sent for his heir ship, and has not entered the wizarding world to receive vaccines when asked.”

 

They blinked again. Most looking a bit confused.

 

Harry hummed in the silence, taking the moment to step out from his mother's shield, and look around in curiosity. His magic once again pulled away from his body, scanning across the wards on the floor, which were pulsing upwards. Harry sung lowly, a song he had not sung before.

 

He could almost swear the wards sung back. And, knowing what he knew about magic, thought it a quite realistic possibility.

 

Griphook and the other goblin turned to him, looked at him with curiosity, before turning back to the other two. They watched the body language of the two adults, seeming to understand what had happened.

 

Griphook demanded,

 

“Are you saying Mr. Harry Potter has not been aware of this?”

 

Susan nodded sharply, looking still confused, whereas Rick, who knew more about how this worked, looked enraged. He whispered to his mother quietly,


“Someone has been stealing from Harry.”

 

She blinked, her eyes narrowing in anger, and said,

 

“He was not aware.”

 

Almost as if a switch had been flicked the two other goblins started to act. Harry watched in fascination as their forcefully calm magic zapped out dangerously, reflecting their emotions. Their expressions were the same as ever, sneers, but their magic showed a deep sense of injured honour.

 

Griphook left the room, bellowing loudly in what Rick said was gobbledegook, the language of the goblins. The other goblin sorted through his papers, pulling out many lists and flicking through them.

 

Harry's scar picked up interest at the violent atmosphere, and said something in the language of magic, making Harry's own magic whirl dangerously. He soothed it with quiet mental words, asking it what was wrong, and it answered with a feeling of vengeance and protectiveness. Harry felt his chest constrict tightly for a moment, his heart miss a beat, before his magic flung away from him and lashed out.

 

It was so sudden, and Harry couldn't have stopped it even if he wanted to. Which he didn't, since he felt his magic was allowed a certain degree of freedom, keeping it caged for so many years had been bad enough.

 

The wards hummed unhappily, and Harry could have sworn the ground shook.

 

Goblins lifted their weapons and turned to him, caution and confusion in their eyes. All activity stopped for a moment in the bank, it being almost completely silent, and Harry saw people looking at him in worry and pity. Apparently no one upset the goblins and came out of it better off.

 

He saw Draco standing in a line not far from him, looking in curiosity and a tad of smugness, as if this proved all the crazy schemes he had been believing.

 

Susan bent down next to him, her eyes wide, and said,

“Don't worry. No one will get hurt.”

 

She must have thought he was threatened by the goblin's pointing sharp weapons at him.

 

Harry smiled at her, brushing a hand idly down her cheek, before glancing around at the still on guard goblins. Griphook arrived back in the room a moment later, looking quite awkward, and almost dropped the bundle in his arms as he saw most of the goblins in the bank pointing weapons at his client.

 

He cleared his throat, and one of the guards turned to him, a sneer on their lips which looked quite genuine. Goblin guards thought goblin bankers weren't real fighters, and it showed in the tension of his body.

 

The two had a long and what seemed very angry conversation in gobbledegook, but Harry saw it wasn't by the calming of their magics. It started off almost hissing at one another, great sparks of anger and pride battling together with giant claps of energy, before it dispersed into the calm waves of before and they made a deal. Perhaps gobbledegook just sounded like an angry language.

 

Griphook turned to him, the other guard motioning to the room. They lowered their weapons, glared at Harry, before returning to their spots on the walls. Griphook said normally, as if the whole room wasn't completely silent,

 

“Come, the king wants to speak with you.”

 

Harry started to follow along, Rick and Susan right behind him very on edge, before they were stopped.

 

“Only Mr. Harry Potter.”

 

They sighed, Susan squeezing his shoulder and Rick telling him quietly how to address the king.

 

Harry smiled at them, feeling just like normal, and waited for their worry to fade. Susan bent down and gave him a kiss on the forehead, a foreboding feeling filling her, and told him to be careful.

 

Then he turned around, his magic acting like a kicked puppy, and followed Griphook through the halls of the bank.

 

 

Ragnuk sat in his office, walls lined with shiny weapons, and an old goblin's song playing lowly in the background. He thought he made quite the intimidating figure, sitting there, chair high, weapons pointed to the centre of the room. He did try to, for one could never know when the younger goblins 'got ideas'.

 

He had become king over fifty years ago. A king's life was always much longer than other goblins, for they had the blessing of magic over them, which let them live to perform certain duties that had been assigned to them.

 

Ragnuk's duty had been vague an unspecified, a brief monologue.

 

“King Ragnuk, you will rule your goblins with a strict honour code and open mindedness to other creatures, this will be important in the coming events. A warning to you; do not search for the sword of Griffindor, it will only bring harm to your people.”

 

After that the melodic and whispered voice of magic, neither male or female, which had rung in his head the moment he was accepted as king, left him for good.

 

Ragnuk had become king by finishing a goblin quest, set by magic, at the start of 1900. It had gone unfinished for many years, before he completed it, and consisted of going across the world in a search for the legendary goblin crown. Each new century the crown was removed by magic herself, and placed in a new location, with a challenge of wits, magic, strength and logic to find it. And, once a goblin found the crown, they could only wear it if they were considered the next goblin king.

 

The previous king had been his father, Ragnok, the goblin name for idiot, and often people wondered how he had found the crown in the first place, since he had descended into such stupidity later on in life.

 

It was a truly sad tale, for King Ragnok, despite his name, had used to be an intelligent and resourceful king, who cared greatly for his people. He had been a wonderful father for many years, his wife bearing five children, Ragnuk the youngest, before becoming erratic and untrustworthy after the incident.

 

In an attempt to finish his duty he had been taken by wizards, tortured for information on Lady Magic (when they still believed such a thing existed) and had never been the same since. It was something only known later by his closest advisors and family.

 

Ragnuk, as his fifth son with no calling, (neither a guard, banker, magic researcher, or any other of the innumerable goblin occupations) had taken up the quest for the king's crown. It had come as a shock for Ragnuk to be the successor, seeing as the title was not something normally inherited, but decided by magic herself.

 

After his crown-ship Ragnuk had taken no pleasure in killing his father all those years ago, but it had to be done. Two kings living at one time only ended in disaster, it was a well known old wives tale, which had turned out to be true on many occasions.

 

He sat in his chair, awaiting the arrival of the 'famed Harry Potter'. Griphook, the Potter accounts manager, had come to him with the worries that theft had taken place. It was a grievous offence, and the goblin was lucky to not lose his head for missing such an error.

 

As he sat there, polishing a blade, he did wonder what the esteemed hero would be like. He was the child to have defeated Lord Voldemort, or so it was believed, but he was that, only a child. Would he be like other children of pure-blood, even though he was a half-blood? Thinking themselves better than the goblins because a goblin had fallen for a wizard's trick long ago, and now the species was enslaved?

 

But, there were rumours given by his advisors, that Harry Potter had been raised by muggles. If true it could lead to the sickening politeness of muggleborns, which still pandered to them as an inferior species. Ragnuk wondered which was worse, the sneering or the pity. Well, goblins despised pity, a proud creature they were, it was probably the latter.

 

Barely a soul followed the old customs any longer. Never did they bow and say the correct words. Some did, but only for the thought of better service, never for the respect of their battle worn honour. Most thought goblins were a sneaky bunch, and trapped as they were they had to be, but they were honourable at heart, taking dishonour as a death warranting offence.

 

His door opened and he stayed seating, knowing standing simply made the other think they were superior. He felt the familiar magic of his guards, tightly bound and looking slightly shaken. What could have happened? There was Griphook's, a weak goblin, his only saving grace had been his aptitudes for banking... but now...

 

And Mr. Harry Potter's...

 

Oh.

 

It was... almost indescribable. That power hanging off him in gentle waves, curling almost apologetically around the boy. But angry, oh so angry, and defensive, as if it were brought up in a war zone. Dark magic, for certain, there was nothing else that... But why did it feel so like his own, so much stronger than his own? It felt calm and relaxed, not controlled like his, so it couldn't be neutral magic. It had to be dark magic, nothing else could be so seductive.

 

He looked up, placing his weapon back on the table. Ragnuk waved his hand absently, signalling for the others to leave, and stared at the Potter boy for many seconds until the door was shut.

 

The door slammed, the sound quite loud in the silence.

 

He expected the child to jump, or talk, or... anything. The boy, so small yet so powerful, those sharp green eyes staring at him curiously, lips turned up into a friendly smile, as if he wasn't threatening Ragnuk with his magic, just stood there, humming something under his breath. The child was so slender, hips curved ever so slightly, black hair hanging near his ears, coming off in dangerous curls. It seemed to shiver with his pent up power.

 

This child was so different to what he had expected, so calm and unbothered. He seemed happy. In the presence of the most brutal king in five hundred years.

 

Potter looked almost as amused as he looked impassive. But, no... The child couldn't see how truly shocked he was, it was impossible. His aura was hidden, his face was impassive, his knives glinted just as they had moments before.

 

“Merry meet.”

 

Potter said softly.

 

Ragnuk blinked.

 

This was a child. He should not feel threatened by a child, even if a voice in the back of his head warned him never to underestimate someone or he would meet his end.

 

“Mr. Harry Potter, I have been informed by Griphook that you have concerns over your previous bank withdrawals.”

 

Potter smiled, a small smile, just a tilt of the lips, and looked around for a moment, as if trying to work out where to sit. Ragnuk had done that on purpose, having no chairs in the room, so people would be forced to stand. It brought the power to him, along with speaking second.

 

Then... Potter did something unexpected. He sighed, still smiling, and sat himself down on the floor.

 

Ragnuk blinked.

 

Potter hummed lightly before saying unexpectedly,

 

“How did you get your weapons to be so shiny?”

 

Ranguk's eyes narrowed. What was the child trying to do? Was this a power play? He couldn't help but wonder... someone so young, only twelve, with that much raw power... What sort of things did they think, to be so in-tune with their magic?

 

 

Harry spoke the thought aloud, thinking of his own shoes that never seemed to get clean. Shoes were like knives, weren't they?

 

 

Ragnuk continued on , ignoring the question, and sorting through a few papers that Griphook had handed him. He read through the inheritance test with a raised eyebrow, especially at all the potions, bonds and binds, befo1re reading through the transaction papers. After almost seven minutes of silence, where the Potter child had not moved in the slightest, he returned his attention.

 

It was slightly... eerie how well behaved the boy was. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

 

Ragnuk coughed, gaining the boy's attention, and spoke his observations,

 

“Goblins at Gringotts take this matter very seriously, especially considering what an important client you are.”

 

Truly he said that to all pure-blooded or other arrogant wizards, in an attempt to inflate their egos. It worked wonders on Lucius Malfoy.

 

He almost frowned as the small Potter child simply nodded, hair flopping in front of his eyes. The child giggled lightly before brushing it away, whispering something about 'ticklish winds' with a sparkle in his eye.

 

“Now, it would seem that someone has been embezzling funds from you. We apologise for missing this error. This will be dealt with, and if it would suit you, the person can be brought under goblin law, and face goblin consequences.”

 

Ragnuk focused for a moment, only lifting his hand, and summoned a large dusty tome towards him with wandless magic. Goblin warriors were taught not to be dependant on such things as wands, honestly, how lazy wizards had become was frankly frightening.

 

The book thudded in front of Potter, who peered over the tome which was up to his knee.

 

“Please read through this and tell me how you wish to continue.”

 

Ragnuk purposely gave the child such a large book so that he would make a rushed decision and leave it for the goblins to handle. As a muggle raised child, he held none of the poise and arrogance of a wizard raised child so it was easy to tell, he would most likely not know of the possibility for ministry involvement.

 

He stopped himself from smiling a shark like grin thinking about the beheading that would befall the guilty wizard.

 

The small child simply smiled, blowing dust off the cover, and looked to be about to read it.

 

Ragnuk stopped him before he could turn the first page,

 

“The possibly guilty parties could be one of three people, your magical guardian, or your non magical guardians.”

 

The king wondered if he had shattered any delusions on the true morality of the 'esteemed headmaster'. The child had attended Hogwarts for a year, meaning Dumbledore had a lot of time to sink his hooks in. The meddlesome old wizard was known for his tricks, and Ragnuk sighed slightly remembering how their nation had been unable to add compulsions to their inheritance test. They were working on it, but it was a difficult task, as compulsions affected different parts of magic than binds and bonds.

 

Potions was only possible since it was a blood inheritance test, and most potions were detectable through the blood.

 

It was an odd balance.

 

As he watched Potter work out who it was, he was slightly surprised when the Light scion showed no shock whatsoever. He thought yet again that there was perhaps more that met the eye with this one.

 

Potter simply looked up at him with a small smile and murmured,

 

“Dumbledore, what new game is this?”

 

Ragnuk blinked. He felt oddly threatened by those seemingly innocent words, and only just contained a shudder as Potter's huge wave of neutral magic washed over him. If he were a lesser goblin he would have sunk to his knees.

 

Instead his breath caught, and his eyes widened, an involuntary response like breathing which he could not avoid.

 

His own magic buzzed lightly and King Ragnuk suppressed it instantly, following through with all of his ingrained training.

 

“I was also informed that you have not been receiving your Gringotts Monthly Bank Statements.”

 

The boy smiled that happy smile and shook his head.

 

Ragnuk sighed,

 

“If you are willing we will arrange your magical heirship some time next month. We possess the Black and Slytherin Heir rings, but the Potter Heir Ring was last seen with James Potter, who refused to part with it for sentimental value. We will recover it, as there is vast protection magic on it, but I make no promises.”

 

The child smiled in that unnerving way, and Ragnuk sent him out.

 

He felt incredibly... uneasy with this mysterious child, and he couldn't help but wonder what would become of him in the future.

 

 

Harry skipped back to his brother and mother, prepared for a day of shopping. Susan checked him over, looking for large injuries. Harry saw Rick having a discussion with Griphook at the counter, his magic flew out and felt a ward around them.

 

Privacy ward perhaps?

 

He simply shrugged, smiled, and leaned into his mother's hug.

 

Chapter Text

Dreams and grimoires.

 

Harry looked over at the shelf of advanced charm books, smiling to himself as people looked at him doubtfully. They were a bit too complex for him to understand, but he wanted to expand his magical knowledge, so had followed his mother's suggestion.

 

Rick was shopping in Knockturn Alley for some books on blood magic. He was an avid supporter of ignoring Ministry regulations. Jo said it had something to do with his previous experience in politics, as School Captain in school (it had been more of an empty title, with teachers holding an unfair amount of power).

 

It made Harry wonder if his brother was becoming a dark wizard, even though he had no magic. Ron had said that anyone who went to Knockturn Alley was a dark wizard, and a murderer. But, he had also said that Slytherins were evil.

 

...Harry wasn't entirely sure what a dark wizard was.

 

He shrugged and continued browsing for new books.

 

Susan was off buying all of his school books, and had told him to pick some extra books for himself. Franklin was god knows where, having disappeared before they went to the bank. Harry had some suspicions that his toad was the king of an underground society of reptiles, key in taking over all non-reptiles. He didn't share this with anyone, thinking that he had no evidence and didn't truly care if his species got enslaved.

 

Franklin would be a good king, he was very patient.

 

They had already bought his other school supplies and new robes (his mother picking out the ones that looked the cutest, and Rick picking out the ones that would 'get all the ladies'), including potion supplies, toad food (which was a tin of elongated worms, as a treat for Franklin), a small plant for Herbology, some telescope cleaner for Astronomy, and a wand holster for DADA (even though Harry didn't strictly need a wand). Strangely, and suspiciously, his scar had seemed very excited at the thought of having a wand holster, whispering madly about how easy it would be to beat someone with such a handy tool.

 

Harry was starting to suspect his scar was losing sanity as time continued, not that he truly minded, as sanity was often a subjective thing.

 

“But MUM, we don't even learn anything in History!”

 

Harry blinked and lifted his head over the shelf he was perusing, to see the Weasley family bundled together and buying stacks of books. Ron was bemoaning his fate as someone cursed to go to school and read. The twins, who Harry only remembered because they had almost identical magic, were giggling together and looking nefarious. The mother, a curvy woman with frizzy red hair who he had forgotten the name of, was chastising her sons for one reason or another, and a young miniature, thinner version, of the mother was looking excited and tired all at the same time. There were two other Weasleys who he couldn't identify roles to, a tall boy with a squashed looking face, and a docile and cowed man that looked like the male version of the mother.

 

He realised he had been standing and staring for a long time when he felt a hand on the small of his back.

 

“Harry dear?”

 

His mother's soothing voice cut through his reverie and Harry turned, smiling at her kindly, and watched as her eyes glowed with motherly warmth. Susan kissed him briefly on the cheek, carrying a large patch work handbag, and said absently in wonder,

 

“I honestly can't believe how they can do things like this! This bag weighs almost nothing and is about the size of a bath on the inside. Magic is truly something which makes me wonder if this is only a dream.”

 

Her attention snapped back to him, and she took the two books from his hands. One was on advanced charms, the other on Arithmancy. Harry had grown interested in the latter when reading about it the previous year.

 

Susan bopped him on the nose,

 

“What were you looking at, dear?”

 

Harry giggled, saying softly,

 

“The Weasleys, a hanger-on named Ron had elected himself as my best friend in a fit of delusions. He was also in the belief that I liked Quidditch for some time, and was not a Ravenclaw.”

 

She raised an eyebrow at his odd way of speaking, something Harry tended to do sometimes,

 

“A hanger-on, hmm? Well, we should probably avoid them then.”

 

Susan linked her arm around his, and began to lead him to the register. She knew Harry was competent, and quite wise. Her son could do a lot of things and think in a very mature way. He didn't need to be led anywhere, but she had noticed that he often saw no reason to do something and therefore didn't. Susan didn't want him wandering around and chasing butterflies because it seemed more important than buying his school books.

 

Harry's lips tilted up slightly at her mothering, and followed her to the old greying man behind the counter. He was gruff and mouldy looking, smelling the same, and took their books with a grunt and a murmured 'Ravenclaw then'.

 

They packed their books back into the bag and were about the leave when a voice boomed across the store. It was in this moment that Harry realised a crowd of middle aged witches was at one end of the store, giggling behind their hands and whispering to one another. He had to wonder why people insisted on following stereotypes so succinctly.

 

“...And I Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin First class, Honorary member of the Dark Forces defence league and five time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile-Award here do present my latest book, Magical Me, for your enjoyment! Only one galleon more than the last, but... enough about that...”

Harry felt a sickening Light magic wash over him, his stomach twisted uncomfortably, and his own magic curled painfully around him. He watched, still smiling brightly in his mother's grip, as if in slow motion, as the crowd parted like the red sea and Lockhart stepped through. The man, with blonde hair as hard as stone, a smile that would make foe glass compliment him, and baby blue robes fashionably fashioned, struck as fast as a viper.

 

A hand coiled around Harry's arm.

 

Lockhart smiled, eyes shining with arrogance and self-assurance,

 

Harry Potter.”

The crowd seemed to quieten down, many gasping as they saw how Harry was dressed. Harry was attired with a grey sweater stamped with a kitten picture, faded purple jeans, a strand of hair braided with one of the ribbons given by Ted for his birthday, and the baggy red jumper he had first bought at the Dursleys. His shoes, curled and dainty, like that of a pure-blood lady, smile innocent and 'naïve', were nothing like they envisioned.

 

They expected a hero, a man, wearing wizarding robes and a courageous attitude, not a boy calmly standing, clung to by his mother and by a renowned celebrity. Many wondered who the woman was holding his arm.

 

He looked quite the contrast standing next to his own books, with images that looked quite different to him; green eyes, rounded glasses, sharp face. Harry looked more like his mother than they had first wanted.

 

Lockhart turned to the crowd, and Harry soothed his magic, not wanting everyone in the store to get hurt as his scar tried to rile it up. There weren't goblin wards in Flourish and Blotts.

 

“When young Harry here stepped into Flourish and Blotts today, he only wanted to buy my autobiography, which I shall be happy to present him with now, Magical Me, free of charge.”

 

The crowd applauded, some looking jealous, others almost swooning and whispering to one another how 'adorable' Harry looked. Nothing like the dragon killing hero they were expecting... from a twelve year old.

 

Lockhart held a hand out to his audience, and a witch shrieked delightedly as she tossed over her copy of his book. The book was shoved at Harry, who simply smiled, not thinking it mattered to mention that he had already bought the book as part of the DADA course books.

 

“He had no idea-”

 

Lockhart said, shaking Harry slightly and making his magic hiss. Harry had to wonder why his magic was so angry today, perhaps it was an anniversary of sorts that it did not appreciate, or maybe there was something icky in the air that gave it a bad feeling.

 

“-that he would shortly be getting so much more than my book, Magical Me.”

 

Lockhart had mentioned his book three times already in the short speech he gave. Harry almost giggled in amusement at the game the adult was trying to play.

 

Honestly, adults were so silly sometimes.

 

“He and his schoolfellows, along with every year at Hogwarts, will, in fact, be getting the real magical me. Ha ha. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, one and all, I have the great pleasure and ultimate pride in announcing that, this September, I will be taking up the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!”

 

The crowd roared in applause, some more than others, as some remembered the dreaded DADA curse and thought morosely at how it would affect their favourite celebrity.

 

In that moment Harry felt a toad jump onto his head, and was rewarded by a calming of his magic. Perhaps it had been Franklin's absence that upset it? But no, that wasn't right, Franklin was often gone.

 

No one in the audience noticed Franklin on his head, and Harry had to wonder if his toad had some sort of disillusionment magic that made it unnoticeable. It would explain a lot.

 

Lockhart turned back to him, the familiar smile on his face, before suddenly realising his mother was there. Susan did not look impressed, unhappy that her baby boy was being treated like a piece of meat, and pushed Harry behind her, quite like at the bank.

 

Lockhart said condescendingly,

 

“So, little lady, who might you be?”

 

Susan's short stature was not something to comment on, unless you wanted the glare of death, as proven by Rick the one time he had the 'bright idea' to pat his mother on the head.

 

She simply stared, eye twitching slightly, and said briskly,

 

“I am Harry's mother, and I would appreciate it if you would get away from my charge.”

 

A sudden silence entered the store, and people craned their necks to see the guardian of the famous Boy Who Lived. Susan knew about Harry's fame, having been told by McGonagall, but did not know it was this extreme, she vowed to read more on it.

 

A few ladies scoffed at her appearance, expecting a pure-blood princess, and was instead gifted with Harry's mother. A lady with love filled eyes, a scruffy bun of light brown hair, and a pale yellow dress with black tights underneath. They apparently didn't appreciate muggle clothing.

 

Harry saw, out of the corner of his eye, the Malfoys and the Weasleys both freeze in shock. The Weasley Matriarch appeared confused, and Draco appeared almost angry.

 

Susan took his hand, trying to be inconspicuous, and squeezed it briefly.

 

Lockhart blinked, then smiled charmingly, and offered his own hand.

 

“Well, Miss...”

 

Susan shook it stiffly,


“Susan Murphy.”

 

Lockhart looked at her with 'warm' almost seductive eyes that made her frown, before turning back to the crowd,

 

“Miss Murphy, everyone! Harry Potter's... mother came here today with the hope of meeting me, and her wish came true. I'm sure, as a single parent, of Harry, that she would appreciate all of my books free of charge! It can't be easy to raise a child alone, after all, as many of you know.”

 

Susan blinked, removed her hand, and said,

 

“I have a husband, you fool, and would appreciate it if you would leave me alone.”

 

Then she took Harry by the hand and walked out of the store. Harry saw the flashing of camera's behind him, and looked proudly up at his mother. She was fierce.

 

Lockhart brushed off the small mistake and continued on.

 

As Harry walked out he heard the sounds of fighting coming from inside, the Weasley and Malfoy patriarchs getting into a fist fight. He felt his magic tense for a moment as Mr. Malfoy's magical signature, similar to Snape and Quirrel's (with two signatures), let out a deep burst of heavy magic. It was unlike anything Harry had ever felt, his own magic grew protective, and his scar stopped its maniacal plotting in shock.

 

He could have sworn he heard 'Me?' coming from his own head, but brushed it off and followed his mother back down the alley. Eyes followed them, after hearing the commotion inside.

 

 

Evening sunlight drifted through the house. His family was playing Yahtzee in the dining room. He thought they could be addicted to that board game.

 

Harry was alone, taking a break from reading for a while, since it was more fun with Jo, and was lying back on the rug in his room, listening to the music Jo got him for his birthday.

 

He had expected something from Neville, but wasn't upset that he didn't, since he didn't get anything for Neville's birthday. Gift Giving was one of those social norms, like Name Trading, which he didn't see a reason to follow. Harry didn't mind giving gifts, but... he didn't think that only giving gifts on certain days was a good plan.

 

He drifted his fingers through the fabric of the rug, almost purring at its softness, and stared at the ceiling whilst singing the Dixie Chicks off by heart. It was off tune, and quite soft, but he sung it anyway. It was one of the CDs Jo had gotten him, with a card saying that if he did make up new songs he should write them down, and if he couldn't think of any songs he could always sing these.

 

“Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I'm not sure I could. They say time heals everything. But I'm still waiting. I'm through with doubt. There's nothing left for me to figure out. I've paid a price, and I'll keep paying. I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell, and I don't...”

 

Harry gasped, eyes suddenly closing, as a tightly twisting pain started right in his abdomen. He let out a high whimper, and felt tears on his cheeks, and the knife in his chest continued to turn. Bitter white hot icicles drove themselves down into his centre, trying to tear him apart, and Harry breathed through the pain, getting used to the sudden chaotic influxes of magic he felt.

 

He felt like he was falling, that the floor was melting away, and he was drowning in the woodwork. Harry lost all motor control, arms feeling numb, as if they were far far away on a cloud, and he slipped into darkness. His mind felt miles away, stretched like a long piece of Taffy, and everything was dizzy and swirling with colours he knew weren't real. It was getting harder and harder to think, and his body flip flopped, like a fish, swimming around and around in the water he couldn't feel, flying in the air that didn't exist.

 

Down down down into darkness he fell, the world pulling in around him, sucking him into a deep hole, and Harry gasped for air as his chest was set on fire. Coughs wracked his frame, his neck titled backwards, as he begged anyone who was listening to give him air.

 

His eyes opened.

 

He was alone, blackness surrounded him, and he gazed into the oblivion in front of him.

 

Harry squinted, eyes feeling smaller than they were, and titled his head slightly at the girl. She was red headed, with eyes a dull blue, filled with desire, addiction and desperation. She sat, 'Weasley. Weasley' Harry's mind told him, under the tree down by the Black Lake. There was a book in her lap, black, cover made of real leather, the golden words of 'Tom Marvalo Riddle' at the very bottom in generic font. The wind roared around her, around him, and Harry looked down at his own feet, covered in a blackness that threatened to sweep him away.

 

He gasped. Breathing deeply. Eyes open. The CD player still playing. Franklin lying on his bed looking at him with those eerie black eyes.

 

Harry reached down his bare chest, under his shirt, and felt his heart beat, letting it soothe the aching pain of something.

 

 

Harry sat on the patio, leaning back in his favourite chair. It was white, with fluffy cushions, and a dirty floral print which hadn't been cleaned in years. The base was made of golden straw, thick with glue, and Harry hung his legs over the arm of it, looking out at their garden. There was a book in his lap, Magical Drafts and Potions, and he was a third of the way through, interested in the different reactions to different ingredients and the reasons why.

 

Susan was gardening, planting wisterias in a newly made arch. It was white, and Jo had painted it that summer when her homework was finished. She had told the family of her want to be a carpenter, Ted had supported her, but Susan had wanted her to try for something better. It took a while, but eventually the whole family agreed that if she wanted to do that then she could.

 

The wisteria flowers were bright purple, and hung downwards, a lavender colour. Susan was covered in grime and dirt, wearing her gardening clothes, and was having a hard time.

 

Ted sat in the chair next to him, further under the patio and out of the sun. He was reading a novel that he had wrote in his youth, editing it and crossing it out in red pen, every now and again commenting on his terrible writing skills. He was no poet.

 

Harry leaned back into the sun, closing his eyes and humming contentedly. His magic wrapped around him in a big hug, stinging slightly, but filling him with warmth and happiness.

 

Harry heard a thud, and the footsteps of Rick. Jo was out with Georgie at the movies, she still hadn't yet worked up the courage to come out to the family.

 

“Harry, whatcha doing?”

 

His brother said. Harry opened his eyes and looked over to see Rick sitting on the steps, watching his mother work in the garden. Harry mumbled sleepily,

 

“Reading.”

 

Ted raised an eyebrow and Rick laughed,

 

“It looked like you were having a nap, Harbear, but you shouldn't sleep now. If you do then you won't get any sleep tonight.”

 

Harry yawned,

 

“...arbitrary sleeping rules...”

 

Rick glanced over, stretching backwards onto the dusty woods, and placed his head under the arm of Harry's chair. He looked up at the soles of his feet, no doubt smelling the smell of apple soap, and sighed deeply,

 

“I was at the bank last week. You'll be going to school soon. And I was making sure everything was in order. Apparently there's a mail ward on the house, so we didn't get any mail. I spoke about it with mum and dad and we don't want to remove it, since we don't know what people will put in the mail, and its an easy way to track you.”

 

Harry hummed, opening his eyes fully, and started to read again. He listened to Rick with one ear.

 

“I think we should start a Murphy grimoire, well, you should.”

Harry waited for Rick to explain, and, predictably, his brother did,

 

“A grimoire is a book of new spells or potions, but you could also talk about your brand of magic. I think the way you do magic is different to everyone else, since they have to use a wand, when you don't.”

 

Harry sighed, stretching up like a cat, and spoke in soft tones,

 

“Wizardkind think that magic is a tool they can use, like a sword or a gun. Magic is theirs to control, theirs to use, theirs to take from. My magic is a part of me, like my scar or my mind, and my magic has wants just like me. My magic wanted to be free, so I let it free. Many other people, with magic like mine, control it so it will be how they want it to be. I let my magic do as it wishes, most of the time, and because of that it does as I wish. I whisper to it to make a vase of roses and it makes a vase of roses. I whisper to it to clean the house and it cleans the house. My magic feels just like I feel, and wants... Freedom, happiness, to be needed. My magic feels angry when others use me, vengeful when they do me wrong, loving when I say it can be what it wants. My magic is what it is, and unlike them, I am not afraid to let it be itself.”

 

Harry felt his magic hum under his skin, warm, making him sigh, as it realised that Harry truly wanted it to be happy.

 

Huh. Maybe Harry did want some things.

 

Rick stared, lifting his head until it was level with Harry's, and said softly,

 

“I love you brother.”

 

Harry simply smiled.

 

 

Harry gasped, gazing into dark brown eyes, as hands trailed down his chest. Sweat pooled down him as he panted, arousal shooting through him. Chocolate skin slid against his own, strong arms holding him tightly.

 

Harry... Oh god.. Harry...”

 

His own name was a whispered prayer, seeping into his skin and making him shudder in desire. Magic sung under his eyes, burning, as he stared into the unfathomable pits of another. He trailed them down curved shoulders, a thin waist, lower and lower until he could only stare.

 

Harry awoke, breathing harshly, and reached down to find he had soiled the bed. He blinked to himself.

 

Perhaps his future did not involve an unknown girl after all. Who had it been?

 

...Blaise Zabini?

 

 

The sad eyes were back, they were sad to see him go, and they followed him around the house, whenever he was in the room. Jo no longer seemed as giddy from her secret rendevous. Rick no longer seemed as excited to learn about magic and its people. Susan didn't garden, instead she favoured hugging him, crying a bit, and knitting with him. Ted was almost the same, apart from that half depressed glint in his eye.

 

When Harry asked his mother told him that they would miss him, that he was a part of the family, and every time he left she felt like a part of herself was gone.

 

They were in her bed, with hot chocolates in their hands, and knitting works down in their laps. Harry was leaned against her as she stroked his hair gently, and he wondered if that was where Jo had learnt it from.

 

“...And Jo is growing up too. She's got a girlfriend for herself, don't tell her I saw her being dropped off, and has a career plan ahead of her. Rick, he's already twenty and wants to go into wizarding politics! Gosh. I remember when my little girl turned up her nose at pink dresses and all she wanted to do all day was ride around in the car. She told me over and over, 'mama, I wvrefuse to do anything else'. Joey didn't understand that it was the hottest day of the year and we all were sweating like pigs, wanting to go home. But no, Ted simply smiled that smile he always does, and drove around the block seven times.”

 

Susan laughed lightly, smiling at the memory,

 

“Rick told his little sister off when they got home, said she was being a brat and that they only wanted the car to keep going. In truth he just wanted me and Ted to love him, back then he didn't believe us, and he thought if he told Jo off then we would give him more ice cream then her! Didn't you know, Harry dear, the amount of ice cream equals how much you love someone? Ah, no, but that day was a nice day, and we all went out on the patio, with big bowls of chocolate ice cream. I snuggled up with Ted, and Rick and Jo were playing 'go fish', but neither of them knew how to play so they just kept taking each other's cards.”

 

She smiled at him, ruffled his hair slightly, pulled him tighter against him,

 

“They're all growing up now, and soon we won't see them at all.”

 

She sighed,

 

“And you were always older then any of them, ever since we met you, even when you skipped to your room. Those damn Dursleys! But, you're better now right? You know we love you? It doesn't matter if you... do the dark arts or whatever, Rick said the ministry rulings are a biased load of bull sh- (cough) crap, and it doesn't really matter.”

 

Susan squeezed his cheeks. Harry smiled at her indulgently,

 

“Who'dve thought our own Harry would've been such a book worm? I remember when you used to draw for hours and hours and hours.”

 

She sighed,

 

“Well, you'll be with us a long time yet. Remember to write every week, and we'll write back. Don't let those crazy wizards get ya down, especially the 'hanger-on' as you so greatly put it.”

 

Harry didn't tell her that he didn't need her reassurance, since seeing his mother's smile was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. Something in his heart stirred, his magic twirled in happiness, and he just sighed, leaning back into the pillows, and watched as she continued to talk.

 

Chapter Text

 

Niffler, Thestral, Sol, and Septima.

 

Jo patted down his hair and dress for the fortieth time that morning. She kept mumbling something under her breath about mad wizarding hair genes, and Harry was reminded of the hair magic he had partaken in so long ago. To think Harry could have once believed that magic was whittled down to only hair, when magic truly was so much more, so infinite and endless. When magic was everything. Truly some days he would think to himself whether he could live without the constant thrum of magic under his skin, whether he could still be happy. Then, he would remember that he found happiness before he even knew of magic, and that losing that happiness just because he lost magic would be absurd.

 

Ted had a tight hand on his shoulder. It was almost as if he were afraid to let go, as if when he did he would lose Harry forever. Harry's father wasn't like Susan, he didn't hug Harry constantly when he was sad or scared. Instead he would gain a depressed sort of look in his eye, but kept all the sadness bottled up, as if he didn't want to hurt Harry by spreading his own heart ache. He kept to himself, held himself incredibly close, and didn't let anyone see how he was feeling.

 

Rick was out at Gringotts. He had decided to learn the ways of wizarding banking, and convince the goblin's to give him an inheritance test. He had searched his family name for information many years ago, when his father had first been arrested, just to know if he had other family. Now that he had discovered a fool proof way to find out his ancestry he was set upon the task of somehow getting the test done.

 

Apparently it was illegal to do a blood inheritance test for a creature of non-magical ancestry.

 

It wasn't so much convincing the goblins to do something illegal, since they had no care for ministry regulations, but to convince them to do anything nice for anyone. They had a severe grudge against muggles, because of some magical repercussions of the bombs from World War II. Rick was trying to sway them to the belief that he was different, and he wasn't doing very well at it.

 

Susan was out at her pottery class that day, saying it was the presentation day and she couldn't miss it even to drop Harry off. She had looked extremely guilty, and had even made a cake the day before, and gave it to Harry to take with him.

 

Harry smiled down at the red celebrations box in his hand, filled with a vanilla sponge cake.

 

His scar was awfully quiet that day, seeming subdued and slightly shocked, as if it had realised something. Harry wasn't sure why that was, and had given it numerous mental hugs to try and cheer it up. Even his magic had been hanging slightly lower than usual, and Harry was amiss as to why.

 

Oh well.

 

He simply shrugged and accepted Jo's pilfering hands through his hair. She had redone the small braid (of his fringe) about five times already, and didn't look to be stopping.

 

Ted knelt down beside him, hugging him tightly around the waist. He said in a deep rumbling voice that curled around Harry's heart like a snake,

 

“You be good son, make lots of friends, send us lots of letters. And good job with your scores from last year.”

Harry had gained 'O's in all subjects except Potions and History of Magic. In History he had scribed information from Binn's lectures, but none of the lectures had actually had any information that was involved in the test (about self-stirring cauldrons). There had only been the long and droning speeches on the goblin wars and rebellions, some even repeated multiple times.

 

In Potions Professor Snape still had a grudge against him, even though he had reconciled that Harry was not like either of his parents. He seemed to accept that Harry was not a carbon copy of his father, or his mother, but was now trying to give himself an excuse to dislike Harry anyway, for Harry's own personality. In the mean time while he tried to discover something unsavoury enough to merit the enemy title, Professor Snape had decided a minimum of one grade taken off automatically would do.

 

In all the other subjects the teachers had actually been quite shocked by how he performed; his rumours of ineptitude having spread far and wide to ever castle crevasse. They had all thought that he was an invalid who only made it to Ravenclaw by a fluke, seeming to have forgotten his outstanding work all throughout the year.

 

They seemed to carry a Hermione Mindset: that a person is only intelligent if they offered off information freely, which was well-known in books (almost word for word), never questioning what they were told. Harry's intelligence revolved more around personal discoveries and multiple sources. Harry was the type of person who stared out the window in class, and had such an instinctual grasp on magic and innate understanding, that he down right defied the 'rules' written in the books. To be truthful, whenever he did homework he was in the mindset that he was writing fiction to follow the brainwashed attitudes that were being encouraged.

 

Harry didn't see himself as a revolutionary, he didn't truly care enough for others, so he simply sat back and let them think what they wanted to.

 

He didn't truly care for school scores, but didn't see why there was any reason to fail either. They didn't truly matter in the grand scheme of things. Who would look back on life, when they were one hundred, and feel remorse of not having gotten all 'O's in school? Especially since it was only first year.

 

It just didn't seem like something Harry would regret in his life, if he regretted anything at all. Lately Harry had been having trouble summoning up remorse. It just wasn't something he seemed to be capable in feeling, since everything he did was for a reason. Mel had been worried about this, saying that remorse was a key human emotion, that was important in morals (such as guilt, sadness or fear). During their therapy sessions she had been leaning further and further towards the ideas of sociopathy, since he only seemed to be able to feel happiness and love.

 

Harry didn't believe this to be quite true. He felt that he did feel sadness and anger, but it was overshadowed and deemed unimportant by the knowledge that there was too much beauty in life to weigh on it too deeply. He did grow sad, but it took a lot to make him that way, and to be sad one needed to truly care before it could happen. Harry felt that if his family died he would be sad, quite like he was with Fiona, before getting over it with the basic realisation that death was just a part of life and he could be happy living without them.

 

Not that he would want to live without them.

 

He paused, concentrating, he felt... remorse for... throwing the sword in the lake, since it could have disturbed the giant squid. Harry smiled, happy to be making some progress, and happy with what a lovely day it was.

 

Ted pulled out of the hug, passing Harry's trunk over to him, and said briskly,

 

“You'd better find a good seat on the train, before they all get filled up.”

 

Harry nodded, kissing his sister lightly on the cheek, and made his way over to the train. Franklin spontaneously appeared on his head, wearing the knitted garment Susan had made for Christmas, and Harry stepped onto the train, making sure his trunk did not get caught in the small gap between station and carriage.

 

The dull roar of noise from people outside the train, families saying their goodbyes and instructing their charges on how to behave, followed him as he walked deeper and deeper into the bowels of the scarlet vehicle. Harry passed many compartments, only glancing in for a moment to see them full. Some were locked from the outside, some charmed to be unnoticed, and some were open their only defence being the glares and hisses of the occupants.

 

Harry walked leisurely down the aisle, knowing the train would be leaving soon, and felt a hand strike out around his arm. He was pulled violently into a compartment.

 

There was silence for a moment as the door slammed, and Harry lifted his eyes to look through his fringe, watching the person who kidnapped him. Heavy breaths permeated the air, he almost expected them to puff out in mist like form since the atmosphere was so tense and magic so heavy. Harry's magic roared under his skin making needles prick his flesh and tingles spring up under his clothes. Franklin tensed on his head.

 

“Harry, I've been waiting ages to see you. How are the plans going?”

 

Draco Malfoy leaned against the glass, looking ruffled and uneasy. Harry smiled a small reassuring smile, not truly understanding why he was there, and the boy relaxed.

 

He huffed,

 

“I was worried, you know, all my letters just got sent back to me before they even left the house. I was worried those muggles of yours weren't treating you as a wizard should be treated, and was this close to speaking to my father.”

 

The boy chuckled, smoothing out his platinum hair and adjusting the trunk in the overhead compartment nervously. Draco looked out the window, keeping his eyes away from Harry, who was just standing there loosely.

 

“I'd wondered if my house elf had got you before we put it down. Dobby, the one from my youth, had gone round the bend, muttering about tracking you down and warning you about my father's evil plans. We'd caught it ironing its hands about trying to steal your mail. Don't worry, my father dealt with it.”

 

Draco laughed without humour, rubbing his forehead in stress,

 

“I was... really worried. All this work we've been doing for the future of the wizarding world, and for you to get hurt because of a house elf. I mean... I've been talking with some of my contacts in Slytherin, about your plans for a revolution, to bring back Dark magic and sort out the mudbloods. They've been interested, some, others I had to swear to secrecy so they didn't spoil the whole plot.”

 

He turned, as if looking to Harry for approval, and frowned slightly when he simply smiled like normal.

 

Harry felt that their relationship had changed somewhat. The previous year Draco had taken to ranting and raving about his life, using Harry as a brick wall to bounce ideas off of, and create the new scheme for his revolution. He believed Harry to be quite powerful and a secret Slytherin. Draco believed he was an up-and-coming Dark Lord. Their relationship had shifted on its axis, and the Malfoy scion now looked to Harry for approval, as he saw Harry as the future leader of their affiliation.

 

Harry humoured him, simply letting him believe what he wanted.

 

Draco smiled a tight smile, saying lowly,

 

“Well, you'd best be going now. You wouldn't want the mudblood and blood-traitors to get suspicious, now would you?”

 

Harry nodded once before stepping calmly out of the compartment, trunk in his grip. The hall was empty, most people already seated, and Harry gazed down at the end of the train without interference. Franklin jumped out from atop his head, licking him once on the cheek (as a sign of affection perhaps?) with his large and sticky tongue, before hopping away and out of sight.

 

He found an empty compartment a quarter way down the train, and packed his trunk away. Harry layed down on the seat, watching sunlight fight against the clouds and trickle through his window. The air shimmered with quiet noise, a vague and distracting humming, and Harry sung his own low tune against it, with his head down on the seat and feet flat against the wall, staring at the ceiling.

 

That Song was a haunting and mellow tune. The notes were so mournful, as if it ached for something, like a widow for her lost husband, only wishing to see them once again. It sung of haunted dreams and pleading going unheard, reminded Harry of when he used to lay in his cupboard and pray to be saved. Something deep in his soul seemed to connect with it as he sung once more, each and every time he sung it Harry seemed to be falling deeper and deeper into his own melody. It spoke of pain and beauty and it echoed through Harry's heart, as his magic spun around him in discomfort, almost dancing to it in a reluctant way. That Song was deep and heart-wrenchingly beautiful, as if it were a melody so private and unfulfilled that only hearing it would make someone long for something.

 

If it were a person he could see a dark haired woman, wearing tattered clothes and bitten lips, so achingly broken and haunting, so ghostly and etherial, such guilt, shame and blame she wore on her features. Harry's song wore blood stained lips like lip stick, make up dressed her eyes with sleepless nights, bruises hidden and shown through tear stains. Her ragged dress, blood dripping down her legs, so wounded and never able to forget. That Song was always moving, always on the run, but every now and then it would reach a point, a note, a high pitched pitying hum, when it would realise that there was no running anymore. His song was filled with acceptance and rebellion and madness.

 

Harry closed his eyes and let the sounds fill him up, let his magic reach every corner of his skin like a heavy wind pushed against him. It was violent and heavy and painful, stroking knives almost lovingly against his skin. He felt tears prick his eyes and a warm buzz of sorrow curling in the air as he let That Song take his entire being like property it could have. Harry was simply one for the song and the magic and the wind to play with, a flower for them to paint.

 

The humming seemed so much louder than normal to his ears.

 

He kept his eyes closed, realising he was no longer singing, and the sound was coming from somewhere else.

 

Harry stood, arms and legs hanging heavy and pained, hanging limply off him like ripped leaves, blood dripping down his sides. Wounds were painted down his sides, throbbing dangerously, leaking blood, but seeming so unreal all the same, as if they were only skin deep and they truly did not exist.

 

He gazed out into the sudden brilliance of the meadow, with gentle skies, cooing clouds, and the stunning colours of the flowers which surrounded him, bright and ever so taunting. Harry's feet twisted painfully beneath him, twisted and broken; he could not escape from himself, could not run. It was so metaphorical, yet so true as well. He fell to his knees, coughing up blood into his hand. It smelt of tar and smoke, a smell that did not fit into this meadow.

 

He pulled his hand away, felt his stinging breath pant against it, but it was not covered in blood. It was dry as if it had never been wet. Harry placed it down into the grass gently, as if trying to hide his own clean hand. He sat down on the backs of his feet, his back straight and knees curled in front of him. He tilted his head up to the sky and gazed at it, feeling a churning like nausea in his chest, and saw that there was no sun.

 

Where am I?”

 

He said, and his voice echoed like a thousand voices, all with the same tone yet different meaning.

 

Harry gasped as he opened his eyes, That Song having stopped playing in his mind, and stared with wide eyes at his own hand which was above his face. He breathed deeply, thinking of oceans and calm days, letting his mind settle to a constant consistency. His magic purred angrily, as if trying to fight an enemy which wasn't there.

 

His scar was quiet, as if it had never spoke in the first place, as if it were only a scar.

 

 

He felt the train move under his still and silent body. If he breathed deeply and focused on the ground beneath him he could almost see the wheels turning ever in sync. The backs of his eyelids were a dull orange, with sunlight pooled on his face, and a new distracting warmth tickling his skin.

 

The door to his compartment was closed, and Harry felt like he was waiting for something to happen. It was a constant thrumming in his abdomen, a dull throb, that he couldn't quite ignore. He could hear a voice in his head, a voice that reminded him of vipers and mirrors,

 

...these would be 'Niffler', 'Thestral', 'Sol', and 'Septima'.”

 

Harry blinked. Did he just... hear a voice?

 

...In his mind.

 

It felt so right and wrong at the same time. Harry was having an off day it seemed, at least his magic was not hurting him that day. His heart did not ache like it normally did now.

 

“Harry, are you there?”

 

The voice was smooth like honey, but high pitched as evidence that it had not gone through the tolls and woes of puberty. He shifted his head and turned it to the door way. It shrieked as someone pushed against the unwilling fringes.

 

Neville stepped in, manhandling a trunk almost twice his size with only one hand, Trevor (trying to escape again) in the other. His eyes visibly brightened when he saw Harry, an unconscious smile gracing his lips. Two months between when they had seen one another was certainly a long time.

 

After the trunk was slotted next to Harry's Neville didn't seem to know what to do, since Harry was lying down and he obviously wanted to hug him in greeting. He shifted nervously for a few moments before sitting on the empty seat across from him, right against the warm glass of the window pane.

 

“I searched the whole train for you, I thought you might have not arrived yet.”

 

It was a statement, Neville wasn't looking for compensation for his hunt or an explanation to why the door was closed.

 

Harry smiled, he liked speaking to Neville since the other boy rarely had something he wanted from him.

 

“You look nice Neville, your eyes are very pretty.”

 

Neville blushed, looking discretely away from Harry. It was simply the truth, Neville had thinned out slightly (not that Harry minded him before), and his eyes and lips had started to suit his face more. Like how babies grew into their features with time, but when born might have looked a little strange.

 

“How was your holiday, Harry? I read an article about you in the paper, I saw a picture of your mother too. She looks like a very kind woman.”

 

The last bit was said with a tinge of bitterness, like Neville wished his gran could be kind and defend him, instead of being the opposite way. Harry hummed briefly before answering,

 

“My brother Rick called off his engagement when he discovered she was cheating on him. My sister started dating a girl called Georgie. We went to the beach for a few weeks too, I went for many walks in the rain.”

 

Neville smiled, whilst Harry tapped his feet from against the wall of which they rested. He said sombrely, leaning his head back against the pillow, dark brown hair falling almost over his features,

 

“That sounds nice Harry.”

 

Harry asked, for the sake of equality,

 

“What about you?”

Neville curled his arms around him. Harry noticed he was wearing long sleeves that reached all the way to his fingertips and beyond. They were rolled up to his wrists, tight like manacles, and he wondered what the fabric of his wizarding shirt would feel like. He smelt more earthy than the normally did, more like sun and rain.

 

“It was fine.”

 

Neville said, and he turned his olive tanned skin to the window, looking out at the passing country side.

 

 

Neville was waiting beside him, staring at the castle all the same. They had both seen Ron and Hermione, arms almost linked with their closeness, walking up to the castle. The two had probably looked for them as well... in their own excuses perhaps. Neither boy was shocked when Franklin appeared beside him, nuzzled against Harry's bare skin and making it wet.

 

The castle was all the more magnificent at night, with lights dotting like homing beacons from every window and archers hole. Hogwarts magic had welcomed them home the moment they crossed the ward border, sending a wave of protectiveness and defensive love.

 

Lady Hogwarts loved all her students, but knew that some would eventually endanger others and thus needed to be watched. Like one Tom Riddle, who got lost, and she was not able to help.

 

Harry bowed lowly to her, muttering,

 

“Lady Hogwarts, a fine evening you bestow.”

 

Neville did the same, as he trusted Harry's form of magic almost better than his own. Harry mused that it might be because his magic was so detached from him in that moment, as if Neville was trying to hide something from his own magic. Which was silly since one's magic was simply a part of oneself.

 

Harry's scar warmed slightly with feelings of nostalgia and despair, as if it had committed a terrible deed. Harry petted it with imaginary hands to try and soothe its constant aches.

 

A wave of greeting washed over them, like a warm wind that tingled their skin and made them sigh in pleasure. Neville's eyes widened as he straightened his back and looked to Hogwarts with new eyes.

 

He whispered,

 

“She's... alive?”

Harry replied,

 

“As alive as any ghost or painting I believe.”

 

That simply confused Neville, but Harry didn't see a reason why he should change that.

 

A soft high pitched voice, it was mellow revealing that her thoughts were quite distant. She spoke in a manner that didn't relay any hint of doubt, for she clearly believed wholeheartedly what she was saying.

 

Harry didn't even flinch when he heard it right behind him.

 

“Hogwarts has been sentient for a long time, thanks to ambient magic and the power of belief. Some young boy long ago wished that the castle he loved so dearly could love him back, so it did.”

 

He turned, eyes bright with wonder, at the girl who seemed to knowledgeable. Maybe she could become a new friend. She was a first year, significantly smaller than them, with whispy blue-grey eyes and pale sculpted lips. Her face was aristocratic, but soft with baby fat and smiled edges. She had waist length blonde hair, which was not brushed, and thin eyebrows that had a sort of permanently surprised look about them.

 

A smile graced her face and she bowed like them, to Lady Hogwarts,

 

“A lady she was, a lady she will be.”

 

Harry didn't know why he said it, he just knew that it was something he should say. Neville sighed fondly at him, before introducing himself,

 

“I'm Neville Longbottom.”

 

It was strange how different he sounded from last year, perhaps it had something to do with the fact that this new girl was a first year (she had plain black robes).

 

She lifted herself upright and said with a little curtsy,

 

“Heir Luna Lovegood, although some call me Loony.”

 

Harry smiled his usual smile, happy to be meeting someone new,

 

“I'm Harry.”

 

They stood in silence for a while before hearing a voice call out 'First years! First years! Follow me!' behind them in Hagrid's rough dialect. She nodded once more before turning away from where they were standing and skipping off to join the others.

 

Neville took Harry's hand, murmuring that they needed to find a carriage before they had to walk back and started to drag him along. His palm felt warmer and softer than Harry's mothers, and there was a faint sheen of nervous sweat on it.

 

Harry thought he quite liked the feeling of Neville's hand in his.

 

They walked in almost silence, Harry swinging the hand in between them, with Franklin hopping on beside them. Neville muttered something about 'such a well behaved toad', probably thinking of his own missing pet.

 

They reached the last empty carriage, with black skeletal looking horses. They were quite impatient to be moving and constantly scratched their hooves in the ground and snorted. Harry thought they looked beautiful in a tragic sort of way, a bit like That Song.

 

When he looked at them he couldn't help but be reminded of Fiona, the spider that made him understand death.

 

 

Harry whispered to himself, seats separating him from many others at the Ravenclaw table,

 

“these are 'Niffler', 'Thestral', 'Sol', and 'Septima'.”

 

Dumbledore repeated his words in the welcoming speech. Harry wasn't sure what it meant, only knowing that when he met Dumbledore's eyes and felt a brief influx of disgust to his best friend, that it didn't look like Dumbledore knew either.

 

His magic burned away the compulsion, making the tops of Harry's fingers and back of his hand sting slightly.

 

Luna sat next to him after her sorting, fiddling with the butter-beer cap necklace she was wearing. Other Ravenclaws looked at her in shock and suspicion, since the rumours that Terry and Anthony had spread so thickly in their house meant that anyone who was close to him was automatically under many eyes. He wondered whether Ron, Hermione and Neville would ever realise why Ravenclaw was so icy towards them. Luna, apparently, was already well known by some from the table, and was soon looked upon with scorn.

 

Harry had to wonder how children, or even teachers, could believe something without checking it themselves. It wouldn't have even been difficult to ask either of them.

 

But, he simply shrugged, smiled, and ate the first dinner of many, ignoring the obnoxious speech of Professor Lockhart, and eyes of death Professor Snape was sending the incompetent fool. There was no need to get entwined in the drama of it all.

 

Chapter Text

 

Lavender's Blue

 

The moment Harry took a step inside the tower he knew something was different. There was a feeling in the air, one of deep menace and deep shock that made Harry's magic coil around him dangerously and the hairs on the back of his neck stick up like grass in a field. But, the dark haired boy did not stop, for just as he had walked like a dead man to his doom with Quirrel last year he would do the same now.

 

Harry did not fear, and sometimes that was a dangerous thing.

 

As George shut the door behind him, muttering angrily about 'mad children and their infernal conversations', Harry felt a bright smile grace his face and his avada eyes shine with new light. He had missed this tower, this home away from home. The large languid and arrogant paintings on the walls seemed so much more lovable once he had been away for so long. The fire that burned lowly in the hearth, spreading shadows like sticky tar across the walls, seemed so much warmer and smelled so much more like... home.

 

Harry felt his heart speed up slightly as he thought of Neville. That earthy smell he had never been able to place, the feel of his best friend's hand in his, fitting like a jigsaw piece. Neville smelt like fire and home and Ravenclaw...

 

He slowly shuffled over to his spot by the window, faintly amused at how the house elves had moved his trunk there already, and almost giggled when he saw how delicately the blankets and pillows had been arranged. Harry pulled the fleece up to his neck, snuggled lowly in the fabric, and leaned his face flat against the window until it was smooshed, looking out at the dull brilliant yellow of the moon.

 

Harry felt needles starting under his skin and knew what was to come, short hair bridged over his eyes and his normally dull eyes shone like the moon they were looking at. He couldn't help but lift his arms to the cool air above him, ready for whatever the world would throw at him next, hands cupped as if he were about to collect water from the gods.

 

Harry, what are you doing out here? You know you're not allowed out.”

 

The voice was unfamiliar to the twelve year old Harry who had been slipped into his elder body, but evidently was someone important since he felt a sudden warmth, and the thought of 'family' filled his mind. Dark hair flirted at the edges of his vision and the last thing Harry could see was golden eyes that were too old for their face.

 

Harry yawned and rubbed his eyes, feeling a new ache in his shoulder from where he had slept on it. He blinked many times, gazed into the warmth of the fire, before realising people were still awake.

 

Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein were at the other end of the room, surrounded by the other second year Ravenclaws. Harry noticed that most of the upper years had gone to bed and all of the first years were missing, alluding to the fact that he had been 'asleep' longer than he thought.

 

Now that he thought about it the fire did look duller.

 

“But, I don't understand! I thought he was a dunce, it doesn't make sense.”

 

One of the boys sneered, a black haired one with hair that was tied back in a pony tail and a pointy face that reminded Harry of Draco.

 

“Well, obviously Boot here has been spreading lies! I mean, why would you even do that? Are you completely psycho? We only kicked him out of the dorms because he was smiling like a stoner and apparently had no care for tradition.”

 

A red haired girl's shrill dialect voiced, making one of the closer girls wince slightly before quickly covering it up. Harry vaguely remembered her as one of three muggleborn in Ravenclaw. Apparently, unlike many of the Hufflepuff or Griffindor muggleborn, they wanted to fully embrace the magical world and learn all about it, instead of imposing their own viewpoints.

 

Or at least, that was what Draco had said. Harry had a feeling that he was simply trying to rationalise his own prejudices, like any good bigot would do. Not that Harry truly cared that Draco had an irrational point of view, many others did too, and most of society's 'norms' seemed pretty ridiculous to Harry anyway. It was unfair to try and remove someone's opinion, even if it was a bit genocidal at times.

 

Harry, truly, loved everyone, and had no issue with muggleborns or pure-bloods.

 

Terry Boot looked quite sheepish at the tongue whipping he had just received, and Harry could see Goldstein edging away slowly from him. He murmured quietly, almost looking ashamed if not for the defensive and derogatory glint in his eyes,

 

“How was I supposed to know that he wasn't an idiot? If you talk to him you'd find out he's bat-shit crazy. I mean, Potter wears dresses for goodness sakes. He's a bloody pansy. And he doesn't even care about half the crap we learn in class.”

 

Most of the group huffed, looking displeased, although one or two appeared partially swayed by the 'dress' argument. Pure-bloods and muggleborns were mostly brought up with the strict mindsets of how a person should dress and act per gender, Harry being who he was simply did not live up to their expectations.

 

A brown haired boy with an average sort of face, and a small scar across his neck, said,

 

“Well, I think we ought to give Harry a chance. We all didn't hang out with him because we thought he was disrespecting the culture of out society and a complete idiot that made Malfoy's lackeys look smart. And really, it was quite extreme to kick him out of the dorms. The first night we were here, and the weeks after, he wasn't awful at all and we just... I was bullied in my old primary school, and I... It wasn't fair.”

 

The red haired girl from before looked decidedly put out, and the rest of the group followed the conversation from the background as if they were watching ping pong, their heads moving from one way to another.

 

“What if he doesn't even want to talk to us anymore? We ignored him for almost a year and believed Boot's lies! I know that if you did that to me then I wouldn't even be able to stand the sight of you.”

 

A small blonde girl who reminded Harry of a delicate flower, spoke in a soft and melodious voice, a bit like Luna had when they had met that same day,

 

“He didn't even go to Flitwick, its awfully strange. We kicked him out of the dorm, stole his shoes and piano... Remember that letter we took? And he told no one and did nothing in return.”

 

Boot stated loudly, making all the others groan in annoyance and roll their eyes,

 

“Potter is not right in the head, I tell you! That's why he did nothing!”

 

The red haired girl growled, almost like a wolf, with eyes filled with fire,

 

“Go! Its your fault in the first place! We wouldn't have been so mean if it weren't for you, so just leave okay. You too Goldstein, we all know it was your idea to kick Potter out of the dorm. And you'd better let him come back, its despicable how the house elves actually set up his bed by the window.”

 

Terry Boot scuttled off the seat like a startled crab and almost ran back to the common room. Anthony Goldstein sneered, flicking his golden hair once in a show of superiority, and strutted back to the dorm. Harry saw him limp slightly, and felt his smile falter.

 

His magic whimpered at the suddenly negative energy, licking Harry's chin like a puppy, and making him smile again.

 

Harry blinked, it had been strange how angry he had felt for that moment, how clouded his mind had been. Was it like that for other people when they lost sight of the beauty right in front of them? Harry stifled a chuckle when he looked the fire on the hearth that almost winked at him with its ironic serendipitous position. Right in front of him indeed.

 

Harry could no longer hear the conversation as they spoke in hushed tones, all five of them huddled together with the red haired girl and the black haired boy in the centre directing the conversation. He watched them for a long time, until upper years yawned and said their goodnights, and then until all the second years eventually left. It seemed a lot colder with everyone back to the dorms, and Harry couldn't help but close his eyes and imagine that he was back home with Susan, snuggled in her arms with a belly warm from hot chocolate and kisses lacing his hair as he fell into a nap.

 

The smell of elderflower followed him into his dreams, ticking his insides like pleasant coils, and Harry almost didn't notice the sharp stab of magic deep in his spine at the edges of flitting consciousness.

 

 

Highest Grades of First Year - 1991

 

Transfiguration -1-Harry Potter -2-Hermione Granger -3-Alysha Currey -4-Daphne Greengrass

Potions -1-Draco Malfoy -2-Blaise Zabini -3-Hermione Granger -4-Magenta Gold

Charms -1-Harry Potter -2-Terry Boot -3-Hermione Granger -4-Justin Flinch-Fletchley

Astronomy -1-Anthony Goldstein -2- Alysha Currey -3-Hermione Granger -4-Harry Potter

Defence Against the Dark Arts -1-Lily Moon -2-Draco Malfoy -3-Harry Potter -4-Grant Timber

Herbology -1-Neville Longbottom -2-Anika Frost -3-Hermione Granger -4-Harry Potter

History of Magic -1-Hermione Granger -2-Alysha Currey -3- Magenta Gold -4-James Cook

 

Harry skimmed over the list, early that next morning. His magic fluttered about in wonderment, skipping over and about the sun rays that filtered in through the golden windows. Harry's scar buzzed in a sense of pride and uncertainty, wavering between the two like a coin balanced at the thinnest edge, simply waiting to tip to one or the other.

 

He realised, in that moment, that the reason the second years had changed their tune was of his placement on the lists. Harry also realised, with a bright smile and scarf wrapped around his neck, that what they had done to Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein (blaming them for the whole bullying debacle) was almost a cop-out for what they had done to him.

 

Harry closed his eyes, hummed That Song very lightly under his breath, and let his magic tickle his skin. It raged on at the injustice of it all, filling him with a painful stabbing sensation in his left shoulder, quite like when Ripper had bitten him when he was seven. Harry gritted his teeth through the pain, feeling tears start to bubble behind his closed eye lids, and clenched his hands into tight fists.

 

It was instinctual, and Harry regressed slightly to how he would have dealt with pain before when Dudley and his gang had chased him, and the end result of such a chase. He simply waited it out, trying to soothe his magic and let it forget the year of isolation and degradation.

 

 

That night a black haired prefect, with dark skin and hazel eyes pulled him aside and discretely told him of his re-allocation back to the dorm he had been kicked out of. Harry smiled politely, thanked the boy for his time, and packed his suit case away on the bed that had remained empty for most of last year.

 

The other boys did not truly react to his rekindled presence. It seemed that they would rather pretend that last year didn't happen. And, apart from the return of his miniature piano, none of them came over to apologise. Terry Boot continued on as before, sneering and insulting Harry at every turn, and none of the second years that had 'decided' to stop their own bullying put a stop to it.

 

Anthony Goldstein was suspiciously quiet, something that was perhaps regret or perhaps shame. But Harry did not weigh on it for long and soon distracted himself with the different shades of a flower and how to draw those intricacies with the colouring pencils Rick had bought him for his twelfth birthday.

 

The rest of the house did not change much either, except Harry was no longer completely ignored and Terry Boot was now sent glares instead of him. The red haired second year with a shrill voice, Alysha Currey, had made it her quest to befriend him, and stuck to him like glue in most classes and study sessions, for those first few formative days.

 

 

Harry leaned his head down against Neville's shoulder, blowing air on his bare skin and making the focused boy laugh. Neville had been quite serious and quiet the last few days, mumbling things about how he needed to study properly to succeed, and how his uncle would never let him forget it otherwise. He had gained two 'O's in his first year scores, one in Herbology and one in Astronomy. From what Harry had gathered from his mumbles and scheduled blushes, was that his gran had decided that Neville was near a squib because of his inability to do magic.

 

Now the boy was determined to study until his magic worked, which wasn't really how magic worked but Harry didn't tell him that. Harry was leaned against him, snuggled up with his potions book, and wondering when Ron and Hermione would be coming to them to rejoin the group. His eyes scanned over the words but didn't truly take any in and Harry felt a stirring the in the centre of his chest, like a dishwasher just below his sternum, and thought with absolute certainty that they would approach them soon.

 

“But, I don't get it Harry. So, in transfiguration there are the Five Gamps Laws of Elemental Transfiguration, being one cannot create or transfigure food, one cannot make money out of thin air, one cannot cure Intentional Curse Damage, one cannot bring a human back from the dead, and one cannot control the weather. I just don't understand why.”

 

Harry shrugged, giggling at the arbitrary rules that most wizards forced themselves to follow. He replied,

 

“It doesn't make sense, no, because its not true. Magic is 90% belief and 10% magical power, I can't prove it but I believe it to be like that from my experience. Everything is made of atoms, its something I learned in the muggle world, and I'm not sure what would make food atoms and gold atoms different. Is there something that all these laws have in common?”

 

Neville paused, scrunched up his beautiful face in thought, and said,

 

“Well... I know that all of them are illegal by the Ministry, since apparently so many people got hurt in the 1600's when they tried to create food or gold or... bring their loved ones back to life.”

 

Harry raised an eyebrow and snuggled further into Neville's embrace, which made the other boy blush since up until then he had not realised how close they were.

 

“I think the Ministry made these 'laws' because they didn't want people making money, or food, curing anything, or controlling the weather. I don't really know much about dark magic or other illegal magic, but from what I've heard its powerful and-”

 

“Harry?!”

 

Neville shrieked, looking quite worried, his chocolate eyes widening slightly. Harry felt his scar pulse in confusion, as if it had realised where it was for the first time. He soothed it with a mental hug and felt it relax slightly.

 

“I trust your judgement almost more than I trust my own, but, don't talk about that stuff'. It can get you in real trouble even discussing things like that.”

 

Harry smiled at his best friend,

 

“How about we study the history of the 1600's and get to the bottom of why these laws exist.”

 

Neville nodded, and wiggled out from Harry's tight grip, blushing again when he remembered their position on the library sofa. Harry placed down his potions book, taking a deep sniff of the earthy smell that was in his shirt and wondering if he could turn it into some sort of perfume. It was just... delectable. He took his eyes away from his green polo, watched as Neville squinted in confusion, and then stood up himself and took the perilous trip into the many confusing aisles of the history section.

 

Madame Pince tried to stay out of it, since no one truly studied History from the library, bar a select few who wanted 'perfect grades' or were doing history for their NEWTs.

 

After many dust filled minutes, and slight flinches at creaky floorboards, Harry and Neville returned, both with a book as thick as Harry's torso clutched between them like a tonne of bricks. It fell down on their study table with a large thud, making the dust on the cover jump overboard and pollute the carpet beneath.

 

Dedicated History VOLUME 12 by Radford MacMillan 1550-1749

 

Harry smiled at the expression of pure horror on Neville's page, at the sight of a 2500 page book.

 

“We should start at the beginning then.”

 

Neville looked as if he were about to faint when Harry simply turned the first page and started to read. Then he smiled, looked fondly at his oddball friend, and leaned a head against his shoulder, reading over it.

 

Half an hour later they heard a cough to attention and raised their eyes from the goblin war that had been described. Harry hid a shark like grin; goblins used to be vicious. Hermione's hazel eyes and Ron's disconcerting blue stared at them, they looked expectant and quite mad. Hermione had that self righteous posture she wore like a second skin, and Ron had a form that just screamed jealousy and betrayal, his eyes flashed like homing beacons and Harry wondered if it were normal.

 

Neville cowered away slightly from their imposing figures, always closing off when he had to tolerate them, and sat back down on the couch away from the large volume they were consuming. Hermione sat primly on the seat across from them, whilst Ron slouched down in it, transforming into a person-like-sloth. Harry remained kneeled by the book, and simply smiled at them as he normally did.

 

She said stiffly,

 

“How was your holiday, Harry?”

 

Harry grinned at her, his eyes shining with love and youth, it seemed so strange to Hermione that her friend could be this easy going when he had lied to them for so long. He chirped, like a newborn chick born on a summer's eve,

 

“It was great, we went to the beach for a few weeks, played the obligatory Yahtzee, and I found a shell and met a girl called Max.”

 

Hermione and Ron both blinked in surprise. Ron shouted,

 

“You told us you lived with your aunt and uncle!”

 

Harry blinked, before smiling good-naturedly,

 

“When?”

 

Hermione growled,

 

“Ron told me. Ron?”

 

Ron winced slightly at the feral tone, running a hand through his short hair and leaning away from her,

 

“Um... You know... that time when...”

 

Harry realised that Ron had gained the information from either Dumbledore, Snape or even Flitwick (he'd never been sure if the half-goblin had known his previous housing arrangement). Every moment that Ron struggled for words Hermione seemed to get more and more angry, redirecting her righteous fury that had built up like water in a dam.

 

“And he said... I know he did... “I live with my aunt and uncle and I hate them”... I think that's what he said...”

 

Neville sniggered slightly,

 

“Harry doesn't hate anyone.”

 

Ron transformed his confusion into rage at Neville, who he had never truly liked since he liked Harry even when Harry was weird. Hermione continued to glare at Ron, even when the boy snapped at Neville. She had never liked him either, for he seemed to be closest to Harry, and that was the role she wanted to fill.

 

“Don't be stupid, Longbottom, he hates You-Know-Who obviously!”

 

Ah, the obligatory Voldemort reference, Harry thought, wondering what his friends would have thought to him wilfully following Voldemort only a few short months ago. He distinctly remembered they had thought the stone thief was Snape, and not Quirrel, so it was likely they would not have believed him either way.

 

Harry's magic curled around him, hearing the loud voices and preparing itself for a defence. Harry cooed at it mentally, trying to break the constant paranoia and what he suspected to be an anxiety disorder. He didn't truly know if it was possible to cure magic of such an ailment.

 

Ron, Hermione and Neville as well all turned their gazes to him, probably looking for confirmation that he did hate Voldemort. Harry smiled at them, petting Franklin who had somehow appeared on his slightly sloped knees, and replied softly,


“Hate is simply too toxic.”

 

There was an awkward moment where everyone had to pause and reassure themselves that they were not crazy and that Harry had, in fact, just admitted that he did not hate Voldemort. Hermione's mouth opened in shock as she realised it first, she started to splutter off books and account times that Voldemort had done terrible deeds. Neville seemed to fall into a temporary coma, probably thinking about his own parents and his own thoughts on their attackers, a story that had been told by Harry over by the lake last year quite briefly with a sense of detachment. Ron's eyes narrowed in anger and betrayal again, he stood, fists clenched by his sides and eyes almost red in their rage,

 

“SO YOU DO NOT EVEN HATE THE MAN THAT KILLED YOUR PARENTS, TRIED TO KILL YOU AND DESPSISED ALL MUGGLEBORN AND THE LIGHT! YOU DO NOT EVEN CARE FOR ALL THE HEINOUS ACTS HE HAS COMMITTED AND ARE SO FULL OF YOURSELF THAT YOU CAN'T EVEN WORK UP THE SWEAT TO CARE ABOUT THIS! YOU LIE TO US ABOUT YOUR AUNT AND UNCLE, YOU DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE SLYTHERINS, I. DON'T. CARE. WHAT DUMBLEDORE SAYS BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT LIKE HOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE AND I CANNOT CONTINUE TO BE YOUR FRIEND!”

 

Harry felt as if a bomb had just gone off in the library. The few people that had been there at that time in the afternoon turned to their table in shock, silence for three whole seconds, before they burst into hurried and excited whispers. Harry blinked, before a brilliant smile graced his lips. Hermione looked at him as though he were mad, but then sighed and murmured something about 'how its just such a Harry thing to do'.

 

Neville was smiling as well, and Harry didn't know why, but he didn't truly care. Instead he watched, as the boy came down from the seat, and knelt beside him, continuing on reading from where they had left off.

 

Hermione asked,

 

“So, what're we doing?”

 

Neville replied,

 

“Discounting almost four hundred years of Ministry propaganda and lies.”

 

 

Harry sat on the fourth floor, his body hanging inside the arms of the stone statue that guarded the secret entrance to a secret passage. The main reason that the gargoyles despised him so much was that he often hopped in their arms for a nap, since they were so warm and the gravel soft against his back. It was three days since the start of term, and Harry was currently hiding from Alysha Currey, who still followed him around everywhere.

 

He didn't really mind her, she was okay even if her voice was a bit shrill, but he decided to create a new game, like dust spotting or foot steps, this one called 'Currey hiding'. She was a surprisingly good finder, so Harry had taken to travelling to more and more obscure destinations in order to avoid her.

 

*“Lavenders blue, dilly dilly, Lavenders green. When you are king, dilly dilly, I will be queen.

 

Harry sung lowly, his voice cracking every now and again, and realised he was most probably beginning the painfully described journey of puberty. He couldn't help but grin to himself when he thought of all the discrete glances he was sending Blaise Zabini's way. Sure, it had been a bit of a shock at first when he realised the subject of his wet dream was a boy, but a few seconds he got distracted by those gorgeous cheekbones and eyes a colour that reminded him of something... That boy was cute.

 

Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so? ’Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.

 

Footsteps echoed like leaves rusting in a faint breeze, and Harry closed his eyes and tried to think if it was anyone he knew. They were light, slow, and seemed to travel in small circles. After a few second they stopped, directly under his statue. Harry's magic did not tense like it normally did, he ran a hand along it in affection, but swirled downwards from the statue to wrap around this person.


The only person it had done for so far was Neville, but these footsteps did not belong to his best friend.

 

“Your magic?”

 

Was whispered in a faint and whimsical voice, as if it were a question and a statement at the same time. Harry thought back to where he had heard it before and shortly opened his eyes in realisation.

 

“Luna Lovegood?”

 

She giggled, and Harry could hear the sound of rustling fabric and friction on stone; she must have twirled.

 

“That is I, Harry mine, and I would just like to say that your magic is amazing. So strong and beautiful and free. Oh, how I wish I could do the same to my own magic, but alas, my magic is too feral and blood-thirsty and would surely kill me just to have a taste of my flesh. I believe it stems from when I was quite young, and used to kill any snails that entered on my lawn, ever since then my magic has been a bit homicidal and a bit of a sadist. Oh well, it is my own fault for trying to protect my property from the heavy evil of snails. I am sure glad that we get to use them in potions, otherwise I would not know a way to quench my magic's thirst for snail death.”

 

Luna, snail killer, paused. It was a pause not in the way that she expected him to speak, but a pause to let the silence in for a moment, a calm pause of acceptance. She sung,

 

Call up your friends, dilly dilly, set them to work. Some to the plough, dilly dilly, some to the fork.

 

Harry joined in and they finished the nursery rhyme together, Luna spinning every now and again, her shoes tapping in rhyme with a non-existent drum.

 

Some to the hay, dilly dilly, some to thresh corn. Whilst you and I, dilly dilly, keep ourselves warm.

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green. When you are king, dilly dilly, I shall be queen.

Who told you so, dilly dilly, Who told you so? 'Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.

 

 

Harry scratched the cat behind the ear, feeling his magic sing and heart soar as it purred. He wasn't sure where the tabby had come from but he knew he loved it almost as much as his own toad.

 

Franklin took that time to croak reproachfully, as if he had understood Harry's thoughts. Harry skipped to class that morning.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Let loose the binding.

 

Harry stared at the pile of things on his dorm bed for a long time. He could see his dorm mates pausing from their study session on Michael's bed. They all stiffened as one, as he gently lowered his fragile hand and picked up the miniature piano that had been taken from him.

 

Harry brought it to his nose, sniffing deeply with his eyes closed, and couldn't help but think it smelt a bit like Jo. Jo, who was always doing something, always outside, always visiting Georgie, always sweeping Harry into her arms like a brother that she had always had. As if Harry had always been hers to take care of. It smelt like wood-chips and sweat, hard work and love, there was elderflower to.

 

For no matter how much she liked to deny it, Jo cared in the same way her mother did. With absolute and unchanging devotion, until the world stops spinning and the stars disappear, and one can only look into her eyes, and she thinks there is nothing more beautiful than green eyes staring back at her.

 

Harry smiled a large smile. His heart beating softly in his chest, almost loud enough to be heard but not quite.

 

His dorm mates looked at him oddly for a second before going back to their studying.

 

Harry paused a moment more, feeling his scar prickle with curiosity, before he started to pack his returned belongings into his trunk.

 

 

He couldn't sleep that night, not that he truly wanted to. There was a feeling in the pit of his stomach, that twisted and turned over and over, making his skin pinch in pain and his eyes water slightly. Harry walked around the edge of the grounds, wandering aimlessly, trying to soothe his magic's pain as it roared like a mighty thunderstorm between his too-thin skin.

 

It had grown large and ruffled, like the mighty Cerberus he had been led past last year. His magic was all consuming, all taking, all giving. It was all of him, yet only a part of him at the same time. Harry felt something... constraining it, he did, and he wasn't sure what it was since it continued to grow unheeded. As the days passed Harry wondered more and more frequently whether he would be able to survive separation from his magic, or if he would die from heart break.

 

Harry hadn't eaten that night at dinner. Instead he had burrowed himself away in the library, reading about Arithmancy, and ignoring the looks he got from the upper years. He wasn't sure why he didn't attend dinner, couldn't name a reason, but in the grand scheme of things didn't think missing one dinner mattered much. Harry grinned softly to himself as he thought of how Ted would have reacted, sometimes his father was more of a mother hen than his own mother.

 

Harry, if you miss one dinner what is to stop you from missing another?”

 

He could almost hear his father's voice rumbling like a gentle cat's purr in his head as he skipped lightly around the edge of the lake. His father felt soft and hard, all at the right times, always knowing what was needed in a certain situation. A gentle voice asking where Jo had run off to last night, why her breath smelt like alcohol and cigarettes. A yell as loud as a banshee when Rick said that maybe Sarah cheated on him because something was wrong with him, just so it sunk in properly, so people knew the stakes at hand.

 

NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU RICK! SHE IS A CHEATING LYING SCUMBAG, AND I WILL DIE BEFORE I LET SOME GIRL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE NOT WORTH EVERYTHING YOU ARE!”

 

Moonlight trickled down through the overhanging leaves and branches, fell onto his skin like mighty sunlight, and Harry closed his eyes. The night air was fresh and foreboding, it felt tinged with mighty magic, and there was a tight feeling in his chest that warned him something was going to happen tonight. Harry didn't know what, didn't know when, didn't know how important it could be. He only knew that something was going on, and it wasn't good.

 

His scar buzzed, as if it too knew that something was going on.

 

His magic curled in unease, worried for its child. For Harry was not an owner to his magic, no, the magic was Harry's mother. Cared so deeply that it would rather hurt itself than hurt its own son. It only wanted to protect its pure-hearted kin, only wanted to burrow Harry away somewhere where nothing and no one would ever hurt him. But, his magic would not do something so cruel as to lock the child away from the wonder of the world, not when Harry was so good and so pure and loved everything around him.

 

Harry felt feelings of defensive, apologetic, and angry love from his magic. He sung to it, to try and calm it down, and to try and stop the heavy painful ache that was starting to hurt more deep in his chest. That Song echoed over the water of the lake, soothing the inhabitants below slightly, with its beautiful chords.

 

 

It was almost 3 'o' clock in the morning. Harry had no clock or way to tell the time so he was not sure how he knew. Only that it was so.

 

He was naked, standing, with flat feet on cold tile, staring at himself in the large mirror of the second year boys bathroom. It smelt of soap and sweat and something Harry couldn't place but made his skin itch in discomfort. Harry smiled at the thought of thousands of young wizards all using this bathroom at one point, wizards from a thousand years ago when Hogwarts was first established, to wizards in the 17th century going here to seek refuge from the many goblin wars.

 

It was mesmerising to think that so many people could have already been in one place, already lived, just to have passed on, all leaving their own mark.

 

Harry traced a scar just above his hip bone. A dog bite, with deep teeth imprints that would never be likely to go away. He thought of how long ago it seemed that he had been chased by Ripper, the dog he loved for its viciousness and pride, and had bitten him down on the ground, Harry crying out for anyone to help whilst the Dursleys laughed. But, it hadn't been that long truly, not on the scale of a whole life, and certainly not long on the scale of the life of the world.

 

How strange it was to think that only two years ago he hadn't even known the people he now called mother and father? How odd it was to think that if his aunt hadn't thought something was wrong with him and the 'freaks' would have found out, then he would have stayed there? Who knows what could have happened?

 

Harry danced his fingertips along his skin, watching as goosebumps sprung up, and the cold air urged him to get warmer. He ran his calloused hands up to his shoulders, feeling the slightly more tanned skin, and thought of how often it used to be sun burnt and red like the skin of an apple. Now, it was only tanned and slightly rough, as if Harry had never gardened for hours upon hours on end.

 

What new scars will fade? What new scars will he collect in his time at Hogwarts?

 

 

Harry was dressed again. He layed down on the bathroom bench, with his knees bent and feet pulled up so his legs were an 'L' shape. Something still needed to happen. He knew it did. And it would happen in this bathroom.

 

But not tonight.

 

He crept over to his soft bed, warm from his toads sleeping form, and slipped under the covers, still wearing his day clothes. The thing that had twisted and ached in his chest hurt no longer, and Harry knew that something had passed by without him knowing.

 

 

I do love you Harry, almost more than I love myself.”

 

Harry smiled sadly at the strange boy-man in front of him. For he was not truly a boy, but not a man either. Simply something caught in the middle of two labels. Grey eyes sparkled with ill intent and he sighed, still smiling at the poor lost soul.

 

And I love you as well, for even with your badness I do not care. Where is goodness without badness? No where.”

 

The boy's eyes lit up with greed and hope, and Harry pretended he didn't see it. It was best to let some things pass, as Jo had warned him about Georgie. So what? The boy did not love him and was only lying, everyone lies at some point, like when Harry lied about being excited at the pet shop to soothe the soul of his mother. This boy was simply lying on a grander scale, and who was Harry to tell him what was right and what was wrong?

 

 

Harry heard a whoosh of air, and that was the only warning he got before a cat jumped into his arms. He opened them on instinct, dropping his book bag to the floor, and ignored the conspicuous stares directed towards him from every member of the hallway.

 

They all seemed to pause.

 

Trevor leapt like a falcon taking lift off, off of Harry's head, looking back at him in something akin to betrayal, before hopping off to god knows where. Harry was still half convinced that his pet was gathering troops for the great reptile rebellion, and had a suspicion that he would no longer be spared from the 'wizard purge' because of his new affectionate cat compatriot.

 

Neville simply stopped walking, smiling at Harry with fond eyes, and stepping towards the cat with a closed fist so it could sniff him. Hermione tensed, glanced worriedly at the possibly deadly monster, and took a few steps away, picking up Harry's book bag as she did so.

 

She said warily,

 

“We have Herbology, we can't be late.”

 

The mysterious tabby licked Neville's fingers and allowed the boy to scratch behind her ears, looking at Neville with a wariness similar to Hermione's. Harry grinned, stroking the kitten soothingly, and watched in pride as it melted under his touch and purred almost wantonly. Harry reached up to stroke from the top of the cat's head once more, and his and Neville's hands met. Harry's fingertips brushed over Neville's knuckles, and Neville blinked wide eyed at the sudden warmth filling him from head to toe.

 

Neville jerked back, blushing furiously, and stuttered something vaguely reminiscent of 'Herbology'.

 

Harry kissed the cat on the head like Susan did to him when she said goodbye, sniffing his raven hair as if she would never see her son again, and Harry did the same, thinking the cat smelt a bit like musk and rain. She got the message, and purred once before jumping out of his arms and running down the corridor.

 

Hermione said haltingly,


“Harry... did you get a cat?”

 

Harry shrugged, and smiled at his sort-of friend who simply smiled back, not entirely sure why they were smiling.

 

Ron Weasley glared daggers at the group from across the hall, still mad that Harry had not come and apologised to him yet. Harry didn't even notice the boy as he softly thanked Hermione for picking up his book bag.

 

 

Was it possible that angels were real? Harry thought as he looked over at the Slytherin table. He sighed, gazing with fascination at the subject of many a day dream and discarded thought.

 

Blaise Zabini... Gorgeous, a smile so sinister and mysterious and, oh... Those cheekbones, like mighty ice shards carved by the gods themselves, their only purpose to catch golden waves of sun and entrance poor poor pre-pubescent boys under their sway. Lips, brown like the colour of his skin. Wavy hair that fell just above the ears, how was his hair so perfect? And that... Those arms... didn't they seem like the kind of arms that could press one against a wall and-

 

“Harry?”

 

Harry blinked when he heard Neville's voice, taking another bite of his bacon. He smiled, his eyes brightening, at the sight of his best friend.

 

“Neville, you look radiant today.”

 

It was true. Neville's eyes had a certain shine that made his whole face light up, and skin look so... heavenly. Harry had the certain unexplainable craving to touch Neville's cheek. He was so sure it would be as soft and pliable as silk if he did so, if he simply ran his fingers along the crest of Neville's jaw. And Neville had a warm sort of look, a loving docile kind look, a bit like the bewitching beauty of a doe, which Harry treasured so much more than any ice shard cheekbones or glorious abs (that may or may not truly exist, and may or may not feature in some dreams quite frequently). There was a feeling about Neville, a feeling of trust and vulnerability like you could share your whole soul and Neville would simply accept it.

 

Neville blushed at the compliment, smiling wider.

 

Crunch.

 

Harry glanced over at Luna who had just bit into a large wad of balled up lettuce. She said time and again that only the white parts of ice-berg lettuce could cure Mustrops Disease, which she thought she had since her shoes and clothes kept going missing and it was one of the symptoms. Luna had asked him to eat lots of lettuce too, in case he had it, but Harry didn't really care much about missing attire so he passed on it.

 

Maybe he'd eat some lettuce later.

 

Luna tended just to... appear every now and again. She was a bit like Harry in that regard, the way she came and went, walked wherever she wished. Luna and Harry sometimes found themselves in the same places, like the Astronomy Tower, or breakfast at the same time, or both looking for a particular book in the restricted section of the library and they would both ask each other at the same time 'why is it restricted?', as if it had been scripted. Harry had shared his thoughts on life, spoke with a deep passion about how beautiful the world was, and Luna had simply smiled and agreed, thinking of the creatures that fascinated her. Their friendship was new, but they both felt as if they had known each other for a long time, as if maybe in a past life they had been lovers or siblings. She didn't care for social norms, just as Harry didn't. She didn't understand why people always seemed so sad, just as Harry didn't. Luna was special. He could see that.

 

Luna said with food still in her mouth,

 

“Neville, have you been missing any shoes lately?”

 

Her tone of voice was one of deep worry and curiosity, there was an edge to it, a paranoid edge, as if she felt that the disease was spreading every moment that no one ate lettuce. Harry felt a smile tilt his lips as he imagined her standing in front of the whole of Hogwarts and informing people of it, the grand magical posters she would have and the possible charity for Mustrops Disease.

 

Neville shook his head and Luna sighed in relief, muttering 'thank Merlin', under her breath. Harry's best friend blinked twice, before shaking his head and holding his hand out to Harry. Harry placed down his bacon and egg sandwich, smiling encouragingly to his friend. He had to wonder why everyone was so... nervous all the time. What was the worst that could happen?

 

“Harry, I found something I thought you might like to see.”

 

Harry blinked once before he stood, took Neville's hand, and prepared to be led somewhere.

 

Harry smelt a chocolate smell, one of dark bitter chocolate, that meant that Neville's magic was purring in contentment. Both their magics had grown very attached to one another over the course of last year and the past few weeks. Just as Harry and Neville were best friends, their magics were as well, and the two often played with one another, Neville's magic having gained bucket loads more confidence thanks to being coaxed out every second day.

 

Harry felt the hairs on the back of his neck, and the one on his arms under his sleeves, pick up. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see people watching them, wondering about them, looking at their joined hands and speculating. Ever since it got out that Harry was not an imbecile people had been wondering about him all the more, speculating once again that he was a secret Slytherin that had hid his talents in Ravenclaw to avoid suspicion.

 

All of the Ravenclaw Second Years paused their meals to look at him. Ever since their bullying had ended they had thought more about him, and had given him suspicious and curious glances every time he left for the House Library and did not return until hours later. Harry had been invited to the study group but had declined, since it was at the same time where he and Neville studied history in the library, still working through large tomes in the hopes of better understanding the laws of Transfiguration and how the Ministry actually worked.

 

His magic settled down once they left the loud and dangerous hall, where one always had to be on the defensive for a possible attack. There were some places where his magic was always on edge, like the Hall, the dorms, the bathrooms, the classrooms, the libraries, the Owlery Roof (since whenever he went there Draco thought they had some sort of secret Dark Arts meeting), and whenever he was in the vicinity of Dumbledore.

 

The old man had not stopped his mental manipulations, as Harry had experienced bouts of unexplainable doubt, fear, shame and anger (but after a few minutes these passed and Harry felt the almost pleasant and triumphant stinging in his wrists that meant his magic had burned it away.) Lately it had been taking a longer amount of time to extinguish the compulsions, making Harry think that Dumbledore was slowly working his way up to more difficult rituals/spells.

 

Harry thought it was a bit stupid, since the one time he had gotten angry (and his magic had taken almost three hours to burn it away) he had almost gone and murdered Dumbledore (which probably went against the headmaster's plans).

 

Neville's hand squeezed his, bringing Harry back to the present, and making Harry smile affectionately at his friend. Lately Neville had grown more comfortable around him, Harry thought it had something to do with Ron being out of their 'group', and often liked to take Harry's hand, hug Harry or brush Harry softly on the hair, head, cheek or shoulder. There was always a certain warm buzz in Harry's chest when Neville did this, and a giddiness he felt at the thought that his friend truly cared for him. It reminded Harry of the first time Susan had said she loved him before he went to bed, there had been a certain feeling, one that felt like the whole world had stopped and everything was just achingly perfect in that moment.

 

His hand simply felt right in Harry's. Like a jigsaw piece. Sure, it was a bit sweaty, and if Harry looked at Neville he could see the boy was nervous, and it was a bit rough, like Harry's hand since they were both avid gardener's. But, it was Neville, and Neville's hand, and Neville's magic, and even if Harry's chest hurt since his magic had gone through another growth spurt that morning, the pain didn't seem to matter as much because Neville was there holding his hand.

 

“We're here.”

 

Harry blinked a few times, gently pulling his hand out from Neville's who blushed, and looked around the glass green house they were in. It was in the shade, under a large grey tree that loomed and threatened to fall, and the glass that covered it was tinged green from moss and plant matter that had seeped into the walls. This greenhouse had many little plants, but most of them were classified XXX in danger, since they were carnivorous or poisonous in some way. There was a large plant at the back of the greenhouse, the Devils Snare, and Harry could see some blood on the mighty black viper's vines that indicated it had already eaten that day.

 

Harry turned to Neville, who was running a hand gently over a Hemonius Fig, which at night lifted great wing like leaves and used its scent to attract small prey, making them think it was their young. Some animals had evolved a resistance against it, like magical toads and snakes, but others still fell to it as it swallowed them whole.

 

Brown hair covered his friend's eyes for a moment, and Neville brushed it aside with his other hand, watching in wonderment as the plant's leaves brushed against his own fingertips to see if he was a danger to it. After a moment it untensed, and the leaves shivered in delight at finding such a large possible prey for it, since the logic of the plant was that 'if it is not predator then it is prey.'

 

Harry waited for Neville to explain why they were there, and glanced over at a Giant Venus Fly Trap which ate babies. Luckily the school did not feed it babies, but huge chunks of goat meat instead.

 

“I found a flower in here the other day, under the Devil's Snare, that I thought you might like to draw it. It had curled its vines around it in protection, but dared not touch it for one touch would kill even the Devils Snare.”

 

Neville brushed against the fig one last time before he pulled his hand away and shuffled over to the other side of the greenhouse. He pointed to a plant, in a black ceramic plant pot, that had a metre distance around it, almost like a forcefield, from all the other plants. It was small, no larger than a dandelion, and had a black stem with the thickness of Harry's pinky. It was almost fifteen centimetres tall, and had deep red petals with little yellow seeds in the centre.

 

It looked simple, but there was a certain allure to it, like Blaise Zabini's cheekbones. It pulled at Harry, urged him to touch it, and Harry had the same craving he had earlier of touching Neville's silk skin. He couldn't help but wonder if the plant would feel like silk or velvet or some other coveted texture.

 

Harry thought they might be late for class that morning, since he could stare at this flower all day.

 

“Its called the Vampire Blossom. It only drops its seeds once every full moon, and only does so into swamp soil that has no other plants containing it. It is covered in a poison almost as potent as a basilisk's venom, and is fed blood every Sunday by the sixth year Herbology class. I just thought it was so beautiful that you might like to draw it.”

 

Harry closed his eyes, dug deep inside himself to find his magic, before opened his eyes again. His whole body stung but he ignored it at usual, and Harry took out his wand. He didn't need to use it, but he had been neglecting the poor instrument, and it showed by how stubbornly it was being, kicking about in his hand like a fish above water. Harry could tell that under all the anger at being ignored, it was truly lonely, and it was made worse by the fact that Dark Wood and Unicorn Hair are too different to find solace in one another for company.

 

Accio Harry's Notebook.”

 

Harry called, having researched the basic spells that one would need to 'Survive a night in the Forest of Dean'. It was a book that Rick had read, and then given him in case he ever got lost in the wilderness. The Accio spell was apparently important, to summon things like fruit from high places or weapons once they are used, although the book was slightly biased against muggle weapons so only briefly mentioned the fact.

 

Neville didn't show any shock at Harry doing a random spell, since Harry had once made a sword with wandless magic and willpower alone. He didn't even blink when a few moments later Harry's spiral drawing book flew through the doorway of the greenhouse. Harry held out a hand and the notebook flew in, a bit like the mysterious cat into his arms, and he pulled out the pencil which permanently resided behind his ear and began to sketch the flower.

 

Neville leant against the door frame of the greenhouse, sighing as he stared at the blossom. He said softly, his voice simply a whisper on the wind, so easily fading into nothingness,

 

“I talked to Hermione about this, last night in the common room. She said I should pick the flower (with gloves) and frame it for you, if it meant so much to me. I had to think for a long time after that. I couldn't help but think how sad and selfish it was that people normally pick flowers to capture their beauty, even when they know the flowers will die if they do.”

 

Harry was sketching gently in his book, and paused for a moment to look at Neville. His friend had slid down the door frame, and was now sat on the floor with his arms curled around his bent legs. He looked at nothing, not Harry, not the blossom, simply something off in the distance that only he could see.

 

“I thought of how the beautiful pure-blood women that men covet are often trapped in loveless marriages, that breaks their spirits, and ruins what made them beautiful in the first place. Like what happened to my grandfather, who I heard stories about from the family diaries. What a handsome man he was, what a kind heart he had, such lovely pure magic he possessed.”

 

Neville sighed, with deep sadness and a hint of betrayal. Harry noticed his friend's magic started to peter out and roll back into Neville, preparing for an attack and fully on the defensive.

 

“Then my grandmother enforced a marriage contract which had been made when they were children. Grandfather had to accept, or he would lose his name and family. He was forced into a marriage, and his warm heart was soured. Twenty years later he was sent to Askaban for what he did to my uncle.”

 

Neville's breathing picked up, and he hugged his legs more tightly towards him. Harry turned back to his drawing, having almost finished the stem.

 

“And then my uncle did what was done to him, to me. And now my uncle is broken and sour and awful, and I can't help but think of how he used to just be a boy like me and now he is a monster. I can't help but think that he used to think what I was thinking now, but about his own twisted father. What man does that to his own nephew? Its like a disease that is being carried down in our family, a genetic disease, that spread from the man to his son to his nephew. Will I do the same to my own children? I could not handle it if I would. Will my children think of me like a monster, with pity and understanding, and know that one day they will do the same to their own children? I should not have children, or better yet, I should not continue on. I should break the cycle that started with my grandmother and... oh god... how can I sleep at night?”

 

Neville broke down into sobs, his sleeves riding up slightly. Harry noticed that for the past three weeks his sleeves had been down. Harry gently placed his drawing on the ground, thinking he might finish it later. He crawled over the dirt ridden ground and gathered Neville into his arms, cooing gently like one would to an injured bird.

 

Harry felt his magic gather in the bottom of his chest. In his diaphragm, just above his stomach and navel, pooling dangerously inside of him.

 

There was a beating, the beating of a drum, the beating like the beating of his own heart, and it pounded in his ears. There was a scream, a scream that smelt of ash and felt like acceptance, the same acceptance he had possessed when he had stared into oblivion, waited for his magic to kill him, was about to take a breath of water knowing what would happen, when he had followed Voldemort down past a pit of black vipers and through puzzles just waiting to die.

 

This feeling felt like death, like green light that encompassed all of eternity and everything. It gathered deep in his heart...

 

Beat. Beat. Beat.

 

It was running down with the pressure and pounding and speed of the current of a waterfall. Harry knew he was falling. Neville's magic was curling inside the boy protectively, trying to protect Neville from Harry. There was a roaring in Harry's ears like a thousand screaming accusations all saying the same thing, he didn't know what they were saying. The ground rumbled beneath him, truly rumbled, like the hunger of a lion waiting for its next meal.


The plant pots shook as the ground shook, a high pitched clacking sound echoing through the empty greenhouse.

 

Harry clenched his eyes shut, feeling a blinding light pooling and squeezing and flashing in front of him. It begged him to give in to the luscious feel of power in his veins, the thought that he could have the world. Harry felt his magic burn in the centre of his chest, like hot boiling oil was poured onto his skin, and he screamed out involuntarily.

 

Faintly, in the back of his mind, over the screams and drums and pounding of the waterfall and Harry's own scream, he could hear Neville's scream. One that made his heart clench in sadness and despair. And there was the sound of the wind, the crying wind which called out for destruction and freedom. There was the feeling of Harry's own magic, or torture and pain and lust.

 

He hurt Neville.

 

It was the last thing in Harry's mind as the world went black and his magic exploded around him. He could no longer feel the boy sobbing in his arms.

 

Chapter Text

 

An adventurous mind

 

Harry was reminded of the time when he had first prayed.

 

He had been seven, locked in his cupboard and had gone almost three days with no food. He was delirious and possibly hallucinating, dreaming of a repetitive green light in his nightmares, and dealing with the reality of darkness and isolation in the day time. Harry had knelt down, ducking his head from under the stairs that jutted out above him, and had whispered for god to save him. After god failed he prayed to Jesus, then to life, then to his parents, then to that big fat Asian statue (Buddha as he knew now) that someone else had prayed to in the park, and finally to that large tree by his school that he had been half convinced was secretly god in disguise.

 

Now he was knelt, bare knees wedged in thick clumps of scratchy grass, and the feeling of a light almost inconsequential heat on his back. There was a smell of sun and honey in the air, a sweet tangy aroma at the back of his throat. Harry thought he could detect a hint of elderflower. There was a similar feeling in the air, as had been in his cupboard. The feeling that he was surrounded by something larger than he knew, and that he was doing something more glorious and supreme than he could imagine.

 

Harry was only kneeling, but there was a certain feeling around him that made him think something so much more important was happening.

 

He opened his eyes wide, glancing around the meadow. It was his first time here, and he had only ever seen the place before in one of his day-time dreams. Only, he was not injured here. No, his skin felt fresh and vibrant, the back of his neck was no longer stiff from sleeping on it crooked, and his chest did not hurt from the storm he had created with his magic's rage.

 

Harry felt... content here, as if in this place he simply was.

 

He stood slowly, rising gracefully, smoothly like a legato, and brushed off at his clothes. Blue denim summer shorts and a bright green shirt was adorned upon his person, the clothes were soft and rubbed at his skin with a texture similar to silk. Harry knew that denim shouldn't feel like silk, but for some reason it did here.

 

Flowers dotted the ground around him, like street-lamps along a road. They were bright and flush and shone with morning sunshine, the wind blowing them around harmlessly with a gentle caress, they fluttered their petals to him soothingly, mischief and welcome and family in the action. Harry turned to the sky, gasping as he breathed in fresh air that felt like the warmth of an embrace, and clenched his knuckles as he closed his eyes.

 

It was glorious.

 

Harry breathed out slowly, gingerly opening his eyes again and noticed with a detached sort of interest that there was no sun in the sky. Endless blue stretched out, engulfing, and Harry imagined how lost he could become looking into the large and never-ending abyss above him. There was no time here, no movement, only an everlasting calm that stretched and filled into every morsel of his body and the environment around him.

 

Harry felt at home even if he had never been here before.

 

He walked, slowly, trekking his way across the meadow that did not seem to stop. Harry wanted to explore this beautiful place, to understand every inch of beauty there was, to memorise all of it so that this feeling could last forever. He skipped, like a young child with no problems, spinning merrily as he did so and humming That Song under his breath in joy. Their was a dark lust in Harry's heart, an unquenchable thirst and need for this to continue on forever, for this contentment to carry throughout his whole life never pausing once, absorbing Harry inside of it.

 

He did not run from this feeling, did not feel that he was being sucked into something dangerous. Harry, as a boy who had not truly wanted something in many years, embraced this all consuming desire, smiling deliriously and wandering around the meadow in a drug-like haze.

 

Eventually he came across a pebble path. The stones were wonky and uneven, but somehow when he walked across them they didn't hurt his bare feet. Harry knelt down and picked one up, holding it to his chest and breathing in deeply once again. That feeling had returned, the feeling that he was simply a vessel, simply one, and that there was a whole world out there. Harry felt so small and incomplete compared to the glory of this meadow, to the glory of this perfect place.

 

He didn't know for how long he travelled along that path. Maybe he had never walked anywhere at all, for there was no time in this twisted perfect place. There was only beauty and calm, everlasting and enveloping, all consuming and all wanting. It took and took and took until a person was no longer a person, but just something that added to it to make even more beauty. Harry wasn't scared of being consumed by it all, and perhaps that was the most frightening thing of all.

 

The path eventually ended, after only a moment or days he could not recall, but Harry only knew that it did. The grass stopped abruptly, cut off by a river that flowed from no where. The water was clear and Harry could see to the very bottom of the riverbed, fish jumped in and out on scaled wings, not afraid to fly, moving under and around the bridge that stretched from the path. Instead of pebbles all crowded until they created a wave, there was now thick black slabs of tile. They were so clean that instead of black they looked to be a pale blue at first glance, since they reflected the sky above them so competently. Almost like the ocean in that regard.

 

They were soft on his feet, perhaps softer than his clothes, and Harry imagined himself skating across them as if it were ice. One would have assumed the grass would have been softer, for some reason Harry wasn't shocked that it was the tiles. There did seem to be something awfully familiar about this place, as if every step he had taken he had already moved through before. A wild sense of deja vu perhaps.

 

Harry dipped down to the ground, settled on the edge of the low-hanging bridge, with his feet hanging in the water letting the warm current flow past them and tingle his toes. It was mesmerising, seeing the sunlight reflect off of the crystal clear stream, to feel the gentle tickling at the soles of his feet.

 

Harry closed his eyes and leaned back until his head and back rested against the ground, hugging his arms around himself for extra warmth. He let out a deep breath and smiled, what a lovely place this was.

 

 

Harry awoke, and smiled when he found himself looking up to the grand blue sky. The tiles dug into his back, like wires from a fence, and he fidgeted involuntarily. He stretched back, arching his back like a cat until he was a bridge, and tried to loosen his muscles from the stiffness they had gained from napping on uneven ground. Harry groaned lowly, lifting his arms high so they stood as pylons, breath smelling of morning and slight distaste, and nose flaring as his lungs tried to seize as much air as possible in a yawn, before flopping back down to the ground and letting out a sigh.

 

He smiled impishly, smelling the sweet tang of something around him, and clambered to his feet, almost tripping on the feather soft tiles. The day still shone bright, sun no where in sight, and Harry decided to continue his travels of the hot marble bridge, perhaps curious to what other treasures he could find in this mysterious place. A meadow, and then a bridge, what other things would reveal themselves to him and force him to pause and admire their beauty?

 

Harry ambled forward at a slow pace, taking his time to walk over the bridge and back onto the soft pebbles of the path. After what may have been minutes or seconds the stones petered out again into lush meadow and his feet stroked along long grass that reached up to his knees, as if reaching for the sun. Harry dipped a hand down through the stems, as he brushed against the swampier grass an almost itchy feeling tingled down his arm and he stared as a red rash appeared on his skin where the stems touched him.

 

A shrill bark sounded across the marsh, echoing over the shin high water that sucked at Harry's feet and made a pleasant squelching sound as he ambled along. The sound of trampled flora and discontented water grew louder and louder until Harry could see something red through the bars of green steel. Large black eyes stared out at him, and for a moment Harry thought the beast was going to attack.

 

Harry's heart started to beat faster, but it was not out of fear as he started to realise who this may be. It was out of excitement.

 

A large red fuzzy blur pounced into the air, and flew for a few metres, before crashing into Harry's chest. Harry, with experience from the tabby he had been cuddling up to the past few weeks, caught the nimble creature and looked down into the adorable expression of the fox-like thing. A tongue darted out and licked his rash ridden arm, causing him to wince as the pain grew worse. The small animal looked at him with apologetic eyes and quickly hopped out from his grip and down, with a splash, into the bracken water below.

 

Its face was shaped like that of a fox, except more plump and moon-like. Pale brown ears perked, blunt at the tips, and alert for danger. There were white triangular markings around its onyx eyes, and bright red fur graced the rest of its savagely grinning face and all the way down its back. The chest of the red panda was pitch black, along with its legs and paws. A wet black nose, one like a dogs, twitched as Harry continued to stare at the beautiful creature, it seemed annoyed at the lack of action occurring.

 

Harry felt a feeling of familiarity stir in his gut and whispered in awe,

 

“Magic, is that you?”

 

The red panda gave another high pitched bark, wagging its large bushy tail like a squirrel, and glanced with overly intelligent eyes to the direction Harry was already walking in. Harry knelt down in the water, goose-bumps springing up down his naked legs from the cold, and he held out a hand to stroke the fur of his beautiful friend.

 

Magic licked his hand once in an affirmative, before giving an impatient snort and bounding off past the crumpled path of grass it had created. Harry followed along in bemusement, tracking his racoon-like friend with a path broken grass stems and disturbed water. It was a bit surreal to find out that his magic was a red panda in this maddening place, a red panda of all things. Although... Harry paused to think, it does make sense, since red pandas are wild creatures and can be quite vicious. My magic grew up in a war zone always having to fight for me, so its quick to the kill and fiercely protective, but is also very nurturing. An ear splitting whine called across the swamp, and Harry smiled in acknowledgement. Magic wanted him walking quickly, not stopping about and having a think to himself.

 

Harry trudged through the water, a sucking sound at his bare feet as if it were a bog, and took in a deep savouring breath. It was the kind of smell that people either loved or hated, the marshy sticky swamp smell with a faint hint of manure. Harry had always loved it; the rawness of it, the freshness that made him feel like an animal, made him feel alive. When he had been only seven, at the park, chased up a large tree in the beginnings of Harry Hunting, he had mourned to himself over the losses of grand jungles and free open plains. Harry had daydreamed over the wild, of being free and foraging for chocolate and eating fried chips all the time. He had dreamt of being a lone traveller and walking all the way to the ocean, the feeling of sand on his feet for the first time, the roaring of the waves, pounding of the shore louder than his own heartbeat.

 

Harry didn't long for that any longer. Some nights, when he held himself close and his magic pounded in his chest painfully, he would wonder what it would be like to be free and away in the wild. But, truly, he knew he didn't want that. Not if he couldn't take Neville and Luna and his family with him, not if he couldn't have his mother there to hug him and give him sloppy kisses and make him warm hot chocolate and whisper about how she loved him.

 

It wasn't worth it if the people he loved, more than himself, weren't there. Harry, as a young child hadn't understood that, because he hadn't loved anyone except the idea of parents and the small toy horse that was his only companion. Harry had used to be 'the boy in the cupboard' and hadn't understood about the world, had only known that he was a freak and was trapped with relatives that would rather him dead than alive. The Harry walking through the swamp was one happy with himself, and prepared for almost anything. He understood the world was a glorious and unforgiving place, neither calm nor chaotic, and wouldn't trade it for the anything.

 

They walked for what felt reminiscent of an afternoon, pushing pond weeds and swamp grass aside became second nature. Harry felt a pleasant ache in his thighs, a burning, that spurred him on to continue. Maybe this swamp was endless, and eventually he would collapse from exhaustion, but Harry still followed his magic, determined to get wherever they needed to.

 

Pond weed turned to algae, and algae turned to stiff dry land that felt like desert but looked like mud. The soil was dried up, cracked from lack of rain and water, and looked similar to an old peat sighting that he had studied in primary school. The soft stiff tiles of swamp sand stuck to his wet feet, making a silly squelching sound, and Harry walked quickly on the hot reflective surface so as not to burn himself.

 

He followed small paw prints in the soil, stopping for a moment when he spotted a small wild garden of Vampire Blossoms, glinting dangerously in the gentle sunlight. Harry stared for a moment, remembering what Neville said about how they were fatally poisonous, taking four side steps to the left and walking around them.

 

Magic sat a few metres past the garden patch, with an adoring sort of smile on its face, and paws tucked in tightly to its chest, slightly bent and ready to pounce at any moment. The ground had morphed back into grassland, a sweet meadow that made Harry want to spin and spiral around it in luminous insanity.

 

“Ow.”

 

Harry yelped as Magic bit him on the arm, and it burned like he had pressed it against a kitchen flame. The red panda hopped away with a pointed look and Harry sighed, resigned to the fact that he would always bend to the whims of his beloved magic. He wouldn't be skipping around in the meadow today.

 

He spotted a new path up ahead, this one was made from crumbling bricks, all slotted together with patches of fierce weeds pushing through the edges. It somehow fitted this large consuming meadow of flowers, especially with the old rustic natural feel to it. Harry raced after the red panda, his bare feet tapping dried mud along the tops of the fading red clay.

 

As they charged together, as if they truly had somewhere to be, the path changed and the bricks became more compact and polished. The once scattered and randomly placed flowers suddenly morphed into plump and happy garden beds, with a dark slated oak wood surrounding them all in little paddocks. They reminded him of the garden that used to be his job to take care of at the Dursleys. Harry glanced at a large cream archway he could see in the distance, and marvelled at the huge bush of lavender wisterias hanging from it. It looked just like the one in his garden at home, the one that his mother had been pruning last summer.

 

Butterflies, birds and bees fluttered and made loops around the softly lit wonderland. Harry breathed in deeply, giggling like the child he was when Magic raced up a fruit tree, leaving scratches down the sides, and hung from the edge. He walked slowly under the cracked marble archway, which was tinged with moss that he hadn't seen before. Harry twisted his neck looking further around the place and spied large dark looming fir trees far off in the distance. If he strained his ears he could hear the faint sound of running water.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

Harry asked Magic when the red panda dropped from the lemon tree and into his waiting arms, snuggling into Harry's neck and making him wince as his chest hurt. The furry thing yipped lowly and Harry let his friend drop to the ground, before watching him skip languidly along the slight upward slope of the brick path. Harry sighed, realising he would simply have to trust his magic, and continued to follow it, his legs starting to hurt from the distance he had travelled; Harry didn't exercise often, and he had been walking for an inordinately long amount of time.

 

The brick layed track continued on, almost endlessly in Harry's eyes, but he amused himself by singing songs to his magic, and watching the wild red panda run in glee.

 

Why do you build me up, buttercup, baby, just to let me down? And mess me around... And then worst of all, you never call, baby, when you say you will. But I love you still...”

 

The path raised from its small upward slant into a steep hill, curling like the arc of a far off ocean on the horizon. The garden beds were replaced with small trees and rose bushes, Harry cut himself on one of the thorns when he brushed against a plant, only for the small bloodied prick to heal like it had never been there in the first place. Strangely enough, it seemed that whenever Magic came too close to him and licked him or brushed against him he would break out in a red rash and feel the same burgeoning pain that felt like he was bursting, other than that he could sustain no injuries, even the pain in his thighs ebbed away when he stopped walking for a moment.

 

The hill was larger than Harry had first assumed, and once he was at the top he could see all the way back to the swamp land. Harry spun around at the top, calling out triumphantly,

 

“I'm the king of the world!”

 

Then he laughed a full belly laugh and restrained himself from flopping down on the ground and staring at the sun-less clouds. A dull whine brought his eyes away from the beautiful view and Harry looked back over to Magic, who's nose was scrunched up in jealousy. Harry brushed a hand over the red fur, smiling when his magic's nose untwisted, and said consolingly,

 

“You're beautiful too, Magic.”

 

They continued on, both gay and happy in this new world.

 

A mellow mix of piano and violin, entwined in perfect harmony and depression echoed. The haunting and longing sound of That Song curled and twisted around Harry's ears and down into his veins like a drug, making goosebumps spring up on his skin. Anyone else would have run from it, scared of its tragic beauty and dangerous promise. Not Harry, he knew That Song was a part of him, a twisted and ancient part of him, but just as much a part of him as his magic or his scar. He could never abandon something like that, never be afraid of it or treat it as a freak, for Harry knew there was truly no normal in the world and therefore no freakish.

 

It was something Mel had convinced him of, that everything was normal since nothing was the same. We were all different, so there was nothing to base normal off of.

 

A few paces off the path was a lime plastic fold out chair. It seemed lonely, just sitting there in the non-existent sun, the plastic hot and empty. Harry felt it was eerily familiar, and his eyes widened in confusion at the bright red bikini resting on the arm of the chair. He stopped for a moment, Magic stopping with him and sitting obediently on the path as if it had already knew this was going to happen. Harry walked leisurely over to the plastic fold-out, running an arm over the edge of it.

 

Ah, I see, you've gained a girlfriend... Well, I do wish the best for you. I still have the shell in my room. Father had a fit when he found it, he thought it had been from Jer, he thought I was still seeing him, even long distance.”

 

The voice was sarcastic and sharp, reminding him of Severus Snape, but Harry could tell it was missing a certain alto that would have made it him. It was like the day visions he sometimes got, the ones that sometimes came true. Harry... had a strange feeling about the voice. Truly he should have remembered it... but... It was gone from him them.

 

He walked back over to the path, and his magic stood on four paws, ready to race across the path again. That Song grew louder as they travelled, making the ground vibrate with it. It seemed to crescendo over and over, bringing noise to the brink of human understanding, the same magnitude as the rumble of an earthquake. Harry knew for certain that this place was no where on Earth, for if it had been he would have surely died from the sheer volume of That Song sinking into every crevasse of his being. His heart started to beat staccato, his eyes closed to try and push against the pounding wind upon him, Magic curled at Harry's feet against the noise, holding on for dear life.

 

“We need a stabiliser.”

 

“I don't understand, the magic replenisher should have helped.”

 

“He could be allergic, we have no magical history.”

 

“You'd think we would but...”

 

“Okay. He's stable.”

 

That Song quietened to a dull roar.

 

Harry felt like he had fallen down from the sky, and noticed the path was missing. He pushed Magic gently away from him, noticing the frazzled appearance and once soft hair sticking up madly, he giggled softly. He fought the urge to laugh madly, with a half-hearted sigh, and felt considerably giddy for no discernible reason. Harry lifted his gaze, gasping in awe as his eyes fell upon magnificence.

 

A large marble statue of a sleeping sheep was in front of him, or perhaps it was a ram. It was gigantic, the same size as the Great Hall, his full height only coming up a minuscule amount on the hoof. Enormous twisting coils of horns rested like curls of elegant and purposeful hair either side of the sheep's ears. The hooves were folded over one another, legs crossed in a way that if it were a person they would be seen as important or impatient. Realistically carved fur was all over its body, a body for which Harry could settle on no gender, for Harry knew next to nothing about sheep. It was disconcertingly white, as pale as the moon, with a slight grey tinge from dust or mould or age or perhaps it had been made that way. It could have gained the grey like the slight dulling of a unicorn's coat as it aged, or like how bridges over water turn red from rust. Something in Harry's mind rung out that it was meant to be grey, that it signified something. The eyes were closed, a dark line between the eye lids emphasising the shadow made from no sun, heavy elegantly shaped eyelashes forged from the tips of the lids protected whatever precious jewels lay beneath the cream flaps of fabricated skin, and if Harry squinted he thought he saw a flash of green.

 

Strangely enough his magic kept its distance, hiding behind Harry and biting at his leg in an effort to get him to move away.

 

The sound of rushing water cornered his ears and Harry looked down to see a stream of sparkling water, falling from the sheep's eyes like tears and pooling with elegance below, seeping deep into the ground. Harry walked forward, almost in a trance, to brush against the statue. It was so glorious. Surely it would be okay to touch?

 

He winced as Magic took a firm bite of his shin, physically dragging him away from the statue and back onto the path. Harry shook his head, his eyes blurred and head filled with cotton. There was a peculiar dryness in his mouth, one he associated with fear... but Harry hadn't been afraid for a long time. He looked down at the painful canines dug into his shin and realised that it was his magic that was scared. A wave of unexpected compassion consumed him and he knelt down and brushed softly against the red panda's back, feeling the teeth loosen from his leg and pain ebb as the teeth let go. Harry whispered soothingly,

 

“You'll be okay, I won't touch the statue.”

 

Magic relaxed even more, and its eyes shone with gratitude. As if it were saying thank goodness, Harry had to wonder what was wrong with the statue to worry his poor magic so much.

 

 

Harry knocked twice on the hard wooden door. He waited, his magic sat on the ground by his feet, the same pose as a beloved dog would. Harry felt like he should be on the floor and Magic should be standing tall, since their relationship was one of equals... yet he still didn't want to have to stand and wait on his achy legs, and he did not mind sitting below his well loved magic. They had travelled for what felt like hours longer, and his legs were taking longer to heal. Harry had the suspicion that it was because Magic was sat beside him.

 

In truth, Harry didn't really care about standing, or about the pain in his legs, he just wanted to be closer to his magic. Normally it literally hung off him, and the small distance between them this whole time was slightly unsettling. Harry smiled a sad sort of smile, it was okay, hadn't he thought not so long ago that life would still be beautiful even without his magic by his side?

 

Something about this place upset Harry's balance, and made him... his version of whiny.

 

The door swung open, but there was no one behind it. Harry simply shrugged and walked through the opening, his magic following along closely beside him, making his heels burn with invisible friction. The arch was made of black stone, the same colour as the soft tiles from the bridge. Actually, the whole fortress was made of black stone. There were no windows, only large slabs of black and torches framed by golden handles in the shape of lilies. The smell of dust, musk and elderflower was in the air, undertoned by the aroma of old parchment and ink.

 

Since there were no windows Harry wasn't sure how many stories to the fortress there were. From what he had seen outside the place was heavily guarded, with sharpened wooden spikes jutting out from the ground and slits in the architecture for arrow holes (something he remembered from Hogwart's architecture). He suspected the place to be some sort of army encampment, or the home to something incredibly valuable, but for a place with no sun he wasn't sure if his ideas held any precedence.

 

Once inside, the door shut soundlessly behind them, and empty torches lit up with green fire, casting jade shadows all about the place and making Magic's hackles raise involuntarily. Harry hummed That Song soothingly, and saw Magic relax into an alert stance beside him, but less aggressive. To Harry's intrigue once he hummed That Song the torch flames pulsed to a low purple flame, which was more comforting in his opinion. Purple was currently his favourite colour, tied with yellow. The room was empty, and about the same size as one of Professor Snape's dungeons. The floor was a grey cement, contrasting harshly against the old era slabs of mortar on the walls.

 

Harry looked around the place, finding the hole he had just walked through melded into the wall. Had he not just walked through it he wouldn't have known where it was, since it was melted so seamlessly away. He walked forward, slowly, and carefully, wondering if this was the type of place to have other defences and if he was walking to his doom. As space separated him and Magic, the red panda grew more agitated and bounded right beside him, tail raised in a fighting pose.

 

...Maybe his magic used the tail to strangle people.

 

Harry smiled at the absurd thought.

 

After a few more moments of tense silence Harry stopped, realising how silly he was being. There was no reason to be scared, no consequence that he wouldn't accept. Death was a part of life, he already knew that, and torture and pain were only temporary, whether they be in body or mind. The bad would always eventually pass, and peace would always end, it was best to simply take things as they come and enjoy the good parts of life.

 

The torch flames morphed yellow, and a grating sound like cogs turning engulfed the room's silence in holy sound.

 

Harry glimpsed another archway opening up and walked under and through it. A circular staircase ambled upwards, into the unknown. The first stair creaked good-naturedly when Harry stepped upon it, and Harry giggled under his breath. He and Magic began their climb upwards, on yellow velvet stairs, the fabric soft on their mud caked feet.

 

The second floor was filled with many books, a wall to wall library with multicoloured literature that made Harry's head spin. He was a Ravenclaw. Magic seemed bored by the sudden fountain of knowledge, standing with eyes dancing about impatiently as Harry looked around the place. The smell of ink and parchment was stronger in here, for obvious reasons, and Harry filtered through a few of the shelves to see what they held.

 

Strangely most of the books seemed to be blurred, or empty with no titles. Some had dates from times that hadn't occurred yet like Wisteria 1993-1997, which Harry didn't truly understand. There were books of information he already knew, such as Baffling truth of Charms Vol I, and some for things he didn't Animagus Transformation or Side effects of lycanthropy or The Religion of Magic.

 

Harry tried to pull these out, only for them to be stuck indefinitely, and unreadable. He turned to another shelf, this one seeming to be far older than the others, and successfully took out a book.

 

HP Memories Age 0-1

 

He ran a finger down the binding, shivering in delight at the soft velvet covering, instead of dull plastic. The book smelt of warm milk, and was as soft as a pillow, making Harry smile at the welcoming aura. Harry flipped open the first page, eyes roving over the information.

 

Harry James Potter was born on July 31st 1991 at 11:59 PM. He opened his eyes for the first time, and stared with blurry vision at the beautiful red haired woman who had birthed him, at that point not knowing who she was. He let out a baby sound, reminiscent of a gurgle, and was cooed at by others visiting the room...

 

It went on like that for a while, detailing Harry's first days in beautiful imagery, and giving Harry a better idea of the people he no longer saw as parents. That was his mother's right.

 

Magic grew impatient, and bundled its way over to Harry, bumping against his leg, and gesturing to the door at the end of the library which would lead to the next floor. He indulged his beautiful friend, brushing behind his ears in affection, before walking over to the next set of stairs.

 

Chapter Text

 

Meetings and Dried Chimera Eyes.

 

The stairs squeaked tiny little sounds, like a baby bird's chirp, as Harry made his way up them with long lengthened languid steps. Magic was impatient, hopping from step to step, whining under its breath, tail wagging as if it could blow Harry up the stairs with the speed of its movement. Its furry little face was scrunched up in annoyed apprehension, hoping to move past the circular stairway as quickly as possible, and move on to the true prize on the following floor. Harry smiled placatingly at his magic, but did not increase his pace, deciding to enjoy the paintings on the walls around him.

 

Unlike the rest of the fortress the walls were carved into and dotted in occa and other paints. There was a mural, covered in leaves, flowers, birds, waterfalls, rainbows... Art that seemed to be by Harry's hand. He stopped for a moment, leaning in close, his eyes widening in realisation. This was his art, all of it, he had sketched it all, imagined it this way, even the Vampire Blossom he had painted was here. Harry's hand found the wall, smiling with joy as he traced over some of the pictures. It was even better than he had drawn it, it was how he had imagined it.

 

He sighed as Magic whined louder, looking worriedly at his panicking friend. Before it had just been barking with impatience, but now that it was worried Harry decided to follow its unspoken orders. He didn't want to upset his own magic, it didn't deserve that kind of treatment. He smiled reassuringly at it, stroking over its head soothingly for a moment, before he panted all the way up the stairs. Besides, his magic probably had a good reason to be so impatient.

 

Harry stood outside a birch wood door, a pale light seeping from underneath, thumping rhythm going through his bare feet. He smiled, breathing deeply, prepared to protect his magic from whatever lay beyond and within, and took a large step forward, pushing the door open silently, and letting light flood into the stairway. Magic, who had been hiding from up until then, summoned bravery into their furry body, and growled, hopping in front of Harry and preparing itself to attack. Harry smiled gently at the creature with hackles raised, feeling pain prickle up his spine, and followed it into the room.

 

This room was similar to the one just a floor before. It was wall to wall books, large leaning shelves, darkened corners where the light didn't seem to reach and words were whispered in forgotten prayers. Harry grinned as he heard That Song playing, echoing around the room, bouncing off the walls harmlessly. He began to sway as he entered, noting distractedly that the door had shut behind him, and slowly moved his way through the many shelves.

 

Some of the books, unlike the ones downstairs, were piled up on the floor, stacked in uneven rows. Harry halted his gentle dance and leaned down to pluck one from the ground, skimming the title in interest,

 

French Customs.

 

It read, and when he flipped open the book it was completely blurred, making his head ache in confusion as his eyes were forcibly pushed from the page. Harry hummed in interest before placing the book back upon the pile, eyes roving over the other titles,

 

Omega, Alpha, Beta.

 

Blood Magic.

 

Est Ligatus.

 

The fascinating art of watercolours.

 

Thursday, October 31st 1991.

 

Neville Longbottom.

 

Harry slid out the last one, smiling in joy when he discovered that he had found a book filled with moving pictures of Neville. The boy blushing, stuttering, smiling, holding his hand, doing magic, that concerned face, when he met Luna, looking at him from afar... He flipped through more and more, smile becoming wider and heart starting to pound, throat dry all of a sudden... and he wasn't afraid. The world seemed cloudy and his head was filled with cotton as the pictures moved closer and closer to the last time Harry had glimpsed him, Neville leading him to the greenhouse, walking through the castle, their hands held and...

 

Continued in Neville Longbottom II.

 

Harry let out a melancholy sigh and replaced the volume at the top of the pile. Magic appeared from within the shelves, hair ruffled, but eyes returned to their gentle state. It looked up to Harry in understanding, and let out a small bark of apology. Harry grinned at the cute-as-a-button creature, brushing a few strands of wild red hair from its face, and letting the pang in his heart disappear. It wasn't often that Harry felt guilt, since some things just seemed unavoidable to him, but Neville was what he would call a friend, and in that instance it had been him who had endangered him.

 

He let his magic lead him through the shelves, stopping himself from growing distracted by the odd smell of parchment and strange scrolls that were in buckets off to the side. There was something Magic wanted him to see, so the least Harry could do was abide by that. That Song grew louder as they made their way through the maze of literature, it pulsed in Harry's body and sent vibrations through his feet. He twirled slightly as his magic pulled him past the last stack of books, ones dictated in a language he couldn't understand.

 

Magic stopped abruptly, and Harry raised his eyes, pleased shock thrumming through his body at the sight before him. He had only imagined this in dreams long ago, and although he no longer needed her, it was a privilege to be able to meet someone from his long gone past. Shock turned the air yellow, and Harry had to blink a few times before the feeling disappeared.

 

A woman, with long red hair, and a beige dress that reached her knees, was reading through one of his books in a large cream armchair, humming slightly next to a shiny golden gramophone. That Song was weaved in eerie notes of disquiet, twirling in the room like winding air looking for a leaf to blow astray, it curled over both their skins and urged them to meet.

 

“Lily.”

 

Harry said, for she was not his mother any longer, that role belonged to Susan, and surely in death she was not a Potter either. There was nothing else to say, and for the first time in a long time he felt... unsure. Worry clenched at his heart and Harry thought his breath might be coming fast and his heart might be pounding out of his chest, he couldn't focus, couldn't breathe, he thought she was dead, this wasn't what was meant to happen, he-

 

Magic licked him sharply on the ankle and Harry felt some sense return to him, this place seemed to do wonders in murkying his mind. Everything seemed somehow clouded, and unpleasant emotions more sharp and consuming. Perhaps it was the walls, they were awfully dark and looming.

 

She raised her eyes, her green eyes that were the same as his, and stared in shock, mouth open wide but curled all the same in a brilliant smile. They shone with the look of unconditional love that only a parent could grant upon their child. Lily placed the book she was reading, Prophecies and the beholden, down on the floor next to her. She looked as if she wanted to jump up and hug him, but was somehow stationary in the chair.

 

“My baby.”

 

She whispered, tears breaking at her eyes, skin paling dramatically in shock. Harry nodded, as if accepting his heritage, and smiled sweetly at her, running forward to embrace her. Lily turned away, and Harry stopped short before he could touch her. She said mournfully,

 

“You can't hug me yet darling, I need to explain why I am here.”

 

Magic growled uneasily at the foreign entity inside his child's mind, not liking the possible competition for mother figure. Lily looked at the angry creature with a kind smile, as if apologetic for her interference.

 

“They told me you were dead.”

 

Harry murmured, confused, with a strange smile. To think for years all he had wanted was his mother, and here she was, inside his mind all along. And now, when he had found her, he did not need her any longer, for he had a new family, and he did not need her love.

 

Lily frowned solemnly,

 

“I am dead, sweetie. I am only a remnant of a faded blood protection, only a ghost, a spectre. I should have faded when the blood wards dropped, but I still loved you all the same, and hung on a little longer, to protect you from him.”

 

She spat 'him' like it was a foul insult on her tongue, and Harry looked at her in confusion. Lily continued,

 

“I had hoped to protect you until you learnt how to protect yourself, how to keep him inside and stop his evil from spreading. But...”

 

She picked up a book entitled An Adventure of the mind that rested on the floor in a dark green cover and shook her head,

 

“...it would seem that you have fallen into yourself by accident, into your mind, and I will be caused to fade by the high concentration of your magic, even now pushing at my wisp of remembrance.”

 

Lily knelt down upon the ground, sliding off of the chair, and pulled Harry against her chest, arms weaved around him in a tight hug, before she pushed him away slightly, taking his head in her hands. She leaned her forehead against his, and murmured hopefully,

 

“I love you, darling, and I wish I had more time to spare, but I do not, and I must leave you sooner than I would have hoped. There is something that young eyes such as yours shouldn't see, the thing I am protecting you from, so I will use the rest of my magic to fight your magic, hopefully allowing you to leave your mind earlier than the Fates intended.”

 

Harry placed a gentle kiss upon her nose, her face tasting of vitality and cherries. Tears began to stream down Lily's cheeks, as she pulled all the remaining magic into her, and then shoved it out forcefully, as if through a brick, rushing and flooding out of her until she was drained, channelled towards the sweet little red panda. Magic was ready, standing, expectant of this turn of events, hackles raised and eyes sharp and attentive, it would do anything needed to protect its host. She began to fade in his arms, and Harry kissed her again, on the nose once more, feeling her corporeal form disappear into wisps of smoke, and watching with sharp green eyes as his magic yowled in anger, head titled up to the sky in a silent plea, teeth sharp as they fought off an invisible attacker.

 

The last thing Harry glimpsed before the world fell out from beneath him was the black and cracked stairway, filled to the brim with cobwebs and darkness, that opened up behind the disappearing armchair. That Song echoed hauntingly with no one to listen to it, Harry's form gone from the mental landscape and Magic lying unconscious on the ground, held back momentarily.

 

 

The sounds of soft voices were heard in Harry's peripheral. There was a distinct sense of wrongness from the absence of his magic, that set his limbs alight in discomfort and burned an ache in his chest. Harry almost couldn't breathe, there was an emptiness he had never felt. His magic had always been there, always thrumming under his skin, even all the way back before Hogwarts, when it was just a little boy, hugging himself tightly, with a slight warmth in his chest that begged to escape.

 

Harry took a deep breath, his limbs feeling weak and heavy, his heart slow and concise. He had always wondered what it might be like to go without his wonderful magic, and now he knew. He forced his lips into a faint smile, a bitter smile that if it were chocolate it would have tasted dark and double edged. He missed Magic, it was easy to admit and he held no shame in it. It was a part of him missing, just like how Harry would miss his brittle feeling scar if it ever went away.

 

His eyes fluttered open, and the bright lights of the Hospital Wing clouded his vision, the sounds around him started to form words and distinct voices, and as his green eyes blinked the blinding flashes away he could hear a conversation.

 

“He is waking up, we do not know what caused his body to restart but we have an idea. All the evidence points to Magical Exhaustion, and after the destruction of Greenhouse 2 it all correlates to this ailment. Being trapped in a magical coma is one of the most prevalent symptoms in exhaustion of the magical wells and in the magnitude of cases the patient awakes on their own once their magic has replenished itself, has Mister Potter reported to you any insomnia or sleeping problems, perhaps pain in the chest?”

 

Madame Pomphrey's soft voice was easy on the ears, it was melodic and funnelled around him like the calm waves of Neville's smile.

 

“In our last progress meeting he didn't mention anything, I'd had no idea he was struggling so much with the work load.”

 

Professor Flitwick replied, with an almost guilty voice with a tad of surprise, murmuring something too faint for Harry's ears to catch.

 

“Could this be connected to his scar, as when I scanned him I came across curse residue that may have impacted upon his magic?”

 

Pomphrey asked, her voice slightly tight as she spoke, as if holding in emotion.

 

“Never worry my dear, I have checked his scar myself, it is completely safe.”

 

The deep and wispy voice of Dumbledore set Harry's body on edge slightly, tensing as it realised a threat in the room. Harry could feel the faintest traces of magic under his skin, as if under water and far away from his grasping fingers, which was repulsed by the voice of a danger.

 

“No offence, Dumbledore, but you are not a Healer and-”

 

“I said it is safe Miss Pomphrey, I have dealt with such Dark magic and I am sure you have not.”

 

Harry could almost feel the submission as Pomphrey accepted Dumbledore's words, the faint outlines of figures blooming in front of him as his eyes cleared and the Hospital Wing came into greater focus.

 

“Do you have any idea why his body rejected the Replinishment Potion?”

 

Squawked the deep and broodish voice of McGonagall, her Scottish roots becoming more prevalent as she became more stressed. Harry, as his eyes watered and blinked away the fuzz, registered their blurry forms against the white flooring of the medical bay.

 

“The only answer that makes sense is an allergy... although, what bothers me most of all was that his medical records were missing.”

 

Madame Pomphrey's voice was very foreboding and had a scolding edge to it, as if she were ready to give whoever had withheld Harry's information a firm talking to. She seemed quite different to the calm if not slightly questionable woman Harry had first met last year, there was a granite slight tone to her voice that portrayed the serious nature of the situation and the worry that seemed to exude the air that flitted around her.

 

“Poppy, you make it all seem so sinister, truly this may be nothing but clerical error.”

 

Dumbledore soothed, in that slightly patronising, slightly manipulative way of his. Harry felt the voices drifting around him once more, and the energy sapping adventures finally took their toll. He drifted into a light sleep, eyes fluttering shut and mouth opening slightly.

 

...

 

Harry was reawakened a couple hours later, his chest feeling vastly less empty, and magic once again thrumming under his skin. He felt whole, and the warm feelings coming from inside him seemed to fill the ache. Madame Pomphrey scanned him once again, muttering things about the confusing nature of one's magic, before she found him ready to be dismissed. There was something in her own magic, the sharp and sparkly one, that seemed to think an early release was an abhorrent idea, it curdled inside her stomach and writhed with an unhappy smell.

 

Harry smiled gently to her, causing her to be slightly taken a back for a second, before she returned the smile and continued on with her explanation,

 

“...magic is one of the hardest things for a mediwitch to diagnose, because of the nature of it. Magic is something, that has no measure, until it is used. It is only the potential for change and creation that is not an actual physical manifestation within a person's corporeal form. This potential for change is measurable, but is highly distrusted, for the level's of magic within a person can change throughout their lifetime, it is not a set amount. This means, because it is unknown whether fluctuating levels of magic are natural or not, since this change does not occur throughout all magicals, that it cannot be attributed to a certain illness. There are many illnesses that can cause Magical Exhaustion, as it can sometimes cause the potential magic to fight for a person's bodily wellbeing, and drains the reserves. However, I have scanned and tested you for all of the most common illnesses, and marked off uncommon by other measured, along with ones that would attribute a magical coma. Mr. Potter, you have been diagnosed with Magical Exhaustion, which is the extreme depletion of the magical wells, and can lead to such symptoms as bodily aches or pains, changed sleeping habits, erratic behaviour of one's magic, and of course trouble casting spells. It would seem that in Greenhouse 2 with Mr. Longbottom you experienced a very magic depleting amount of accidental magic, which caused your body to shut down, so as to replenish your supplies. It takes longer than two weeks for the average wizard to do this, and so I have assigned you a further six weeks to fully replenish your reserves. This means, you must still attend classes, but will be unable to participate in the practical work and...”

 

Harry tilted his head slightly as Madame Pomphrey began to explain the specifics of Magical Exhaustion, and how it was nothing to be ashamed of, and how even Albus Dumbledore himself experienced it as a child after too much duelling in the corridors. He thought it interesting that he was supposed to be ashamed of something outside of his control, it seemed quite peculiar in fact, like how he was supposed to be ashamed of the Dursley's malhandling, or of his fascination with dresses, even his fierce love for a family that was underrated in wizarding society. Harry couldn't stop the smile from gracing his face as he imagined what his own family might be up to, and the soothing and warm feelings that always accompanied their presence.

 

He rubbed his hands together slightly, a spark of warmth springing up from his magic, and let the soft texture of his garden worn hands heat him. Yes, he thought as Madame Pomphrey spoke about his diet, I am lucky.

 

 

Harry leant down and kissed Neville lightly on the forehead, brushing a stray hand down his soft hair as the boy lay there. He seemed so similar to sleeping in that moment, with his even breathing and peaceful expression, but Harry knew he was in an artificial coma. The damage from his tornado had been life threatening, and had resulted in many internal injuries that could not be cured as quickly as his own. Neville's own magic had been said to work against him, as if there was some sort of deep internal battle he was fighting.

 

He looked so peaceful, all physical wounds healed, but Madame Pomphrey was not quite sure if the mental wounds would remain. What had occurred there down in the Greenhouse? And why was Neville's magic so foreign. Harry sighed, stroking a finger across the other boys cheek, green eyes gleaming, before he brushed it away.

 

Neville would be okay, he'd make sure of it.

 

 

Harry ignored the fervent stares as he made his way about his day, hairs pricked up on the back of his neck and his magic thrummed slightly as Harry ignored the piercing looks that garnered his magic and scar's attention. Nosy brats his scar whispered, and a deep sense of loathing passed through Harry that he almost lost his balance. He soothed the scar with gentle words, and rubbed soothing circles over his own forehead.

 

Harry thought it might be a bit grumpy from being left alone so long.

 

Professor Snape entered the room, pushing the door open, before it miraculously shut closed without any assistance. A self reliant door then. The professor's robes billowed behind him in the dark and dramatic lighting of the dungeon, and his shoes clicked sharply on the stone floor, sending shivers down many a child's spine. He made his way behind the front desk, not sitting down, but standing, looming above them, eyes sparkling darkly,

 

“In the First Year, we had attempted to learn the basic mixtures of potions and their effects, along with the scale of acidum and basis, and some very basic instructions for the preparation of potions. Ms Currey, what is the acidum-basis scale?”

 

The red headed girl gave a dry look at being called upon, and restated the rules in a perfunctory manner,

 

“The acidum basis scale is one to determine whether a substance is acidum or basis, and to which end of the scale it leans to or upon. There is no known substance, other than water, and purified magic, which has no leaning, this is known as neutrum, at which they tend to be harmless before mixing, and rate a 7 on the acidum-basis scale. Acidum substances, when higher on the scale, are less acidic, but if concentrated can become corrosive, they are mostly liquids, such as the acidum liquid that a bezeor rests in does not mean the bezeor is acidic. Basis substances are often soapy to the touch, they taste bitter, and can burn skin, like acidums, if concentrated enough.”

Professor Snape nodded, an ugly smile on his face as he said grittedly, his teeth clenched together and the words having to force their way out,

 

“Three points to Ravenclaw.”

 

He then strode to the front of the room once more,

 

“Megan Jones, what is the most important rule of Potions?”

 

He barked at a young blonde Hufflepuff with hair down to her shoulders, brushed back smartly, and an oval face. Her edges were softened with youth and Harry could see Terry Boot from a few desks down staring at her like a precious jewel. She said smartly, not intimidated by Professor Snape like many other people in her year,

 

“Don't use dried chimera eyes, ever.”

 

A few of the class snorted slightly, but Professor Snape did not look impressed by her cheek, and said churlishly,

 

“Cannot remember, can you? Dried chimera eyes, although very volatile and used in no known potions other than ones of mass destruction, is not the most important rule. Repeat after me class, never create a potion with unclean hands.”

 

Stray murmurs travelled around the room, some repeating the words, other looking confusedly at their teacher. He continued,

 

“For your level it is the most important rule to remember, unlike baking-”

 

He spat the word like a foul insult,

 

“-potions is very delicate, and the amount measured within a potion cannot be changed within the slightest without changing the whole composition of the potion. This is to do with a certain nature of potions that is too complicated for the likes of you, but heed my words, any stray ingredients that find their way into your potions is a life threatening occurrence.”

 

He stalked slightly forward, so as to keep his student's eyes as he spoke,

 

“There are of course many other rules which you should have already memorised.

 

His voice was dark, and smooth like melted chocolate. Harry tilted his head slightly with a wry smile as his teacher continued his mysterious air.

 

Last year we had spent three weeks outlining these rules and for the sake of your own health they should have been memorised. But, alas, as I am dealing with incompetent dunderheads I shall have to outline them once more. Firstly, never create a potion with unclean hands. Always check the cauldron for cracks before use. Wear the appropriate safety wear if necessary. Never use a recipe you don't trust. Use only well stocked ingredients from the school storerooms, others may not be trusted. Do not use stasis charms unless absolutely necessary. Squibs cannot create potions, it is a danger. Do not ever give a muggle a potion, their bodies are different. Never give a lust person to an unwilling person, it is rape. Never...”

 

Professor Snape continued on for most of the lesson, not disappointed at his class having forgot his teachings, but worried for the sake of the whole wizarding community. Harry noticed a slight sag in his shoulders, as if he carried the weight of the world on them.

 

“...or there will be repercussions. Now, last year, we should have learnt about the basic properties and how these interact, along with correlations of the acidum and basis scale. For the beginning of this term we have been finishing that work, since, due to the Headmaster's belief that I work you too hard, we have been set back by a few weeks. It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that we have finally caught up, not that it would have been necessary if everyone had completed their summer assignments, which are compulsory, and these will affect your end of year grade. I had expected each and every-”

 

Ding. The class bell rang, and no one dared move from their seat, knowing that Professor Snape abhorred when they took the initiative. He glared at the wall, as if blaming the bell itself for interrupting him, and said sharply,

 

“Two and a half inches listing the rules you learnt today. If you had written them down then you will find this much easier. Mr Potter, detention with me, after your next class.”

 

Ravenclaw heads turned in confusion at Professor Snape's last request, slightly commiserating glances being shot in Harry's direction, the level of hatred having been lessened considerably since Harry got sick. He heard Alysha whisper,

 

“Bad luck.”



To him as he left the classroom, and shot her a beaming smile. He couldn't help but wonder what this detention might be about, but simply took it as another mystery of his life.

 

Chapter Text

 

Minds, scars, and their dreamy eyes.

 

“I am not one to speak in riddles, so I will keep this blunt.”

 

Professor Snape drawled in the dramatic fashion he was wont to do, cape flaring as he strutted across the room, dark eyes roving over Harry's calm figure. Many students would feel intimidated by this blatant display of power, but Harry just hummed slightly, smiling at the older man, and wondered what topic might be so urgent that Professor Snape would summon him immediately.

 

The older man's magic curled around him in a dark semblance of protection, it ached for him, Harry could smell the sorrow and fight within it. He knew that his potions teacher had not lived a pleasant life, by the roughened edges of his dangerous and rogue magic. It flapped around him, spikes shooting out, dangerous ribbons of darkened power wrapping around Professor Snape's limbs and neck. Harry couldn't see magic, but he could smell and feel it, and his professor's smelt defensive in a way that it attack at the first scent of danger.

 

He strode forward, leaning himself on the desk, surveying Harry with that chilled blank expression that belied nothing of the passion that lived in his eyes. Harry knew Professor Snape was not a nice man, he was downright abusive to his students and cared little for their wellbeing, but was also human, just like anyone, and was not strictly two dimensional. His lips curled into a snarl as he asked quietly,

 

“Lockhart, your DADA professor has been acting untowardly to some students... Your magic has recently undergone an explosion that is often linked to cases of pent up emotion and, in some cases, abuse or trauma... Has Lockhart touched you inappropriately?”

 

Harry blinked, not exactly expecting that question, but supposed it was a necessary thing to ask. His healing magic roiled under his skin at the accusation, taking disgust at the thought where Harry could not, who cared little for his own health and more for enjoying what he experienced. His scar remained suspiciously quiet in the conversation, remaining aware, Harry could tell by the faint buzz, but not invested. He smiled easily at Professor Snape, who's expression seemed to degrade slightly into a darker sneer. All that 'progress' of their heart-to-heart last year didn't seem to have had a lasting impact on their relationship, or maybe his professor was just worried about getting too close and kissing Harry again.

 

His magic positively frothed at the mouth at his last thought.

 

Harry replied, no shame in his words,

 

“Professor Lockhart has not touched me at all.”

 

His potions professor pierced him with his gaze for a few moments, as if trying to assess the truth in the statement. Their eyes met once more and a stab of seductive magic shot out towards his mind. His own magic, weak as it was, tried to burn it off, but was still recovering from Lily's attack. Harry felt the world tilt slightly, his scar burning him as consciousness left him and he was returned to his mind-scape.

 

Harry stood in the library for only a second, stumbling as his head felt fuzzy and a loud thrumming clouded his ears, before he was reunited with reality.

 

Professor Snape stared at him with a look of extreme mistrust, eyes dark with an emotion Harry couldn't understand. He lifted himself upright from where he was leaned and loomed ominously over Harry's shaking body, still in shock from the failed invasion of his mind. Professor Snape whispered darkly,

 

“What have you got to hide, Mr. Potter, I wonder?”

 

Harry smiled shakily up at the man leaning over him, fingers quaking uncontrollably at the build up of magic in his system, body flooded in a hope of taking out the foreign magic. His lungs burned slightly, an icy feeling that made him think his breath was escaping in mists. A normal child may have tried to make a break for it, but Harry saw no point in that, not truly feeling fear in this oddball situation, more concerned with how Professor Snape's hair could be so shiny.

 

Perhaps its those potion's fumes getting to his head an acerbic voice rang out in Harry's head. Scar, he belatedly realised. Harry's head tilted down against his own violation, neck stretching as he was bent to look downwards and away from Professor Snape's deadly gaze. It would appear Scar was trying to possess him. How astute Scar drawled, a faint terror within that part of his forehead as Professor Snape titled Harry's head to face him. Their eyes met once more and Professor Snape whispered,

 

“I do apologise Mr. Potter, but I must make sure my students are safe. If I happen to discover some facts that you would rather keep private then.. there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to prevent that. Legilimens.”

 

It was a feeling quite like no other when Professor Snape joined their eyes and moved into his mind, completely different to even how Dumbledore had attempted to invade his mind and add compulsions. Instead of the gentle, secret, entry that trickled past his senses and was only detected by a magnitude of mother-hen magic, it was a harsh violent shove that tore at Harry's fading magic which screamed in desperation, pushing forward brick walls that Professor Snape seemed to break with ease. Backlash shook Harry's body as excess magic was distributed unevenly with no intent. He quivered in the wake of his own power. He was weakened, with Scar also attempting to take control, hopefully to protect Harry. Harry tried to allow Scar to possess him, a survival instinct deep down coming to the surface, but his own weakened magic fought against Scar's control, giving even more lenience to Professor Snape's violation. It would seem in his magic's panic, it had fought off all foreign magics, including that of their own resident Scar. Although his magic and Scar had never been close, they had been known to collaborate in situations like this to protect Harry, but it seemed

today his magic was too frazzled from Lily's attack to handle the situation properly.

 

 

The fight lasted only moments before Professor Snape broke through all defences and found himself in the bewildering mind-scape of one Harry Potter. The hardy professor was surrounded in calm meadows, gorgeous forestry, and floods of incandescent flowers that made him tilt his head with nigh confusion and only intrigue. He was not welcome here, he could tell by the fierce resistance he felt by even standing, the air that seemed to consume him, but had good reason to break into his student's fragile psyche. If Lockhart was harming Harry he needed to know, so as to not only protect the boy but his other students as well.

 

 

Harry, however, was not in his mind, but unconscious, layed back in the chair, in a dreamless existence, mind trying to repair itself over Professor Snape's harsh entry. Since Harry was so in tuned with his magic it had altered his mind to be more dependant over his magic, meaning once his magic was drained out of his mind it was not a hospitable place for Harry to exist within. Magic burned low and dim, desperately trying to recover itself for a second attack on the intruder.

 

 

Professor Snape needed to escape this mind-scape, and sift through the skeleton of the mind, where memories would be more easily perused. It shocked him that Harry Potter, a twelve year old, had a mind-scape at all, which was normally reserved for those expertly trained in Occlumency or meditation. As he looked around the beauty of the place he could not help be shocked that such a place could be created within one's mind, his own mind-scape was barren and used solely for defence, not... leisure, as Harry's seemed to be.

 

The professor closed his eyes and focused on immersing himself past this artificial layer, surprised that such a thing had been necessary. He had originally hoped to quickly invade the mind, find what he needed, and leave, not travel through a maze of complex protections such as a mind-scape. He wondered, on the brink of worry, what other traps may pervade this bewitching mind. Professor Snape extricated himself away from the physical being, becoming more mind than body, and let himself pass the illusion.

 

He opened his eyes to complete black, he only was certain that his eyes were open from the feeling of his eyelids pressing up against his cheekbones and the curvature of his forehead. The potions master fell into the practiced art of sifting, memories flashing by faster than he could recognise them. He had not investigated someone's mind in quite some time, but his rusty prowess quickly came to the surface, and he was able to follow the links of memories, not fully submerging himself, but skimming through at breakneck speed.

 

Harry sat by the lake, magic in a flurry around him, in his hair, his body, tearing at the earth. Water was drawn from the Earth and he knew he was going to die but it was okay, he wanted his magic to be free, his magic was a part of him-

 

The cupboard loomed dark around him, smelt of mould and mildew, only the spiders could understand. He longed for a friend, for a family to hold him, but longing never helped anyone, it only brought pain when he was disappointed. No, longing only made him ache, he was much better to-

 

Neville lay, unconscious, skin so smooth in the light, he looked as if he were only sleeping, but that was not true. He was hurt, Harry found himself caring for Neville to be okay, he longed for his friend to wake up, and he hadn't felt like that in so long, he had always just accepted, but he loved Neville-

 

Harry let his hand drift to the crook of his hip, the dog bite that rested there, and reminded him of his old life, of old Harry, a Harry that was so sad and ashamed, things were better now, he was happy now. Harry had a family, and he loved them, he did, he loved everything, and it was maddening but so glorious to love so much and-

 

The flower seemed to come alive under his hands as he drew, it curled with the pencil as he arched the nib to parchment, the granite bleeding smoothly onto the page, he didn't know why he drew it other than its beauty. It was so pretty in his mind and he embodied that on the page, it shone, in the greenhouse, as Neville spilled his heart, he looked up, and there was Neville-

 

He watched Ron walk away, still fuming, hands clenched into fighting fists, face as red as his Weasley hair. He did not blame the boy, he was just a boy, everyone got angry, and some was true. Was it right that he didn't hate the murderer of his parents? Harry felt it was right, he felt that Voldemort had been human just like the rest of them and had made his mistakes, no one deserved that hate, no one was free from the guilt of life that entailed that everyone hurt everyone. Harry loved everyone, but Ron was still hurt and nevermind that Hermione-

 

It hurt. In his chest. It ached. He didn't want to feel. So sad. It was so sad. He had never felt so sad. He had only cared for himself. But he loved that boy. To see him lying there. It hurt. He felt like crying, he felt like wishing he would wake, even if he knew it was necessary it still hurt. He wanted to care, he wanted to be normal, he-

 

Mr. Potter, and how did I defeat the yeti? What spell was appropriate?” Lockhart said, sitting at the front of the class, one of his many bibliographies in his grasp, smiling that corny smile down at the students. His smile shone like a sun, Harry couldn't help but stare, so alike to Blaise Zabini's fascinating cheekbones and curves, so entrancing-

 

This book was not true, but it was still a good read, Harry was a Ravenclaw after all and he could appreciate good fiction. And I held her hand, protecting her from the Yeti, and whispered that it would be okay he wondered if he would ever feel like that, he knew it was okay, but he wondered if he would ever feel like people needed to know. He loved people, but did he care for them in a way to-

 

I am Harry's mother, and I would appreciate it if you would get away from my charge.” Susan said sternly, glaring at Lockhart in Flourish and Blots. Harry didn't truly mind the man, he didn't really mind anyone, even that night that Voldemort had-

 

Voldemort? Professor Snape felt himself pause, at the memory, fanning quickly through, searching for memories related to Voldemort.

 

Harry wasn't sure if he trusted it outright, he knew that books were not wholly wholesome and true and fact, but as the page spelt out that Lily and James had died by Voldemort's hand he couldn't quite keep his level of disbelief. It was odd, how one's life could be changed by that one moment, that he could be here because of one spell spilt from one's lips. That maybe one day Voldemort had been just a boy too, just like Harry, and they had both thought the same thing, and they had been at a crossroads, and maybe they were all mini-Voldemorts, but it just took longer for them to crack, and maybe Harry really did hate Voldemort. Except he didn't, he didn't hate anyone, maybe he even loved Voldemort because Voldemort brought him to Susan, and Neville, and Franklin, and he wouldn't be here if it weren't for Voldemort, he'd still exist but he wouldn't be there, because Voldemort was a part of him and-

 

There was something wrong with Quirrel's magic, it was like Professor Snape's, but there was another magic's entwined with his; it wanted him to suffer. Almost choking him with its grip. All those who had different magic so far had terrible-

 

Quirrel stared, and Harry thought there was something sinister in his gaze. Ah well, nevermind, it didn't really matter, there were much more important things to consider, like how the Ravenclaw library was-

 

Ah, Mr Potter, I've been meaning to talk to you.”-

 

He heard the raspy voice of the second voice himself, “He speaks the truth.”-

 

Both man and wraith looked at him as if he were mad. And perhaps he was, offering a Dark Lord a cup of tea-

 

I wonder... if the mad Ravenclaw outcast is just a mask...”-

 

Red eyes bored into his soul-

 

Obliviate”-

 

Dumbledore's eyes widened and he brought out his wand. Harry's magic curled protectively around his head and other magic organs in advance, watching warily as the older man's magic spat at his cruelly. He lifted his wand to Harry's eyes and said, “Sorry you had to see that, my boy, Obliviate”-

 

Professor Snape pulled out of Harry's mind with a spluttering gasp, falling to the ground as if it had been his own mind invaded. It felt as if he had just drowned, brutal and protective magic invading his own, seeping into his pores and causing his skin to burn and air to cut off. He watched in alarm as the unconscious boy's body found animation, and began to rise, like a rag doll, green eyes opening and staring at him in absolute mistrust.

 

He could feel the harsh magic emanating from the boy across from him, who walked from the room, eyes empty.

 

 

Scar was in control.

 

 

Harry found himself taking a backseat in his own mind, something that was a bit of a shock but no less intriguing. This half consciousness he had developed felt like he was floating slightly away from his body, but close enough that if he reached down he could bring the body back under his control. Of course, Harry wasn't that bothered with letting this other part of his mind have a turn at being in control, something that was quite tiring sometimes if he thought about it, so simply layed back and watched with interest and encouragement you can do it Scar.

 

Scar however was suffering from a tremendous headache from Professor Snape's harsh entry into their mind, and was damning that today had been the day in which he had possessed this body, not entirely knowing why he was so interested in owning it but going along with his gut feeling. He stepped along the castle hallways, looking about the place with an extreme sense of remembrance which he couldn't quite place, it was as if memories were at the edges of his psyche but continually remained out of reach.

 

“Ah, Scar, how do you do?”

 

 

Ron sat, hunched, on a Griffindor chair, staring out a little ways from the fire. He felt a brick sink deep in his stomach, an ache there, as he watched on with envious eyes at the happy laughter around the room. He was so lonely now, that he had left Harry, that he had found out that Harry was bad. He had really liked Harry, he had thought they could be best friends, he had hoped that maybe one day Harry would come to him like he did for Neville and read with him in the library. Ron didn't even really like reading, that was more Granger's speciality, but if Harry had asked him he would have wanted to.

 

Truthfully, Ron was insecure. His whole life he had been the youngest child, he had grown up isolated from his family, constantly tormented by his older twin brothers, set aside for his younger sister, alone when he cried. He loved his family, he did, but there had always been something missing for him there. He never seemed to be good enough. He was always the butt of the joke, it was always assumed that it was Ron who might have done it, or Ron who had fumbled it up. Ron was so alone in that busy house. Even if they never said it outright, Ron had always been the outsider

 

Bill was the fancy curse breaker. Charlie had his dragons. Percy was damn set on being an uppity Ministry person. The twins were geniuses in their own right. Ginny was the seventh child of the seventh child, she was powerful, she was a girl, her mother loved her more than Ron. And Ron... well, he got angry, he hid his feeling in anger, he stuttered sometimes, he couldn't quite get the magic, he was too childish, too immature, he wanted too much in his humble household.

 

Ron could recall in great detail the conversation his father and he had partaken in last Summer holidays. The disappointed look in his eye when Ron had spent dinner rambling on about his friendship with the Harry Potter. He had wanted his family to look at him with pride for once, but they didn't, even when he spoke about slimy Slytherins, his words as surly and sharp as the ongoing subtext in the household, they only saw him as a brash, angry, little boy. His father had taken him aside by the scruff of his neck, into the garage, out from under the rain, the pounding on the roof echoed by the one in his heart.

 

Ron had held his breath, eyes wide as he wondered if his father would say 'you did it, son, you made a good friend, you'll go places'. Instead, his father told him not to talk about people like that, as if they were chess pieces in Ron's little game, as if they were just stepping stones to reach the end of the line. He wanted Ron to see Harry Potter as Harry.

 

Ron was ashamed to admit he had stormed off. He had yelled, he had beat his breast, he had pounded his hate in words that would scar his father's sore ears. His face turned beet red, his eyes had enlarged, he had let his teeth shine as his lips parted and vitriol spewed out without his control. Then he had run away, legs burning like his ears as he went out into the rain, jumper soaked, hair darkened like his stormy mood. He had curled up under a tree and cried to himself, knowing that his father had gone inside to 'let Ron cool off'.

 

Because that was who Ron was, he was the child left alone to cry, because he was just throwing a tantrum, and you can't comfort him like that, you don't want to encourage that sort of thing. Ron had bent himself in two in order to be as small as possible, perhaps as small as he always saw himself, and had shielded his puffy and aching face from the drowning rain, lips wet as he sobbed against himself, as he felt a brick settle in his chest; a certainty that he was not loveable, even if he lived in a house that loved him very much.

 

To be honest Ron would have loved it if Harry had come to him and said he wanted Ron as his friend. That he wanted him anyway. That they could sit by the lake, and Ron could natter on, and Harry could draw pictures of couples kissing, and Neville could blush, even Granger could be there, with her book, looking harshly at them all, judging them all, but with a certain softness. But, Ron knew there was no hope, he was locked in where he was by his own stubbornness, and Harry was too oblivious to even notice that Ron missed him; that Ron missed having a friend.

 

“Hey there Ronniekins.”

 

He felt rather than heard those tandem voices, ones that sent shivers down his spine, and tension to his pale and freckled skin. Ron's muscles clenched tight, his body unfurling slightly as his legs prepared to run if need be. He could still remember the utter terror of holding his teddy bear, the warmth of it, only for black, curled, crooked, deadly, spiders to tear from its button eyes and soft fur. The feel of legs climbing all over him, trampling over him, teeth running against him, thousands of eyes pressing red against him. He had been surrounded and consumed in a wave of spiders, and even when his mother had patched up his teddy afterwards he had never been able to look at it quite right again. Ron remembered the terror of the twins, and his heart skipped a beat no matter the brave face he put on.

 

“Hey.”

 

Ron replied, scuffling himself so that his arms rested around him comfortingly, but his back was still to the wall just in case. He felt his eyes dart to the troublesome duo, another spark of fright ignited in his chest, the burn all too familiar. He bit his lip as they bounced around him, jubilant and excitable... and dangerous,

 

“We'd heard from-”

 

“Sources unknown and-”

 

“Unimportant, that Ronniekins-”

 

“Was sat all on his-”

 

“Little lonesome, and needed-”

 

“Someone to give him a-”

 

“Give hug and a kiss!”

 

Ron flinched back, flitting and shy blushes fluttering against his worried cheeks. He glanced between the two, dreading to think what a hug would entail, what awful consequence would befall him if he gave in to brotherly comfort, what awful teasing he would endure 'Does Ronniekins need a huuuuug?'. He muttered back defensively, chin stuck out as he said his words with a strength he didn't think he could hold onto,

 

“I'm fine.”

 

 

Fred gave him an unconvinced look, eyes tightening as their little brother shied away from them protectively. He felt his hand clench beside him, and was only soothed when George's own calming hand held his own, stroking his palm, reminding him that Ron had a good reason to be a little scared of them, that they needed to be kind to their brother and build up a trust between them. He took a breath, feeling air fill his lungs and a calm that could only be learned settled over him, leaning forward, smiling gently at his brother. He could see the fear brimming in Ron's eyes and it pained Fred deeply that there was legitimate concern for that; there was a reason why they gave Lee the power to veto pranks, they were prone to getting carried away, and they had done so too often with the carelessness of youth.

 

George spoke soothingly, always the softer of the two of them, the kinder one. Not that anyone truly noticed a difference between them, Fred thought slightly bitterly, before he breathed again, taking himself away from the anger, the burning, the fire that threatened to consume him, the hate he had for so many people, as he settled the mask of jovial and joyous pranksterdom. Fred was always the protector of the two of them, the strong one who ruled with an iron fist and brutal slap of magic, he felt the only way to protect was to protect with force, not truly caring much for anyone except his twin who he loved to an unfathomable amount. George, however, seemed to have bottomless wells of boundless passion and care for those around him, he was a soft boy, and Fred desperately wanted to protect his warm traits. They didn't need two protectors, they needed one to protect and one to be protected.

 

 

“We're just worried Ronniekins, don't forget we're your brothers and we do care for you. We love you, okay? And if you ever need to talk we're here, or if you just want to hang around...”

 

Ron looked dubiously at them both as they shuffled away, muscles relaxing as they left him alone. He didn't really want to be alone, he could almost stomach the twins company even if they terrified him, but he was too proud to admit otherwise. He would just sit there, by the fire, in his little armchair, until he got too tired and needed sleep. Ron was used to being alone after-all, and no matter how much it pained him he couldn't give up his defences to admit he wanted company.

 

 

Scar turned around slowly, a feeling of dread washing over him like a nauseous sludge sliding and engulfing him from head to toe. His veins tingled as he felt Harry's magic fight against him, a wave of drowsiness making him weak on his feet. His lips curled into an empty and reluctant smile as he spotted who the dreamy voice had belonged to, who had spotted his cover; the only one crazy enough to suspect it.

 

Luna Lovegood.

 

He waved resignedly. She was adorned in a bright yellow summer dress, hair dotted with butterflies, and a butterbeer cap necklace that shone magenta in the evening sun. She glittered as she stood next to the window, holding a sock in one hand and wand in the other. Luna smiled dreamily at him, face serene and fay like, humming as she swished her wand back and forth, singing 'Dreamy eyes, you've got such dreamy eyes, when I'm away from you, I'm so alone and blue' in a tranquil and high pitched voice.

 

Scar felt the need to sigh very loudly as she danced around the hallway, feeling Harry's burning presence in the back of their mind urging him to dance with her, to talk with her, to sing with her, to ask about what she was doing. He brushed away the encouraging and annoying presence, an odious feeling settled in his gut as he walked forward slowly. Scar knew he would not have long in this form, the roar of Harry's magic growing louder and louder as time passed, and he was not sure he wanted to spend his time with Luna Lovegood... who was not his first choice of company.

 

Scar found himself begrudgingly intrigued by her and her way of life, and thus he stayed, damning himself for standing stagnant as she flitted about like a busy hen. He liked to think he understood Harry's philosophy, having spent many years within his mind, but Luna was in a whole different Quidditch Pitch. Whilst Harry loved everything, it was clear that Luna simply saw the world differently, saw things that weren't there, and was less in love with the world and more curious. She understood Harry's ideology also, but did not necessarily share it.

 

“Hanging onto heavy thoughts just makes you heavy Scar, come, look for roosewinkles with me.”

 

Scar startled slightly at the melodic and mellifluous voice that cocooned warmth around his burning ears and set goosebumps on his skin. He hadn't felt this embarrassed, or simply ill at ease, in... his whole existence, which seemed to be less than Harry's, as all he could remember as Scar was being born in a burst of green light and becoming trapped in a dark space, an odd childish voice filtering thoughts down to him. He had thought he would have been trapped there forever, but then a staircase opened up, and he was able to walk up and out.

 

Scar shuffled forward, feeling that the way Luna behaved set him on edge. He had an ingrown ability to understand people, and she just did not fit his bill. He held out Harry's wand, the wood soft against his tiny hands -but you have never had hands before, have you?-, the Unicorn hair reared back against his sickly dark magic, and the Dark wood purred in contentment, letting out a satisfied sigh at no longer being forced to work with its nemesis. The wand bucked, trying to throw him off like a rodeo bull, the force causing Scar to wince. It was foreign to feel bodily pain, and therefore sharper; all his pain so far had been mental anguish, and insanity.

 

He felt a silken hand cover his own, pale digits scooping the wand out of his terse grip, and holding the impolite stick. Scar watched in puzzled bemusement as Luna scolded the wand in her grip,

 

“Now now, be nice to Scar, they may not be a permanent placement in Harry's body, but they should be given just as much love. Hmm, yes, Harry may be mad at you for treating his friend Scar badly, it isn't fair, no no, don't take that tone with me, stop that buzzing this instant.”

 

To Scar's amazement the wand stilled, if a little belligerently, and relaxed in Luna's gentle grip. She gave him a courteous curtsey, handing the wand back, before she knelt down on the ground and beckoned Scar beside her. He stumbled forward, body feeling strange around him, power leeching slightly from his veins as Harry's magic ran its course. Luna gave him a smile and ordered gently,

 

“Now, after me 'Dreamy eyes, you've got such dreamy eyes, when I'm away from you, I'm so alone and blue'...”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The absences, and the replacements.

 

Franklin's large bulbous eyes tracked Harry's movements, which were few and far between. He felt exhausted and sluggish, and had quickly collapsed down into one of the hard backed Ravenclaw reading chairs after Scar had given up possessing him. Who would have thought that a teacher forcefully using Legilimency upon him, foreign magical entity possessing him, and Luna convincing (blackmailing/coercing) said entity to sing and dance for her, would exhaust him so thoroughly and completely? Luna and he had skipped carefree back up to the tower, aware of the many eyes on them – curious Ravenclaws, ever watchful Slytherins, gossip-ridden Hufflepuffs, suspicious Griffindors, meddlesome headmasters, and concerned teachers – before seating themselves within the many shelves of the library.

 

Harry had let his jelly-like body ooze down into the soft but safe (a sixth year muggleborn had given them a lecture just the other day of the dangers of bad posture/seating) armchair. It was as if the chair was devouring him whole, which honestly didn't seem very safe, but who was Harry to question the mysterious ways of the Ravenclaw library. His breathing became deep, similar to that of when someone fell into deep sleep, as his magic tried to replenish itself, and Harry let his eyes close, a sense of calm washing over him like cool ocean tides lapping at his feet.

 

“Potter?”

 

The voice was one all too familiar, and Harry opened his eyes to meet the hopeful one's of Miss Alysha Currey. Alysha seemed to sparkle slightly, there was a certain aura around her, something bubbly yet dangerously entrancing. She was still trying to curry his favour, let us say. Harry let his complaining lips quiver up into a smile, and watched as she took a seat, a respectable distance from Luna; who was busy carving into her newest bracelet, sparks of energetic magic smelling like hot chilli peppers.

 

Harry had observed a similar distance with many of the other Ravenclaws, it seemed almost mandatory to be seated with so-and-such space between elbow and thigh when speaking to such-and-so. There were oodles of etiquette Harry had never learned nor cared to, muggle or magicl, he couldn't understand tradition. Harry noted that Alysha sat with a certain levity to her, she was bouncy, joyous, quick and yippy. However, with such traits one may expect her to be wriggly and constantly in motion, but this was not the case. She was eerily still, in a way that seemed quite unnatural to Harry.

 

Her hair was tied back into a tight pony tail, and her eyes shone bright as she gazed off over to him. She made a certain amount of sense, and her sparkly magic coalesced around her, feeling like sand dunes to Harry's own magical taste-buds. Alysha revolved to him with concerned eyes,

 

“We were worried about you, Potter, when we heard you went to the Hospital Wing, thought it might have been Hufflepuffs. They said there was a tornado down at the greenhouse where you were talking with Heir Longbottom, and we all know how popular the greenhouses are with Hufflepuffs.”

 

Her voice was a startling mix of worry and accusation, as if she were simulatenously fretting over his health and blaming him for going there. Harry felt a smile grow wide on his cheeks, his face nearing stretched to the limit like a rubber band, as she continued to natter. It wasn't often he met someone like her; or perhaps he simply hadn't been paying attention. She seemed sharp, almost impossibly so, but with an overall jubilation than undermined the caustic act. As if she were always so bright and happy with winning, but also tinged with a certain darkness, an envy, as green as Harry's mother's eyes.

 

A giggle sounded from where Luna sat, and Harry's eyes flicked over to where plumes of smoke were rising from her deformed bracelet. Alysha's eyes widened and her mouth opened like a fish, but no sound came out, and her lips eventually found themselves together once more, like the union of two star-crossed lovers separated for too long. Luna sent Harry an almost indiscernible look and mused,

 

“It looks as if today my magic has decided to burn things.”

 

Harry nodded absently – his nodding due to being used to Luna's violent magic and his absent presence caused by his exhaustion catching up to him ever more so. His head bobbed down lower and lower as Alysha continued to stare, as if waiting for some calibre of reply – she expected and expected, they all expected so much. Harry loved to give, to supply, sometimes to take and remove, he loved to be involved and uninvolved in life, to be at the whims of his own fancy, of his own magic, of the world moving ever-cautiously in a never-ending ruckus. Harry tried to listen, he truly did, he strained his ears and let his smile drop, but eventually time gets too much for a person and they must succumb to their own inevitable exhaustion or death.

 

In this instance luckily it was exhaustion – his magic would probably have a fit, even in its lethargic state if he died – and a warm fuzzy embrace cocooned him. He realised it was the acquired and salivating-if-consumed-in-small-doses taste of his magic, cuddling him against it, like a mother to her babe. Harry hummed contentedly, leaning back in the chair. It felt so good, as if all the pain that had been in his magic was gone, as if it could travel freely over his skin and brush against him and kiss him. It was warm and heavenly, to be in this cotton headed state of mind. It was almost gluttonous to love it so much.

 

He felt as if he were floating, on warm water, on a soft creamy substance which should have been abhorrent and sticky but was instead cool and soft and fluffy beneath him. Harry was sleeping, was only half-awake, half-alive, with this deliciously exuberant frame of magic on him, in him, everywhere, above him, below, to the side, surely everyone was consumed in this viscous drowning substance that filled one with such addictive calming flow of sunshine, like the rays had brushed a gentle tender back of hand against his feverish forehead and had whispered against his skin and held him against breast and sturdy chest with strong arms and he was leaning back into the embrace, the warm fur of his favourite pet, the feeling of that gorgeous unfathomable flavour of life, slice of heaven, this feeling, this being, this existence with-

 

Potter? Potter!”

 

A sharp voice cut through his haze, and Harry flipped his head back up. He blinked a few times, unsteady and still in lag with his life, and Alysha took that as a signal to speak once more, leaving a bewildered Harry in her wake,

 

“So, we realise that you cannot make the bi-weekly study group sessions, due to another preoccupation, and we are bringing in a new study time on Monday and Friday evenings, since many have joined the Chess and Debate teams, meaning they cannot make it. Anyway, would you be able to come along? Do you want to?”

 

Harry nodded, half convinced it was simply his head bobbing once more. Alysha's face lit up into a brilliant smile that made her eyes twinkle and face take on a smoother constitution, it was as if she had not expected that answer and Harry hadn't the faintest clue why. She looked rather pretty like that, very easy and smooth and honeyed. Harry thought it was reminiscent to Jo's smile, and made him concurrently nostalgic, homesick and joyful.

 

In a flurry of green chaos, an adventurous (which seemed unlike the normally still and lazy toad) Franklin leapt across Harry's vision and over to where Luna was fiddling with a steamy bracelet. Heat continued to gather under the wooden surface of the bracelet, and if Harry squinted his purple bagged eyes he could almost feel the dangerous aura her latest experiment was giving off, he could almost hear a whisper that said explode explode explode. Harry felt his own fatigued, drowsy, and prostrate magic turn itself and spread until he was covered in a ticklish protective coating. Alysha continued to speak, her words drowned out by Harry's exhaustion and the titillating events unfolding before him. Franklin began desperately nudging the bracelet from Luna's lap, to what seemed like no avail as she just stared at him – as if dumbfounded or bemused.

 

Her lips quirked and she gave a dreamy giggle, before she stood up, the chimes cradled against her chest. Franklin trudged over to the stairwell, his slimy skin brushing against Luna's soft complexion as he hurried her over to the bustle of the Ravenclaw Tower Stairwell. It must have been an odd sight for any stray passers-by, small clear skinned eleven year old nymph being led by large 'ribit'ing toad with a god complex – if what the latest transgressions of the Lizard-Army-Cabal held truth in Harry's imaginings. They left Harry's blurring vision for approximately two and a three quarter minutes, before returning, a faint explosion sounding in the far distance, echoed by the amenable passageways of Hogwarts. Other avid readers paused their studying as a faint vibration count be felt through their shoes, something to be observed and pondered over with brevity, before they revisited their texts. Must be the Weasley twins was a shared thought, as explosions were not strictly uncommon in the confines of the castle, although were usually reserved for the Griffindor residents/victims.

 

It would seem that Alysha had deserted the place, for when Harry eventually woke from the deep sleep he had finally succumbed to, he was alone in the fastidiously cleanly library. It was empty, devoid of all wizarding life, shelves neatly (obsessively – with the predictable worries of a book worm) packed away, chairs tucked tenderly under tables and torches extinguished (leaving the remaining male occupant in near pitch black lighting) so that the dust mites and book beetles may sleep peacefully. Harry had rested at an odd angle, chair biting into his shoulder, and arose with a crick in his neck and suspiciously sooty toad puddled in his lap. He stroked Franklin's back once with tender affection, his green textured skin a comfort, before he rose and wandered back to his dorm room – he was still tired to a debilitating degree, although his magic was once again full and strong, striding through his bones and veins with an airy unconcerned confidence.

 

 

Harry imagined that there was something magical about this tabby in his grip. It purred, vibrating in his arms, as he pulled it in close and breathed in the muskiness of its unwashed hair. There was a certain degree of wild to it, a feral nature that made his husky heady magic sing in his veins. Truly, when he held this cat, it was as if something in his chest was unlocked, and he could finally breathe cleanly.

 

He closed his eyes, and let padded paws thud to the ground. On days like this, with Autumn in the air, he felt himself drifting from the world. It was as if he were just a thing animated to life, and not a person. Maybe it was the absence of Neville; the loss of all he brought, no longer a person to cuddle up to in the clandestine darkness of Ravenclaw, the vacuum of his soft eyes, the hole in his heart that marked understanding.

 

Whatever the reason, now he was just The Strange Potter. He didn't know if he minded it. He liked the anonymity it held, to be able to walk into a room and never be seen even if every eye were firmly trained on you, he revelled in the clueless nature of the wizards – the way they could grasp every single piece but never slot them in tandem. There was beauty in that, stunning dazzling sparkling shine in the method they took to life. Harry could be himself and do so alone, he could snuggle lone tabbies in corridors, could fashion dainty flower crowns for himself, could whisper breathy songs in the shroud of night. But now, vastly separate from the small child huddled in the cupboard with a grand beaming smile, he felt a small teetering-on-unperceptible vacancy. Such vacancy throbbed in the most acute pain, for he had never felt anything quite like it.

 

Harry ambled down the moonlit hall, grey cement turned a brilliant silver in the howling blanketed night. Why did it feel as if he had never been alone, when he had always been so?

 

 

Ancient paintings whispered as he trounced by, and Harry waved becomingly; his face wide and alight. He felt, with nothing to hold his interest, thoughts becoming important in the day-to-day, no longer actions or people – if they had ever held his attention before he could scarcely recall it now.

 

One such train of thought was lingering in the back of his mind, that of how it would seem that some things were universal, even when traversing from the muggle to magical world – the efficiency of companies being one of them. It had only been over a month since his visit to Gringotts Bank, and the promise from King Ragnuk to contact him for his Magical Heirship had remained unfulfilled. Perhaps magicals and humans were even less separated than Harry had first presumed, at least in terms of business. Harry likened it to the anecdotes Ted occasionally leaked, about construction sites said to last for only months but in reality trudging on for gruelling years. He would reminisce about how he had once lived next to one of these sites, the noises driving him mad and constant light driving any hope of sleep from his system, but he wouldn't trade it for anything, for in that apartment complex was where he had met Susan.

 

He mused that perhaps it was in the very essence of politicians, of kings and queens and knights and dutchesses, that promises were a mere flicker of fancy, and not a stone concrete vow. Harry questioned the possibilities of ulterior motives, and felt himself stopping short.

 

There was a distinct lack of reason to his actions in this second in time. He felt the full gravity of himself in that moment. His legs ceased their consistent sway from back and forth, the air in the hall froze, aware and cautionary. The room darkened as he paused, and the whisperings of gossiping elitist nobles and petulant aristocrats faded to a dim murmur.

 

Never before had this absence of reason bothered him, in all of his life there had never needed to be a reason for anything, no justification had spontaneously appeared out of thin air and nor did he feel it critical that one did so. Now, however, there was a voice booming in strangled wisps; the same word over and over, forever it went on, trailing down the long passages of his mind.

 

Why? Why did Harry want a Magical Heirship? Well, he didn't want anything, not really. Then, Why? Because... and there it was. That large abyss inside him. This abscess that was bleeding gorgeously against the lining of his stomach. Why why why why why why why... It never ended. It continued to repeat, as if forgetting that it was his own thoughts, forgetting how this was quite out of the norm for his own thoughts. This was alien, unique, wrong in the most delicious of ways. Was Harry going mad? Had he finally done it? Was all this time with himself too much?

 

Somehow his feet led him to a familiar lamp illuminated bed. His body dragged him into to mould of a visitor's chair. The tender eyes of Madame Pomphrey twinkled with concern, before returning to busy-work. A slate clean face never twitched, never inched one way or another. There was only life, only breath and blood and heart, there was never movement or meaning.

 

Harry's hand left his control, and ran itself over the crease of this boy's hair, the crown that marked him. The boy in front of him didn't hold the capacity of awareness. This boy was more a thing than Harry was – and that was a shock.

 

The world appeared to click into place, click, and certainty shifted along the fluids of his mantle. He was hot all over, overheating, heart on fire, eyes dull and dreary. The sharp miraculous emerald felt itself fall into rest – there was only evergreen now, his eyes seeping to dark (to truth) – a melodic tune played out, it twisted and vined it's unfortunate path through the innocent and the bewept. Oh hail, oh hail, said the beetle's tune, oh my oh no, wept the bewretched wife. Harry begot Latika, Latika begot Tom, Tom begot Francis, and at the end of that tunnel was a single pulsing wilted rose. Its dark petals slowly innocently detached until all that remained was the curdled dangerous stem, a single thing in the halo of moonlight.

 

“They say there is a fine line between love and hate.” Harry whispered, his breath pooling gently around him in the chill of the night time eeriness of the Hospital Wing. There were minimal lights lit, white sharp orbs floating, hanging, on the edges of the wing, shedding light that scolded Harry's skin like Aunt Petunia's sharp hot washing up water. Neville looked pale and ethereal in the moon-like light, the silver sheen casting a sickly glow on his already dulled and relaxed face. It seemed something sinister, this wing, this bed that was so empty even with a body in it, these coarse blankets that seemed to retain no heat and only sucked away at the soul. Neville's pale face shone, brown hair straight and flat against his slightly feverish head. He looked to be asleep, if not for the red sheen that cursed his splotched face; perhaps it was a nightmare. Perhaps it was only sleep, and not coma.

 

Harry ran a hand against the crux of Neville's jaw, soft tips brushing the cold skin. Holding a palm above his mouth so as to feel the gentle exhale against him, the heat of the flame that still lapped in Neville's sternum, the fire of life he still possessed. Then the chill as he inhaled and cooled the wetted palm, an icy stab like that blinding light that seemed so dim in this dark as night room. Shadows stretched languidly, waiting for the lights to flicker, and their figures to sway like long wheat stems in a meadow, the breeze soft against the dancing feet.

 

“And before you I am not sure that I loved, truly. One needs to hate to love, one needs to not live in only goodness, in only serene, for then they feel nothing at all, nothing but stagnant happiness, unable to see the beauty they are so enamoured with. Before you I was floating, I was adrift in a sea of magic, where nothing truly mattered, for all the death was glorious, all the evil was only a shade of grey on a greater canvas. I see it now, that canvas, of complexity, and the beauty is still there, but it is tinted away from rose red and back to the plain alabaster which is life. I hate you so cold Neville, I hate it, and therefore I love you warm, I love you.”

 

Truly, it was the most definite of madnesses. Love. Actual love. Not relief from pain or a faded mimicry. Something dark yearned for this boy on the bed, it was vulgar and demanding and lived in a part of Harry that had stayed down in the deep for a long time. His magic was recovering, still, so he wasn't himself yet – it was an explanation that appeased the Harry that shivered in his skull, the small cupboard boy that didn't wish to feel this way.

 

Or had you never been yourself? Had your magic always hindered this part of you? What is your magic? Why does it change you so? Why is it so alive? Why are you so pacified and happy?

 

One thing remained certain as the bottomless vats of energy replenished, was that the love for Neville was unfeigned, even if it appeared that others may be.

 

 

A beaming Harry hunched forward as he scribbled out the excess of a Herbology Assignment. Mingroot is most effective in sapling form, however- A morose and pensive Hermione layed back, her spine against the dingy grass, hand cupped, sheltering her eyes from the chastising sun. She whispered as Harry worked diligently, her schoolwork abandoned, forgotten beside her discarded Griffindor scarf, smatterings of leaves drifting aimlessly to the ground around them. Autumn was fully upon them. Halloween was arriving unbridled in only two days time, there was a buzz running amok around the castle; born from the hearts of excited students and busy professors.

 

Some barely even arrived at meals any more. Professor Sprout was so overwhelmed with the expectation of pumpkins that her lessons had descended into quiet timid reading of the text book, and fretful degrees of homework as a supplement for lack of practical class-time. Professor Flitwick had been spotted scampering about the castle with a joyous grin, shouting Happy Samhain to any ear that would pause long enough to listen. Apparently, everyone was excited for this year's Halloween, since the Ministry had revoked an Old Law regarding the removal of Blood Holidays – stern Light supporters were aghast at the declaration, but by the lawful word of Rita Skeeter (as quoted by many a devoted fangirl) herbal blends and Dark Magic, not the yucky Dark but the electric one, is all the range this Autumn.

 

One such instructor, that being Professor Snape, was not preparing for Samhain – contrary to popular belief – yet was still glaringly absent from meal times. This was in fact caused by his avoidance of any possible interaction with the youngest Potter. Harry pondered that he may be feeling embarrassed over being won over by a non-human entity, that being Scar, or maybe it was due to guilt over the violation of a child's privacy. That didn't seem to stop him now, however, as Harry glimpsed him watching them with unreadable eyes from a grand looming tower above them – Professor Snape's face was wholly reticent and untranslatable as he stared.

 

Harry's magic flared painfully at the thought of Legilimency, and he recalled the fairly substantial ever-growing pain of it in his sternum. Madame Pomphrey had him on a diet of no magic whatsoever until symptoms no longer persisted. Since his explosion of the green house, and revival from a magical coma, the manifestations had slowly but surely returned, in sync with the rising levels of his magic as it filled his body once more. Now it had become a constant ebb on the fringes of his extremities, as if a churlish creature were persistently painfully burrowing out of his fingertips. His insomnia and chest tightness had worsened, but after those first few days of sadness and confusion, his normal upbeat nature had returned, and with it, an apathy for his own health. What will be will be Harry mused to himself as his magic stroked him apologetically, it had been hesitant since it's failure to protect Harry from a mental intrusion – one may say guilty.

 

The latest and greatest of Albus B. Dumbledore had been startlingly effective; as in, the most recent Light ritual employed to dictate Harry's decisions had lasted approximately three hours. Harry had been an utterly new individual, in other words Normal Harry, and had sleuthed into his own skin with brilliant success. Luna had been the only soul to notice the switch, and had huddled down next to him for a long time with the most peculiar expression. Normal Harry had been crying incessantly, and scratching at his skin as if a horrendous parasite were buried beneath. “Get it out, God, please, its in me, I can feel it, the darkness. Please, Luna, you love me right? Get it off me. Please.” Normal Harry had been upset by the presence of Scar, seeing it as an invasion, similar to Magic's original reaction to the dark entity's appearance. However, Magic knew better than to mess with Scar, seeing as Harry was not in his right mind in that moment, and therefore all his thoughts were not to be trusted.

 

There had been a few more run-ins with the mysterious tabby. Harry and the cat had developed a strong bond between them, predominantly consisting of cuddling, purring and salted fish. When studying the numerous cat scratches on Harry's body one may assume it was a one-sided relationship, but Harry would argue that there was no one else to offer him such warm furry companionship.

 

Currently, he and one Hermione Granger, were studying together on a hill near the Forbidden Forest, just underneath Ravenclaw Tower. Their friendship had improved slightly since the removal of Neville, Ron, the Ravenclaws, and other obstacles. Now, the majority of time was spent studying, or with Harry day-dreaming and Hermione watching in consternation/concern. In the past few days Hermione had deemed Harry a perfect companion for offloading her issues onto,

 

“...and you just don't know what its like, Harry. Its as if everyone looks down on me for something I have no control over. I can't do anything about it. Its like I'm just stuck in this life, in this role I've made for myself. And I'm too much of a wimp to do anything differently. Some Griffindor. Its as if I'm either a muggleborn, or I'm a drag, people just don't like being around me, they find me bossy. And I feel like they're right. And I want them to like me, but at the same time I don't want to sacrifice myself and not be myself anymore. Shouldn't I just be happy with what I've ended up as? I mean, I'm so independent now, and I have a good friend, I shouldn't need anything else, but at the same time...”

 

Maybe there was simply something about Harry, something intrinsically trustworthy. Harry had no need to tell tales after all, no desire to gossip, no judgement over you. It was almost like talking to a pet, or a warm cushion, they gave comfort but truly lacked a quality of humanity which caused them to be the ultimate solace, the absolute wall of thought. Hermione could talk and talk about anything that crossed her mind, and Harry, loner and oddball that he was, wouldn't spill her heart and soul to any living person. He was all the more likely to share her secrets with a tree than another wizard, especially with Neville still in a coma and Ron still isolated from the group; via pride, slightly perceptible insecurity, and righteous anger.

 

And Harry didn't mind, not really, he wanted Hermione to be happy, who was he to stop her? Sometimes, though, on a spare moment, split between the millisecond, infinitesimally small, he would ponder what it would be like to be back with Neville, where they conversed, both of them, and sometimes they would sit in silence and just lie together. There had been a real beauty with Neville, it was not there with Hermione.

 

Who is this? A voice spoke from the depths of his mind. Harry shut his eyes, one ear still listening to Hermione's monologue, the other focused inwards on the gravelly teenage voice that echoed out from the epicentre of his mind. The presence felt luke warm and smelt of acrid vinegar seductive magic – but it was twisted, was missing something, incomplete and suffering because of it.

 

It was Scar. Back from the dead. Recovered from eternal slumber. Alive and well. Living, in peace and sanctity inside his head. How delightful. Harry grinned, almost overcome with joy, at the return of his friend who had been gone. Its Harry. He replied.

 

Scar drawled sarcastically, in a dark sardonic tone that made Harry feel light, its truly quite unnerving to only hear your voice falling from the sky. I've never even seen you, mysterious host.

 

You have quite the wit Scar! And you've become very sentient! Harry replied back, bright and intrigued. After all, it wasn't every day that you conversed with the strange being that lived in your mind.

 

Well... do try not to hold it against me, I was only a child before. Scar sounded almost embarrassed, and Harry squinted motionlessly, the action similar to that of a paralysed coma patient waving; not there but still existing to some degree, even if not real by the sights of a human eye. He felt himself squint, but in reality didn't, in reality he was only lying there eyes closed. Inside himself, however, was an event; the squint of the century.

 

Magic growled roughly and a throbbing began behind his temple. Scar muttered mutinously fine fine you feral beast, I'll leave your darling Harry alone, just stop biting me before all was silent.

 

Hermione's voice reappeared, and Harry turned over, leaning on his elbow, facing her and absorbing her words.

 

Alone, underneath the shade of a jacaranda tree, was a small curled up red-head with a dark leeching book in her lap. Her eyes flickered to grey for a split second, and Lady Hogwarts lurched at the intense hit of corrupted magic. Let the games begin.

 

Chapter Text

 

Empty gaze, empty duty

 

Dumbledore was growing frantic. Not that he would ever reveal as such to any of his many able-minded friends or confidants (they were there to confide in him not the other way around), he was the great Albus B. Dumbledore, he thrived in conflict and revelled in power... defeater of not one, but two, dark lords (the second through intricate machinations of the finest order! That order being the Order of the Phoenix, Hazaar!)... However...

 

The boy.

 

He feared it was too late for poor Harry Potter. The raven haired child that looked so similar to his parents, was, unfortunately, already on the path to the dark side and definitely did not share any hereditary redeeming qualities from his mother and father. Dumbledore had seen him consorting with Slytherins, and okay, not all Slytherins were bad (although some people would beg to differ *cough cough* the late James Potter), his perfectly sculpted Snape-spy was still doing well, he had already planted his mental seeds in many of the new young first years for the upcoming war (and there would be a war, he was certain of it) and the traits of Slytherin were not inherently evil. Okay, he admitted as much to himself many years ago.

 

However, Harry J. Potter had been fraternising with Draco Malfoy! Dumbledore had not personally kept many tabs on the boy, too busy with other fingers in other pies (and pots of lemon-drops! Hazaar!) but Draco Malfoy was born of a very Dark pure-blood family and was clearly influenced by his Death Eater father. Although, he was only a child, he had still been altered and moulded for eleven whole years before he arrived at Hogwarts. The shy (and seemingly easily corrupted) Harry should not be keeping such close contact with a natural enemy – this could mean nothing good. Dumbledore would have tentatively okayed their contact if they were publicly allied together, but the fact that they kept their contact secret set off alarm wards all in his head until it was ringing quite loudly (and no that wasn't his hearing Minerva, that joke had run dry many a year previous!).

 

Due to this concern, Dumbledore had of course done the right thing! He had... enchanted the boy. Or, he had tried, but for some indiscernible reason Harry Potter had resisted, again and again and again. It was almost as if his magic just gobbled up every mind altering spell or Light ritual he partook in. Really, it was quite worrying. Dumbledore had reason to believe it was the horcrux in him, altering him, and wouldn't that be terrifying? If Tom possessed the Golden Boy of the Wizarding World he could rise to a high position in the Ministry without any war whatsoever, and gain large vats of power! What would he do then? Reinstate blood magic?

 

No, it was chaotic to even consider it. And, Dumbledore had proof, or at least gut instinct (and no Minerva that's not gas), that Harry did possess the horcrux, because of the magical release at the Greenhouse... or, well, he wanted to believe that, but there was another possibility. He had only read about it in the dustiest of tomes, but could it be possible that Harry had got his bindings removed? His immense amount of magic being released all at once would surely have given the same symptoms as Magical Exhaustion and Magical Influx both caused the same thing, which was Instability of the Core and if that occurred it could be disastrous and could spell the end of-

 

But, no, surely it was the horcrux. How could Harry Potter have removed Dumbledore's intelligently placed bindings? Who would have considered such an act to have been done in the present era? Only mad people (or goblins)! No, it was for the best to alter the poor boy's mind and save him from this possession. Perhaps... maybe this time he could try add some duty onto his shoulders, it had been a tad effective last time.

 

 

Franklin had been avoiding Harry, ever since his many dalliances with this new mysterious tabby. Mel would be proud at how guilty he was beginning to feel – an unnatural array of guilt he listened to his magic speculate wordlessly – over his abandonment of his most beloved pet toad. Judging by the ridiculously vengeful sheen in his yellow toady eyes Harry suspected that the overthrow of wizarding kind had just lost its one and only liaison to the King of the Reptiles' Revolution. Or, in other words, his head would be the first to divorce his shoulders when the war began.

 

Hermione, on the other hand, had taken a liking to Franklin, and could occasionally be spotted by the vigilant snoop with incriminatory hands on a certain toad's skin! It was all very scandalous, and Harry amused himself by imaging the kneazel-crazy headlines a certain reporter, who was gaining polarising 'fans' (one either hated or loved Rita Skeeter and her inflammatory gossip), may invent.

 

Young Muggleborn seen fraternising with famous reptile rebellion representative – what side of the fight will young wizards fall onto?”

 

Hermione Granger, intelligent witch, capable teen, courting a toad?”

 

Beloved co-star of reptile television program, Franklin, is being swindled by a gold-digger with frizzy hair – hear more about this story in Rita Skeeter's 'Who's that crook?' column each Thursday in The Daily Prophet.”

 

Harry grinned jovially at his wayward pet, who was currently hopping each which way, only to be ignored with a toad-scowl (toads could not scowl very effectively so this mostly presented as a constipated appearance). The furry companion on his lap, the beautific tabby, licked him on the cheek once, before bounding off down the hall – everyone had need of their mysteries, he supposed, wondering where she had left off to.

 

 

Dark onyx eyes oversaw the classroom, but there was something about Professor Snape which reminded Harry of a slandered prince. He sleuthed through shadows as if he remained accused of some unfathomable crime, yet with the elegant exceptional posture of royalty. His words trailed off into the oblique corners of the dungeon, were absorbed by the moist stone and foreboding cornices, but everything he said felt delicately sewn and precisely planned. Professor Snape was the type of man to let his words sit in his skull, bathe in his mental juices for minutes, before he released them into the word. He lived a life with no room for non sequiturs, or weak metaphors. Professor Snape was always performing for some unseen entity, even when completely alone with his face cast in silhouette, his expression needed to be perfectly contrived to appear a certain way.

 

And that means everything he says is beautiful, it's an art form, Harry thought, as his potion's professor came to the end of a long lecture on the importance of checking potion ingredients.

 

Trust.”

 

Every child with a lick of sense knew that tone. Even the ever present That Song which rung in Harry's ears louder and louder at each passing day quietened at that tone. It was the brand of music which thrummed in their chests; Professor Snape's voice was an intricately tuned instrument and all the students were simply vessels for it to echo inside, chambers for its chords. Deep down it felt as if even if they were gone he would keep speaking. They felt like ghosts – or less than ghosts, unrecognisable and in the shadow of their teacher's hallowed shine.

 

“Many forget a large portion of potion making is trust, what a pitiful thing it is too. We trust that our ingredients are not contaminated. We trust our safety supplies. We trust our fellow Potioneers not to fail at their own potions. And most of all, we trust our recipes. Well, today's lesson is all about overcoming this trust for the betterment of all your future potions. I had stated, quite correctly, at the start of first year that potions was not an art contrived of wand waving, but, today we will need them. Take your wands out. And we will learn spells to correctly distinguish fact past this trust.”

 

Harry, of course, still on Madame Pomphrey's austere instructions of a no magic diet, and one privy to Hermione Granger's eagle eye, was not to be included in the practical aspects of this lesson. He watched from the side-lines, like a muggle cheerleader with bright yellow pom-poms and a sugary sweet yet mellow grin (as if they had seen games like this oh so many times previously), as his classmates failed or succeeded. In Professor Snape's class there were strict lines: one of those being no grey areas for success or failure, you won or you lost, nothing else. No exceptions. Only the exceptional and those left in the dusts of their superiors.

 

Another line was the abyss between two factions of the school: Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, or it may be better to say Ravenclaw vs Hufflepuff – judging by the death glares being candidly exchanged within each spare moment of time. Harry used to be caught in the cross hairs, as for almost a whole year he had been reviled by Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff alike, which meant Potions Class with them both seldom brought relief. However, now he was in Ravenclaw's good stead due to good grades (a correlation that occurred more often than not with disenfranchised Ravenclaws), and Hufflepuff was being extra cautious around him due to the rumour running rampant that they had caused the tornado in Greenhouse 2. Which meant the whole school's eyes were upon them and watchful of every action taken towards Harry J. M. Potter.

 

There had always been a rivalry between Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs; loosely based upon the debate of what the key to success was, “intelligence” or “hardwork”. Each parties' loyalty to the concepts were easy enough to guess judging on House Traits; Hufflepuffs vouched for hard-work, and Ravenclaws advertised the doctrine of intelligence. It didn't help either's case with each House's grade average being approximately equal. They had clashing ideologies of what was important in life and what mattered socially, Hufflepuff may be friendly to those within but that in no way meant it befriended Houses outside of its own.

 

Ravenclaws had no rivalry with Slytherin or Griffindor, and thus in classes with them, the atmosphere was easy going and sometimes children would even trade seats to sit with companions from the other House. Hufflepuff liked to delude itself into thinking it was all inclusive, for everyone and everything, but it wasn't. It didn't get along with Slytherin because it thought them cruel, didn't agree with Griffindor for their brashness and lazy nature, it despised Ravenclaw for winning the House Cup more often due to intelligence and not 'hard work', even though the Ravens worked their butts off. Although, in the latest years their winnings had been mostly due to the star seeker Cuthbert Amberden, who had brought Ravenclaw immensely close to winning the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup and stacking up gzillions of points. Truly, Hufflepuffs were the least inclusive of all the Houses, Slytherin being the one to accept all houses grudgingly for seeing their worth as individuals and not by arbitrary systems – mostly due to knowing that any could have monetary value or be of use in the future – although, like all houses, there were exceptions.

 

 

Jazz had infiltrated its way into Harry's life, and now he would forever be shackled with 'sick beats', as Jo was currently keen on saying in each of her long letters. In her last letter she had mailed him a large Kenny G “greatest hits” album, along with a long fanatical squeal over her adoration of smooth jazz. Jo kept him up to date on the “Georgie” situation, and spoke about something called “second base” - Harry vaguely recalled such terminology mentioned in the father-son talk he had participated in long ago.

 

Saxophone curls of sound wafted around the room, Rick, in his latest magically related endeavour, had bought a spell powered CD player. Harry enjoyed the calming tones of jazz, they mixed in the air like ghostly spectres, in long breaking waves of noise, swirling and dancing around his ears. That Song hummed itself in time to the jazz, and the two songs entwined and embraced. Harry closed his eyes, soft breaths permeating the air, the magic once clenched tight in his gut slightly loosened – as if compact rolls of bandages had begun to unspin and extend, exalting in luxurious freedom. He arched his back up, a warm smile on his face, and thought about how nice it could be if Neville were here with him – they could lie on the Ravenclaw dorm's carpet and whisper about nothing, or plan for their latest research into Gamp's laws, or just close their eyes and listen to the music.

 

Harry was getting into jazz. Or, one could say, jazz was getting into him, and his soul.

 

He blamed Jo for this affliction.

 

 

Dear dad,

 

Harry began, squiggling his face into a lumpy smile, eyes minutely narrowed in thought. Long elegant symbols traced themselves onto the parchment, and his father's latest letter lay read and complacent on the ground of the Ravenclaw common room. A jazz ear worm played in his ears, and Harry continued to write with a degree of effortless penmanship.

 

I've read your letter. I haven't heard from you in a while. It was nice.

 

He chewed on the pen. Harry wasn't exactly sure what to write. An unfamiliar sensation filled him – an uncomfortable desire to hide something. His father had asked if there were any... people he had his eye on, and Harry knew what that meant. Yet, Harry resisted this urge to spill the beans on Neville, and his magnetic attraction to a certain Blaise Zabini. He wasn't entirely sure why, he felt like there was this warm precious bundle in his heart, and he didn't want to share it. Harry wanted it all to himself, this beautiful feeling that swelled in his gut whenever he asked Madame Pomphrey about him and she said he was doing better.

 

And that meant Neville would wake soon. And he was breathlessly waiting for that, breathlessly hoping. And Harry had never felt this... flagrant desire before, for someone to be okay. It was as if this hole he had never known about had opened in his chest, and he desperately wished to fill it. It was so unlike him; to want; to want madly and exuberantly and extensively; to want in spite of others, in spite of the world; to want and be prepared to give and sacrifice for that want. He thought of what he would do to make sure Neville was okay. He thought of who he would be willing to hurt to secure Neville's health. He wanted Neville to wake up, he wanted Neville to blush in that embarrassed way of his when they held hands, to lead him around the school and talk in scant whispers that echoed in Harry's heart like the solemn words about Neville's Uncle's actions, to fail at Potions but keep on trying like a “foolhardy Griffindor” as Draco Malfoy was prone to say on their talks alone. But, unlike Draco Harry didn't see it as a bad thing, to be foolhardy, because he was a fool for Neville, he was foolish, he was a jester, a boy with too many roads and only two legs to carry him. He wanted to curl around Neville in the dusty library and giggle around mould spores and send silent messages with his eyes, as if they were spies, as if they were more than they were. He wanted to call Neville beautiful and watch his face light up like the night sky, stars shining in his eyes. He wanted to carve Neville's face into stone, whittle it from wood, make this ephemeral moment solid, and if he could not do that he wanted to draw him, to sketch him out, to fill the outlines of his book, he wanted a picture of Neville like that photo album in his mind-scape – he wanted to peruse and recall past times, to smile small smiles that barely touched his lips but spoke of deep seeded affections that would never fade. He wanted to help Neville with homework, make sly jokes about the older years, watch Ron from afar together as he blustered and bumbled with prepubescent nerves and anxieties. He wanted to lean against Neville, so that their shoulders touched and his skin pulsed with hot sweetness, then he wanted to lean his head on Neville's shoulder in peaceful silence, resolute and reposeful, sweet and serene. He wanted, and he wanted, and he never stopped. It felt as if his brakes had been cut, the wire split and ruined, and now Harry was free-falling, the ground rising up to meet him. His best friend was gone, or at least not here, and Harry ached with everything he missed. He hated this absence, this vacancy.

 

I don't have my eye on anyone. I might just be too young. How are you? How is everyone? Is mum still in that social awareness group? Has Rick decided upon any more magic related inquiries? And Jo? Jo sent me this CD of Kenny G, do you like his music? I miss you.

 

love,

Harry.

 

And, for once, when he said he missed them, it was true. There was a gnawing loneliness here; with Hermione only seeing him as an empty bucket for her problems, with his magic silent and hesitant to communicate since it's failure to protect his mind from Professor Snape, with Scar as dead as dust in his head – Scar was only an empty space now, or at least that was what it felt like. He was solitary in a two-man rendezvous with Draco Malfoy, the boy still believing he was bound by Dumbledore's machinations and not treating him like he was able-minded or capable of recourse. Blaise Zabini doubtlessly lacked knowledge of Harry's existence except for another pair of eyes on his angelic countenance, another person watching with lust or envy or the budding stirs of adolescent like, and who else was there? The teachers; finding him a strange and alien child. The Ravenclaws; tolerating him only for his mind and grades. Maybe it was just Luna who still knew him, but in that vein Luna didn't really know anyone completely. She lived in a different world, she existed on a separate plane, a ghostly spectrum that made her half-alive, more creature than witch, she saw everyone differently. She couldn't see him, because she couldn't see anyone. Who else was there? Neville... and, Neville was still asleep, or, not asleep, not even in the peace of dreams, in a magically induced coma. It felt like it was just Harry, alone, and for once he didn't enjoy it, he didn't smile guilelessly and exalt in it all, he hadn't been able to truly be happy and enjoy leaning back and taking in the world. The clouds, the castle, the magic in the very air; it lacked something. Harry wanted, and that was scary.

 

 

Harry... Harry...”

 

His eyes were half-lidded with the flush of sex. His body coursed with fire and a freeing kindling in his gut, it spread out from there all over his body. Every place dark hands caressed ignited as if fireworks were exploding on his skin, and Harry gasped, his body a vessel for pleasure.

 

Harry... God Harry please...”

 

The voice... it was different. Less exotic and smooth caramel; more crackling puberty and mousy brown eyes. Neville? His eyes widened and there he was, skin flushed and eyes spearing into Harry's own.

 

Harry...”

 

 

This felt different to a dream. There were fragments of reality. It burned behind his eyes, and he felt the same falling sensation as on the train before the feast. Except, this time, it was not Dumbledore's voice in his head but a long stretched image, a tableau, except within the tableau the pieces moved, the people shifted and spoke. It was half-alive, semi cognizant. It was black and white, faded, smudged, like an old polaroid left out in the sun too long – crisp and cooked. Dunked in tea, like a pirate's treasure map, the paper crinkly and yellow, like his father's toothy smile as he scored a Yahtzee. Harry was living a dual reality; there was McGonagall's lecture on telling a transfigured object from its real counterpart and magical signatures, and there was also... the scene... the smells of champagne and old music funnelled into the ear, hair bound up tight, scratching at the scalp with ferocity, the mothball taint of Professor Slughorn's esoteric scent...

 

The gown wrapped tight around his skin like a constrictor. He could hardly breathe in the corset. Harry's hands groped down himself, feeling this strange contraption he was placed in; bright baby blue with large rolling ruffles and sharp edges at the hips and shoulders. A boy with silk grey eyes and a charming smile of danger held Harry's hand and led him onto the ballroom,

 

Harry, come on, let me introduce you to my friends.”

 

Harry tilted his head, as if expecting as much, and replied,

 

Sure Tom, let's go.”

 

“Mr. Potter, do you need to visit Madame Pomphrey's office?”

 

McGonagall's voice was stern and austere, like clean slate concrete, but beneath that Harry could hear the worry in her tone, her maternal lizard brain, her teacher's gentle concern for his health. Harry blinked, gave a tender smile, and tilted his head down to the notes he had yet to scribe. Alysha Currey shot McGonagall a pacifying look, before she elbowed Harry in the side with a suspicious frown and shoved over her own notes.

 

The Magical Signature of a Transfigured Object

-regular transfigured objects follow a certain set of rules and the caster can determine...

 

 

It was Halloween; the castle shone with an unearthly gleam. Back in the muggle world Halloween was a barely celebrated holiday – there were young children who grew up and the fanatics, but it was not entirely saturated into the culture. The shopping centres seemed to be under the impression that it was, but they were mistaken, Halloween was an uncommon festival, unconventional and non compulsory. Whilst shops lined their aisles with masks, plastic pumpkin buckets, and sugary delights, the wizarding world prepared for Sahmain – celebration of the dead and the living, where the veil between the two was at its thinnest. The halls held a sombre atmosphere, contrary to the ordinarily warm appearance of Autumn. Young children, mostly first years, travelled in groups, separated by origin and magical strength. Those more in tune with themselves and their souls became more serious or more gay – for example, Luna Lovegood skipped through the halls in a bright pink dress with a wide looming laced parasol spinning in her grip, she hummed and sung to the walls, her face alight and bright, conversely Pansy Parkinson wore all black, as dark as a night with no moon or stars, an empty abyss above, her head was slotted high with pureblood surety, but she did not smile, and she would be mad to sing. Each connected to their soul and to this night, each had lost loved ones, but both differed in their revelations of it. Only rarities reacted as such, the majority of Hogwarts smiled like children, revelled in the candy and delighted in the soft harmonies of Halloween cheer, this was the night of the dead, and the night of the magical. A celebration of all things mystical occurred on Sahmain, and each, deep down, knew it to their very core.

 

Harry skirted around the edges of the hall, he was not hungry nor interested in the Halloween celebrations. Instead he travelled in consort with Luna, holding her hand lightly, swinging their arms between them, and gazing up at the marvellous decorations that lined the school. Pumpkins carved out and filled with a amber glow, cosy shrines in alcoves with sacrifices of sweets and pastries no doubt prepared by the House Elves, and a looming pine tree, its trail of fallen brethren coating the floor in a mess of needles. They skipped together, hearts light with the heady magic that saturated the air. No doubt they would be missed at the feast by no one. Draco Malfoy may spare a thought for his accomplice in revolution but would soon dismiss it to be stuffed and pampered by Halloween's scrumptious offerings. Professor Snape could possibly think of Lily, of her eyes, remember that this was the day she sacrificed herself, remember Harry for a moment and wonder where he was in the feast, but Professor Snape was not a man to deal with his feelings, and would quickly slide them away, to be forgotten and suppressed. Dumbledore may have plotted a marvellous scheme, a new way to make Harry follow his “destined path”, but Dumbledore had fingers in many pies, and Harry was a single boy, who had shown near to none signs of deviancy. The other teachers may think of him, the other students also, Ravenclaw and Griffindor, Hermione and Alysha, Ron, but all thoughts would pass for two trolls in a row was as unlikely as a Greenhouse exploding of its own avail, and Harry could only ever cause trolls it seemed.

 

“Chin up buttercup, we've got Snorkels to burgle!”

 

Luna chirped like a plump fluorescent bird, her magic swirled, alien and magnificent, hands swinging a parasol over her shoulder and down onto the floor again as she skipped. Skipping was actually quite a difficult exercise to sustain, a fair bit tougher than jogging as it included greater heights and leg stamina, but Luna was well versed in skipping, and bounced along like a pro with Harry trailing behind. He tacked the information in his mind to a delicate folder called “footsteps” to be employed at a later date; he knew Luna's tendency to skip was a core character trait, and would recognise her footsteps the next time he played.

 

Her magic flung itself this way and that; it was like nothing Harry had ever felt before. It was not seductive, nor was it sparkly, or even the calm pearly brand of his own. Luna seemed to exist on a spectrum far away from any he had ever witnessed, and Harry intricately investigated her gift. Waves crashed down on his head, waterfalls on his shoulders, but beneath the solid wall of running streams lay, unbidden, a treasure chest of dreams. Golden coins clinked and sparkled, like fairy dust, light and invisible to the naked eye. He imagined that if she so pleased, Luna could disappear from sight altogether, into this in between world which only she saw, she could slip between the layers of reality, like someone hiding behind the long velvet tassels of their Dining Room curtain, and only appear if she truly wanted to. Her's was a power that knew no bounds but herself, but being her that was the strictest constraints of all; for Luna was not one to shy from life, and this fact lay so deeply ingrained that Harry thought it would take a miracle for her to ever do so.

 

“Do we need to breathe underwater?”

 

Harry asked, feeling lighter since she asked him to cheer up, and Luna tilted her head at him as if he were truly mad. The chastisement of her words felt eerily similar to Neville, and Harry's mother before that,

 

“No, Snorkels have nothing to do with water! They lie on the ceiling in bulging clumps, like barnacles, and we need to scrape them down otherwise they'll sink into Halloween and ruin all the pumpkins. Snorkels hate parties, and Halloween is the partiest night of the year – or is it that they hate politics? I can never be sure. Maybe its both!”

 

Thus, they spent the next hour or so using the spell scourgify and one Luna had made up on a whim called barniclephobe to thoroughly and slowly cleanse the ceilings of Hogwarts castle. Upon completion both young students bowed deeply to Lady Hogwarts, so low that their noses poked the ground, and were rewarded with a honey sweet wave of gratitude. Gratitude, Harry thought, was a little like hope, except with less strings attached and more citrus.

 

The night had been lovely, well used, and a Halloween Harry couldn't help but want to draw out in his book so he never lost it, but early, once the moon had sunk, and the treacherous rays of light traversed their first paces through the diffident rectangular panes of Hogwarts, that had all changed.

 

You see, they had found a cat.

 

 

Harry's cat.

 

 

Her.

 

 

Tied by long splindy rope. Around the neck. Paws out and stiff. Eyes blank and unseeing. With words traced in blood:

 

The Chamber of Secrets had been opened, enemies of the heir beware.

 

 

Harry noticed how the words were not capitals, there were no exclamations. This was not a threat, not a lone smudged muggle figure standing on a podium and drumming up despair, there were no megaphones or sonorus charms. This was a cool collected statement, a person with a newspaper reading the headline with no care of concern for it, a civil announcement to the world. A gentle statement slicing through the mist of a bustling corral. A tender reminder, a loving address, someone has reminded everyone of the truth of the world, of the truth of life, and there is no need for capitals with such a purpose. It was as if one of his old muggle primary school teacher had taken him aside for a quiet word, as if that teacher he never knew the name of with the shoulder-length hair and startling eyes had pressed against his shoulder and spoke in hushed tones shielded by an invisible barrier – don't interrupt the teacher when they talk to someone alone. And she had said, quite quietly, saying what had to be said,

“The chamber of secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir beware.”

 

It was rather lacklustre, if you thought about it. Even if it was painted in blood.

 

 

Who had time for this?

 

Harry could imagine none of the Fourth Years or above wishing to attempt this. Imagine how long it would have taken to first; figure out how to kill the cat, second; collect the blood, third; paint the whole message on the wall, fourth; tie up the cat. It seemed like a waste of time, or maybe an act of boredom.

 

All he could imagine was pale hands slowly tying the rope, with care and precision, maybe their mouth was scrunched to the side like Hermione's does when she is contemplating a very difficult question. He imagines long mile-long arms reaching around the cat, maybe they fumble, maybe the fingers slip into soft mildew pelt. The cat must be cold by now, all alone in the hall, in the musk and the humidity of the tunnels. Would their fingers have smoothed out the fur, or did they just tie the rope and leave?

 

 

He'd been through this before. He had witnessed Fiona die, or had at least come across her corpse. Had buried her. Good and proper. Flowers, plucked with shaking hands, eyes wet and watered, a lump in the ground where the dirt had been tunelled down, hauled up, and covered over. The whole shebang. He had realised that death was a necessary part of life; he still believed that.

 

Then why was it so hard? Why had this illusion of joy suddenly left him? Why did his chest still ache from the magic? Why was it not fixed?

 

Where was Neville?

 

And he knew where Neville was. Neville was lying there, on the while sheet, prostrate, and empty. His eyelids were pressed down over vacant pits. His chest rose and fell. Harry had visited enough times that he knew the exact placement of Neville's head, the dusty sheen that came whenever anything stayed still; it was the world's way of reminding you to move, if the dust settled then you were as good as dead.

 

He knew where Neville was, and he knew why his tabby had to die. His nameless loving ball of fur, his only friend. And maybe that was melodramatic, but Harry was going stir crazy in this castle with too many floors. Maybe it was a delayed reaction, everything had caught up, everything was summoned to him now.

 

His magic was eerily silent. As if it were trapped in his chest. And where was Scar? Harry never felt like this, why was he feeling this way? Why did he feel so responsible?

 

 

Harry took the man's hand as he tried to express his sorrow. He knew that chaos was an unavoidable part of life, and normally remained unaffected by it, but Harry had grown to love the nimble cat now petrified at his feet, and felt his normally bland happy emotions rumble beneath his skin in turmoil. What if the tabby was dead? Just like his parents. Gone forever, swamped in non-existence and blankness, an unimaginable terrifying fate. He... wasn't frightened of his own demise, but felt the alien pulse in his heart of a fear of losing others... or maybe just those he cared for.

 

Filch looked back down at him, holding Harry's tiny hand in his own, and seemed to understand what he was trying to project across. They stared at one another for a few moments, basking in the solemn silence, alone in the corridor, and wondering about their own possible fates. Their feet were aligned, angled towards one another, and their necks tilted up and down respectively. Harry's hair hung in messy Potter spikes, like normal, whilst Filch's balding head crumpled in receding despair. They were so different, boy and man, wizard and squib, but in that moment seemed identical.

 

Too soon the moment passed, and their hands fell away from one another’s, Harry whispering softly in remorse,

 

“She is a good cat.”

 

And Filch simply nodding, still slightly numb from his only companion's state and empty stare. The glazed eyes left sharp and rugged scars in his mind, the thought that his cat could have died echoing painfully in his tender heart. He was a rugged and cruel man, but he loved his cat like no other.

 

 

At least she wasn't dead.

 

Only petrified, Dumbledore had said.

 

Chapter Text

 

A step to safety.

 

It wasn't logic that spurred these new and foreign feelings, that was for sure. It was something obscene and heinous, rotten and disguised. Harry felt as if his alignment had come undone, the clean cut way of life that marked his soul had been torn asunder. It was a feeling as alien as the extraterrestrial; this helplessness, this care over how helpless he was. Life normally consisted of existing in a series of half-hearted sighs. Currently, he was in limbo, he was awakened, there was something deep and never-before touched that had arisen from its perch and flown from the coop and out into the harsh reality of daylight.

 

Bad things happen. Yes. Every day. Every second. The world was saturated in it. It felt, in that moment, as if he were standing on the precipice of a large fathomless abyss. Nothingness spread as far as the eye could glimpse. He could see the malignant occurrences of the world. His eyes were open. His lips were parched and stern, as if the sun had been scorched directly onto them. He was austere. He was serious. He was a man on a mission.

 

Except...

 

These feelings were unfounded. They had no basis. They were floating in a sea of placenta and absent viscous fluid, separated from reality. They were at a thin tangent of the heart of the matter. That is to say, these feelings, of conventionality, of purpose, of drive, they had no place in the present. For there was simply nothing he could do, he was powerless. All tasks remained out of his grip. How could he overcome this?

 

Why would I want to?

 

And there lay, in wait, the second issue. The nihilism. These creeping sensations of apathy. With the loss of his love and wonder in the world, with the intense submersion into this gnarled and crooked reality, Harry was presented, head on, with the thought that perhaps none of his actions could make a dent. Perhaps the very air in his lungs was of no consequence. He was a non entity. A ghost. But even ghosts made dents – Example One: Professor Binns. But, beneath that lack of actual consequence, was another startling concept – that it mattered not either way. For there was a sun out there, a large fiery red ball of anger, living in space, which would one day explode or implode, but either way, would take away the Earth. And without the Earth, what was there? All footprints he had ever made, all imprints, all ripples, they would cease, they could not travel, any memories of himself would disappear. He would matter not. Nothing mattered if it would all be taken away. Why should it matter?

 

And there was this gnawing feeling in his gut. Like cold ice biting his small intestine. Slowly creeping, crawling, sliding along his narrow walls. Up into his throat. There was a sense of wrongness with all of this. All of these thoughts were wrong wrong wrong. They had arrived out of nowhere, out of non existence, out of nothing. They had summoned themselves from the literal vacuous molecules of absence. And was that not wrong? To change matter so?

 

Or was that only magic? The corrupt changing of matter? The forceful twist and subversion of the universe's most sacred rules? Was that not the most beautifully terrifying concept imaginable?

 

 

Harry wondered over if looking in the Mirror of Erised now would bear fruit... and wasn't that strange? Harry had suddenly, over the course of a few weeks, a few days, gained a whole branch of emotions. With want came the feeling of absence, of loneliness, of envy and jealousy, with want Harry had gained selfishness and also empathy; he would do things for himself for things he wanted, but he also understood why others acted in certain ways.

 

His magic was also... behaving wrong. It wasn't noticeable to the naked eye, there were no obvious signs, but Harry could feel a permeating sense of upheaval. There seemed to be a barrier of some type between him and his magic, it no longer swirled around him, begging for attention and behaving in a constantly curious-of-the-world way. It was as if it were snapped shut in a small cupboard in his chest.

 

A shiver went down Harry's back.

 

With want came things he didn't want. Fear existed now, rage as a spin off of fear, hate was following close behind. He felt like he was being built from scratch, he felt like his bones were being crushed with mortar and pestle before being regrown in his gut. Harry could scarcely breath, and everything that had flown over his head was catching up.

 

The Dursleys featured in his dreams every night, the Dark Lord and where he was (hadn't Harry let him go last year?), Professor Snape, leaning forward, drunken and tilting like a ship moments before it capsized. Lips on his lips, heat, a sickly tight heat in his gut, hands in his hair, a man staring right into his eyes and seeing a girl from decades before. It felt wrong now. It felt like his empathy had kicked up a notch, no, not a notch, a flying leap, and now, he was understanding the nuances of his own life. Every night his mind combed through memories in finite detail; the cat, lynched, hanging and swinging, Neville unconscious, will he never wake again, will I be alone forever, please no Neville, the turgid flammable heat inside himself, this burning feeling of guilt and shame, as he thought that it was Harry who had put Neville there. He had exploded the Greenhouse. It was his magic.

 

And, he hated his magic for that. And, as if it were truth, the magic did not even bother shying away from these thoughts.

 

Harry had never been so lonely, never so incomplete. His mind was a plane of shifting tiles. A man with a hook instead of a hand stumbled across and dug up each tile before spitting on its grave. His head ached always. His world was in disrepair. There could be no coming back from this...

 

He woke from wet dreams with embarrassment, an embarrassment he had never touched before, thinking of Neville and Blaise Zabini or a combination of the two. He didn't want to want. But, even if Harry knew these feelings were foreign and implanted, even if he suspected it had been Dumbledore to change him so completely, he still couldn't shake them. They were dew drops on his fur, drying and sinking into him as every moment passed, solidified in his mind. Harry wanted answers, he wanted solutions, he didn't know what to do.

 

He was lost.

 

 

A letter from Jo was shoved unceremoniously into his pocket. She had endured a fight with Georgie. Harry felt sickeningly empathetic – it was unlike anything he had ever experienced.

 

His spindly legs fell down off the roof, perpendicular to the slant, pointing into the direction of the abyss. Harry stared in the general direction of the sun – golden light diluted by clouds – and wondered over his life. He wondered if the majesty of the sky could lend him truth, if only for today.

 

It no longer felt the same to sit on the Owlery Roof. The wind tussled his hair, but it lacked the calming effect of the past. He could no longer taste wisps of magic floating off from the Forbidden Forest. The squawking of owls, once assurance that he was never alone in the world, now solidified his isolated nature. There were owls below him, but they neither knew nor cared for him. Harry was a single maudlin figure, sitting on a roof, staring at the ground.

 

For the first time in the whole of his life, he wondered what others would think of this picture. Would they even care? Did anyone actually care about him? It was hard to know, since he wasn't sure he cared for anyone else. All his emotions were muddled and combined into a weird flavour of dullness. He felt sometimes like a soldier and sometimes like a child, or perhaps he was a child at war. But, he could not articulate why he felt this way.

 

It was as if he were trying to read someone else's mind, he just couldn't do it. It was impossible.

 

However...

 

He stroked his jaw, a new habit he had developed in the past few days, as he considered the possibility of magical mind arts. Dumbledore had implanted suggestions in his mind after all, even if they exhibited various degrees of success, perhaps it was possible to read someone's mind. Maybe even his own.

 

A spark of hope jumped up in his gut, and Harry relaxed back so that he lay horizontal, his head against the calming cool of the tiles. It was a comfort to know that even if he changed, this roof would stay the same. There was stability. Perhaps Harry would look back on this when he was healed and would only smile in amusement.

 

Half of him worried that upon reaching his natural state, Real Harry, as he tended to call his actual self, would not be extremely interested in protecting his mind. Real Harry would see it as only a part of life, a part to be expected and accepted. Harry At Present envied that type of calm, he longed to return to the way he was, to sweep away all these jumps in emotions and mood swings, but he also worried about his safety once he no longer cared for it. That was what Magic had done, where was his magic?

 

These thoughts swirled and shifted in his head, making him feel sick and dizzy. Harry was certainly growing erratic.

 

Why, yesterday, he had even glared at a cloud! For goodness sake, if that wasn't a true warning sign of his impending insanity he didn't know what was.

 

He closed his eyes, and attempted to calm his roiling emotions. This happened with little success, so instead Harry focused on the sounds around him. Calming emotions was no doubt intrinsically linked to a separation from emotions, so he attempted to dissect the world around him with his ears, in the hopes that it would calm him.

 

He listened to the gentle conversations of the birds. There were a few hell-raisers, who hollered constantly, and Harry imagined that they just missed the feel of wind under their winds, they screeched about the sky, about love and loss, but everyone only called them mad. He imagined two small tawny owls chirping gently to one another in a corner, their rendezvous clandestine and secret, a personal meeting within the zoo of owls and occasionally ravens (ravens being the newest trend from the Fashion of the Times column).

 

Familiar footsteps climbed up the rungs of the pipe, and Harry kept his eyes closed, listening intently in an overdue game of footsteps. These footsteps were more self assured than in the previous year as they carried the knowledge of a bond, a secret bond of that, and followed their host's own trail of faint smug superiority. Two more footsteps, one was cluttered, signifying unease in one's skin, the other was smooth like mercury, angelic.

 

Harry's eyes opened before the second pair of feet had even reached the landing. He recognised that third pair of footsteps, the elegance, the true assured nature of them. Blaise Zabini. The boy who had played a main role in certain dreams of late.

 

A flush decorated Harry's skin, but he settled his breathing, and closed his eyes once more. This is what Real Harry would do, and all This Harry wanted was to be his former self. Imitate enough, and who knows, maybe it would come true one day. Real Harry would certainly not be flustered by seeing Blaise Zabini, but as the footsteps grew further Harry felt his body lurch in anticipation.

 

Merlin squealed the new born crush-concerned part of Harry Its actually Blaise.

 

“Potter.”

 

Draco began, walking along, used to the roof, but still unsettled by Harry's distance or lack there of from the edge. He had a distinctly princely air today. Harry and Draco's “friendship” (in quotations because Draco saw it as an alliance and Harry misunderstood the nature of friendship the majority of the time) had increased due to various meetings upon the Owlery Roof. Draco had started to shift from telling Harry all about his plans, this year's having something to do with a cursed book (Harry hadn't really been paying attention, and its believability was in doubt because Draco was the type to tell tall tales for the admiration of his peers), to now talking about his feelings on other people – Draco had apparently began a friendship with Astoria Greengrass, a girl he was developing a crush on. He was also fairly jealous of Theodore Nott's newest dress robes, as he had been gifted them specially for his Naming, a magical ceremony that the Malfoy Clan no longer followed.

 

Last meeting he had suggested Harry and his friends meet, in an effort to form an “inner circle”. In said meeting, Draco had also professed a desire to shout “you'll be next mudbloods” upon discovering Ms. Norris' fate, but figured it was a bad idea, and resisted, since Harry was found at the scene of the crime, and it could negatively link them. Instead of pronouncing his knowledge on the Heir of Slytherin, Draco kept mum about it. However, as Harry had overhead from Lisa Turner in his House, that was even more suspicious, and Draco was being painted as a possible suspect – normally Draco would have started to talk about it, boasting for brownie points, and it was conspicuous that he lacked “information” to share.

 

Draco also still believed that Harry aspired to be a Dark Lord. He didn't quite have the heart to dissuade him, as Draco appeared very sincere and passionate when he spoke of a world without borders (or whatever their cause was, Harry was uncertain, and it seemed that Draco was too).

 

Harry opened one eye, glancing at Draco, who had dressed up for the occasion. The blonde's hair was slicked back in a refined manner, and his clothes had been ironed and pressed (or whatever the magical equivalent of those were, Harry wasn't exactly horribly concerned with magical or muggle cultural practices, or Real Harry wasn't therefore This Harry tried not to be).

 

On Draco's left was Pansy Parkinson, a girl with a face that faintly resembled a pug's, but somehow not in a bad way as one might expect. She fidgeted slightly, no doubt spoon fed tales of Harry's inherently dark nature. Her face was splotchy with make up, and Harry imagined she was the type of girl who lacked a considerable amount of friends, mostly due to her association with the prattish Malfoy scion. It seemed she had attempted to paint on make up by her lonesome.

 

Harry felt a stab of empathy, and tried to reel himself back into Real Harry Mode.

 

On Draco's right was the one, the only, Blaise Zabini. Harry's stomach curdled in a fit of dramatics, pubescent crush-soldiers in his torso no doubt jumping off cliffs due to a certain someone's overflowing handsomeness. He was looking fine as always, his eyes dark and mysterious, cheekbones angled, symmetrical. There was something entrancing about Blaise, he seemed mystical, like a strange exotic creature, almost as if from another planet. His robes, even as plain as they were, fitted him to a tee. It was... this indescribable attraction, like magnets searching for one another across oceans and mountains, a forbidden love...

 

Draco rolled his eyes as he caught on to Harry's staring, as if used to it, and Blaise smirked in a knowing fashion. Pansy hadn't noticed the exchange, more concentrated on her own presentation rather than Harry's drooling. Harry replied, not bothering moving from his spot on the roof, deciding to divorce himself from Blaise-staring (which he thought may become a new hobby), instead laying his head back down and simply deigning to listen instead of see,

 

“Draco.”

 

Harry could feel eyebrows being raised at their differing levels of formality, especially the sexy eyebrow of hunky Blaise Zabini, and felt amused. His amusement settled him. It was good. Real Harry would feel this way, perhaps not as strongly, but Real Harry was prone to amusement at the incomprehensible actions of others, as if watching the antics of pets. Real Harry knew certain things, had presence in the world.

 

He could do this.

 

Draco coughed pointedly, and Harry squinted open a single eye to find a hand out in front of his face. He gripped it, and allowed himself to be led upright, opening the other eye and he rose, standing on the very edge of the roof, facing away from the view and instead towards the Slytherin trio. Draco gestured to Blaise and Pansy respectively as he introduced them,

 

“This is Heir Parkinson, and Heir Zabini.”

 

Harry inclined his head to each, and all four gave a muttered “merry meet”, in the proper show of pure-blood etiquette. It was blatantly ignored that Harry was a half-blood, but that had always been the expectation for this meeting.

 

Draco set about explaining the situation, beginning his well prepared speech on world domination or whatever he'd thought of this week, and Harry zoned out a little. He wanted to say he was focusing on the sky, or some other excusable legitimate activity, but really he was slowly drifting towards Blaise Zabini, attempting to be inconspicuous but inauspiciously failing, of course, as could be divined by the unimpressed raised brow of Pansy. She had calmed slightly, much to Harry's misfortune, meaning she noted it when he ended up elbow-to-elbow with Slytherin's most eligible bachelor.

 

“So, you come here often?”

 

Blaise Zabini was as cool and crisp as a cucumber. Harry's eyes blurred out for a second, and he laughed it off, awkwardly, in the antithesis of Blaise's intrinsic suave and swagger. He nodded, aiming for casual,

 

“Its a good place to watch the sky and think.”

 

Blaise tilted his head, as if inspecting Harry for sincerity, and seemed to come to a realisation by the massive grin he sported. Eureka his eyes pronounced smugly. His dark skinned Italian compadre leant in close, ignoring the askance glances he gained from Pansy and Draco who were discussing the Ministry (whatever that was), and whispered huskily,

 

“Draco has no idea, does he? He's completely wrong. He thinks its a front, but this is just...”

 

Blaise waved a hand, gesturing to Harry's entire person. His closeness caused goosebumps to spring up on Harry's skin, and a nervous smile to light up his face. Butterflies swirled in his belly. A washing machine started up as Blaise inched nearer, finished his sentence,

 

“...you, isn't it? You're just like this. You lie on the roof, like a pretty little daffodil, and just exalt in it. Harry Potter is a Ravenclaw, intrigued in the world, not a secret Slytherin.”

 

His breath was hot in Harry's ear. Harry was looking anywhere but Blaise's face, thinking he would surely explode if he did. Draco stuttered from the other end of the roof, very aware of his allies' actions, and said something about his father having control over Minister Fudge due to his affluence and opulence. Pansy rolled her eyes, as if used to such flirting with Blaise, even if it normally occurred with girls rather than a flustered Harry Potter, and refocussed on Draco.

 

Blaise gave a warm chuckle, his eyes lit up,

 

“I won't tell him though. I finally know something he doesn't. Merlin, this is precious. How long has it been going on for? Is he really so oblivious? To think, all this time, he's been boasting that-”

 

Harry?

 

The roof froze around them. The air became stiff with tension. Harry removed himself from Blaise's area, a foreign feeling of panic in his chest (he really really hates all these new fabricated feelings), seeing a bedraggled Hermione Granger thundering towards him. Her hair was frizzy and mad, electric with her own emotionally charged magic. Her brown button chocolate eyes were dark with shock and anger. She looked shaken to her very core.

 

“Harry?”

 

The world seemed to spin. She appeared to be betrayed, her mouth scrunched up in confusion, her eyes flicking to the different Slytherins festooned on the roof like decorations. Dark dark decorations for this Owlery Roof which had likely not experienced such dramatics since Olfred the Grave threw his sister off the roof and cast a repellent ward as a vigil for her death and a cover for his crime. Hermione Granger embodied the fierceness of a lion, if there were any doubt that she was a Griffindor, that was allayed in this moment of utter surrender.

 

Draco and Pansy jerked back slightly, as if hit. Blaise did not appear shocked, as if everything had occurred as predicted, as formulated, as planned. Which one Harry couldn't be sure, as his crush's face was relatively slate-esque. But, this he did know, Blaise held no fear for Hermione the Hell-raiser.

 

She was but a hair breath's away. Her eyes burned into his. Harry stood, at the edge of the roof, on the precipice. She could push him if she chose to, and he would fall.

 

Instead, Hermione leaned in close, and said in a heartbroken misted breath, as if the world had turned onto itself, had skinned itself, was inside out and unstable,

 

“Who's side are you on?”

 

Her words hung like a cat from a rope. Harry gave no answer, and she splintered ever more.

 

Draco whistled in appreciation as Hermione left, racing off with tears burning at her eyes. He grinned meanly and saying something about “truths come to a head, I think my father said that”. Blaise Zabini watched with unfathomable eyes. Pansy fluttered over to Draco, and they continued to plot.

 

Harry didn't know how to tell Hermione that there weren't any sides. So, he simply drifted back over to his cohorts, and stared at Blaise's chocolate coloured skin.

 

 

Harry met Luna in an unnamed hallway at the eastward side of the castle. Blank portraits lined the walls, the torches lay unlit, and rats could be seen scurrying about, not scared off by the school population as here there was no population. The windows were smaller here, and the air less disturbed. It had a stale taste, as if magic had been missing for a long time and only dust had arrived to fill the absence. A lonely air to it. They layed together, soaking in heat from the floor where sunlight lazily dribbled through a window, bodies entangled as if they were puppies. Harry felt conscious of where he was in the world, he wondered what Luna thought of him.

 

She bopped him on the nose and smiled dreamily,

 

“You seem harried, Harry.”

 

Luna was the only one who had noticed something was wrong with him, she was the only one to spot his disease. He had sat with Hermione in Transfiguration that day, before their grand argument on the Owlery Roof, and all the brunet had done was prevail him with worries over academics. Real Harry would not have been bothered, This Harry was.

 

“Life is complex, Luna, I long for my mind to return.”

 

His voice was subdued, soft, diffident even, as if worried he would awaken something in the walls if his volume increased. Or something inside himself, something demented, a malign sublime ghoul that would crawl out in the night and devour him. A little like how he had devoured Real Harry.

 

She caressed his cheek. In anyone else it would have been a romantic gesture, but Harry knew Luna was just expressing concern in her own unique way. He felt touched, and his face warmed slightly. Luna whispered consiprationally, her eyes bright and warm, like lanterns in a cold black night,

 

“The nargles tell me...”

 

Harry interrupted her, embodying disquiet, still trying to fight the chaos within. He snapped sharply,

 

“I don't need your placation.”

 

Luna considered him for a moment. She was still serene. There was some stability in this world, no matter if he and Hermione fought. They were always destined to fight, as dissimilar as they were from one another, it was fate, was it not?

 

“Fine, I was only trying to sooth.”

 

She sounded like a mother hen, clucking tuts at him, but ultimately only concerned. A pang shot off in his heart, and he missed Magic.

 

“Merry meet.”

 

Harry called back to her as he untangled from her and stood. He looked behind him, to see her still lying on the floor, her eyes closed.

 

“Come back, Harry.”

 

He knew she wasn't asking him to come back and lie next to her. She wasn't lonely, even if her absence of shoes told otherwise. Luna encouraged him to keep trying, to keep searching for a solution. She was asking him to come back to himself, to save Real Harry.

 

This Harry had loyalty to the past, he would do whatever he could to resurrect Real Harry. Real Harry was his dream, his destination, the reason for existence. He had to believe that Real Harry wasn't dead.

 

“I'm trying.”

 

Tomorrow Harry would scour the library for answers. There had to be a solution, he had to have hope.

 

 

George the bird man eyed him warily as Harry stood outside of Ravenclaw Tower. Harry spoke of nothing. He hadn't said a word in many minutes, not even to ask, as he always did, how George became a bird. He eyed the mad child and broke the silence,

 

“What is so fragile, that when you say its name you break it?”

 

Real Harry would know the answer, but This Harry was a boy muddled. He squinted at George, whispering,

 

“I don't know.”

 

George tilted his head, his beak smiling,

 

“Of course you do, mad child. You are intelligent, you know.”

 

Harry shook his head, resigned and forlorn. George's beady yellow eyes narrowed,

 

“Is it the other Ravenclaws? Is it pain? Is it fickle confidence that had stripped your intellect?”

 

Harry sighed, whispering mournfully, as if to a priest,

 

“Myself has been twisted and mutilated, I am but a shadow of anything.”

 

George barked sternly,

 

“Cease this instant! You, although mad, are not one to be concerned over such things. We, as people, do not stay the same, it is impossible. Now, what is the answer to the riddle?”

 

Harry scratched the back of his neck, thinking hard. He guessed,

 

“...glass?”

George shook his head, tilting his hip and latching a hand to it so that he looked like Hermione in a mood. It was painful to think of Hermione and her betrayed eyes.

 

“Try again.”

 

Harry scrunched up his mouth. Surely he was more than Real Harry, surely This Harry had capabilities as well. Surely.

 

“Uh... what is so fragile that it breaks when you say its name... hmm, what breaks when you say something... um, an abstract thing...”

George nodded, as if begrudgingly resigned to encouraging his least favourite Ravenclaw. He reminded Harry a little of Rick, except with less compassion, in the way that he was very brotherly and no nonsense. He had the temper of a ruffled bird, after all, so it was to be expected.

 

Harry was tentative when he finally answered,

 

“Silence?”

 

George smiled, and, thin as it was, Harry felt warmth flood him. He would always be a Ravenclaw. He would. No matter what magic this was.

 

The door swung open. Harry stepped through.

 

...

 

Ravenclaw was uneasy around him, or at least younger years were, having heard from the rumour mill or seen with their own two eyes him and Luna at the scene of the crime. The older students with more sense didn't treat him any differently, although they did have a debate over what creature could have petrified and then strung up Ms. Norris. It was believed to be something humanoid, or at least with understanding of language, seeing as the writing was in English.

 

Franklin returned to him that night, and rested upon his head in a display of normalcy. But, Harry was no fool, and he had been missing for weeks. He petted the toad on his head, and asked like a concerned parent,

 

“Where have you been?”

 

Franklin stiffened, and even Harry's pet toad knew that something was wrong. Harry tried to imitate Real Harry's ease with life, but couldn't help be suspicious over his own pet. Franklin had been pointedly absent the last few days, especially on the night of the Chamber of Secrets reveal, and that made something clench in Harry's gut.

 

Franklin had been good at Arithmacy, suspiciously good, and always seemed to be able to find Harry whether he told Franklin or not. His toad was definitely capable of such things, and he had shown jealously of Ms. Norris.

 

“Franklin, have you... have you done something?”

 

Harry closed his eyes and summoned his magic, he needed calm, but all he was met with was a wall, a blank wall that reached on for miles. He started to hyperventilate, hands palming his gut as he breathed far too quickly, and closed his eyes, begging for peace.

 

I need to figure out who hurt Ms. Norris. It matters most that I figure out who hurt Ms. Norris.

 

There were thoughts in his head, repeating, but he knew they weren't his own. They tasted like lemon drops, and he knew for certain in that moment that Dumbledore was behind all of this pain. Real Harry would brush it off. This Harry scrunched his face in ineffable rage, he hated this so much. His hands slammed down on the rug and he scratched at it with gnarled nails. It felt like he was fighting a war.

 

A mental war.

 

His hands found his face, and he was scratching, trying to dig under the skin and uncover what lay beneath. He needed to be free. He longed. He desired.

 

All his intent pointed to freedom.

 

Harry curled his face, as if he were constipated, and a tidal wave erected up in his chest. It was a tsunami, rolling towards him, about to make impact and leave only devastation in its wake. He could feel the tide rising, pulling, his breath shorted out and he was choking on air. He was surely going to drown. He was surely going to die.

 

I don't want to die.

 

Save me.

 

Please.

 

And then it came back. It came back, he wasn't alone. It returned. A warm euphoria flooded him and he fell backwards onto the ground, twitching with the intensity of his mother hen magic. Quick, before the gap closes! Scar boomed in his head, and Harry felt wings of angelic bliss crawling over him, dipping into his spine, embracing him and lacing kisses in his hair like his mother would. His heart no longer ached at the thought of Susan, at the thought of family, he was with his family. His magic had come home, had come back to him.

 

The floodgates opened, the putrid fetid magic released him for its grip, and this duty that had been doggedly leeching on him fell away as if it were nothing more than thin waxy paper. Dumbledore's imprint was eroded. It left him like a second layer of skin, and he breathed in the freedom of thought, his body rejoicing.

 

Harry smiled a free blissful smile. Franklin hopped back upon his head. Dreams that night were nothing but kind, and sleep came easy.

 

I am free.

 

 

Harry had returned to himself.

 

The world was right with itself, and magic smiled down from the heavens.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Open your eyes to the truth.

 

Harry found himself wandering, whilst wondering (fancy that), along the Second Floor corridor. Scar had been subtly pestering him to visit for some undefinable reason, and Harry saw no reason not to allow his insular (as in insulated inside his brain) friend a little freedom now and again. He hummed That Song as he dawdled along, his green dress brushing against his knees as he did so. It had begun to constrict around his chest, and Harry thought it was a side effect of growing.

 

Susan had shooed Chocolate off with a letter that morning demanding evidence of his health (and height apparently), seeing as Harry had been “suspiciously absent” of late. Which hadn't really been any different to usual at all, since Harry was normally “suspiciously absent” anyway, so Harry was a wee bit curious as to the real reasoning for her missive. But, it would be fine if he never found out for that matter, it was just something else to understand (he was a Ravenclaw after all). Chances are it had something to do with planning a surprise party for Jo, as her birthday was nearing. Harry didn't truly understand the reasoning for gift giving, but thought indulgent actions often gave him precious little smiles that he could pocket for later. Perhaps that was sentimentality, Harry posed, the appreciation of smiles.

 

His feet twirled in a stunning dance move that may have impressed an easily impressionable child, that is to say Harry didn't quite stumble but he didn't quite land right either. Harry smiled neutrally, staring down at his bare feet. It seemed that Luna missing items of apparel was a contagious ailment – she would surely check him for impending signs of Mustrops Disease.

 

Franklin's rumbling ribbit echoed from further on, and Harry let his eyes trail over his toady pal. He had gained the miraculous ability to disappear out of existence for extended periods of time, something that the library said was impossible. Harry, whilst visiting Neville to investigate Mustrops Disease (in case it had spread), had prevailed him with the information, only for his unconscious friend to stay quite silent on the matter. Or in other words, Harry had spoken to a dead-to-the-world person for an hour or so before wandering off and sitting by the Ravenclaw window.

 

Just a little to the left, Scar muttered in his head, sounding put out for some reason or another as he retook his rightful place as back-seat driver. Although, that wasn't anything new, as Scar often sounded aggravated this late at night and was permanently snuggled into the back seat of Harry's brain. Harry's magic pulsed protectively against him, in that maternal way of its, and Harry realised he had been walking “too close” to the balcony, otherwise known where the staircases veered off into a cliff. He felt a tap on his spine, just a gentle reminder, and followed its instructions, inching to the left infinitesimally - his “spidey” sense.

 

After Harry's fit of normalcy his magic had taken it upon itself to keep him as far away from danger as possible. This included Dumbledore and made eating in the Great Hall quite difficult. So far Harry had been missing quite a few meals, which also infuriated Magic, and had needed to steal lunches from stray Ravenclaw study pockets. The disappearances of packed lunches in the Tower had not been catalogued yet, but Scar warned that it was only a matter of time.

 

Eh, Harry thought with amusement, let the consequences fall where they may.

 

Harry was still disallowed from practising magic, but had discovered that the searing pains dulled if his magic hung on outside of himself like wings. Therefore, instead of being constrained in his chest, it lived outside his skin and began to affect others, causing them to become more neutral and diplomatic when resolving issues. Another side effect of his magic being free to roam was gifting others with a startling sense of bemused apathy. This could be seen and observed within a brawl between the recently disbanded friends Anthony Goldstein and Terry Boot, who had, instead of duelling in the Ravenclaw Library (a place that Madame Pince spied on with a tightly clenched face, muttering to herself resentfully “not a place for duels”) for the third time that week, decided to pursue and calm quiet game of chess. Anthony won, and then the two decided to supersede a fist-fight with a calm and measured game of “who can we hit with a stick enough that our anger disperses.”

 

It was safe to say, Harry had bruises from this “stick-hitting” game. Nevertheless, on a positive note, Anthony and Terry had bonded, and were besties once again. He was glad to have aided friendship, it was a noble cause, but Hermione’s guilty eyes – from across the hall where she was giving him the cold shoulder – boldly informed Magic of the morally grey aspects of being a punching bag.

 

It was safe to say, Magic enjoyed using Anthony and Terry for its own version of the “stick-hitting” game, whilst Harry stood by and stared at the clouds ignoring the shouts of righteous pain. His chest relaxed to a degree when Magic utilised itself, and technically it wasn’t breaking Madame Pomphrey’s medical advice since Magic had been using itself. Harry was a not-so-innocent bystander, concerned with noting all apparel (and sticks) lost to Mustrops Disease.  

 

Scar tried to be the voice of reason, even since he had actually gained a voice, discussing the ethical problems that arose when interfering with the free will of others and the moral stipulations that should normally be involved in “stick-hitting”, but soon discovered his own lack of care on the matter. Scar seemed to lack a moral compass as did Magic, so Harry's role models/wranglers hadn't truly attempted to steer him onto the “just” path. Therefore, he continued to influence others unduly, although it didn't seem to have as great a ramification as Scar had initially proposed; people just got quieter and thought more.

 

He reached the end of the corridor and stared at a blank wall, thinking that perhaps Scar beheld a secret interest in architecture and had expressed it through gruff commands. Harry poked the brick, the coolness tingling on the pinprick edge of his pointer finger. Scar sighed, as if resigned to a horrible fate, and corrected him, go into the bathroom, Harry.

 

Harry turned to his right, noticing the bathroom, and slipped inside. It had been boarded up with a sign that stated “No Entry Due To Flooding”, and this was mirrored by the strangely coloured puddles of overthrown toilet water scattered about the floor. The Second Floor Corridor Bathroom turned out to be a bathroom, surprise-surprise, and had all the easily recognisable components of such; sinks, toilets, a large bath, etcetera. Harry reconsidered Scar as the sensible one, due to having been sent to a girl's facility for no apparent reason, and hummed as he stepped further inside. That Song bounced off the walls, resonating in his magic and beyond.

 

A strange incorporeal girl floated out of the U-bend. She seemed startled to see him, and pushed her glasses all the way up her nose, as if reappraising the situation. Harry waved, smiling, and noticed how she blinked at him nonplussed,

 

“Uh... hello there... boy.”

 

Harry bobbed his head, as if in recognition to the title of “boy”. How Uncle Vernonish of this mystery girl. She continued, pigtails quivering like squealing piglets as her head twisted about to look for other associates, as if Harry just had a horde of people following him,

 

“What are you, uh, doing here? This is a girl's bathroom, boy.”

 

Magic flared, scrabbling to be out at the ghost girl's throat at the obnoxious tone, but Scar held it back with a she's not worth it and hand made of... whatever Scar and Magic were made of. Mind energy? Harry tilted his head at her, squinting through the green tinted light of the bathroom, and said, “I'm not sure.”

 

Honesty was the best policy, as his father had written, and Harry decided there was no reason not to be frank, although reason in and of itself was often flawed. The ghost girl didn't seem to appreciate Harry's candour, and shooed him off with her translucent arms, muttering “darn First Years teasing me”.

 

He slipped back out into the hall, feeling Scar facepalm somewhere off in the ether of his mind.

 

 

Snow-white fingers drifted up to fit in place the perfect flower. Harry had picked it just for this occasion, as a thanks to Luna for dealing with what he had called Weird Harry. Not that Weird Harry had been weird, there was nothing he saw wrong with the word “weird” at all in fact, rather that Weird Harry was absent of the norm of Real Harry. Luna tilted her head, catching sunshine in her eyes, a serene smile etched into her face. She danced in the Autumn light, skipped along the hall.

 

This hall was empty. Not because it was on the eastward side of the castle. No, this was the cursed hall, as the newly sewn rumour goes. It was out, here, in which poor old Ms. Norris met her untimely end. Of course, Ms. Norris was only asleep, a sleeping beauty to be awoken in good time by the Mandrake Solution come early June (Mandrakes having matured in May and the Mandrake Solution taking almost two weeks to prepare), but that didn’t cease rampant rumours running amok.

 

Yet, he and Luna still frolicked and frequented the cursed hall, mopping off the wall each day, even when the blood refused to be removed. It was a good habit, Luna would say, for even if the general populous sighted no difference, the dark magic had begun to erode in the secondary dimension, hidden behind the strokes of blood. Luna was prone to long rants of the secondary dimension, that which piqued a certain Scar’s interest, rattling on about a magical zone in which “primeval” souls could not customarily see through and to and behind.

 

“Still awake?” Luna asked, wiping at the word “chamber” with a long right-handed swimming stroke of sponge and sop. She was referring to being awake awake, which was to say, not Weird Harry but Real Harry, graced from slumber.

 

Harry winked to her, cheeky as a chipmunk, “As far as I know, Little Moon.”

 

“Does it please you that your tomato darling has awoken too?” She teased in that obscure way of hers. “Don’t be aworrying. I cleaned his scalp right before I sensed change, no permafrost nargles or the naughts.”

 

Harry brightened considerably, his smile as radiant as the sun as he cleaned with further vigour, “Awake, Neville is finally awake?”

 

Luna tutted him, “Beware although, the magic takes and gives in twos or threes or sevens! He lives another dies.”

 

Harry threw his sponge at her, boinking her in the head, as he raced off towards the Hospital Wing. He positively skipped with glee, and his magic raucously twirled around him, sharing in the joy.

 

Passing by the Ravenclaw Tower he was greeted with a short, and deceptively contemptuous, “I see mad child is awake again,” from George. But, it was pointless to pretend now, since Harry had already taken a gander of George’s inner gooey centre via his care for him when he was Weird Harry.

 

Harry winked, dashing past and not stopping, but shouted back nonetheless to spread the good news, “Not just me, Neville too!”

 

George, stone cold raptor he may be, could not help the miniscule smile that elapsed from enmity. He called back from his painting perch to the raven haired twelve year old, “Good luck to you, young Raven.”

 

Hogwarts swerved around him, wild and heavy floored. Harry almost ran straight into a gaggle of Slytherins, but narrowly avoided collision. His only excuse was a properly timed, “Neville’s awake!”, to which he gained no response as the majority of the school had not noted the sweet hearted boys fall into unconsciousness.

 

He floored the last few corridors, his spidey sense the only prevention for plummeting down the stairs and into death, and only just evaded tripping on the trip step at the edge of the stairs. Harry slammed forward and opened the Hospital Wing double doors. Graceful and angelic, he flew through the air, landing soundly at Neville’s bedside. He was panting heavily and his heart beat out his chest, but it was worth it to see his best friend twist around under the covers, sleeping, not in a coma.

 

“Who graces my very quiet Hospital Wing with his disruptive behaviour, hmm, Mr. Potter? What excuse would this poor wizard child have for interrupting a delicate patient’s sleep?” Madame Pomphrey didn’t seem to realise the importance of this moment. Harry smiled exuberantly to her, gesturing extensively to his sleeping compadre. She lifted her hands to her hips, her tone warming slightly at the sight. Perhaps she still held a soft spot for a certain Griffindor from years previous, who knows why she allowed Harry to stay, but she did.

 

He waited patiently, knelt down on the ground, taking in the beautiful atmosphere of the Hospital Wing. Its clinical nature had abated in the face of Neville’s returned health; healing suddenly permeated the very air breathed in.

 

...a sharp hospital smell pierced his senses.

 

“He’s but a child!” Madame Pomphrey’s voice circled his mind, but it was faint, as if smothered. His whole head thrummed in pain; his mind fogged up like the windscreen of a car in early morning mist.

 

“There’s nothing to be done for the poor boy now, Poppy. Let the cards fall where they may.” Dumbledore’s soothing register entered the picture.

 

“Respectfully, Headmaster, I am the mediwitch here. Not to dispute your authority, but there has been new research done in this and-”

 

“It’s too late. Set up the room.”

 

She seemed aghast, “But this will bring him great pain, agony even!”

 

“It’s too late.” Dumbledore’s voice faded into...

 

“Harry, is that you?”

 

Neville’s voice. It was real. He was awake. Here, with him. It was hard to believe. He almost didn’t want to believe it. It felt as if this whole debacle had only been a dream.

 

Harry grinned, drawing his friend into a hug so tight that Madame Pomphrey had to forcibly remove them. Neville thumped Harry’s back, hard, as if unsure his friend was truly there with him, visiting. His magic swirled around them both, seeping into their skin with its intoxicating intensity.

 

“Gentle with the boy, Mr. Potter, as you know he’s been through quite the ordeal.” The mediwitch scolded, but the gentle nature of her tone still fleshed itself out.

 

The two friends separated, reluctance palpable in the air. Neville’s chocolate eyes watched him, as if in disbelief, for long halting moments, before he whispered, “It’s you?”

 

He bobbed his head, in an answer.

 

Neville broke out into a grin of relief, dragging Harry into another gut squeezing hug that would most likely leave bruises. There was a certain degree of weakness to it, however, that came with no movement for weeks on end. His muscles had been taken care of by an array of complex spells that halted atrophy, but magic only went so far, and Madame Pomphrey – miracle worker she may be – was no goddess.

 

Harry breathed in Neville’s scent; the rubbery stench of potions and lavender in which the sheets were clean. None of the usual earth that followed his friend remained. He had been spring-cleaned – or Autumn-cleaned, since it was the latter month rather than the former. He drew a hand through Neville’s hair, brushing it to the side, and pulled back to see a scattered blush dappling his cheeks beautifully.

 

“I missed you, so much,” Neville admitted, timidly, once Madame Pomphrey had left to her office to collect Ms. Norris’ potions. Harry’s eyes never left him, dazzled by a once again moving Neville.

 

“Did you dream of me?” He inquired, curious.

 

Neville shook his head, glancing from side to side as if to check they were alone, before he confided almost inaudibly, “I wasn’t dreaming. I was awake, the whole time, in my head. I was... It was weird. At first, it was just a blank slate, plain, but then I figured out I could build. It took so long, I had to think really intensely, but I eventually built a place... a store room. Of memories. All of them. I looked through them, I built a clock tower so I could know the time outside, and I waited so long to awake. There was a pool, out, outside my little room, and in that pool filled this sparkling liquid. It didn’t have a colour, at least, not a colour I’ve ever seen. I think... I think it was magic. And, when it filled enough, I could wake up. I think that’s what happened.”

 

Harry listened intently, comparing his own mental journey to Neville’s. He revealed what information he had gleaned from scouring the Ravenclaw library on the generalities of the Mind, “While you were asleep, I did some research on the magical mind. I’ll invite you around later so you can see for yourself. I believe you’re describing a mindplace. I had a similar experience with my own bout of unconsciousness.”

 

Neville smiled, relieved to have gotten it off his chest, and reached out tentatively for Harry’s hand. The Ravenclaw let Neville hold his hand, and they sat in almost-silence for a few minutes. Neville whispered, “I really missed you.”

 

Harry smiled so hard his eyes crinkled. Scar made puking noises in his mind, but nothing could spoil this moment. His heart hurt.

 

...

 

Tomorrow, Neville was still holed up in the Hospital Wing, and Harry visited again. He plopped down on the bed, legs swaying, and they played with an Exploding Snap Harry had nicked from Alysha Currey – she had begun to follow him once more so Scar had endorsed the idea.

 

A cloud of smoke left them both coughing and giggling. In the wake of the sooty black, Neville attempted to be nonchalant as he said,

 

“So... Madame Pomphrey said you came by basically every day.”

 

Harry gave an unashamed smile, replied, “Sounds apt.”

 

Neville stared at him for a long while. Harry contemplated his cards, Exploding Snap was mostly a game of chance but he still liked to consider his hand for a while. Scar murmured in the back of his head I could sneak a peek of his cards, Magic has the ability to circumvent the straight lines of light. Harry shook his head, deeply bemused at Scar’s burgeoning criminality, and Neville continued on in the same vein,

 

“You know, my gran didn't even visit me.”

 

He tried to keep his voice resolute and placid, but Harry could see behind the veil; he could hear the tacit pain of such a statement. Harry found it odd that Neville still cared about his gran when she hadn't even bothered to visit him. He told him so.

 

“Thank you Harry, I really needed to hear that.”

 

Harry seemed to possess this foreign compunction to say things that somehow soothed Neville without meaning to. It was the basis of their friendship, truly.

 

Yet again, the cards exploded, as they were wont to do, and Neville still held his smile even in the grey smog that polluted the wing. Madame Pomphrey chose that exact moment to enter, and based on her disgruntled expression at the expanding smoke, one may be safe to assume that Neville would be released sooner rather than later.

 

...

 

Harry loitered around the Ravenclaw Common Room. He had begun to study, all on his lonesome, kept very amused by his magic’s mischief. Him being forbidden to use it had led to a streak of rebellion from his intangible maternal figure, and one would be silly to blame Mustrops Disease for the possessions going missing from the Common Room in that moment; one would be smarter to blame the grinning emerald eyed fiend studying Potions.

 

Minutes had passed, and Ravenclaws had drifted around him, returning from Quidditch Practice (observing or involved) and other extracurriculars which were popular amongst the wise House of the school. They had formed a ring around him, as if drawn by magnets, and Harry, unbidden, found himself in the centre of a Second Year study group; one they had been rigorously inviting him to once his academic record had become public knowledge. Dunderhead Harry was a thing of the past, now Hogwart students stared with more admiration and less contempt. His sketches of Mingroot became enviable in the cabal, and Alysha Currey did everything but outright steal his work.


“Can I borrow it?” She pestered for the seventh time that night. Harry, nerveless thus with no nerves she could get on, gave her an indulgent look similar to what he would employ on Magic or Scar. Alysha bounced in her seat yet retained the reserved energy of a coffee-comaed researcher, as if the energy beginning to wane.

 

“Pretty please with a cherry on top?”

 

Little did she know, Harry would have gifted it right to her. That is, once he was actually finished.

 

“Leave him alone, Ally,” groaned a Raven Harry knew not the name nor personality of. He was what one would call a dandy, and wore clothes more fitting of a 17th century pirate than a modern day student – his undershirt had ruffles and was threaded from the finest pure-blood borne silk. “We’re all trying to study, and his bedamned sketch can’t be all that,” Ruffles – as Harry dubbed him – continued whilst sketching his own Mandrake.

 

A few less involved Ravens tittered in concurrence, profoundly interested in their own assignment. It appeared that Professor Snape’s latest “torture” – as the Second Years had named it much to the knowing amusement of the war-weathered Seventh Years – had affected the whole of the year, and everyone was stuck working on an in-depth analysis of

 

Print out twenty inches of purpose, properties, place, picture, and pinnacle of a potioneer’s paramount plant.

 

Harry was glad his favourite professor had dabbled in alliteration. A little literary expansion did wonders for the soul, he thought.

 

“That’s easy for you to say, Greg, but Harry here is over the word limit already!” Alysha, fiery Ravenclaw that she was, usually kept herself proficiently contained and constrained, thus all faces in the room turned to peer at Harry’s almost completed assignment. He was met with astonishment, as it included an intricately detailed assessment of Mingroot and all asked for in the question.

 

It’s not really a question said Scar as the Ravens descended from all sides its more of a statement, an instruction if it’s anything.

 

Hot breaths cornered him by the window, but Harry held no fear. He happened to see a beauty in crowds, their clamouring and hubbub was a source of intrigue and amusement. They were like a teeming mass of insects; and Harry had always been a fanatic of spiders or other creepy crawlies, ever since Fiona.

 

“H-harry?”

 

A voice cut through the disquiet, shy, small, but impactful. Harry waved wildly in the direction of Neville by the door. He stood, abruptly, ready to go over, when his hand was latched onto by a certain red-haired Currey.

 

“Harry, wait,” she said, halting his procession to the door.

 

He shrugged in Neville’s direction, and then proceeded to beckon over his long-time-asleep friend. Neville scampered over, Hermione trailing behind him. It seemed that the big-teethed brunet had chosen this time to covertly approach Harry, most likely to see if his opinion had changed in the slightest.

 

Harry swivelled to face Alysha, blinking owlishly at her as she spoke, “I was just wondering if you wanted to stick around for a Ravenclaw Games Night.”

 

He agreed, “Sure,” never one to give up new opportunities. At this point, Neville had reached his side, and looked forlorn, most likely presuming he wasn’t invited. Harry amended this when he inquired, “Can my friends join too?” whilst gesturing to the two Griffindors.

 

Alysha shrugged, “Yeah, it should be fine. Just sit around here and it’ll calm down in here soon enough. You know what it’s like! Ravens are crazy!”

 

In previous years the reputation of up-tight highly-strung had clearly miffed a lot of Ravenclaws, so they had made a detailed organised scheme to be the most enviably cool House. Ravenclaw was now well known for its drunken and disorderly parties, and over all “cool” acting patrons.

 

Neville mouthed to Harry, looking out of his depth, what is going on? Harry shrugged. Scar maniacally laughed. Hermione kept her body turned away from either of them, attempting to present an unforgiving air.

 

Say sorry Scar endorsed, probably plotting how he could use Hermione for his own gain. Harry obliged, always one to indulge his father figure, and whispered across to the frizzy haired girl, “I’m sorry, Hermione.”

 

Hermione blinked, before letting an easy going smile grace her face. It looked forced, but no one told her. Neville smiled gratefully at Harry, he hadn’t wanted to wade the waters of awkward friendship. The three settled down together, by the window, and Harry scrawled out the last concluding sentences of his homework before settling the papers and watching, interest piqued.

 

He’d never attended a Ravenclaw Games Night before. This was a novelty.

 

...

 

With Neville discreetly holding his hand, reigniting intimacy between the two best friends, the trio waited around for the Common Room to calm its farm. Eventually homework lay completed and students formed loose circles, mostly based on year groups. First Year nervously crowded around, still getting used to one another, and started a tentative game of Tag. Second Year, veterans of the night by now, skipped straight to the main event of any Games Night, Truth or Dare, made impatient by youthfulness. Third Year and above milled around, unhurried, the elder years pouring out Firewhiskey secretly in the corner and engaging in more mature versions of the main event – Sixth Year played seven minutes in heaven.

 

Truth or Dare commenced, the rules were explained, with the addition that if someone refused a Truth or Dare they would be banished from the group until the next round and given scorn from their peers for being a coward. A few weak willed Ravens more concerned with school than socialisation were picked off in the first few rounds. It began rather tame, but racketed up about a thousand notches once Terry Boot, well known wild-card of the year, dared Anthony Goldstein to kiss a rather unremarkable Sue Li. The younger less rash members of the group tagged out, trying to salvage some innocence, and raced off to their respective dorms.

 

Anthony sent his friend the evil eye, and pecked a rather pink Sue on the lips.

 

Terry broke out into laughter, “I never said you had to kiss her on the mouth!”

 

Anthony swore and Sue darkened further, placing a finger to her lips as if completely unsure as to what had just occurred. Anthony, hell bent on shedding the focus of the group to another, swivelled to the so far silent trio hanging back by the window,

 

“Harry, Truth or Dare?”

 

Harry smiled languidly at Anthony, fatigue turning him smooth like a cat. Neville stiffened beside his friend, surreptitiously removing their hands, and Hermione smirked at Harry as if thinking she was receiving her just deserts.

 

“Truth,” he said.

 

Ravenclaw Second Year held its breath, as they knew little about Harry Potter, supposed celebrity, apparent scholar, and were glad to have this opportunity. Alysha Currey leaned forward, hair still green from a dare from earlier in the evening. Anthony slyly asked, no doubt encouraged by Terry’s dark promise of a smile, “Have you ever been kissed?”

 

Harry replied, “Yes,” for that was the truth. He pictured his kiss with Professor Snape in his mind, his stomach falling out from under him in spite of him being the picture of peace. He felt sick, all of a sudden, and his magic embraced him, giving cool eyes to Anthony Goldstein even if the boy had had little to do with the sudden bout of bodily reaction.

 

Neville jerked back, beside him. All eyes were on them, and they watched in intrigue as the brunet asked, as if betrayed, “What?”

 

Harry’s expression didn’t damper, instead he asked he who sat beside him, “Truth or Dare Neville.”

 

Neville blinked, before his countenance bolstered, and he said as if daring Harry himself to act rashly, “Dare.”

 

Harry grinned, not observing the flittering looks he was garnering from around the circle – not noticing the questions pounding in people’s heads of “Who was it?”. He instructed, “I dare you to talk about your favourite plant.”

 

Neville looked confused, as did the rest of the group. Terry Boot hollered, “That’s not a good dare!”

 

Alysha Currey settled them, her mind still reeling from hearing of Harry’s romantic exploit, “It’s Harry’s choice what he asks, leave him alone.”

 

Terry huffed, but crossed his arms and kept quiet, albeit rather begrudgingly. Neville, all of a sudden realising all eyes were upon him, attentive and listening, detailed the Vampire Blossom. Harry stared, enraptured, at his friend’s passion. Hermione snorted from beside them both, apparently not in any mood to play along.

 

That Song hummed lowly in the background, as if predicting evident doom. Such downfall came true only moments after Neville wrapped up his discussion on the Vampire Blossom, which unlike to what may have occurred in a Griffindor party, the Ravenclaws had taken notes on. He turned to Harry and said, stating what everyone wished to ask, “Truth or Dare.”

 

Harry repeated himself, “Truth.”

 

Neville inquired the deadly question, one that would no doubt shape history as they all knew it, “Who was it?”

 

Harry cocked his head, “Who was what?”

 

“Who was it? Who did you kiss, Harry?” His eyes searched him, as if watching for dishonesty.

 

Harry answered, open and honest as he was, before Scar’s warning could fill his mind, “Professor Snape.”

 

Harry, don’t answer- Scar’s voice petered into nothing. The remaining Second Years were entirely silent. One could have heard a pin drop, or a nonverbal spell, that was how quiet it truly was. Alysha’s eyes became impossibly wide, and Neville shook his head, as if in disbelief. Terry Boot’s once venomous expression faded into puzzlement, and Anthony Goldstein became as white as a sheet.

 

“What?” Hermione Granger was the fateful individual to ask.

 

Harry said it again, not quite understanding the silence. His smile was still present, as it always was, and the crowd silently voiced thoughts that Harry truly hid a lot.

 

“Professor Snape.”

 

It was Cho Chang, Third Year who had wandered across the room to listen to all the “littlies” gossip who was catalyst for the chaos. Her timbre rolled over all their skins, red hot with baffled rage, “Holy fucking shit on a stick.”

 

Harry giggled, it was exactly the kind of thing Jo would say after all.

 

...