That Harry Potter woke up with drawings covering his arms wasn’t cause for concern in and of itself. Even the Dursleys, with their strict rules on what was normal and what wasn’t, wouldn’t throw a fit over something as natural as soulmate art. Dudley often came tumbling down the stairs shouting about the newest pink heart on the inside of his wrist or a smiley face poorly drawn on his leg, and Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon would coo over the marks.
Sure, they’d been surprised when Harry’s first one had appeared when he was 3—his entire palm a garish sort of purple as if he’d stuck his hand straight into wet paint—but they were more likely to ignore the existence of any drawings than to get upset over them.
But these were different.
The horse tucked into the crook of his elbow was glittery white, a gold horn protruding from its head. The lake pooling at the top of his left hand was filled with mermaids. A strange-looking fairy-like-thing hovered at his shoulder.
Harry stared at them in horror for all of a minute before tugging on a long-sleeve shirt, for once grateful that wearing Dudley’s hand-me-downs meant the sleeves hid his hands as well.
Uncle Vernon saw them anyway, the loose fabric sliding up Harry’s arm when he’d gone to serve breakfast, and Harry had been promptly locked back in the cupboard.
Harry wasn’t allowed markers. Not at home at least.
Dudley had a pen specially made for writing on skin that he used to trade messages back and forth with his soulmate, but if Harry so much as glanced at a Sharpie, Aunt Petunia would snatch it up and hide it away on the top shelf of the upper corner cabinet.
Harry had crayons—half-broken, mostly used crayons that had been one of Dudley’s birthday gifts the boy had complained about—but they didn’t leave much of a mark on his skin. Pencils scraped too much, and the writing was still too faint. At school, paints and markers were saved for art time, and Harry could usually only sneak enough time to draw a quick smile on the part of his ankle that could easily be covered by a sock.
But in the meantime, he practiced drawing. In the evenings when he was expected to sit quietly in the cupboard and bother no one, he pulled out scrap bits of paper and the worn down crayons, and he drew. Sometimes he tried to copy the broken toy soldiers lined up along his walls. Sometimes he drew the flowers from Aunt Petunia’s garden, or the little snakes that would hide among the weeds. Sometimes he drew Marge’s dogs, and sometimes he drew Marge as if she was a dog.
Sometimes, especially as he got better, if his soulmate had left him covered with drawings of dragons and birds on fire and giant sea monsters and skeletal horses, well, sometimes Harry would try his best to copy them down too. He hid them under his thin mattress, and whenever his hands hurt from weeding or he was bruised from Harry Hunting or Aunt Petunia had locked him away before dinner again, he would curl up and look at them and imagine what it would be like to be able to send drawings back. What it would be like to meet the person drawing to him.
When Harry turned 11 and found out about magic, he had three immediate thoughts.
I’m a wizard.
I can leave the Dursleys.
I’m going to be able to write to my soulmate.
At Diagon Alley, between wand shopping and Madam Malkins, Harry spent an hour in the magical equivalent of an office supplies shop picking out colored inks and paints and brushes to go alongside his normal school supplies. At Flourish & Blotts, he purchased the required reading and then a humongous tome on magical creatures. Because what if the things his soulmate had drawn for him were real? What if his soulmate was magic too?
He would have liked to start drawing the moment he got on the train, but instead he was bombarded with Ron Weasley, and then Hermione Granger, and a lost toad, and the trolley of sweets, and besides, the train was rumbling along the tracks with little jerks and twists and it wouldn’t have been good for drawing anyway.
And then there was the sorting, the feast, the castle, and by the time Harry made it up to Gryffindor tower, it was late. Still, he dug around in his trunk and pulled out the brushes and the paint, sat on his bed with the curtains pulled shut, and began. He had 11 years to make up for, after all, and he wasn’t going to waste any more time.
When Luna Lovegood woke up on the morning of September 2nd, there on her right leg was a beautiful painting of an outline of a castle against a moonlit sky. At her knee, a grazing unicorn. The toes of her left foot were fish—yellow-golden, swirling red and white, hot pink—and seaweed climbed up that leg. In the crook of her elbow sat a plump bird, its feathers trailing down her arm, and on each of her left fingertips, a different type of flower.
Later, when she was more awake and had taken the time to look properly in the mirror, she found the words scrawled messily along her ribcage where they could be easily hidden. Where they would belong just to her instead of where everyone could see.
Hi. My name is Harry. Sorry it took so long.