Chapter 1: Nightmares
Even with fourteen, the nightmares are still there. The nights on the Eclector are different from the Temple, however - here, he is not alone.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
September 9th, 2011
He is back at the Temple. He knows this is a dream, yet he can't help but feel the first tingle of unease, of fear. He shudders - it is cold and his vision is strangely blurry. Hesitantly he walks forward, out of the quarters building he still remembers so vividly. Instead of arriving into the hallways, he finds himself outside. He doesn't question it - the ragged walls of the dusty fighting theatre is where he has spent his more horrid times.
His Father waits for him. He, too, was hard to focus on. The Other is more clear to him, standing next to Father. "You are next", the Other says. He feels himself nodding and walks forward once more. His opponent is a man he doesn't know. The man is a towering one, fat and red-faced. His mouth moves, the only thing next to his moustache that he can see - the man is screaming, he realises, and yet he hears no sound.
He knows that the man is not very dangerous. Slow and ill-tempered, the man seems like an easy target. But the tendrils of fear tighten around him, chocking him. His heart beats faster and he can't move when the man comes close enough to hit him. He falls down and feels Fathers disappointed look. Hands are holding him down when he tries to look up. They are pulling and shoving and gripping hard until he is caged into a tiny, dark room.
A woman waits there for him, but he can only see her red hair. But she is light and softness and safety, so much it hurts. He reaches out to touch her, but when he does, it is Azalel sitting in front of him. "Please", his brother begs. "Please let me win, just this one time, Harry?" Azalel cries and begs, and then he starts to fall apart into green light, screaming now with an older voice.
"Traitor! You broke me! Murderer!"
Harry wakes up, shaking and drenched in cold sweat. His breathing is erratic as are his heart beats - he still hears the echo of his brothers' screams, can still feel the fear and anger and pain. The dark corners of the small room he shares with Kraglin are staring at him in accusation. It is not the first time he had woken up from a night terror, but it is the first time in a long while that he had dreamt of his brother and the red-haired lady and it unsettles him deeply. With Kraglin gone for the week, he suddenly feels unsafe, helpless. Vulnerable. With a repressed sob, the young teenager jumps out of his cot and makes for the door.
It doesn't happen too often that Kraglin is away when he wakes up like this. It has taken some time for him to find the right kind of help - the first few times he had been overly anxious and jumpy afterwards, feeling sick and fearful for days. Now he knows where to go, the way to the captains quarters easy to find even in the dimmed light of the corridors. He doesn't hesitate to enter the big room, filled with a sweaty, unclean smell which hasn't bothered Harry for a long time now. The whole ship smells like sweat and oil and too many men who don't like to shower. His naked feet, cold from the metal corridors, touch clothes, trash and a taser on his way to the bed. There Yondu lies, flat on his belly, snoring into a pillow and still dressed in his leather trousers. Above him on a board nailed to the wall are a handful of small trinkets and baubles Harry knows well. He had made them and loves to see them here.
Eager to feel safe again, the teen climbs the bed, uncaring that his moves disturb the sleep of the captain, and wriggles himself as close to Yondu as he can. The man's body heat is higher than Harrys, and up close he smells worse than from a distance, but the boy doesn't mind and puts his cold feet right against the shins of his captain, who wakes up with a grunt.
"Are ye fuckin' kidding me..." He doesn't sound too angry, so Harry ignores the man completely and simply clings closer, leeching off the warmth like a parasite. Yondu seems to think so - he is grumbling about brats and prices for mages and his privacy. It fails to impress Harry, not with the Centaurian throwing an arm around him and shifting into a more comfortable position.
It doesn't take long to fall asleep again. This time, without nightmares.
This just had to get out of my system. A little bit of parenting.
Chapter 2: The Mystic Arts
The Mystic Arts.
Yondu doesn't know a thing about magic. But he knows some people.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
May 5th, 2009
Orbital Research Station, Planet Diatera
"All right, boy, remember. Lem are not very keen on talking with no mouth and all, so don't freak out when you hear a voice in your head. Bloody annoying, if you ask me. Most Lem do that. Only knew one who had some manners in him, so don't get your hopes up. That one's called Arrgon, and he is a sorcerer. Not quite the same as you, but both are way over my head, so there should be some parallels."
He keeps a hand on Harry's shoulder as he manoeuvres the boy through the crowd. Diatera is a large planet and mainly covered by forests, but a couple of races had built a buzzing, city-like space station in it's orbit to accommodate not only the many, many scientists, researchers and scholars that are constantly trying to find new and exciting ways to make use of the exotic plants down below, but also the scientists families, merchants, security, mechanics, cooks and numerous other workers and their families that had decided to live there.
There is money to make, after all, and the flies will always be attracted to the shit, as a wise man had said.
The Lem had sent their own researchers to the station. Yondu remembers Krugarr - and isn't that a name that hurts in all the wrong places, he thinks bitterly - talking about how excited his folk has been and that a cousin of his has settled down here. It has been tricky to get the Lem to agree meeting Harry. The Lem are a curious sort and very unique - most Lem children are trained in the so-called 'mystic arts', and a lot pursue a further education to claim the title of Sorcerer. Others are content with the basic knowledge and direct their thirst for knowledge towards other fields of science. No other race has embraced Eldritch Magic as efficient as the Lem, but like any other sorcerer out in the Universe, the Lem too are reluctant to teach others. Yondu knows that the only reason that Arrgon even considers it is that Krugarr has never revoked their friendship, despite his exile.
Of all his previous friends and family, Krugarr is the only one that has tried to understand him. And Yondu still tries desperately to not see it as pity.
June 17th, 2009
More than a month has passed since Yondu has introduced Harry to Arrgon. The Lem had been nothing but accommodating and had immediately started with the theory. Like Yondu told him the Lem communicates mostly through telepathy, but the young mage has already gotten used to it. Doesn't make it less weird, though.
Today they are planetside instead of Arrgons own quarters. It is the first time that they will move from the complicated theory of Eldritch Magic to the practical application. Yondu is there, too, eager to see if his hard earned money has paid off. Harry does not worry about it, though. He still remembers clearly what Yondu has said to him a couple of months ago, how Harry does not have to be useful to the Captain yet. That he has a choice. Everything Yondu does right now he is doing for Harry, and not for himself, and the boy trusts him enough to just enjoy the ride.
Arrgon has chosen a large clearing for the practical training close to his usual research grounds. The trees are massive - wide enough that dozens of people could surround the trunk, and high enough to touch the clouds. The wood has some kind of special property, as have the other smaller plants. Harry eyes the 'saplings' surrounding one of the behemoths, that are roughly as big as a normal tree. The bark is coloured purple and incredibly smooth, the leaves are grey and green. They look nice enough, but not enough for him to be overly interested in them. Yondu looks like he agrees with Harry and simply leans against a sapling which fully supports his weight.
"I'm ready, runt. Let's see what you can do."
Harry grins brightly and looks eagerly towards Arrgon, who bows his head. ::Remember, the key to successfully draw the needed energy towards you is visualisation. We have practised this with the meditation exercise, but you do have to concentrate.::
Breathing in and out, Harry sucks in his lower lip, raising his hands. Yondu and Kraglin had decided that it would be the best to not tell Arrgon (or anyone else outside of their clan, really) of his status as a mage, so Arrgon wouldn't know about how similar this was to his own power. Concentration, visualisation, intent. He does not reach for his own power, however, when he does it now. He can feel it in his belly, calm and comforting, and tries to blend it out. He is sure that it is better to first get a grasp of sorcery before trying to use his own magic - he does want control, after all, and sorcery is easier to command.
His hands are held in the shown way in front of him as he tries to focus on what he wants. Like any other spell a sorcerer can do, the one he tries first requires the caster to gather the energies needed before drawing the spell out with their hands. Unlike many other spells, this one works with any amount of energy he manages to gather, and, depending on the amount, changes its pattern accordingly, so that the sorcerer can 'measure' how much energy they can cast. For this exercise, Arrgon had told Harry to only draw in the minimum needed. Already the young mage can feel the small amount of foreign power swirl against his hands and prepares to mould the magic into the spell. He can hear Arrgon gasp, but before he can figure out why he can feel something very, very wrong. The tips of his fingers start to prickle and then his own magic surges forward, up his arms and into his hands. Eyes wide open, Harry can only gape when it collides with the gathered Eldritch Magic, forcing the foreign energy away from the caster. A loud BOOOM follows when the suddenly free energy is thrown from Harry's hands against one of the saplings, narrowly missing Yondu on its way there.
The shocked silence that follows is interrupted by the snapping and creaking sounds of said sapling and a final crash. Grey and green leaves flutter through the air and Harry still has his hands in the air, gawking like an idiot.
::That is an interesting reaction. Not one I have seen yet. Try it again, I want to take a closer look.::
Harry gulps, but at least Arrgon doesn't sound angry. Yondu, however, does look a bit pale. Throwing him an apologetic smile, Harry turns around so that he faces neither of the men, before he repeats the process with the same result. This time he has managed to hit one of the behemoth trees, which are quite a bit more sturdy than their saplings.
"So, what's wrong, huh? I reckon this is not what he's supposed to do?"
Yondu sounds alarmed even though this time the explosion has missed him completely. Arrgon only hums and snakes closer to Harry, taking his hands into his own.
::I am not completely sure. He drew the energy towards him just fine, but it looked like it tried to flee from his hands. The moment young Harry tries to form the spell it gains enough leeway and launches off. Without the moulding process, however, it is only that: raw energy without form nor function.:: The Lem hums again, touching and prodding Harry's hands before dropping them with curiosity. ::Try it again, but this time hold it just before molding the spell.::
Yondu makes a choked noise, but Harry complies. He already feels quite annoyed (he knew, after all, the reason why it doesn't work), but he reckons that maybe he could force his own magic down long enough to do the spell properly. So he again draws in the foreign magic and holds it tightly in his hands, causing the air around them to ripple and flicker as it would do over a source of heat. Arrgon leans forward, his large, dark eyes focussed on Harrys hand before flinching backwards. ::Not so much!::, he warns. Harry, who had tried his hardest to push back his own surging magic, opens his eyes that he had closed in concentration. The rippling is stronger now - obviously, he has neglected his control over how much power he calls towards him.
Looking around, he points his hands towards the already damaged behemoth tree. With a mixture of glee and anticipation, he lets go of his own magic, which again jealously pushes against the invader which jumps off his hands, blindly following the direction Harry has pointed them at. A deafening boom and the even louder sounds of splintering wood follows and the three watch with ringing ears and horrified (and, in Harry's case, jubilant) faces at the huge crater in the massive trunk. Then, Harry whoops.
June 17th, 2009
Orbital Research Station, Planet Diatera
::I think it is better not to teach him anymore. I am very sorry, as he was a really promising student, but the Mystic Arts are fickle at best and clearly disagree with him.:: The Lem does look apologetic enough, but Yondus sharp eyes catch the signs of extreme relief when the Centaurian nods his agreement. Arrgon hurries away as he has already bid his farewell to Harry, who is watching one of the parked ships through a fortified window. Luckily, the boy is not as crestfallen as Yondu has thought. He had explained to the Captain what had happened and had been very understanding that classes will not continue. Already the mage is more concerned about the elegant elite class S-ship.
Oh, well. Back to self-study for the boy, then.
Thanks to N0_Grimms_Temperance. Your comment gave me the idea to write a little One-Shot about this.
Chapter 3: Change Of Conviction
WARNING: Hints of child abuse in this chapter. Mostly neglect and verbal abuse as well as child endangerment.
Change Of Conviction
Just a quick short about Severus, Minerva and the Dursleys.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
February 21st, 2002
Little Whinging, Surrey, England
There were a lot of things that defined Severus Snape, but one of the more important aspects, one that he never shied away from showing other people, was how deeply his convictions ran. Those who knew him better than the average person where rare these days, but these people also knew that the Potions Master formed his convictions using his cold, rational logic and keen mind. All but one.
He had always been steadfast in his belief that nothing good could ever come out of James Potters seed and that not even a mother like Lily could overcome that burden. Harry Potter was his fathers' son and was bound to be just as vain and arrogant and spoiled as him. So he had done his best to put the boy out of his mind, and for four blessed years, he had done just that. He knew he had a vow to uphold, one given when he had been at his lowest point, but the boy was surely safe enough with his relatives. Either way, it was as good an excuse as any other not to bother with the existence of another Potter that would soon enough ruin seven more years of his life.
And then the Headmasters Patronus had come for him, reminding him of his vow, a solid six years too early.
That night had done a lot to utterly shaken his convictions regarding Harry Potter. The utter lack of concern of Petunia Dursley and her vile husband as well as the glee of their fat offspring that his cousin must be in trouble. Still, it had not been enough to destroy their foundations - a deep well of carefully cultivated hatred towards James Potter, nurtured by seven years of humiliation and pain, swiftly followed by the fact that not only had the man ruined his friendship with Lily, but also had the audacity to fool her so much that she married the man. It was easy to mend the cracks and fractures of his beliefs when given such incentive, and he was more than eager to find more realistic excuses for the Dursleys blatant disregard of the brats safety. Surely the boy had already shown his fathers arrogance and his penchant for rule breaking. Together with the Dursleys open dislike for the late visit as well as the understandable disbelief regarding the kidnapping, it was quite the natural reaction for the little family that had to put up with the burden of a Potter.
It was nothing more than a hasty patchwork, designed to hold back his own, miserable childhood memories and growing, painful guilt, but it would hopefully do for the time being.
Number 4, Privet Drive was just as distasteful as the first time Severus had had the misfortune of looking at it, but alas, he had work to do. Dumbledore needed more information about the boy and he had sent both Minerva and him back to the Dursleys, this time at a more reasonable hour. It was a late Thursday afternoon and, according to Severus' information, both adults should be at home. Severus had voiced his concerns about Minervas participation in this errand - she had been less than pleased with the Dursleys' reaction when confronted with the fact that Petunia's nephew was missing -, but he had swiftly shut up when he had seen the look on her face. He was, after all, a Slytherin and knew perfectly well when to retreat. Thus, both of them were standing in front of the cookie-cut house, one seething, one in strict denial.
After a couple of moments of eying the property (Severus was reasonable sure that Minerva was looking for any remains of the wards that had once stood here, just as he did) they moved towards the door. He smoothly glided in front of the Deputy Headmistress, one brow raised at her clenched hands and her thin-pressed lips, and pressed the bell before she could complain. The last thing he needed was watching Minerva clawing at Petunia, regardless of how amusing that would have been. He did, however, straightened up to his formidable hight, ready to tower over the Muggles when the door opened.
"You again!" Petunias long face visibly paled and her murky brown eyes narrowed. Two high, angry-red spots coloured her sharp cheekbones and an ugly sneer took over after a brief moment of something that looked astonishingly like fear.
"Astute as always, Petunia. We are here for a little talk. Are you going to invite us in, or do you rather have this conversation on your front porch?" He kept his voice in the same low pitch he used on his more wayward students right after they had proven to be utterly stupid again and had to suppress a smirk when he saw her eyes flicker across the street and the windows of her neighbours. She was still concerned about outward appearances, dreading what the other Muggles would think of her with two strangers at her door. It didn't matter that both professors were dressed in impeccable, albeit a bit outdated, Muggle clothing. She knew what they were, and she hated the very thought of it just like she did when she had been just another northern girl from Cocksworth. Jealous and full of spi- he hastily shoved these thoughts away. He would not question her behaviour towards a magical child. He would not.
"Hurry up then!", the Muggle hisses, opening the door just wide enough to allow both him and Minerva entry before closing it behind their backs.
"Pet? Who was that? Not some salesman again?" The booming voice of her husband easily drowned out the sounds of the television. Someone laughed, the high voice of a young child. Petunia glared at them and Severus knew that Minerva easily matched the heat of those eyes.
"It's them again. Vernon dear, can you bring Dudders to his room?" Her voice cut sharp. It didn't surprise Severus when, instead of complaining, the adipose man shuffled to his feet. The sounds of the television set cut off and soon after, the massive form of Vernon Dursley came out of the living room, a boy in his arm that looked like he wanted to reach his father's size as soon as possible. Dursley glared at him, then at Minerva, but one look from Petunia sent him up the stairs. "We will talk in the kitchen", the woman said before she turned around and walked through an open doorway. Behind him, he heard Minerva snort.
"Delightful as always", he murmured, quickly making his way towards the kitchen.
"I always said they were the worst kind", was the low answer and he silently agreed. Petunia hadn't changed at all since childhood.
The kitchen itself was like the rest of the house. Clean to the point of obsession, with very little personal trinkets beside some photos of the blonde son and some atrocious pictures the child had likely drawn himself. Petunia had not taken a seat and did not offer one for her guests. It did not keep Severus from offering Minerva a chair, however, waiting until the elder woman sat down rather stiffly. Petunia pursed her lips, looking like something dirty had climbed up that chair. It was an ugly expression and thus very fitting.
"Well. What do you want? Not that there's much to talk about, now that the boy's gone." Heavy steps came down the stairs and soon enough, Dursley was back, his face a shade of puce that Severus had not yet seen on a human being. He sneered at the muggle, feeling Minerva shifting beside him.
"We would very much like to know what had happened that night. Why Harry was out of the house so late, as an example. It was not a time for such a small child to be outside still." Her voice is the coldness and the bite of arctic winter, smooth and slippery like ice. She clearly had no fondness left for the muggles in front of them, but Severus was still hoping, praying, that Albus had not done a big mistake years ago. That Potter had been spoiled and rotten, the little princeling of Number 4, just like his father had been...
"He knew when he was expected to be back, the little freak, and it was his problem if he ignored that, not ours." Petunia lifted her chin in a haughty manner. Behind her, Dursley was nodding furiously.
"He's your kind, not ours! Either way, we don't miss him, and if you happen to find him, don't even think about bringing his filth back into this house. We are proper people!", he barked. And something fell loose inside the Potions Master, something that matched the hiss his colleague let out. His long, potion-stained fingers curled together into fists. This was too much, hit too close to home.
"He is her son, Petunia. Her son", he heard himself say, his whole body trembling. The muggles didn't notice this, and the woman barked out a peal of shrill laughter.
"Ohh! Still holding that torch, Severus?" She leaned forward, hands braced on the expensive wood of the kitchen table, her long neck used to the fullest as she craned her head towards him. She had seen the weak spot and it was in her nature to strike at it. "Maybe you will want to keep the freak boy then! No one asked us if we even wanted to take him in, so don't you dare talk about Lily! She was just as much of a freak as the boy, and I have not forgotten whose fault that was!"
And just like that, all of it came crashing down on Severus, like a carefully designed house of cards comes crashing down with the blow of the wind. Later, much later, he would be very thankful for Minerva's presence, which held him back from throwing himself at the people in front of him with his fists alone. It reminded him of his wand, his potions, his subtlety, which he knew he would need in the following hours.
Especially when they finally found the cupboard.