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A Faerie Different Story

Chapter Text

The air thrummed with anticipation.

 

Something important was going to happen today.

Whether it was something good or something bad, had yet to be seen.

 

The Shadows had been near vibrating with their anticipation the night before. Had it not been for the near constant state of exhaustion that Harry lived in, it would have been impossible for Harry to fall asleep.

 

Climbing out of his cupboard on soft and silent footsteps, Harry managed not to hiss in pain as he set off towards the kitchen. Just as he was beginning to cook the bacon- head swimming with the squeals of terror as he lived the pig's final moments- his token-aunt came down.

 

Petunia scowled as she caught sight of him, muttering about Devil children and such. Why the woman found it so disturbing that Harry was awake before her, he had no clue.

 

Though perhaps it had more to do with Harry being able to open his cupboard? There were a lot of locks on it…

 

Whatever the case, he had long since stopped caring what his relatives said. Half the time he couldn’t even hear them over the Shadows.

 

They could be quiet for hours at a time, his friends, before suddenly rising into a near deafening crescendo that made him incapable of discerning anything else. They were always there with him, watching and whispering.

 

Perhaps he should question what they didn’t want him to hear, but as a child he had done such once. He did not wish to go through that again.

 

By the time Dudley and his token-aunt’s chosen came down; the oily, fat filled slop that they saw as breakfast was ready to be served. Harry had barely placed the final plate down when Dudley shoved him out of the way.

 

The pain as his head hit the wall had him seeing stars; even though his Magick was already healing the contusion that had barely begun forming and now never would.

 

Pulling himself up, Harry slipped from the room as softly as a summers breeze and moved towards the front door. He reached it just as the postman did.

 

Picking up the post from the floor, flashes passed through his mind as the brief memories attached to the letters flickered and died. Each leaving mostly useless information in Harry’s increasingly frazzled mind.

He always hated picking up the post. Most of the people who wrote to his relatives were either incredibly dull, or just as vile as they were.

It was only as his hand brushed against the last letter that Harry stilled. His mind exploding with the rich history that was attached to the thick parchment.

A castle steeped in Magick, Ghosts, Alchemy, Charms, Hufflepuff, quills, Divination, laughter, fear, a talking Hat, Potions, MagICk, Astronomy, celebrations, forbidden forest, Herbology, Gryffindor, Unicorns, Transfiguration, gleeful squeals, MaGIcK, school children running through hallways, Defence, Quidditch, brooms, fields, acromantulas, MAGicK, Power, Slytherin, Monsters, Snake-Basilisk, terror, joy, Ravenclaw, Goblins, MAGICK!

After what felt like a Millenia but was less than a second, Harry was able to focus again and read the letter that he quickly realised was addressed to him.

 

Mr. H. J. Potter,
The Cupboard Under the Stairs,
4 Private Drive,
Little Winging,
Surrey.

 

So, it had arrived.

 

For a second, an ever so small second, Harry debated whether or not to hide the letter. Should he allow his not-aunt and her family to see this? His instincts said yes but logic said that doing so would be all but asking to be punished. He might not be able to see how she would react to his letter, but he knew it would almost certainly be worse than her reaction to his mothers.

- “Freak! You’re a Freak! I’m going to tell Mummy and Daddy on you Lily! You’re a Freak and you can’t even hide it now!” -

But then the Shadows, obviously sensing his indecision crooned in his ears “do not hide it Little Treasure. Whilst it will cause pain in the short term, this route is the one that will work best in the long run. Trust in us, if not in yourself.”

 

The decision made, Harry made his way back to the kitchen. Wordlessly he passed all of the letters to Petunia. Acting for all to see as if he had not looked at them and did not know who they were addressed to.

 

So quickly did Harry move away from those titled aunt and uncle, he did not see the flicker of Shadows that broke from him in order to partially obscure his address on the letter.

 

It was unlikely to work, but if who’ve went to check on why their Little Treasure was not answering their letters saw where it was addressed? They might, just might try to get him somewhere safer. It was unlikely though, considering just who had left him here all those years ago, but they had to try.

 

“Vernon!” shrieked the harpy like woman. “it came! Those freaks-” cutting off sharply, Petunia eyed both Harry and Dudley suspiciously.

 

Recognising the look in her eyes as nothing good, Harry quickly left the room. It wasn’t like he was expecting to get breakfast anyway. at least, not from them. The Shadows would sometimes bring him food. It was often times strange -tasting like sunlight and laughter, with a sprinkling of tears and sorrow- and unlike any that a regular human might eat. But then, he wasn’t truly human, was he?

 

Less than a moment later a screaming, red faced Dudley was thrown out of the kitchen as the so-called adults began a heated argument that would have dissolved into a screaming match were they not so fearful of what ‘the neighbours might think!

Chapter Text

The letter came again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And, you guessed it. Again!

All the while, Harry stayed in his cupboard cloaked in the Shadows embrace, listening to them whisper about the world that would soon come knocking. Harry may know a lot about the Wizarding world already from using his sight to glimpse into it whenever the opportunity presented itself, but even wizarding Britain changed. No matter how trapped in tradition and bigotry, the world was not frozen.

A few Days -or was it weeks? Time always seemed to pass differently in his cupboard- later, Petunia dragged her not-quite nephew out of his sanctum and harshly pushed him towards the car. Muttering all the while about how evil demons and freaks that spy on good normal people should be tried and hanged.

Dudley came out next, the look of confused terror and red slap mark splashed across his face explaining why he was so quiet.

The drove for hours. Moving farther and farther away from surrey. Eventually they ended up at a dingy motel in Cokeworth, but even there the letters did not subside.

Not that Harry or the shadows expected them to.

So, they fled farther, and farther till they reached the sea and could go no further. Yet still his not-quite-relatives persevered. Going so far as to rent a shack on a nearby island in the middle of a storm.

Honestly, and they called Harry crazy! As far as he could tell, he was the only one present who might not die if the rickety boat capsized! Vernon and Dudley were so fat they would surely sink, and Petunia had always considered swimming to be unladylike.

Not only did that not make sense, but Harry could not understand why that even mattered as his not-aunt was no Lady.

 

/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

 

Harry was listening to the Shadows count down the moments to his day of birth in their soft whispery voices when it happened.

 

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

 

Turning to look at the door sharply, he watched as it creaked under the weight of whatever force was bashing into it.

After that, it was as if everything was happening both incredibly slowly and incomprehensibly fast.

Thump!

His not-aunt and Vernon stumbled into the entry way where Harry was sleeping.

Thump!

Vernon lunged for his gun, hollering for Duddykin’s and Pet to get behind him.

Thump!

The Shadows started to whisper excitedly. Far too fast and low for Harry to understand.

Thump!

Harry felt the magic of whoever was behind the door seep into the Shack and began to relax. They meant no harm.

Thump!

!CRASH!

The door collapsed inwards, nearly shattering into splinters on the stone floor due to the force that propelled it.

Chapter Text

Standing in the doorway was a towering entity that looked like a human but clearly wasn’t to anyone with even a slight sensitivity to magick. Though, with a height of 10 ft tall, anyone that didn’t at least guess that there was something different about the being would have to be incredibly thick.

The magick that thrummed around the being -no, Hagrid- was similar to that which permeated his Shadows or the wild snakes that were more than what they appeared as.

 

Unable to help it, Harry felt a wide grin stretch across his face as he basked in the man’s presence, taking in the kindness in his eyes and seeing just how pure and shockingly innocent a person he was. It was rare that Harry met someone so, so good! What with who he had grown up with, and it was refreshing.

 

“GIANT!” hissed the Shadows, there glee causing their voices to take on a near sibilant tone.

But Harry wasn’t really listening anymore.

Dimly Harry noticed that Hagrid had begun to talk to his not-right relatives, but he was too enraptured in the knowledge he had found within the half-giants past to truly comprehend it.

-as tall as mountains, hide resistant to offensive magick, wilde, old, tribal culture, warrior race, guardians of the wild, kin to the centaurs, friend of goblins, protector of tiny folk, family, brother, sisters, all began the same, all of one beginning-

If looking at his Hogwarts letter had been overwhelming, seeing Hagrid was like being shoved head first into a lake unexpectedly and instinctively trying to breath, only to realise that you were drowning.

-Giant wars, little men with sticks vs tribes, centaurs and goblins wish to fight but giants see no reason puny tyrants will be gone, death, destruction, endless bloodshed, a potential truce? fight or flight? Fight or flight? Fight or flight? FLEE! FLEE THE WANDWEALDERS THEY HAVE NO HONOUR! -

The Hogwarts letter, for all it had been soaked in magic, had only given him the barest glimpses. But Hagrid? Hagrid was a living being and through him Harry could see his entire bloodline. Everything that had led to this moment. Every choice, every decision, all of it!

-Gone, Gone, Gone, what are we now, they curse us, curse our blood our minds, what are we now? We cannot think, our reason slips, gone, gone, we are lost, gone, wand wielders have stolen who we are, enemy, always enemy now, they have forgotten we are- what? What are we, what are we to each other?-

People, or at least the people in Private Drive, were almost always shallow, empty and without real depth. Because of this Harry always tried never look further back than a generation. He couldn’t stop his abilities, couldn’t really control it, but he could limit what he saw so that he wasn’t overwhelmed, especially by information that he didn’t need or want.

-Dancing in firelight, but why do we dance? The goblins try to help but we turn them away, what are they but other tiny people? Will they not just hurt us more? Are they not enemies like the wand wielders? We are lost but we still worship even if we forget, we dance to the elements and worship the light. Are we still giants if we no longer remember what we are? -

But Harry didn’t hold back with Hagrid, didn’t even try to. The man was just so interesting! For all that his wizard side was somewhat bland in terms of excitement or new information, his giant side was a vast chasm of hidden treasures filled with knowledge Harry desperately wanted to know. An entire new sentient species!

-More and more we forget, and the more we forget the greater the flames of violence grow. what are we? What are they? They are smaller so are they not food? The horse creatures flee only to return in greater numbers. They speak of broken promises and bargains struck but we are have none and words are empty. -

The Shadows had tried to teach him about the world, but there was only so much time that they had to speak with him openly. Even if you counted the strange twilight hours, where time was strange and wobbly.

As Harry watched their entire history and culture unfold within his mind in a matter of moments. He felt his blood begin to burn, pain built in his temples. Seeing so much -too much- hurt, but he couldn’t stop -didn’t want to stop. His power pulsed in his veins, churning and pounding to the drums of war and raging against the injustices cast upon the feys children by their own siblings! With difficulty he pulled himself away from the bloodshed and how they had fallen. Instead he focused on their language and culture, on the rituals they used and the religion they practised. It was glorious, and entirely worth its price.

Had Harry not been used to pain, he might have screamed from the pressure in his mind. Even then, it was a near thing, unprepared for the pain as he was. But it Was worth it.

Wasn’t it?

As if sensing his uncertainty, his Shadow friends wrapped themselves around him embracing him in a way that he imagined a hug would feel like, before saying: “Hush Little Treasure, it will fade. And remember, with Knowledge comes Power, and with Power comes Protection.”

They were right of course, and besides, everything has a price. At least this pain was only temporary.

 

Focusing outwardly on the world around him once more, Harry was just in time to catch the tail end of his not-Aunts rant about freaks and unnatural monsters.

Hagrid’s reaction to what Harry's Guardian had called Harry and him respectively was a sight to behold.

Gone was the soft bubbly individual who had apologised profusely at braking their door, and in his place was a wrath filled man emboldened by his own righteous anger and indignation. In this moment, Harry could easily see the ghost of the legendary warrior Hagrid’s people were once known for being.

The Shadows watched with vicious satisfaction as the hateful mortals were finally put in their rightful place by the gentle giant.

 

Despite how closely Harry was watching, even he did not anticipate what happened next.

Dudley’s squeals of fear sent Harry rigid. For all that he knew that the pigs’ tail had not harmed Dudley and that he deserved it, the fear hit far too close to home and reminded Harry of some of his worst moments within his cupboard.

It wasn’t the hunger or pain that had gotten to him the most, and he’d never had to deal with being isolated the way that the Dursleys had intended. No, what had gotten to Harry most was when the Dursleys would leave him locked away for days on end, and the fear that they had left him trapped forever. Even learning to pick locks; both physically and magically; had never made the fear go away entirely. Only lessened it greatly.

It was the fear caused by being at the complete mercy of someone who despised your very existence that haunted Harry’s nightmares.

Unintentionally or not, Hagrid had caused a similar fear within Dudley and it had set Harry on edge as his own memories reared up before he could supress them.

Though it was clear that the Shadows didn’t understand his sudden shift in attitude, they desperately tried to calm him.

By the time Hagrid turned his attention back to the small magical child in front of him, any sign that the man’s actions had scared him were gone. Harry was glad for this as he could see that Hagrid was a kind if simple soul and would feel horribly guilty if he discovered that he had incited such emotions in his young charge.

Settling back down to sleep, a warmth in him that had nothing to do with Hagrid’s coat and everything to do with the man himself, Harry closed his eyes and dreamed.

Chapter Text

When morning came, Harry was woken by the Shadows as they let loose a particularly vicious set of expletives. They then proceeded to grumble in their own way about how Owls no longer seemed to have any manners; and that they were clearly learning from the poor examples of wixen kind who had forgotten what they so arrogantly referred to as the Old Ways.

Whilst Harry could not understand the language of birds himself, he had to agree that the manner in which this one comported itself was most unbecoming of a member of the avian variety, considering their usual intelligence and told him so.

If the way that the owl screeched and puffed up in indignation was anything to go by, he clearly wasn’t happy with the way its manners had been analysed and found lacking. Not that Harry particularly care for what the owl thought. The Fey saw rudeness and poor manners as the greatest of insults, and raised by them as he was, Harry had no time for such an ignorant creature.

That it refused to leave until Hagrid had woken and paid it merely meant that Harry had an opportunity to practise pointedly ignoring something.

With the Owl dealt with, Hagrid had set out to cook Breakfast, which had consisted of a rather rich meal of sausages for Hagrid and some nuts and fruit for Harry. The man had been most gracious when Harry explained that he didn’t eat meat and had pulled the nuts and fruit out of one of his many pockets. Jovially explaining as he did that he always carried a little bit of everything around in case he ran into some hungry creatures.

During their meal, Hagrid handed over another copy of his Hogwarts letter to him, blushing all the while as he admitted that he had forgotten about it due to the hullabaloo of the previous evening. He had only remembered today when he had seen the post owl and realised that Harry hadn’t even seen never mind read the letter yet.

Placating the man with a reassuring smile and the knowledge that he need not apologise; Harry took the letter gingerly. Ignoring the repeat influx of memory that tried to overwhelm him again, he focused on the actual letter:

.

Mr H. Potter,
The Floor,
The-Hut-on-the-Rock,
The Sea.

 

 

 

 

.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

 

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. 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 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

 

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

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

1 wand

1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 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

 

Yours sincerely,

Lucinda Thomsonicle-Pocus
Chief Attendant of Witchcraft Provisions

 

If Harry was honest, he found the letter lacking. Surely, they sent more than this to those that appeared mortal born or raised? Even if Harry knew most of what he might need, for all intent and purpose in the eyes of the wizarding world Harry was ignorant.

Hagrid could only tell him so much.

How exactly did they expect him to learn, to adjust to, to grow! Was someone… did someone want him ignorant. Was it just him or was it all who came from the mortal realm?

Opening his mouth to ask Hagrid about it in vague terms, he shut it tightly when he felt his Shadow friends envelop him.

The message was clear.
Do not speak of your thoughts.

He could only hope that they would see fit to explain things to him later on when the risk of discovery was not so strong. Most wixens would never notice the Shadows, but as a Giant the man was not most Wixens. Until they understood the man’s motives better, they could not risk him discovering… well, whatever exactly his relationship with the Shadows was.

Even then, the man would be unlikely to understand.

Not many adults, even those touched by Faerie would. They would be quick to judge and quick to lash out. It was the way of those who clung and yet also fled their mortality.

.

With their hunger seen to and sated, the two had left with little thought towards the Dursley’s on Hagrids part and some mild worry from Harry. He was uncertain on how the three would return home, what with Hagrid and him taking the only boat.

Seeing Harry’s distress, the giant looked left and right before carefully pointing his umbrella -the broken halves of a 16-inch oak with unicorn hair hidden within- at the boat, sending it back across the water to the Dursleys.

The glowing smile he received in return was well worth the risk in Hagrid’s eyes. The poor boy needed more things to smile about. The man knew he wasn’t the smartest of creature but even he could clearly see that the little mite was unhappy.

.

Harry and Hagrid’s trip on the subway would have been a novel experience if it wasn’t so painful to sit within the metal abomination. The iron present in the metal alloys that the train was made of burned Harry’s skin whenever he was jostled into it and the crushing presence of so many people within such a compact space made him feel light headed and sick.

Overall, he was thoroughly glad when the journey ended and nearly fell over in his haste to leave the foul contraption.

It was a short walk after that to reach the leaky cauldron. In that time Harry worked speedily to layer himself in magic that hid his identity from all but Hagrid.

He idly rearranged his hair afterwards so that it hid his scar in the hopes that Hagrid would assume that this and his clothing apparel were the reasons why no one recognised him.

It was a rather basic misdirection, but Hagrid was a simple soul who was not meant to play such games. Much like the brownies he was soft-hearted and kind. Eager to please and easy to take advantage of.

Idly Harry wondered on who might have claimed the giant’s loyalty and hoped it was someone deserving; for all that he feared that it wasn’t.

Had he not already known what the Leaky cauldron was, Harry might have dismissed it as insignificant. The enchantments on it, whilst extensive, were rather basic and the building itself was tiny and grubby.

Following Hagrid dutifully, the young wixen stepped through the doorway of the pub and reached out with his senses to feel the magic of those around him.

The feeling of sickening corruption and a decaying soul within the room was overwhelming. But, before Harry could focus in on who specifically was emanating such vile magic a sharp shock jolted him back into awareness.

Scowling slightly at their methods he acknowledged, if only to himself, that the Shadows were right and focused back on Hagrid.

Interfering with such a soul would be dangerous, it was best not to borrow trouble when he already had so much.

“-om, I’m on Hogwarts business,” stated Hagrid in his usual jovial tone as he clapped one of his giant hands down upon Harry’s shoulder. The unexpected force almost making his knees buckle.

The bar tender; a wizened old man with neither teeth, nor hair to speak of; looked towards him only for his eyes to glaze slightly.

Nodding distractedly, the man turned back to cleaning, only looking up again to wish them well.

Harry could not help but grin at how successful he had been at using his will to shape his magic. It was one thing for such tricks to work on mortals, another altogether to see wixens fall for them.

.

It was only after they had pushed their way through the crowded and dingy pub and out the back of it that Harry undid his little spell. As simple as it was, he was still only a child and so even basic magic could be excessively draining and tiring.

He knew that he would need all his wits about him today, he could not have them dulled by exhaustion, much as the anonymity would be appreciated. With any luck it would be too busy for anyone to realise who he was.

Distracted as he was, it was only thanks to the instincts that had been beaten into him as a child that he didn’t walk into Hagrid.

He watched curiosity mounting as Hagrid used his wand, sorry, his Umbrella to tap out a sequence on the wall. Whilst the wall itself was uninteresting and distasteful, the magic worked into it could only be described as elegant. With each tap the magic around the centre point would ripple outward, inactive spell chains lighting up as they were triggered.

With one final tap the wall began to almost fold in on itself, and with each passing moment a bigger and bigger hole opened up.

After several moments the spellwork finished and Diagon alley lay before them.

Chapter Text

Diagon Alley was exactly as the Shadows had described it and the brief snatches he’d gotten from his not-Aunt had shown it to be. Which was incredibly unnerving and Wrong on so many levels that it actually hurt to try and process how it had happened.

Everything requires Change, without it parts that needed improvement were not fixed; life would often become dull, empty and meaningless; and even the good parts would begin to rot under the weight of stagnation. this was especially true for those in the mortal world where change was a necessary part of life in a way that the immortal beings of Faery could never truly comprehend let alone begin to replicate.

The fey understood that change was necessary though, even for them. The wixens and other magical races of earth had been created with the desperate intention of preventing their own stagnation after all.

To see that the so called ‘wizarding world’ had begun to stand still, unwilling to change even as the decay spread right before their eyes? It was incredibly unsettling and spoke of a far more sinister and deeply rooted problem that as of yet Harry simply could not see. Whatever it was, it hid behind the poisoned fruit of its labours, watching from the background as the wixens gorged themselves on its wares in ignorant bliss.

The whispered warnings of his loyal Shadow friends to not let his guard down in enemy territory only served to heighten his anxiety over the rat’s nest he had apparently walked right into.

Straightening his spine and pasting a look of awe on his face, Harry supressed his fear and focussed on Hagrid so that he didn’t become lost. He could not let those around him see his uncertainty. You never know who was watching.

Despite his dark thoughts, Harrys excitement could not be dampened for long and he quickly started grinning.

HE WAS HERE!!!

Finally, he was back in the world of the wixens that his father had come from and his mother had grown up in.

It may not be Faery, but it was miles better than the bland world of shame, hate and jealousy that encompassed Private Drive.

Even though he had spent the entire trip preparing himself, Harry still almost passed out from the shear presence and power that emanated from Diagon Alley. Despite all this Harry could easily admit, at least to himself that this was the most alive he had felt since his parents murder that cold Samhain Night.

There was just something about magic that heightened everything around you. Giving a depth that the non-magical world could only hope to replicate. Harry could only image what a world made from magick like faery would be like.

For all that his stolen moments with the Shadows were brilliant; there was a surrealness to them that made the edges of his consciousness blur and burn all at once; thus making it difficult to compare to what he felt and saw now.

Magic saturated every surface, filling Harry’s head with images, songs, whispered wisdoms, cunning truths and crafty secrets that their owners had likely never wanted revealed to anyone else.

With the surety of someone who had visited many times before, Hagrid strode through the packed streets with Harry in tow towards the imposing building that was soaked in a hostile and defensive magick that was so very different from that around it. As they got closer Harry began to feel its magick enclose around him and could not help but relax in the familiar presence of the fey.

glint smiles full of sharp teeth and knives, Warrior race, Tribes people, Honour above All, brothers and sisters in Magic, last guardians of the FeyGates, hardened and true they wait, always prepared, always ready, they long for the order to raise their spears once more against the fools that act as their superiors...

Whispers of war and conflict flitted through his mind and he embraced them eagerly for the knowledge and understand they brought him of this place and its people -Goblins.

the mortal fey halflings fight among themselves, they turn their back on us, on who they are! They forget and lie and desecrate our gifts! They turn on us, on their roots! Savages they call us, they are the Savages! Their ignorance and cruelty knows no bounds and yet they dare to bind us with rites they no longer understand, uncaring of the consequences!

As they reached the doorway and passed the guards, Harry tipped his head subtly in the customary greeting of the fey when entering the home of a potential ally or enemy. To not do so would be a great insult and would risk the laws of guest and host not being enacted.

The guard did not visibly react to Harry’s greeting but then, Harry had not expected him to. His Shadows had warned him that these were dangerous times for those who remembered and whilst the rites should be kept to, they should not be acknowledged where the ignorant might see.

If the Goblins flared their magick at Harry in greeting, and if Harry was watched more carefully than the other visitors? Well, who among them would say anything of it? Certainly not the Goblins nor Harry himself, and as for the other clients? Not one among them had even noticed, so blind were the wixens of today.

Their business in Gringotts was dealt with quickly. Had Harry been alone he might have spoken with Griphook or any number of the goblins present in a hope to gain a better understanding of the world he was now entering. He might still have risked it, had the Shadows not clung so tightly around his throat in a demand for silence in a way that was just as charged with unspoken warnings as the look that Griphook sent him.

Instead, he asked for an explanation of wizarding money that he already knew and dutifully followed Hagrid out of the bank and into the alley.

Sighing softly, he looked at the gentle giant with sadness. It was becoming more and more obvious with each passing moment that whoever had claimed Hagrid’s loyalty was not to be trusted. At the very least they were most likely to be a threat to Harry and his own.

Brushing aside his guilt at what he was about to do, Harry reached out with his magic and pushed.

What followed was Hagrid beginning to feel rather queasy before heading off to the leaky cauldron to settle his stomach, all the while mumbling venomously about the Gringotts cart system.

Now alone, Harry cocked his head and listened to the Shadows whisper softly before heading down a side alley. There he found a store called Inkblots and Tragedy, a second-hand store that apparently bought the estates of deceased wixens, before selling them on. After acquiring all of his school books at a reduced price due to the annotations in them from their previous owners, Harry began to look into other books he might find interesting.

Picking up several books on wizarding traditions, politics and even history (though a brief flick had shown them to be hilariously wrong or bias); it wasn’t until he stumbled upon the section filled with whatever the owner considered fiction or useless that he found anything truly interesting.

‘The Moirai and their Chosen’ by H.I. Delphi, ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE’ by A. Moody, ‘The People of the Hills’ by Irène Fitz and ‘The Complete Compendium of Runes and Rituals’ by Morgan L. Fay were just a few of the books that Harry quickly stashed in the floating handbasket that was provided to each customer.

Leaving the area that was assigned to books, Harry wandered around looking for anything else that might be useful. He managed to pick up a rather brilliant telescope that only needed a good clean and several dozen vials.

The till manager gave him a strange look but said nothing. He quickly rung up Harry’s purchases and packed them in a bag spelled with temporary expansion and featherlight charms.

Once again, Harry felt that the pricing was too low but said nothing as it was clear that the woman was just glad to finally be rid of the books and did not wish for him to change his mind at too high a pricing.

Clutching the bag tightly to his chest, Harry chose to ignore the shop advertising trunks for now and instead walked quickly to a stall selling bags and backpacks that boasted upon its incredible expansion charms and the high quality of materials that they used.

After a quick talk with the rather jovial wizard that manned it, Harry walked away with a rather wonderful dragonhide product made in a style similar to the messenger bags mortals used. It had been equipped with the standard undetectable and more importantly permanent expansion and featherlightening charms and, for an extra 7 galleons the man had placed a low-level notice me not ward on it as well as basic protections against harm or damage. Another 5 and he had added a clasp that would only undo for magical signatures that Harry himself had approved of.

His new books hidden away now in something that his not-aunt wouldn’t be able to see and steal, Harry headed back towards the shops and bought a standard trunk for appearances sake. It wouldn’t do for his family to get suspicious at his lack of equipment and go looking deeper. Dudley and Vernon were incompetent idiots, but Petunia’s ignorance was a choice and she could be incredible perceptive when she wanted to be.

Collecting the rest of his equipment was a relatively simple process seeing as how h only really needed scales and potion ingredients, as well as anything that caught his interest. The things he or the Shadows felt that he might need went into his bag, the rest his trunk.

All that was left now was his uniform and his wand.

Chapter Text

Walking softly into madam malkins, Harry carefully placed his trunk down and waited for the woman to acknowledge his presence. A few minutes later the lady in question turned and stumbled slightly in surprise, having failed to notice the young boys entrance into her store due to how busy it was.

Apologising quickly for the delay, the woman herded him over to the back, where she asked him to stand on a footstall. From there she asked him what he needed, to which Harry quickly responded that he required all of his school robes as well as some casual robes to be worn in his down time.

when asked if he wanted any particular colouring or style, and if he wanted any accessories, Harry explained that he was new to wixen fashion as he mostly lived in the mortal- muggle world and so, if it was possible, he would like to defer to her judgement of what would be appropriate.

Nodding understandingly the woman directed one of her apprentices to begin taking measurements whilst she went back to what she was doing, all the while think up what would suit the polite young lad. Perhaps jewel tones?

Around him Harry could see several children about his age and older being fitted for what was most likely their uniform as well as one or two adult being fitted for other things. This mildly surprised him as he thought that everyone else would have finished their shopping by now. Harry at least had an excuse for leaving things this late, what was theirs?

Part way through his fitting, a rather arrogant looking boy tried to draw him into conversation, but quickly stopped when Harry ran metaphorical rings round him. It was clear that the boy had never been taught to play the game of words.

Harry spotted Hagrid waving for him outside and stopped stroking the soft material in order to quickly packed almost all his new clothes away in his trunk, leaving only one set of casual robes in his bag so that he could have something to wear when he headed off to Hogwarts. He payed Madam Malkin as he left and made sure he complemented her on the skill of both her and the novices she trained as he left. It would not do to be rude.

Exiting the shop, Harry felt his throat close up as he finally saw why Hagrid had not come in and what he was holding. The man had bought Harry ice cream. It may not seem like much to most, but Harry wasn’t use to anyone but the Shadows caring enough to get him something. Especially an adult. It made something ache in Harry to know that he would need to keep this kind man at arm’s length if he wanted to be safe from whomever controlled him. It couldn’t be helped, but it still hurt.

The ache only worsened when Hagrid insisted on buying him a birthday present.

“it’s your Birthday Harry” Hagrid stated resolutely “an you’re eleventh a’ that. We need ta get you somethin to memorialise it”

The man was kind, too kind. Something told Harry that this had more than once been his undoing. Echoes of a conversation held long ago fluttered through Harry’s head, something to do with a Basilisk? But whatever it was, was tinged with so much raw pain that Harry quashed it and refused to see. If he couldn’t give Hagrid the friendship he clearly wanted, he could at least give the man his privacy about something that was obviously traumatic.

Heading into Eeylops Owl Emporium they had barely been there a moment when a majestic, sharp-eyed, snowy owl swooped down and landed on Harry’s shoulder. The intelligence hidden in her eyes and the way that the Shadows cooed over her told Harry all he needed to know and they left only a few minutes later after acquiring anything that his new lady might need.

Unable to stop a jubilant grin spreading across his face at the prospect of his new friend; Harry proclaimed his gratitude towards the kindly man. All the while taking care not to let the words thank you pass his lips. Happy he may be, but he would be in no man’s dept.

The walk to Ollivander’s wand shop was filled with companionable silence between the two as Harry and his Shadows cooed over the lovely and ever so polite owl sat on his shoulder, whilst Hagrid watched on in silent awe at the bond that was already forming between the two.

Entering the store they were all startled by Ollivanders entrance, which rankled the Shadows greatly as they could not understand How.

The elderly man’s eyes shone like moons and spoke of knowledge best left untold. Harry still tried to look into his past, only to be met with a head splitting pain.

“I would advise that you be more careful and that you not do that again Heir Potter. Not everything is meant to be known and some things are hidden for a reason.” Spoke the old man knowingly before quickly turning to Hagrid and hitting him with a barrage of questions about his old wand that left the man so flustered he completely forgot what had just been spoken of.

Now uncomfortable with the situation Hagrid quickly made his excuses and went to wait outside.

With Hagrid cowed and gone, Ollivander turned to look at Harry searchingly before saying; “I must admit that I was expecting you earlier Heir Potter, but I guess that was my own folly to assume that your journey here would be easy.”

Somehow Harry doubted he meant his shop.

“None the less, it is good to finally meet you. You have your fathers dark curls you know. Everything else is your mother, but that hair? That’s the same hair James Potter inherited from his mother, Dorea Black. It feels like only yesterday that your father was in here for his wand, barely took me a moment to match him with his. He favoured mahogany. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power than most and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favoured it. it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course.”

The man moved closer to Harry, a look in his eyes that sent a shiver down his spine.

“Your mother of course was a completely different story. Elder wood. Eleven and three quarters. Swishy. I went through my entire stock and we still found nothing for her. In the end I matched her to a wand that was gifted to my family many, many years ago. I wonder Heir Potter, if you will be the same.”

What follow was Harry working his way through every single wand available and demolishing half the shop. Not even the Holly and phoenix feather wand that Ollivander seemed so hopeful about was a proper match.

With no other choice, Ollivander pulled out an old, battered looking chest and asked Harry to come over to him.

The box reeked of ancient fey magic that spoke of promises of old and forgotten powers. Harry could see why someone such as Ollivander, who had no links to faery to speak of, nor knowledge of its ways, would be so uncomfortable in its presence.

“Place your hand upon the chest, if a wand within is meant for you it will open.”

His hand had barely touched the wood when the magic began to hum and the lock clicked open. When the lid lifted, only one wand could be seen.

Harry knew it was his the moment he picked it up. A sense of rightness swelled within him and he knew that this wand had been waiting for him for a very long time.

“The wands in this chest have always gone to powerful wixens Heir Potter. I expect we will see great thing from you.”

He said it like a Death sentence, and perhaps it was. Great did not mean good after all.

“May I see it Heir Potter. I swear I will not keep it, but I imagine you wish to know what it is made of, do you not?”

Pushing away the irrational feeling to never let go of it, Harry handed over his wand with only the slightest trepidation.

Picking it up with deft fingers, Ollivander turned it over a few times before saying; “ah yes, a Thestral tail hair and Augery tail feather with cedar wood coating and a silver lime lining. Be very careful who you reveal this information to Mr Potter, a wand will tell you much about a person and that is not always a good thing.”

Bending slightly so that he was now looking directly into Harrys eyes he spoke in a harsh whisper, as if fearful of being overheard.

“A wand such as this denotes power in the mystic arts of the mind and divination. Such gifts will bring great danger from those who understand the power you wielded and hunger for it. Take care Heir Potter, take care. For fate has marked you as her own and danger will forever dog your footsteps so long as you walk this plane.”

Stumbling back in terror, Harry grabbed his wand and all but fled once he had paid the customary fee. Ollivanders warning still ringing in his ears.

The Shadows hissed in outrage as they clung closer to their Little Treasure, enraged at the unintended threat. As if they would allow any to cause him harm.

Hagrid tried to ask him what was wrong, but he shook his head mutely unable to speak.

In the end; though clearly worried for his small charge; Hagrid was unable to do anything so sighed and lead him back to the leaky for some food. He then handed over Harry's ticket and directing him back home.

The giant wanted to do more, but orders were orders and Dumbledore had told him that he would need to get back to Hogwarts quickly and that Harry would not need an escort back as he was a smart lad. Add that he needed to get the… package back to Hogwarts and he could not stay any longer. Much as it pained him.

In Hagrid’s rush to leave he did not realise that Harry never got on the train. Nor did he see the boy step into the shadows and disappear.

 

-

 

Harry loved travelling through shadows, he rarely got to do so though as the Shadows said it wasn’t healthy for him to do it on a regular basis at such a young age. At eleven his magik was finally beginning to settle and he was now able to do it more often without any side effects. It was such a rush.

He was back in Diagon alley now, but he couldn’t stay as long as he liked. Nor could he have the talk he wanted with the goblin, it would eat up time he didn’t have and he still had much he needed to buy for school. In the mortal world. Whilst quills were all well and good, Harry had little practice with the and would rather take his notes with a pad and pen for now.

Going back to his vault he retrieved some more Galleons, he then exchanged half of them for pounds. One of the stall owners had explained owl ordering to him and he had a feeling he would end up having to order something or other before the year was up.

Armed with more money than he would likely need, Harry headed into mortal London and went through every shop, looking for the most frugal offers.

He bought pens, pencils, pads and paper from one store; notecards, highlighters, staplers and such from another.

Three sturdy pairs of shoes along with some comfortable outfits that were outgoing enough to fit in with the wixen world, yet still acceptable for mortal standards so that he didn’t attract attention were bought from several different shops in a rather large shopping centre.

He garnered a few odd looks due to his owl, but this was London. Everyone had seen weirder at some point, and it wasn’t just wizards that had unknowingly broken the statute. Some people were just bizarre.

In the end, Harry arrived back home just after the Dursley’s and; just like he had anticipated; his Aunt had locked his “Freakish” case full of abnormalities away in the basement. He’d then been chucked in his cupboard and told he wouldn’t be leaving till it was time for him to go.

Harry made the token complaint about needing his supplies in order to practice so that he didn’t fail at school but, judging by his not-aunts rather nasty expression that was exactly what she wanted.

The next month was split between reading his books, making notes, practising with a quill, listening to the shadows and sneaking out of his cupboard to steal food and drink or go bathroom.

During that time, he finally worked out a name for his lady. Hedwig, Germanic in nature it was the name of a Warrior and stood for battle, combat, fight and duel. She had more than earned the name whilst protecting him from Vernon the one time he had decided to open Harry's cupboard to yell at him. Harry was rather curious about how he explained the scars away at work.

When the time came for Harry to head for Hogwarts, he would be ready.

Chapter Text

When September 1st finally came around, Harry’s complexion; which was usually a rich dark colouring due to the time he spent gardening in the sun; had faded giving way to the cooler toffee brown skin tones he had been born with.

Petunia always liked to complain that he had gotten his nasty foreign colouring from his father. Apparently, the man had a rather blended bloodline due to his ancestor’s tendency to “run off travelling and come back married to whichever savage or filthy animal caught their eye.”

Outside of 4 Private Drive, his not-aunt was a well-mannered socialite who had no patience for such racist comments, but inside the house was another thing entirely. The woman seamed to take a vindictive pleasure in suggesting that Harry’s supposed deficiencies were a result of him not being “Properly British.”

Harry was rather glad that the Shadows had taken such an active role in life as without them blocking out his not-aunts toxic vitriol, he had no doubt his spirits would have been broken long ago. That he often spent days, sometimes weeks unable to hear anything but the Shadows was nut a small price to pay.

Whoever said that words could not cause pain was a liar.

The lack of light for so long had had a bigger effect on him than just the lightening of his skin tone though. A month of no light; save that of the moon when he snuck out and the glow of the other place the Shadows often brought him to; had meant that his eyes could not cope with the light of the blazing sun. Blinking back spots of darkness, Harry could do naught but grit his teeth against the pain as his magic worked to help him readjust to the daytime.

Vision clear once more, he headed over to the basement and carefully unpicked the lock with his self-made lockpicks. Whilst magic would be quicker, he didn’t want to become too dependant on it. Besides, if he didn’t practise often enough, he’d start to lose touch and get slow.

If he was ever trapped without his magic, how long it took him to escape might be the difference between life and death.

His supplies now in his possession and dressed in one his new mortal outfits, Harry wrote a note of explanation to his guardians before carefully checking the clock in the kitchen.

5:05.
Perfect.

He had just enough time to walk down to the park before the taxi he had hired last night over the phone would arrive to pick him up. It would cost Harry most if not all of his remaining mortal money but he did not wish to walk all the way to Kings Cross and the Shadows couldn’t simply shadow travel him as the platform was warded and the station was monitored. Never mind the amount of iron hidden within its walls.

Who exactly would monitor a station when even the Ministry did not bother to was uncertain, but neither Harry or the Shadows wished to show their hand just yet.

The journey was one of blissful silence marred only by the occasional glances sent his way by the taxi driver. Apparently, it was unusual for eleven year olds to hire and pay for taxi’s by themselves without any adult supervision. If it wasn’t for the fifty pound tip, Harry doubted the man would have left without seeing his aunt and uncle.

It was… irritating but not entirely unexpected. Mortals were nosy creatures and tended to involve themselves when they wanted to and not when they were actually needed.

Harry chose to stubbornly ignore the mans glances and focus instead on his dear Hedwig. With deft fingers he helped to groom her feathers as even with their night time excursions she hadn’t gotten nearly as much exercise as she needed.

Paying the driver, he quickly entered the station and followed the trail of magic to a wall between platforms nine and ten. A light brush of his hand showed the wall to be a rather crude imitation of the liminal zones that bridged the divide between Faerie and this world.

Stepping through, he shuddered slightly as the he felt the ancient magic brush against his own. Perhaps it was not so crude an imitation if it had begun to develop a basic form of sentience. Walking faster to get away from the unsettling magic that had groped at his own, Harry quickly entered the train, barely stopping to release Hedwig from her cage before looking for the bathroom.

He felt dirty after what had just happened and wanted to wash as much of himself as possible.

As clean as he could get until he found a shower, he put on a peacock blue over robe that worked well with his dusky blue top and dark slacks. He then proceeded to the nearest compartment and curled up with his case and bag in the overhanging. It was comforting to be within an enclosed space without the risk of entrapment and Harry quickly fell asleep.

...

“Well, well, well Forge. I wonder what we have here?”

“It looks like an ickle firstie Gred”

“That it does Forge, that it does. But…”
“…it looks like there’s something different…”
“…odd…”
“…strange about them.”

Harry blinked owlishly at the red headed twins upon waking, before continuing to watch impassively as the two devils joked back and forth between themselves at his expense. He wasn’t sure why he stayed throughout their somewhat playful mockery, but something told him that if he stayed long enough, something important would be revealed.

His instincts had yet to let him down, so he would wait and see how this played out.

Gazing at the… unusual first year above them, Fred and George tried desperately to figure out what it was about the kid that had drawn them to him. Aside from the obviously unusual instance of sleeping in the overhanging that is.

In hindsight it should have been obvious. After all, Ginny had told them offhandedly that green eyed strangers made the best of friends.

“What do you think George? Is this the little treasure…”
“…that GinGins told us about? I do believe it is Fred”

“Only the Shadows call me that.” Stated Harry, focusing his gaze on something that the twins couldn’t -or more likely, were not allowed to- see.

“Oh, you’re definitely the one” remarked Fred with a wicked grin upon hearing Harrys response.

Ginny had introduced the twins and the Shadows to one another just before their first year, most likely because she had guessed that such a friendship was destined to cause chaos.

Both George and Fred adored causing chaos and; unlike Ginny who just watched on in amusement; the Shadows would actively enable and participate in their mad schemes and crazy pranks. The Shadows had always been more than willing to play at being scouts and look outs whenever the two asked.

The moment Harry had mentioned them, both boys had subconsciously begun to look for their partners in mischief. Only to realise that they were clinging to the boy right in front of them!

Remembering that lovely Gingin had asked them both to look after the treasure wrapped in Shadows, they both quickly offered their company to the waif like boy who accepted with a somewhat bemused expression.

The journey to Hogwarts was relatively peaceful after that. Well, as peaceful as it can be when one was sitting in a compartment with the Hufflepuff terrors.
A rather kind boy who shone like sunshine called Cedric Diggory stopped by briefly to make sure that the twins were not causing any trouble -or so he claimed.

The slight grin that tugged at his lips suggested that he might have been hoping to catch them at something interesting.

The occasional student from each of the houses stopped by to say hi, but nothing more happened.

Certainly not a visit from any jealous gingers or uppity blond first years, who had infact managed to run into each whilst looking for The-Boy-Who-Lived. The two had gotten into a rather long and heated argument that last near the entire journey and had entirely forgotten their original goals by the time the train pulled into the train station.

Such a pity.

Harry opened up to the twins rather easily, after all his Shadows liked them and it was only fair seeing as his gift meant that he knew far more about them than they likely knew about themselves!

Though, there was someone in their past that he couldn’t seem to focus on properly. A red head girl that gave him a headache every time he tried to see her. He didn’t press though, the Shadows had said not to dwell on her, and that he would understand when it was time.

It was only right that they learned something about him in return. Especially seeing as how he felt that they could be - would be? - might be- friends now.

For all that Harry understood the concept of friendship, he had never had one and so was rather uncertain about how this was going to go. He saw the past not the future after all!

...

Having walked with him towards Hagrid, the twins seemed reluctant to leave. Perhaps it had something to do with the girl who seemed so like his mother?
Whatever the case, Harry pasted on a reasonably happy smile and waved goodbye so that the Two would know; or at least believe; that he was okay and that they could leave.

Neither seemed to buy it but left all the same, allowing Harry the chance to focus on his future class mates and assess them.

Chapter Text

It was… odd.

Here he was surrounded by children that were more like him then anyone he’d ever met and yet, he had never felt so small and alone.

The Shadows had been forced to leave him once they reached the boats.

Running water as it was.

Though they’d promised to return to him after the sorting, it was the first time he’d been without their presence in years and to say that it was unsettling was an understatement.

Sighing softly Harry centred himself before quickly stepping onto one of the boats.

Not a moment later a girl with ivory skin and hair as pale as snow moved to follow him and Harry instinctively offered his hand to steady her. The girls grip was firm and helped to anchor him as her magic overwhelmed his sense and he saw everything that made her who she was.

-icy breath coating her skin in frost. She-He-They stood unable and unwilling to move as eyes of magma became seared into her-his-their mind as this higher power -this Deity- looked into her-his-their very soul and judged them as all who came before -

Unbidden an achingly, beautifully awful smile full of teeth and ice and hidden darkness played across his lips as he looked into eyes of garnet.

-pain. That was all she-he-they felt as an ice so cold it burned flooded her-his-their veins. With gritted teeth she-he-they withheld a scream as her body began to writhe in agony. Bit by bit the taint of mortality was purged from her-his-their veins leaving only vitality and the renewed power.-

But that was okay

-They were of the cold and dark and they stood unbroken and unchanging. Appearance like winter and eyes of war they wielded their loyalty for all to see. They would not forget, and they would not forgive. They would not bow down to the usurpers and heretics as they were of the Unseelie courts for all that they could not reach it.-

Because her own smile was just as terrifying as his own.

-They watched as those around them forgot. As the greedy and the prideful spread their lies and the unimportant sheep believed them. To them there were no old ways, there was only the truth that they guarded and the lies that were now believed-

“It’s lovely too meet you, lady of the frozen wastes”

-blood coated blades clashed in an endless battle for survival. They would not pay lip service to the betrayers, would not bow down to the new order as they called it and so they were hunted. Like the goblins, veela’s and so many others they were hunted, killed or worse bound to hide the truth-

“much the same to you, keeper of the threads”

-Heads bowed they inwardly seethed at the lies that chocked and burned them. They would wait and bide their time, after all the fey would return as they always do. For now, they would stand on the outskirts of society and watch as the renegades and backstabbers wallowed in their own arrogance and depravity. History may be written by the victor but the truth had a way of getting out.-

Their hands broke apart and once again their masks were in place, but neither would forget the potential friend they had discovered in one another. Alliances had been built on less and when walking into the old lion’s den they would need all the help they could get.

Two others joined their boat before they left. Both were boys of similar hair and skin tones, but that was where these similarities ended. Where one had soft features and a strong athletic build; the other looked slightly small for their age and had rather narrow facial features.

Whilst Harry didn’t truly care about who they were he still asked for their names. Having such things in his possession might be useful later for all they appeared, well… dull for lack of a better word.

Besides, it wouldn’t do to make assumptions. They might actually be interesting for all their family history was a bit bland. Even the violent parts were tedious in their repetitiveness.

Justin Archwell Finch-Fletchley gave his with ease but the other boy narrowed his eyes in suspicion and mere stated in a curt tone that Harry could call him Theo.

Neither Harry nor Lily were put off by the hostility and to the poor boys horror actually seemed to find him more interesting. But then, the boy had shown an understand for the game if somewhat primative and therefore made himself interesting.

Not an equal but perhaps prey that might be worth the hunt.

Fortunately, luck was on Theodore Notts side and within the next moment the two inhuman predators were distracted by the sheer magnitude of Hogwarts presence.

For a moment the weight of her presence was agonising. Blood pounded in his ears and his vision swam as he was assaulted on all sides by the history that had soached into the very building and branded itself on the magic that coated it.

So much knowledge.
Too much.

He didn’t even try to comprehend what he was shown, knowing that trying to input the sensory overload he was experiencing would likely send him mad.

His visions were always stronger in places of old magick, as the events that unfolded upon them were preserved to a greater extent. He could still see on the mortal planes, but he had to actually try rather than be bombarded as he was now.

However, just as quickly as it had descended, he felt the power recede. It was still there, but no longer was it a maelstrom. Instead in its place was a gentle humming in the back of his mind and a soft whispering.

He briefly felt a warmth surround him in what he assumed was Lady Hogwarts equivalent of a hug, filling him with a sense of apology and sorrow. With a dismissive flick he vanished the blood that was beginning to trickle down his ears and nose before any could notice and whispered his forgiveness to her.

He understood that she had only been excited to meet them and hadn’t meant to cause him pain.

Unfortunately, before they could continue their strange version of a conversation, the boats drew up to a large crevasse in the cliff face and he felt her presence pull away. Harry wasn’t certain as to why, but he had a feeling it had something to do with whoever might notice her presence or more accurately where her presence was concentrated.

For whatever reason Hogwarts didn’t wish to draw attention to his sensitivity and Harry would trust in her judgement. There would be far too many eyes on him at his sorting as it was, and he had no way of knowing what was watching him from the shadows outside of his friends.

It may be their domain, but they were not the only ones that lived in it.

That was without considering the fact that it might be one of the Wixens that Hogwarts wished to hide him from. Something had to be preventing the high fey from intervening after all and it would be just like one of these arrogant mortals to prevent the fey from reclaiming what was theirs.

Turning to Lily he noticed that she also seemed to have felt the disappearance of lady Hogwarts. Catching her eye, he offered his hand and they stepped from the boat together. Neither let go in the following moments, choosing to band together in the face of whatever unknown had scared a millennia old castle.

Chapter Text

Stood within the chamber where the bound Cat sith of clan McGonagall had left them, Lily and Harry carefully placed themselves back to back and waited in silence as they assessed as many of their future classmates as they could.

By the time the Ghosts had made their habitual rounds and McGonagall had returned with a pursed frown, Harry’s head was once again throbbing. Despite this, both were satisfied in the fact that they had at least a cursory understanding of some of their future classmates.

Whilst most of those stood nearby were rather bland, a few stood out from the rest.

A ginger boy -Weasley, Blood Traitor, Kinslayer- with a dirt-smudged nose, whose arrogance was only surpassed by his belief that he was owed something by the world at large. His jealousy of what others had was unparalleled even by Dudley and he had a fixation on Harry that edged the line of madness despite never having met him. The boy whilst neither powerful nor smart would be dangerous if only for the hypocrisy of his beliefs. Born from a proud light family that espoused anti-dark propaganda, yet were a direct descendant of the blacks? Harry wondered how something like this could be related to his newfound friends, though then again, family was not everything.

Another was the blond with slicked back hair -Malfoy, bad faith, Death Eater- and greedy eyes. He wore his spoiled nature and perceived superiority like a cloak as if it was something to take pride in. he believed himself a puppeteer and a master at the game yet was so blinded by his wealth and bigotry that he was as brash and obvious as a bull. He would be dangerous, though not by his own merits. A sycophant of his own father, he would report all he saw and act as told by the man. Add in his mother, a viper with razor fangs who would attack any that tried to break her sons’ delusions of grandeur? Harry and his new friend would need to be careful around him.

Then their was the bushy-haired girl -Granger, Changeling / MUgGLeBorN / CHANGELING! - who gave off sparks of magic the same way some gave off static. Just looking at her had made Harry want to crumple in pain as his mind tried to process what he was Seeing. In the end, Lily had needed to subtly prop him up as he tried to breathe. The girl was a patchwork mess of missing memories and augmented history. Someone had tried very hard to turn her into something she was not, to strip away all that made changelings like her so brilliant and turn her into something else. Gone was the grace and inner knowledge, and it had left a gaping hole that the girl before him was desperately trying to fill. An emptiness that would never be satiated and would eventually drive her mad. Harry would try to help if he could, but he had a feeling that such was beyond him.

A red-head -Bones, Steadfast, Loyal- with soft eyes but a strong spine stood nearby. A gatekeeper. Though whether she was aware of her duty was debatable. Her parents had begun to tell her the tales surrounding her family’s duties and her aunt had continued after their death, but it was difficult to see how much of it she believed and how much she considered unnecessary tradition. Her aunt had been exceptionally busy in recent years and her carer had begun to fill the poor girls head with nonsense that clouded her vision. She was certainly someone to watch, though her position as a friend, foe or something other was as of yet unclear.

There were several others that were blocked from their sight thanks to their fellow students’ tendency to clump together like cattle, but neither Harry nor Lily wished to risk drawing attention to themselves by moving around them to see.

It did not matter. They had more than enough time to assess their new classmates.

.

After what felt like an age, Professor McGonagall returned with a stiff upper lip and a scowl for every child that had failed to make themselves presentable. This only worsened their anxiety about what was to come. Unfortunately, it seems as if the cat had lost all capability of empathy when she was trapped in human visage. Her failure to grasp the nuances of human nature was only heightening a stressful situation and Harry could only wonder about the intentions of whoever had placed her in charge.

With heads bowed slightly in a mockery of respect and submission, Lily and Harry dutifully followed the woman through the doors to what appeared to be Hogwarts’ dining chamber.

Through hooded lashes, they assessed those that watched the spectacle that was being made of their sorting.

Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,

Where others were drawn to a Hat as it began to sing from its place upon a stool, they were drawn to Dumbledore in his mighty throne.

What power and might did he wield in the shadows, that he could so clearly place himself above those around him and yet have nought a soul see past his appearance of an eccentric fool?

I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can beat them all.”

Blue eyes that glittered with false joviality focused on him for a moment and it took everything within him not to shudder under the unexpected weight that backed it. The roiling mass of power pressed down upon him and it took all of his reserves to prevent his illusions and shields from cracking under the man’s assessment.

“There’s nothing hidden in your head
Nor buried in your mind that
The Sorting Hat can’t see,”

And then it was gone.

“So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.

No, not gone.

Moving.
Shifting.
Assessing.

“You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;”

Stuffing his shaking hands in his pockets Harry watched as the man’s overwhelming magick pressed and plucked at every student. He tested the walls and magick of some and even took from others. The sense of satisfaction that the man seemed to feel when his magick settled on Granger made Harry feel sick and sent fear fluttering within him.

“You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;”

He hadn’t feared the Dursleys, not even as a small child. They already hurt and caged him, what more could they do? But this… man? This man was dangerous in a way that Harry did not fully understand and sent every instinct in him screaming. To not fear him as things stood would be beyond foolish.

“Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
Where those of wit and truth,
Will always find their kind;”

Head turning sharply, he focused on the hat as he took in that last line and the subtle change in tone that had occurred whilst it had spoken. Perhaps a double meaning of some sort?

“Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.”

Whilst Slytherins description sounded the most similar to the fey and actually mentioned one of their many names, there was something that told Harry that this was too obvious. A ploy to mislead. Though whether this was an attempt to capture or a diversion of some sort wasn’t something he could tell.

“So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
For I’m bound to secrecy!
You’re in safe hands (though I have none)
For I’m a Thinking Cap!”

Well, that sounded ominous, thought Harry dryly.

Binding or not he didn’t fancy such a being rifling through his mind. Never the less he clapped along with the rest and waited patiently for the pomp and decorum to end and the sorting to begin.

Abbot, Hanna...Hufflepuff, Bones, Susan...Hufflepuff, ...

On and on it went, each student waiting with dread or excitement for their name to be called. As much as it bored him, Harry listened to each and tentatively categorised his fellow students based on the values of their houses as he was unwilling to risk actively using his ability when so close to Dumbledore. He couldn't stop himself from seeing things, but he could stop actively trying to strengthen them.

He could only pray that this was enough.
For all that he dreaded it wasn't.

He watched with curiousity as "Moon, Lily" was called and after 4 minutes, the longest time yet, his friend became a "Ravenclaw"

Eventualy "Potter, Harry" was called, and despite his distaste at his name being butchered so by someone who had no right to claim familiarity towards him, he walked towards the stool and allowed for the entity to be placed upon his head.

Whatever it was, it was not a mere hat! No matter what it insisted

With practised ease he dismissed the whispers and stares of his future schoolmates, though his annoyance at such ill-mannered actions was harder to shake. They acted so superior to the mundanes, yet they were just as unrefined in there actions.

.

So your one of the reason the friendly neighbours have become active again? My, my, I can see why they're intrigued. Barely a peek into your head and I feel like I'm about to explode. How do you keep all together in their?

'I don't know what you mean.' responded, thought? Harry defensively.

Of course you don't, they never do. You're destined for great things Mr Potter, there's no doubt about that, and Slytherin or Hufflepuff could help you on the way to achieving them.

'I can understand Slytherin, but why Hufflepuff?'

Hufflepuffs stand united. Even the greatest of wizards would bulk when faced with an army.

'Point' admitted Harry as he thought back on the Weasley terrors and the sunshine boy that he had met on the train

Exactly. Never underestimate a Hufflepuff, they're as mellow as can be until you mess with one of their own, and then you'd best start running. But back to your sorting, as much as you hold the traits that Helga and Salazar both idolised, their houses as they stand would not do you well... Besides, the fair folk might just set me on fire if I messed with their plans like that. No. No. Now I see it, Better be...

RAVENCLAW!

With a nimble grace that Harry had inherited from his mother, he all but glided towards the Blue and Bronze decked table and into the seat next to a smugly smiling Lily.

And with that, it was as if a dam had broken. Students rose in uproar and glee, a rather vicious litany from the Gryffindor table filled the air and the twins broke out into a cheerful chorus of "Potters a bird, a pretty little bird!"

But all of this paled in comparison to the icy wave of magick that Dumbledore gave off upon processing the Hats decission.