Chapter 1: Prologue: In Which We Are Under New Management
Hi! Sorry for not posting this beforehand as I had planned, December was crazy busy for me because I eloped! Anyways, book two of my wild series is starting to come out. I hope you enjoy it!!
Warning: mention of suicide in prolouge. Watch out for dinosaurs as well.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
This book begins, and ends, with an obliviate.
A goblin was in trouble. He wore a velvety tunic with a long ruffled collar around his neck. The kind that one would have seen long ago, in the time when the theatre was open for the common folk, and when one squib named Shakespeare once charmed the muggle world with his inventive words. To the goblins, it was still in the height of fashion, and only those who had enough gold, as well as fortunate hired axes, could still wear them. And Bogrod, the account manager for the Potter and Black fortunes, was one of those lucky beings. Although right now, he wasn’t as kempt as he liked to be. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and he patted it with a handkerchief as he kept a fast pace towards his office.
He walked through the hallways of Gringotts bank, passing by multitudes of other fae and fair folk that lived under the protection of goblins. This was the deepest part of Gringotts, where no wizards or witches were allowed. It was where most goblins also spent their lives. Where they dug out their homes and had their families and their wives with babies in their arms, welcoming them into their small and quaint dirt-floor huts. It was deep into the hive of the goblin city. Protected by every piece of magic they could get their hands on, and by some magic they couldn’t as well. It was one of the most protected places for magical denizens in the world.
Bogrod did not care for this section of Gringotts. He didn’t care for the annoying amount of smaller creatures, whether goblin-children or fae, that zipped around him. He didn’t like how there were so many beings living on top of everyone here. He didn’t like the filth and the muck that accumulated through these areas, although it was cleaned daily.
There was a sneer on his lips as he stepped into a pile of mud, dirting his shoes. Disgusting! Bogrod shot a particular goblin-child, a horrible look as he passed them, making the kid shy away from him. Good. He didn’t like other goblins. He didn’t like other magical creatures at all! The only thing Bogrod cared about was his well being and his financial status.
And one of those was in jeopardy now.
Thus, this was why he was taking a shortcut through one of these hum-drum areas instead of taking a sensible path to his office. He had received a letter. A few letters, in fact, and it was beginning to worry him. He passed through the final warding stones, and into the towering marble hallways of the bank. Where they dealt in business and took the stupid wizards money. He passed through the guard checkpoints with ease. They hardly glanced at him.
And finally, Bogrod came to his office. He stomped in without a word, slamming the door behind him. Runes lit up as they activated, securing his office and preventing any unwanted listeners. Bogrod had made them himself, as he didn’t trust any half-wit goblin who wanted a galleon. His sweat had fallen into his ruffled neck collar, making it sag sadly around his neck. The walk to his office was longer than he had wanted, and he was in a foul mood due to the exertion. But more importantly, he felt rather antsy for his life was on the line. If the goblin nation found out about his deals, then he was dead. More than just dead, actually. He had seen what the goblin nation did to those who broke the rules. And it wasn’t a peaceful way to go.
“You have received my letter.” Bogrod sat on his chair without a word to his guest. “Then you know what you must do. Return the cloak. And whatever filth you took on your last ‘trip’ through the vaults.”
Dumbledore sat in his chair, looking to the world as if he didn’t have a care in the world. His periwinkle blue eyes glinted in the firelight, and his bright magenta robes did not disguise the calculating look in his gentle face. “I’m afraid I don’t understand?” Dumbledore held out a parchment that Bogrod himself had sent out the day prior. The goblin knew exactly what it said, and he didn’t care enough to read his words of warning. “What brought this on? I thought we had a deal. Why would they audit the Potter vaults without good reason?”
Bogrod gave a great sigh. The crux of the matter. “We do have a deal. Until a few weeks ago an alarm went off in our storage. The dragon had caused some damage to some of the deeper vaults, nearly destroying some. We’ve had a team of our experts going through and recounting any items that may have been damaged or lost. The Potter Vaults have a chance of being gone through. Not a big one, but they are doing random audits of ancient vaults to see if they had been affected. If they note that the cloak is gone without it being on any official documents, they will do a deep internal investigation.” His gnarled fingers curled at the very thought of it. The investigation department was to be feared.
“Which will uncover, undoubtedly, our illicit exchanges.” Dumbledore replied dryly. “Oh dear.” The office of Bogrod was one of the few places that Dumbledore dropped his old man act. Or perhaps Bogrod had seen enough of Dumbledore’s cunning side that he could never unsee it. He knew exactly what type of wizard Dumbledore was. The one that played the chessboard on both sides.
Dumbledore didn’t seem to be concerned at all with the news. “It isn’t just my head that’s on the line here,” Bogrod accused Dumbledore. “Once they see the transcripts of our payments to your vaults, and see the countless artifacts that you’ve borrowed over the years, they’ll howl for your head too.”
“But you are forgetting, my dear friend, they cannot do anything to me. They can contact Wizamagot. But past that, the law is in my hands. And I can make this complaint go away. I might have to use another bank to hold my money, but that is all.” Dumbledore replied coolly. “As much as the Goblin Nation would love to take my head, by the agreement of the last war you cannot so much as touch me without breaking the treaties. I am still a Lord, and that still gives me protection. The contracts we signed are still binding, and so I have nothing to lose.”
Bogrod surged to his feet, “and what about me? Hm? To just leave me and die? You said you were taking the invisibility cloak out to borrow it, to just research more about it. Not to take it permanently. Do you remember me, the goblin who gave you a ludicrous deal when I helped you sign those marriage contracts, and when I gave you lee way in gaining magical guardianship over the heiress brat?” He hissed each word out, “is your research that important to lose your one contact in Gringotts? Bring back the cloak. The other artifacts aren’t important to be traced with a papertrail. But the cloak has to be tracked every time it leaves.”
Dumbledore stood, sighing. “If I had known that you were summoning me to gripe about our past deals, I would not have come. You are not, in fact, my only contact here. I have several. As for the cloak, I don’t have possession of it anymore. I gave it away.”
“You,” Bogrod croaked, “you gave it away? That artifact is priceless. Why?” The floor beneath his slightly muddied shoes was crumbling. And somehow his collar sagged even further down, as the weight of the fear of his past deeds settled on Bogrod’s shoulders.
“Do not fret, my old colleague. It was for the greater good. It’s all part of the plan. Now, I am glad for you to bring this to my attention. I will use my influence to make sure the investigators do not look into the Potter vault.” Dumbledore strode to the door then paused, “for a price.”
“How much,” Bogrod asked miserably. Working with this wizard had been one of the worst deals he had made in his long lived life.
Dumbledore looked back at him with a greedy glint in his eyes, “for quite a lot, I’m afraid, old friend. Quite a lot.”
There is a place that is both nowhere and everywhere. Within shadows and light, and the space between the air and sound. It is all encompassing, yet nowhere to be found. It is a very rare place, indeed. For only a few beings known to all mankind could make their way in that secret hidden area. It was unheard of for a meeting to be called there.
And yet, it happened.
Fate was furious. “How dare you!” She hissed out, her ire aiming at a figure wreathed in shadows. “How dare you circumvent my predestined plan? I have a step by step schedule that I follow at all times, and you just like to throw me off!” She threw her hands into the air. “I cannot believe you!” She was a lovely lady, if a mortal had caught sight of Fate, they would have confessed their love for her within moments. Well. Maybe once, a long, long, time ago they might have. Black hair curling around her lovely face, but with her duty wrinkles and a pinched expression had found their ways carving into her once pristine skin. And scowling at Death wasn’t helping her beauty, either.
Death lounged in his throne. It was made of bones and rippling darkness, it towered above his form. It was the largest seat here, something that Death personally made sure of. After all, he wanted to be the most imposing and frightening one out of all of them. Plus the added benefit of winning the dick contest against Time. Death lazily laid across his throne, his robes draping falling onto the stone beneath him. It began to crack and disintegrate, but within a few moments time reset itself, and the stone became whole once more, only for the cycle to repeat.
One hand was brushing his bony fingers on his robe, the other loosely gripping his scythe. “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He said smugly, because he knew exactly what Fate was talking about. His new little apprentice. Already he was seeing the beautiful blessings of taking her under his metaphorical (and yet literal) wing. Who knew one little mortal could cause so much havoc. Already, pulling away the other heads of their respective businesses was causing a tremendous amount of chaos in the systems. Death, Time, Fate, Destiny, and Magic were all called together to have a little ‘talk’ about Fate’s sudden charges that she was pressing against Death. She was suing him for the rights of the universe he took.
Fate was going to have to fight dirty to try and get it out of Death’s clutches.
“You don’t-” Fate had to stop and take in a deep breath. And slowly, she let out an angry breath. “You know perfectly well what you’ve done.” She gave him a shaking smile, it came out more like a grimace. “You stole from me.”
Death let out a horrified gasp, holding one bony hand to his chest. “Well, I never. Fate, are you accusing me of stealing from you? I would never do that. You are my dearest colleague, perish the thought!”
Destiny let out a hum at that point. Her flower crown bloomed, and butterflies appeared over her head. She took the form of a mortal hippy, from the era of the 1970s. Decked out in the typical clothes of that time, she was on a floating cushion which she sat upon in a meditative pose. Long blonde hair floated above and around her form, with the exception of whatever was bound beneath a red headband wrapped around her forehead. She opened one glowing white eye to gaze at Death, and with a surprisingly deep reverberating voice said, “bullshit.”
“I don’t have time for this,” Time then said. He was staring at a pocket watch in his hand. An old man, dressed up in long flowing robes. He sat upon an aged old tree, which steadily grew and shrank as time fluctuated. “Get with it you two.” He had no noticeable features, and if he had them, they were washed away within seconds before reforming. Still, Time did prefer to stay in an elderly man’s form. Death thought it was because Time could complain to his minions about his weak knees.
(Magic watched without saying a word. They were the stars at night. The sunrises in the morning. They were the moments that took your breath away from seeing the beauty around you. They were the warmth of the fire on a winter's cold night. They were the beads of water slowly inching down a cold glass of lemonade during a hot summer day. They were the slow motion of a rocking chair, the comfort of a blanket’s weight, the delight in a dog's tail, and the beauty of a newborn's eyes. That was what Magic was.
They were the tender moments that made you think of how good life was. The nostalgia of childhood games. The simplicity of a child’s mind, and the happiness that lied therein. Magic wasn’t just the ability to change frogs into cushions, they were in every living thing that lived and died. Muggle or magical.
They were the memories that rushed back into you as you saw an old picture, the bittersweet love you feel as you remembered a long-since passed loved one. They did not have a physical representing form, but they were watching the meeting. They were the only one who did not have an organization that helped keep the balance of the universes in check. For they loved their job, and did it by themselves. They would never step away and let others try their hand at it. Magic was loving.
They watched as Death and Fate fought. So, so curious. And Magic wondered if they knew.)
“You used an old clause that didn’t even apply to the universe in question! You took it from me without any grounds.” Fate accused Death. Her black hair whipping out as she pointed an accusing finger at him.
“I did not. The clause states that I may take whatever universe that calls out to me. Specifically me.” Death retorted, folding his arms and cocking his head upwards.
“It didn’t!” Fate pointed out, “nobody called out to Death. Nobody said, ‘hey Death, please steal my soul away.’ It didn’t happen! It’s invalid!”
“Well if you say it like that,” Death pouted. “Then no. But, you forget that the whole cause of this situation was that one of my toys was dying. And by your laws, Mod’s are not allowed to die. Therefore, when the baby Potter soul was crying out as it was being smothered to, heh, death by her magic, it called out for release. Thus, it called out for me. The soul of Potter, which I cannot steal by your powers, asked for me by my name.” He paused, his bony fingers tapping on his scythe, “I believe she said, “hey Death, please release me from my mortal coil.” But I could be wrong.”
“He has a point.” Time said, “you were the one who brought in the Masters-,” he faltered when Death stared at him with menace. Death was still furious about the title that Fate bestowed on the mortals. Thus, the acronym of Mod was to be used at all times. Or else.
Time coughed and continued. “Uh, you brought in the Mod’s. You did sync them to Death’s power. They are his, and if they called out to him specifically then it works.”
“Souls don’t ask for things!” Fate exploded. “They don’t have the power to do that. Death, your story is utter bullshit.”
“Perhaps mortal souls don’t. But my things have… personality. I should know.” Death waved his hand dismissively. He snapped his bony fingers as if he had a brilliant idea, “oh, have you met the Pervell Brothers? They are the perfect example of how different things are.”
“Have I-” Fate choked hard, “have I met your dumb fuck reincarnated minions?” She looked like she was having a hard time breathing. Her beautiful lined face was turning red. “You realize I have spent an incredible amount of time trying to get them out of my hair as fast as possible? Right? I have actively tried to kill them off as fast as I can!”
“Oh boo.” Death pouted, “so you locked one up and the other is having a midlife crisis. Not everything is about you. Get a life, Fate. You can’t just plan out every action that a human takes. You need to chill out. Let the mortals make their own choices instead of shoving everything down their throats.”
“I think you need to breathe, Fate.” Destiny hummed out, keeping both eye’s shut. A butterfly landed on her nose. Destiny looked serene. “You’re looking a little red. Have you tried meditating like I told you?”
“I am breathing, thank you.” Fate said with gritted teeth. She was trying, and failing to calm down. But Death knew how to push every single button that Fate had. “I schedule every single lifeform’s role in life. I keep things on track. Every new universe created is accounted for. That is my job.” She said in an even voice. “You know what I do. It is necessary for every universe to exist. And yet, you continue to harass me saying that I am a dictator-”
“You are.” Death agreed.
“-but I am Fate. I decide everything.” She said, “and you stole a rogue universe from me. Do you understand what that means? Does anybody, in this forsaken place?” She looked around at Destiny, Time, and Magic. Waving her arm at Death’s languishing form on his throne in an angry gesture. Death coyly waved back at her, his hands coming together to make a bony heart shape. “I keep track of all the universes! You don’t care about them. I do all the dirty work, and yet nobody here seems to understand what exactly is happening!”
“Please, enlighten us. This meeting has taken far too long already. Half of a year has passed and I am seconds behind.” Time folded his arms. Destiny just nodded sagely at Fate.
Fate flung her hand out at Death, “he gets to be in charge with every single aspect of that universe! That means,” she looked at Time dead in the eye, “time,” and then glared at Destiny, “destiny,” and then at the formless figure of Magic, “and magic. Total control! He can do anything!”
Death hummed merrily in the background. Watching the beautiful chaos unfolding around him. If only there was a touch of hell fire. Then the place would be hopping! Time’s pocket watch in his hand cracked as the old man finally got the implications of the words. Destiny opened both her glowing white eyes, the butterflies around her fading away as she stopped meditating and paid attention. Magic remained silent. As always.
“No,” breathed Time. “You’ll mess up my calculations!” He pointed an accusing finger at Death.
“He can make it so that the universe is a half second or worse, more, faster than the other universes.” Fate explained to everybody, even though they all knew what it meant. “He can use that universe as a battering ram. Making it collide with neighboring universes. Destroying the whole equilibrium!”
“Perhaps letting Death have a universe might be problematic.” Destiny admitted, “I was hoping to watch and see what was going to happen. The destiny could be changed for so many mortals.”
“And!” Fate pointed a finger at Destiny this time, “did you know that there is a unique prophecy in that universe? A Seer saw something nobody else has, and by the laws we’ve abided, they ought to be under your power. He’s stealing a future employee from you.”
Destiny frowned, “I was unaware of that.” Their white eyes turned to Death accusingly, “you know how hard it is to hire newly made entities for my realm, correct? I want them.” She snapped her fingers, “pronto.”
“Too bad,” Death sang, “so sad. Plus, I’m pretty sure my newly made minion Mod has a… interesting future with this Seer. He’s mine.”
Fate spluttered, “you’re not allowed to look into the future!” She waved between her and Destiny, “that’s-that’s our job.”
“I can do anything I want in my universe. I have your precious universe code now. Love how you were trying to make my lil baby Potter commit suicide. That’s what you fated for her. If she hadn’t gotten those bindings off by her fifth year she’d,” he held up his hand to pretend he had a noose in it and made painful gagging noises. Everybody ignored the poorly made joke. It was made in bad taste anyway. Death, rather effectively, killed the mood.
“That time has passed,” Time said, “I’m certain you can keep your Mod. She’s yours. Keep her as your treat. However, I cannot in good faith, allow you to keep that universe. If you make one single universe hit another, the chain reaction would be catastrophic. The collision would never stop happening.”
Death cackled at that thought.
“I agree.” Destiny seconded. “I want another employee.”
Fate nodded with relief, practically sagging onto the floor. “Thank you. Now, I’ll just have my people contact yours and-”
A whisper of a voice cut in. It was laced with the feelings that came with eating a popsicle on a hot day, the warm comfort of the smooth ceramic cup of tea held in old hands, the sweet taste of a ripe fruit that burst on your tongue.
Magic’s words could never be properly translated into any kind of language. Ever. To try to do so would be like trying to recreate a masterful piece of artwork with only a crayon. Not a Crayola crayon. A RoseArt crayon. It would simply pale in comparison. No, Magic’s words could not be understood by a mortal, but only to those who shared a similar power could. Like those who were in a meeting with them right now.
Fate spluttered and shrieked, “what do you mean no?” Destiny and Time both look flabbergasted as well by Magic’s statement.
Death began to laugh again, “the decision has to be unanimous Fate!” He called out, “it’s mine! And there is nothing you can do about it! Magic said no!” He tilted his head back and cackled, the deranged kind that only Bellatrix Lestrange could emulate. The Black family curse did originate from Death in the first place. He was chaos in it’s final form. Deranged and sadistic.
Magic spoke once more, the nostalgic feeling of a long road trip and the quiet wonder of watching a plant grow intertwined in their voice. The room fell silent. Not even Fate’s exclamations of shock came out of the poor woman. The very beings that made up reality itself were shocked into silence.
Death straightened up on his throne, gripping his scythe and seemingly to sober up. He was no longer laughing. Or found glee in this meeting. He leaned forwards, straining. For the first time, Death was here for business. “Wait,” he said, “what? ”
Magic replied again. The fresh smell of rain combined with the scent of old books in a library. The inner peace while completing your hobby. The feeling of lying down in a bed with your children, reading them a bedtime story. The pride of a parent.
It was all that had to be said, really.
Join discord with me and my buddies. We do share a lot of fic recs from various fandoms.
My Discord Invite.
Chapter 2: In Which Harriet Exits Stage Left
Thank you all for the warm welcome of the second book! Thank you for those who wished me well on my elopement! It's been pretty great so far.
TW: Child abuse.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
This is not the start of this book. As said in the previous chapter, this book begins, and ends, with an obliviate. The tale that is twisted in this novel has begun years ago, and it takes time to catch up. But this chapter is not meant to dwell on what happened previous, it begins with this scene:
The yellow dim light of a lightbulb framed the entryway, and spilled onto the ground as the door was thrown open. The sound of an angry mans voice bellowing words, as he threw a girl onto the ground of the shag carpeted room. “I won’t stand for this! Never again!” He shook a fist at the child who laid still as a rock on the ground. His only answer was a weak cough that shook the girl clenched hands.
The man yelled even more words, but the girl had stopped listening to the vitriol and hate from her uncle years ago. He stomped his feet, looked like he was considering maybe kicking the fallen girl, before deciding against it. Whatever the child had could be contagious, and it was already bad he had dragged her to her room. Her freakishness could affect him in some way.
When he left, he took the yellowed light with him as he slammed the door and made sure each and every lock was working correctly. The jingle of metal clasps was the last thing the girl heard from him as he stomped away. No doubt to bitch at her aunt about her.
Harriet Potter-Black finally lifted her head up, and a smile cracked it’s way across her face. Her dried and cracked lips bled from the motion, but she didn’t care. Gently getting to her feet, she went to sit on the thin mattress she had. The sweet memory of the last half an hour of shenanigans played through her head, allowing her a reprieve of the pain from her injuries. Both of Harriet’s knees had terrible carpet burns on them along with a patch that curved on her jawline. It could have been so much worse. Almost absentmindedly she raised a fist and let loose a pitiful cough. At this point, she was used to hacking up her lungs.
Tonight had been a good night. All sense of secrecy went out the window as the Dursley’s figured out that Harriet caused a lot of bad luck around them. Causing a window to break, leaving the stove on, or a sudden flicker of lights were not subtle in the slightest. Honestly, Harriet had been trying to get a hold of herself during the beginning, but her magic would lash out and do something unpredictable. Small, nothing horrible, but clearly magical in nature. Even the slightest hint of Harriet's other skills sent the Dursleys on edge. And then, well, Harriet became sick. And her magic stopped attacking everything. It stopped doing anything.
But the deed had been done. The Dursleys were painfully aware that every wrong or unfortunate thing to happen to them was Harriet’s fault. Sometimes, they were wrong. Like when Dudley stubbed his toe on the doorframe. And the other times they were right, because Dudley then stubbed his toe on the doorframe for two weeks straight after that. They would get horribly gassy sometimes. Their eyes might twitch randomly. Or find that the water had been left on all night, leaving the floor covered in three inches of water. The many locks and bolts added to Harriet’s door did not stop her.
And tonight, well. Tonight was only just the cherry on top of a perfect sundae. Uncle Vernon had been trying to impress his boss for a rather important promotion. And Harriet, of course, needed to spoil things. Her boldness in causing chaos had unfurled the longer and harsher her relatives treated her. If they locked her up all day without food, they would find that the fridge had somehow unplugged itself and the groceries were a bit off. If they tried to beat her, then she’d stab them where it would hurt the most.
Dudley would get horrible pimples for days, from Harriet slathering his pillowcase with magpie oil, a potions ingredient that would clog pores. Aunt Petunia found her hair thinning. Bit by bit, she was eventually going to be bald. It is a shame, since Petunia was fond of putting her hair up in elaborate hairdos. And Uncle Vernon would experience car problems. The battery would die, the gas tank would be empty, the transmission wouldn’t turn, things like that. Bits and pieces that Harriet would chip away.
It was clear now that there was a horrible and terrible battle being waged between them. As long as they didn’t leave Harriet alone, they would find themselves with misfortune. Harriet, at one point feeling particularly brave, had told them point blank. It gave her a black eye for threatening them, but in the end, Harriet got back by making Vernon’s trousers rip at the seam.
At the beginning, there were threats thrown around about how Harriet would never go back to the freak school because she was doing magic, and the Dursleys had gotten a letter stating that it was forbidden to use it at home. After the first week, when Harriet’s magic had gone wild within her, it was a common phrase. But no letter arrived. No summons, no alerts, nothing. All they got was a letter with Harriet’s grades and the required books for the next year. Those threats stopped when it was clear that nothing was going to come from it.
Thankfully, most of the time Harriet didn’t touch her magic in the slightest. She wanted to. There was a powerful desire sometimes to turn Dudley into a pig, to complete the transformation that Hagrid once began. But her wand was held by Madam Pomfrey at Hogwarts. Accidental magic was allowed, but Harriet was a little afraid of trying something more targeted lest it set off the alarms at the ministry. Instead, she used her knowledge and bits and bobs that she had and used them expertly to make her relatives regret the day they decided to hurt her.
Harriet Potter-Black wasn’t the same girl when she left for Hogwarts. And neither was she the same girl who stepped out of platform nine and three quarters with a bruised face and a defeated attitude.
To put it bluntly, the change came from one thing. It wasn’t something silly like courage, or the final act of defiance. No, it was because Harriet was tired.
She was exhausted letting her relatives get away with what they wanted. Harriet was their punching bag. And once she began to cough, well, Harriet grew even more weary. She had very little energy to deal with the muggles. And she didn’t care to grovel anymore. If her aunt had her way, Harriet would have worked until her hands blistered and were raw. Harriet had looked at the mess the house had become since she last visited, and decided that she would rather not clean anything.
Harriet was drained by everything, and the war between her relatives began. And once it started, well. Harriet couldn’t lose. Not by a longshot. She had seen incredible feats of magic, Harriet had actually died and came back, she was unbound and powerful. The ever looming shadow of the Dursleys every summer was pitiful in comparison. Well, this last year she had learned how to get back sneakily at others. Harriet didn’t necessarily take notes during her escapades, but she kept a few in mind as she did her best to torment the muggles.
It was amusing. Probably the best part of Harriet’s summer vacation was watching her relatives react to her mischief. Finding a rat nest in Petunia’s knitting basket was wonderful to witness. Seeing her cousin, the complete idiot, always tripping on the same place on the sidewalk, yet never seeming to learn how to avoid it. Vernon’s confusion and rage over missing tools, displaced items, and random bits and bobs that would appear in their place. He would always find them later, in a place he swore he looked several times. Sometimes Aunt Petunia would find them in the most obvious places, and Vernon would be befuddled by how he missed them.
Honestly, it was like taking candy from a baby. The Dursleys could tell sometimes that Harriet had a hand in the misfortune that they had. Only the big things though, like having a shower that was always too hot or icy cold. Or that the bottle labels had been switched around, and Vernon spraying himself with Petunia’s perfume rather than his cologne. But the smallest things- the things they barely noticed but were annoyed by- those went completely over their head.
Like the jar that never opened, which was conveniently glued shut by Harriet. It was Dudley’s favourite jam. Or the time that Petunia’s roast was just a touch too salty. Or how the bacon never crisped up, leaving it soft and mushy. The inconvenient hole in Petunia’s grocery bag, letting the contents fall onto the ground in a sudden heap. The kink in the outside hose that Vernon would pull straight, but another one would take it’s place. Dudley’s favourite channels were never on the screen when the telly turned on, and he would have to take time to scroll through channels and miss the beginning of his show.
Honestly, her relatives thought they were safe. Harriet was upstairs, behind several locked doors and bars were on her window. There wasn’t a way for her to get out and cause havoc. But they didn’t see the flaw in their plan.
Funny enough, the cat flap was meant for larger felines to pull their girth into the home. And with a little bit of twisting, and angling herself in the right way, Harriet could just pull herself through and had full access to the house. She didn’t even need to touch the locks at all. They gave her a way out.
The war progressed. Vernon’s patience was ending, and became harsher. Harriet raised the stakes.
And then tonight happened. And oh, how it had been so simple to mess up the carefully laid plans of her relatives. They had one motto in life, and Harriet was the antithesis of it. Be normal. They want to be normal. Average. Medium. Blending in with society. That was what the Dursleys wanted to be. And Harriet was often the opposite.
Ducking into the kitchen and throwing in a pinch of yellowdove salt into the wineglasses of the guests had been easy. Resetting the timer on the roast had only taken seconds. Pulling the wine bottles and decanter of alcohol was easy since they were already out. Dumping half of the contents out, and replacing it with water was done within a minute. Switching the salt shaker with sugar, replacing the vanilla with soy sauce, and rearranging the chairs so the uncomfortable ones were given to Vernon’s boss and wife.
Ten minutes of free unrestrained access. Unnoticed. Her relatives were busy elsewhere that day, and it was predictable. And Harriet crept back up to her room, an apple and a handful of bread slices in her grip. The job had been complete. She leaned up against the vent and listened as the Dursleys bustled around and finally, the show began. Harriet couldn’t hear clear concise words, only the tone and volume of those in the dining room. But she leaned back onto the wall, closed her eyes to imagine the scene below.
Aunt Petunia, with her red lips that were a bit smeared after kissing Dudley one too many times. Dudley, with a bulging white shirt and a bowtie, his hair practically glued down in a sensible part. Uncle Vernon, with his hair mirroring Dudley and a nervous flush on his face. The three of them were a part of a theater production. Vernon would get the door, Aunt Petunia would carry the roast in from the kitchen, and Dudley would offer to take their coats. (Not that Petunia and Vernon had been practicing this scene earlier, loudly and repeatedly. Plus, Harriet had grown increasingly spiteful the longer she heard Dudley in his ‘perfect angel’ voice asking, “may I take your coat madam?” outside of her door.)
Just like the Dursleys wanted, their scene was flawless. Aunt Petunia walked in and set the roast onto the table, smiling at her guests. Dudley spoke his one sentence without stumbling once, and Vernon was greeting his boss like an old friend. Harriet let them have it. Lull them into a sense of security.
The boss and his wife’s appearance would remain a mystery to Harriet. But she imagined the boss was like Argus Filch and the wife would be a younger blonde McGonagall. The two of them would come in, sit in the nice chairs, and the first attack would strike. Petunia offered them a glass of wine, holding a bottle of whatever expensive grape juice muggles liked. It was special, and she would pour them a generous amount in their glasses. Uncle Vernon will lob a funny little joke that he heard at a neighborhood barbecue. Harriet heard laughter downstairs and figured the joke had actually worked. Huh, didn’t think that would ever happen.
Then the blonde McGonagall would sip on her wine, and so would Filch with perhaps the whiskey that Vernon would definitely be drinking. It would be fairly obvious that it was watered down, but Harriet didn’t hear mention of it. Muggles had their own rules of politeness and sometimes that they obeyed more than of the actual law. It was going to be a rather horrible dinner for everybody involved and Harriet wanted to make it memorable. And them being polite about everything was going to drag it out longer.
The first and second strikes against the Dursleys came and went without notice. But Harriet still gleefully smiled as she heard the low murmurs of conversation downstairs, and then the sound of cutlery clicking against the china.
Blonde McGonagall would take a bit of the roast first. Harriet imagined, her face twisting in a faux smile. Doing her best to chew and swallow the food in her mouth. It would be incredibly rude to spit it out then and there. First and foremost, the roast had been in the oven far too long. It was dry, nearly on the edge of being burned. It wasn’t a lush and juicy roast that Petunia had planned, and it was still edible but barely so. That would have been enough for anybody with a vendetta. But Harriet also spiked the guests wine glasses with yellowdove salt.
Yellowdove salt was a marvelous and easily overlooked mineral in the wizarding community. It hailed from Egypt, where it could be found in large deposits underneath magical communities. It simply grew around the ley lines, and it was found to be a rather useful but basic tool. For the most part, yellowdove salt was a key ingredient with antidotes for certain potions. It also helped the user, if having consumed some of it, be able to actually taste and identify the poison if they ate it. Many Egyptian doctors were hailed across the world for being able to figure out what poison was which and administering the antidote. That, and yellowdove salt was a great for taking the moisture out of fresh and wet items, naturally soaking up the dampness and making very useful for preserving things. Harriet once read a potions journal that both praised the yellowdove salt, and condemned it for it’s drawbacks. (It also mentioned that there was a very good food stall in the Egyptian magical district that could make the most perfectly seasoned jerky. They claimed it was because of the yellowdove salt, but the author made it clear that it was impossible for anything to taste good with the mineral on it.)
Yellowdove salt had a somewhat unusual effect on it. You see, it is called salt because it is safe to eat and has no known adverse effects when combined with other potions. But doesn’t strictly qualify it to taste good. Rather, it has a very mellow and slight undertone to it. Barely noticeable when combined with food.
But the magical part comes in. You see, it likes to flip a person’s taste buds around. Whatever is sweet is now sour. Whatever is savory is now… unsavory. To put it lightly, it makes a perfectly good meal turn into some sort of rotten garbage. Harriet had tried it once. And after that, she was wary of eating salad ever again. It just wasn’t… right.
She leaned her head back, and hummed. Oh, the dominos were lining up just right. And with a little tap from Harriet, they began to fall. Hitting the next. Cascading. And the Dursleys' plans slowly and methodically fell apart.
The conversation downstairs lulled. Filch and blonde McGonagall had already perhaps stopped eating. Even the wine tasted sour, and Harriet had no idea what the whiskey would taste like now. Had Petunia picked up on the fact that they were no longer eating? Harriet smiled, as the dining room below grew quiet.
Did the guests show their discomfort on their faces about the food? Perhaps Filch had taken a napkin and discreetly spat into it. Or maybe they subtly put their forks and knives down, and used an object on the table to disguise their full plates? There was a spatter of conversation downstairs, but nothing enthusiastic as before.
“Oh, why don’t I bring out dessert?” Aunt Petunia would be trying to save face. She would show them hospitality. The finest that can be found in Privet Drive. If Filch and McGonagall didn’t like her roast, there would be no way they would hate her cake with homemade vanilla frosting.
Dudley would agree, almost immediately. Perhaps too fast, but his little brain couldn’t handle the thought of being patient. Harriet listened to the 'oohs' and 'awws' of the guests downstairs as Petunia brought out the tripled layered cake with strawberries on top. It was impressive.
And now the tables had been turned. Harriet could only imagine the baffled and confused looks her relatives would have. As they took bites of the cake, and found that the frosting was practically inedible. Who would have taken a bite first? Filch? Or one of the Dursleys?
If it was a Dursley, they would, without a doubt, try to stop the catastrophe from happening. Taking away the horrible cake from the guests, and that would probably be the end of that joke. But if it was Vernon’s boss who took a bite first…
The faint sound of, “oh this is absolutely delightful,” came from what Harriet presumed to be blonde McGonagall. Perfect. Harriet had to press her hand against her mouth to stop the giggles from escaping.
The guests thought it was great. The Dursleys thought it to be garbage. And best of all, Harriet would likely bet that Dudley would-
“This tastes awful!” A whine pitched the air. It was loud enough for Harriet to hear it clearly. “What did you put in this?” There was a retch.
What a wonderful night.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Harriet had a hand in their ruined evening. Hell, it didn’t take a Dursley level of intelligence to draw that conclusion. With a few rug burns and a good shake, Vernon left Harriet in her prison. It couldn’t have been worse, but Harriet’s grating edge of not giving up made Vernon think second thoughts these days. Which was a win. Even though it was an uphill fight.
That night, after drifting off into a fitful and tiring sleep, Harriet tried to regain some of her energy. The day's events had drained her, and she had little energy to spare. It was a ritual by now that Harriet curled up underneath the sheets because suddenly everything was terrifyingly cold and she couldn’t get warm. And then, three seconds later, she had to toss the blankets off due to the blistering heat. There was a terrible raw sensation from her chest. It wasn’t her lungs. Nor her heart or any other organ that she could think of. But it burned within her. It made her gasp for air, and cough constantly.
And that wasn’t the worst part about the summer. Oh no, it wasn’t the Dursleys, it wasn’t being locked up, it wasn’t being starved. It wasn’t even being sick. The worst, was the dreams. And they haunted her.
Shadows moved on the walls. Sneaking. Lurking. Crawling up to reach her.
Sometimes Harriet thought she saw Snape looking at her from the corner of the room. His long beak-like nose peered out of the shadows as his dark eyes glinted with malice. Sometimes she could hear him too.
“Miss Potter,” he would say in his snipping voice. T’sking her name like a sharp crack of a whip. “You were a disappointment in class, but now you take it to new heights. Laying around, making your family cater to your very whims. No wonder you fail so often. You are just as lazy and thick headed as your father.” He would say things like this. And Harriet would tremble, unable to figure out if it was from her illness or from his words.
Sometimes Harriet would see him do worse things.
A knife glinted. It was her knife. The shiv she made from a nicked silver knife. Harriet was intimate with how sharp it was. He held it loosely in his hands. Snape had a ring on. Harriet always refused to look at him in the face. So his hands were a sight she knew well. A thick black silver ring, with a dark opal stone upon it. His long fingers, sometimes looked like claws, were always a sign of omens. Snape would peer down at her, with his black eyes glinting from the moonlight. And say, “I must admit, you’ve done the impossible.” His voice was a soft whisper. “You’ve actually become useful. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure the potion you will be used for will come out flawless.”
Harriet would wake up most of the time before the knife touched her.
Most of the time.
Knowing how to twist, decapitate, eviscerate, and so much more for her potions made the dreams horribly realistic. But they were just that, dreams. And when the morning came, Harriet could see the sunlight and the shadows would drift away back to the darkness of her mind.
Tonight, Harriet prepared for the worst. As she did, like always, with falling asleep these days. She tossed and turned, sweated like an onion and smelled like one too, and wished that for once she could sleep peacefully.
The sound of the locks broke the silence. And Harriet looked up at the door with bleary eyes. A simple glance at the window showed that the sun was far from rising. Was this another figment of her imagination?
But with a searing pain to her eyes as the light was flicked on, Harriet realized that it was not a fantasy. Uncle Vernon stood, dressed and looked at her with steel in his eyes. There was a blur of motion. She was pulled up and down the stairs. Forced to put on shoes, and walked outside onto the dewy grass towards the car. Then she was shoved into the backseat, and Vernon was behind the wheel. There was no exchange of words, no insults, nothing. One second she was in her room, the next, on the roads as lights flickered past.
It was surreal. Harriet was absolutely bewildered. Her fever addled her brain. This felt like an out of body experience, and as much as she’d like to say that she was sharp as a tack at any time, this took the wind out of her sails. She hardly ever was taken anywhere. The car was something that was never allowed for her. There were twists, and there were turns. The only light coming from the street lamps above, turning the dark buildings and pavement into orange lit shadows.
A drizzle of rain pattered down on the windows, and it was a long time before the car stopped. Vernon halted the car angrily, and closed his door with a bang. Without a beat, he pulled open the door next to Harriet and hauled her out. It wasn’t like she weighed anything significant, but it was still pretty terrifying. With a forceful turn, he pressed her up against the wall, the stone sticking into Harriet’s shirt and biting into her back.
“Now listen here,” his hot breath was inches away from her face, and Harriet wrinkled her nose. “We want you gone. And you will stay that way. Don’t contact us. Don’t even write those blasted letters to us.” He shook her, her head already pounding increasing it’s tempo. “We don’t want anything to do with you. And if you try to even stick your head in Surrey again I will know, and I will do anything to get rid of you again. Is that clear? ”
“Crystal.” Harriet bit out, and Vernon dropped her onto the wet pavement. Her shoulder banged against the wall and her hands gained a few extra scrapes, and there was no doubt that she was bleeding. She didn’t look up as the car door closed, and the car lights turned on and drifted away onto another street.
The rain was still beating down on the ground, and Harriet crawled to the nearest dumpster and took shelter under a metal sheet. It didn’t stop the cold from crawling up her spine and settling into her bones. But it was enough for her to tilt her head back, and stare off into the distance. She weakly coughed, tired and unable to put any real effort into the motion.
Tomorrow, she’ll figure out where she is. But for now, all Harriet wanted to do was wallow. She was free. But at the price of a roof over her head. It was okay. She’ll survive. And when Hogwarts comes in a month and a half, she’ll be safe. It’ll just be a bit rough until then. But Harriet had survived worse things. Hell, she also didn’t survive worse things. Her fingers touched her mothers trunk in her pocket, and she clutched it.
Good riddance, anyways.
There was a timid knock on the door. Ignotus, otherwise known as Iggy, was practically buried in paperwork. Her office was once rather intimidating. Furnished with leather furniture, and bookshelves lined the walls. Lots of beautiful pictures of torture performed on the souls who tried to invent immortality hung on the wall. She also kept a small portrait of her old life, a large family of people who lived hundreds of years ago. They were all escorted to heaven by Iggy, every single decedent who lived a long and full life had that honor. They were dwindling. But family was family. Her office had once been made for a fully grown man, but she was confined into a rather diminutive form of a seven-year-old girl. Perfect for chaos and shenanigans. But this wasn’t the time for it. No, Ignotus had to work. And work she did. Her once impressive office was lined wall to wall with stacks of papers. On every shelf, table, covering every inch of the floor, with the exception of a small path for her to walk in, papers towered above her. Her desk was the only thing that was neat, but every few minutes there would be a small pop and another small packet of papers would appear. Iggy simply grabbed it and threw it onto the nearest pile.
A faint knock came again. And Iggy ignored it. A minute passed, and this time the knock came a bit louder. And again. A bit louder. Finally Iggy’s attention span broke, and she glanced up irritated.
“What?” She snapped, she was practically suffocating in her office. And she needed to stay concentrated in order to keep up with the demand. A second lost was a second she would need to take away from her lunch break. And if anybody bothered her, it usually meant that Death Incorporated was burning down from hellfire and Death only allowed Iggy to hold onto the keys for the fire extinguisher. 'If any Joe off the street can smother a fire then it isn't as fun for me,' was Death's excuse when Iggy tried to at least let the other managers have a key.
So, knocking on the door meant not only was seconds being lost- but Iggy would inevitably be asked to leave her office and deal with the problem. Knocking was not a good thing.
The door opened slightly and stopped as it knocked into a stack of papers, and a small voice said, “I have an interview with you?”
Iggy paused. Interview. Which meant somebody was looking for work. Another minion to boss around. Which meant less work for her. It was like salvation was beaming down onto her. It was always a standing order in the front desk at Death Incorporated that if anybody dared to inquire about hiring they were sent immediately to her to have an interview.
“Yes, come in.” Iggy shoved the most recent pile of paperwork that appeared on her desk to the side. It would have crashed to the floor if it wasn’t already preoccupied by other documents. It just created a landslide of parchment that stopped as suddenly as it came, as there simply was no room for it to continue to slide. The door slid open until it came to a halting stop when it hit a large pile of papers. “Sorry about the mess.” Iggy would have also stood up and welcomed in the poor soul, but she had essentially trapped herself behind her desk. Any sudden move the paperwork would come down on top of her. And Death would usually pop in, laugh and point at her, before going away. Ass.
A small figure slid into the room. They were wearing a rumpled suit, patchy and old fashioned. A bowtie was affixed to their neck. Their hair was short and messy, but it looked like they had tried to comb it out. They carried a suitcase, which was old and looked to be incredibly beaten up. To Iggy’s eyes, she saw an innocent soul who came to be enslaved.
“Come in, have a seat.” Iggy said, then noticed that all of the other chairs in the room were already buried underneath the endless piles of parchment. So she grabbed an errant piece of paper and with a flick of her hand she transformed it into a chair. It wasn’t very good, and with the small space available it was the size of a child's toy chair. The new slave, cough cough, interviewee came in and sat down, handing Iggy their resume. Their knees bent forward as they sat on the small little chair.
Iggy scanned it over. Worked in the Office, blah blah blah. Couple of eras. Nothing much to really sneeze at. “So tell me, have you a lot of experience in killing people?” Iggy asked, as casually as she could.
“Erm,” the being shuffled their feet around, “no?”
“Would that be a problem?” Iggy responded, not even blinking at the response. Her mouth was actually salivating at the idea of a new minion. Actual spit was appearing. She had to check if she was drooling. This was literally the best thing that had happened to her in this lifetime. Screw the new universe, this was all she had ever hoped and dreamed for.
“Good, you’re hired.” Iggy said, throwing the resume over her shoulder. It crashed into another pile of papers, which then tumbled down into a horrible crash. Errant pages flew into the air. Whatever. “I’m Iggy, you’ll be my secretary, and you start now. Pull your chair closer and grab the nearest stack of papers. It’s nice to meet you...” Even though she had just seen the name of the fledgling being, she had already forgotten it.
“Entity.” They held out a hand, and Iggy shook it. “Now, does it matter if I write it out in demonic language, doctors handwriting, or in Russian cursive?”
“Eh, it’s the same thing.” Iggy shrugged, “you can hardly read it anyway. Just check boxes and throw bad people into hell and good people into heaven.”
“What if they’re medium people?”
“Then they go to the Chuck E Cheese realm. It’s not good. It isn’t bad. It’s medium amount of torture. Plus the option of arcade games.” Iggy handed the Entity a pen. “You can take a lunch break in a month, coffee breaks every weekend. We’ll give you a room to live in. But you’ll hardly ever spend time there.”
“I have a cat?” The Entity responded.
“Then we’ll hire them too.” Iggy said, “now get to work.”
What do you think will happen to Harriet while she is on the streets? Nothing sinister... probably.
(No cats were harmed upon hiring.)
Chapter 3: In Which The Plot Begins to Twist
I rewrote this chapter I think about six times. Because it got dark. Too dark and I couldn't just- idk. Putting a kid on the street is a sad thing but, man, I suck at writing those kind of scenes. I struggled hardcore on this. And it came down to 'I just won't write it.' I will throw in things later in about her time on the streets but for now, enjoy. Also, if you'd like to throw some ideas at me, I'd be welcome to it. The writers block is real.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
I have found that being in France is frankly, intolerable. Mother and I have taken a visit to our distant relatives who lived in Paris, and they’re horrid. My great aunt, whom I am forced to call Grand-mere simply because she is an old bint, smells of smoke as she daily burns through a pack of cigars. She pinches my cheek and tells me to go be quiet and sit somewhere. The absolute audacity. Don’t they know who my father is?
Mother said I couldn’t pack my broom, so even escaping to their backyard behind the villa is not an option. Unless it is to smell the roses, which Grand-mere said I should appreciate more. They are flowers, Harriet. What else does she want me to do, eat them?
The house is decorated in, what I would call, a pastel abyss. Pale yellows, baby blues, lilac purple, ect. It is the carpet, the wallpaper, the dinnerware. My eyes already burn, and it has only been a few hours since I have arrived. Honestly, the most entertainment I can possibly hope for is writing letters and perhaps even begging to go do my homework. My mother gives me that look, you know the one, where she knows what I am up to but doesn’t want to show face to Grand-mere.
Besides that, how are you? Where do you live, and are you presently on a vacation as well? Is the Potter Manor as bright and colorful as the hell that I am presently in? And if you could do me a favor, please write to me because I have nothing to do. To say in a drastic tone, I think visiting Pansy Parkinson would be better than this.
Potter Manor is splendid. No, I do not believe it is pastel.
I imagine it to be red, and gold, and
I am indeed currently on a vacation at the moment.
My relatives have asked me to leave for the summer, cuz I am a freak
I am traveling around the most curious of places. Right now, I am in a city called Nottingham. It is a few hours north of muggle London, and I am enjoying the change of scenery. Did you know that there is a magical forest here? I must admit, I hadn’t known that. It’s a preserve for dangerous magical creatures. I swore I heard a dragon roaring in the distance, but I didn’t want to confirm my suspicion.
The weather here is cool, but tolerable. I am living well, and enjoying the summer break.
I didn’t think I would. Your Grand-mere does sound a bit crazy. Inside of this envelope, I have enclosed a paint strip. It is used to help muggles find what colors to paint their homes. Note the dark black colors, and know that not everything is forever butter sunshine yellow. Your friend
To the heiress Potter
Hello, this is vincent crabbe.
Mother has asked if i had seen pretty girls at school, and which one i might like to marry. i mentioned you, and she said that you were acceptable but only if you vow to not be light and to teach our future children hexes.
she said a few more things, such as dresses and such but i dont understand it. what do you think she is talking about?
also will you marry me?
To the Heir Crabbe,
With as much eloquence as I can muster, no thank you. I am only eleven, and I do not wish to be married quite yet. Ask me again when I am twenty, and if I am not on the lam for killing my previous unwanted husband.
As for your mother’s actions, I do not know. Girls are
Thank you for asking nonetheless,
Thank you for the muggle parchment of colors. I am baffled that they must paint their homes, do they have big enough brushes to do so? I have only seen master artists create new paintings, and they only have brushes as big as my quill. It must be tedious to paint a house with something that small. Or do muggles just use their hands, like the muggle professor said the ‘cavemen’ did?
Grand-mere has decided to deem her attention upon me. And I find it worse than when she ignored me. I have to sit in my best robes, which are made from silk and awfully warm to wear, and just listen to her go on and on. Sometimes the elderly have brilliant stories to tell. My Great Uncle Xanus from my fathers other side once shared stories about the first wizarding war. He was telling me about a fight between the current Dark Lord, Grindlewald, and a platoon of aurors. Grindlewald was winning, single handedly! And then Mother walked in and said that those stories were inappropriate and Uncle Xanus wasn’t allowed to tell them to me. I wonder how he is doing? He lives in Belgium.
Anyways, that is what I had hoped for. Something to actually listen to and to yet, I found myself sweating like a horned-pig as Grand-mere told me about fashion. She told me how ladies had to pin their hair up in a certain way in order to signal wizards that they were available. And how women who didn’t wear dresses or skirts should be ashamed.
I think the only time that actually caught my interest was when Mother told me how some witches kept a knife called a ‘hair pin’ in their hair. It was entirely muggle, but those who had money put rather interesting curses on the pins. So that when people were stabbed by it they were forced to go to the aurors office and confess their actions. It caught a lot of heavy handed wizards.
I don’t understand. How can wizards have heavy hands? Is that a-
Oh Mother just told me. Despicable! How could somebody of good standing and pure blood bring themselves so low to attack witches like that! Let alone why would they attack muggleborns? They should not bring their families low like that.
Anyways, fashion. In the 1800’s there were a lot of different types of clothes, and it seemed like the more layers you had, the more class you had. Which I can sympathise with. I am so warm in these robes. Doesn’t Grand-mere know that it is summer?
You are in Nottingham, yes? I have heard about the sanctuary there. Apparently it is highly controlled by the ministry, and it hasn’t had it’s doors open for visitors in some time. I should know, I wanted to visit the dragons that they have there. Father tried to get me a pass for a day to see them, but the ministry refused. Apparently they keep rather highly dangerous creatures in there besides dragons. And it isn’t safe for anybody to visit.
I have heard that the trees, the further you go in, are practically gigantic. Did you see them? You can get lost easily in the woods.
Please send me more curious things from the muggle world,
I did see the trees. Honestly, it’s what drew me there in the first place. I had wondered why they were so big, that I could see them above most of the buildings in the city. They are taller than the biggest tower at Hogwarts, and from a distance they dwarf even mountains.
You wouldn’t believe the things I saw in there. Holy shit. I think I saw a hydra or something and it scared the hell out of me. I ran but dude never again. Never. Again.
I didn’t go in, but I did try to look to see anything. But I didn't find anything there. Anyways, I have continued in my travels. Since I have so much free time I took a train to Liverpool. There are a lot of museums here. That’s where muggles keep things from a long time ago and display them. I was in one where they were showing clothes from the 1800s and I could have sworn that I saw a display showing the silk robes you’re sweating in.
Muggles have moved forwards with as much inspiration as a spell maker has. Muggles have made a round brush. Called a paint roller. Think of a rolling pin that is free to spin around, and attach a handle that sticks from it. It can roll around for the paint to be applied. It is about an arm length wide, and can cover a large area. It makes painting easier for large areas.
Anyways, do you know of anything magical or interesting in Liverpool? Perhaps there is a nice shopping district here that I don’t know about.
Enclosed are a few pamphlets from the museums I visited. I have circled the aforementioned robes.
do you know any other girls who would marry me?
I know a few girls. Perhaps Susan Bones, or Hannah Abbott. You’d have to ask them. But word of advice, wait until they are older and court them first.
Also Hermione Granger. I bet she’d love for you to ask her. Compliment her on her hair. Or, oh, ask her to help tutor you. She would love to.
She will never stop talking you poor sod
Besides your impending marriage to a girl somewhere, how is your summer?
You alright? I am worryed about you.
I am perfectly fine.
I slipped into my uncles fist I slipped, and bruised my face a little while I was leaving platform nine and three quarters. That’s what you saw. Nothing bad happened. Haha. But everything is okay now. How are you? Is your summer interesting?
P.S. Can you keep what happened a secret? Please?
Liverpool has a tourist attraction. There is a bottomless whirlpool, which houses a Kraken. Sometimes they feed it and you can see it’s tentacles reach up and grab it before pulling it under. Perfectly safe, I have been assured. It’s been tamed for centuries. Ulfric the Oddball had something to do with it.
Mother wants me to ask if you have plans for visiting Diagon Alley for school supplies. We will be visiting on August 21st. If you would like to, you can join us.
Also, isn’t today your birthday? Happy Birthday, Harriet! I loved looking through the sheets of colored photos. Strange how they didn’t move. Those robes you pointed out actually look like something Grand-mere was wearing. We are back from visiting France, thank goodness. I cannot in good faith say that France was a lovely time because I was bored out of my mind. Mother knew I was on my best behavior, and didn’t complain after I spent a day out in our quidditch field.
Happy Birthday! I hope you like your gift.
I wish you a good birthday.
I don’t understand how you slipped when I saw that uglee fat man hit you. But I don’t understand a lot of things. Magik is weird.
Sea you soon.
I hope this finds you in good health.
I am sorry if I haven’t replied to any of your letters this summer. Turns out a batty house elf was taking my mail! I haven’t been able to get the letters he stole, and I am sorry if you think I was ignoring you again.
I know that we are pretty close with our birthdays, so I hope I haven’t missed it yet! It’s been so long since we have been able to hang out so would you like to meet me on the Hogwarts Express and catch up on the ride to school?
How are you? How has your summer been so far? I wish I had been able to communicate sooner with you.
I have had an interesting summer thus far. Ron and Hermione know it already, but Dumbledore says I need ‘extra training’ so he has been coming over and teaching me some defensive spells. I am really good with the basic shield spell so far. Besides that and trying to get my homework done, I haven’t had a lot of time to relax. Maybe we can go explore the forest sometime this year?
(Boy Who Lived, Heir to the Longbottom family, and First Class Order of Merlin)
Thank you for the enchanted mirror! It is very lovely. I would love to meet your family in Diagon Alley to shop. I will be outside of the Magical Menagerie at 10 am. I am uncertain when you will arrive, but I hope we can meet up.
Is it already August? How the time flies by.
I will see you in a few weeks!
Thank you very much for your gift and kind thoughts. I wish you a happy summer with your sister. I have a question to ask, if you do not mind. I have been feeling
super faintly ill for a few weeks. Do you know of any cures that would help me with it? Perhaps a simple potion or tonic that I might find in Diagon Alley?
I would love to sit with you. Do you typically sit in the front of the train or the back? Also, I noticed you have a lot of titles. What is the Order of Merlin thing? I have heard of it before, and it is a bit pretentious looking. Not to offend you of course. I am simply curious. Also, I liked the satchel you gave me. It is very nice. My old one is nearly falling apart.
My apologies for your health. I have attached a few vials of a simple fever reducer. We had some left over from my sister’s last illness. Do you know when you last had your dragon pox vaccine? It might be time to renew it. If these do not work well for you, I implore you to go to St. Mungos. I have seen what happens when sickness is not treated fast enough.
Wishing you the best,
I got the Order due to being the whole ‘living the killing curse’ and also ‘ending Voldemort's reign.’ I don’t think I deserve it. When are you going to Diagon Alley? I am going here soon with the Weasleys and would you like to join us? Hermione said she has already gone three times to get more books. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.
(Boy Who Lived, Heir to the Longbottom family, and First Class Order of Merlin )
Sorry, that writes itself every time I finish a letter. Bloody annoying.
The fever reducer has helped quite a lot. Thank you again for aiding me.
What’s dragon pox? I feel much better now and I am grateful for your help. I don’t feel like shite anymore. I will do my best to keep better care of myself.
Until next time,
I would otherwise love to join you to go shopping, I have made plans to join some other friends.
I can’t believe I have other friends. I promise I won’t go anywhere with any strange wizards who offer me toffee, okay? I can’t wait to see you again on our way to school. I’ll look for you!
Harriet, who is the strange wizard? And why are they offering you toffee? I don’t think that is safe.
(Boy Who Lived, Heir
The girl who emerged from Gringotts, her knees shaking and her wallet was heavier than normal, was thin. Her hair was drawn up into a messy braid, her brown locks still cut choppily but long enough to be pulled back. As she glanced around the busy and bustling Diagon Alley, a nervous look entered her eyes. Her fist tightened on her wallet, and she stumbled down the large marble stairs of the bank. Harriet’s movements were like a fawn moving for the first time. Clumsy and wobbling. Almost as if she wasn’t used to the motion.
Nobody spared her a second look as she wove around the outskirts of the crowd. There were certain shops she avoided all together. Like the crowd that piled around the quidditch shop and bookstore. Posters lined the streets showing off a blonde man with a shimmering smile, the light actually glinting off of his white teeth.
Harriet had avoided London. Not because it was nearby to Surrey, which she did not step in since she had been banished. But because there were questions in London that she didn’t want to answer. And honestly, it was entertaining to plan out where to go the next day. Still, her wary eyes scanned for threats and she was poised for any sign of something going wrong.
The menagerie was a screaming ball of noise. Owls shrieked and clacked at each other. Kittens, or perhaps kneazles, wandered in and out of the door. Their green eyes flashing yellow, staring the wizarding population down with unreadable expressions. Rats were displayed in cages by the front door, their little squeaks of terror as the owls studied them rising and falling like waves.
It was strange. All Harriet had to do was watch, and she could see a level beneath the animal's actions. It started small, like it usually did, by seeing swarms of flies over an open dumpster. Harriet had been wandering around, lost and a bit giddy at the thought of a free summer, near the beginning of her tour across Britain. All she had to do was stare at the insects and she knew- (yum sweet smell yum fruit banana peel fresh tasty storm is coming need to watch need to eat need to lay eggs need to fly) what they were saying. But she had to gaze at them for a long time before she could see what they were talking about.
Not in words. But their language was in actions. Like the silent language of hand movements she had seen once.
(Iggy had said that she’d get… weird abilities? Language was one of them… right? She vaguely remembered hearing it, but that memory was fuzzy and distant, like a dream. It can’t be a dream, now can it. She had proven that Iggy was real. That she had done something and now Death was interlinked with her.
Phantom pain crushed Harriet’s chest. The night's events still haunt her. That horrible pain would never leave her. Her magic writhing within her was a sensation she’d never forget. It hurt still.)
An owl was lamenting that the mice were not very tasty to another one, when Harriet caught her name.
“Oh I see her, hey Harriet!” A voice cut through the general noise. Harriet froze like a deer, her eyes widened and she stared. And there, three inches taller and already dressed in fancy robes, was Draco Malfoy. A beautiful woman with streaked black hair nudged him gently, but the look in her eyes was steel.
Draco caught the warning, and straightened up and gave her a shamed look. “My apologies, Heiress Potter. I did not mean to yell.”
Harriet gave him a smile, and her posture relaxed. This was like a breath of air. Normality. The last few months have been… like walking on the edge of a wire. And finally, Harriet was close to returning to school. And from there, she wouldn’t have to think about where to sleep or eat next. The stress from not having to think about survival was… nice.
She had been waiting for this moment for a while. She gave Draco a nod, and in a quiet whisper said, “you’re forgiven.” Harriet should have added more. Daphne once spoke about adding lots of fluff to her sentences. To make her look pretentious. That was too much, and Harriet preferred to be blunt.
“Draco, introduce us.” The woman, his mother, cut in with clipped upper class words. Harriet’s attention drew to the couple behind Draco. If she had ever tried to imagine who Draco parents looked like, she wouldn’t have guessed it correctly. His father had the silver blonde hair, but his aristocratic features were sharp like a knife. Cutting cheekbones and thick eyebrows, he wore a perpetual frown. But his mother was nearly the opposite. Round and soft features, her eyes were a honey brown. Her hair framed her face, accentuating the soft and the black robes hid the lace that was sewn on the hem.
The few moments Harriet took to observe them, they gauged her as well. What were they seeing, Harriet wondered? Were they looking at her scuffed shoes? Her messy braid, her ratty robe that had seen one too many nights on the street as a blanket? Did they see the stain on her skirt that Harriet couldn’t get out? Or perhaps did they see the dirt and grime that she had tried so hard to clean up before coming.
“Mother, Father, this is Heiress Harriet Potter. Harriet, this is my mother and father, Lady Narcissa and Lord Lucius Malfoy.”
Lady Malfoy tilted her head, the move ingrained in her that was seamless. “My pleasure to meet you, Heiress Potter. May I ask where your guardians are?” A polite smile was pointed at Harriet.
Harriet opened her mouth and licked her lips. “They left already.” Harriet responded, her voice a thin reed.
“Really? Not even to see you entrusted into our care?” Lady Malfoy did not like Harriet’s answer. All Harriet could do was shrug. Daphne was going to roll in her grave if she saw Harriet do such an unlady like thing. But it was the only response Harriet could think of.
“Cissy,” Lord Malfoy spoke, his voice deep and husky. “I see the line for the school books growing longer.” The pair exchanged a silent look, and Lady Malfoy nodded gently. “Draconis, join me. Your mother and Heiress Potter will join us after they are done at the apothecary.” And with that, he was off. His long legs and cane already carrying him far away, towards the growing crowd. Draco gave Harriet a smile before following his father.
“Come now, let us gather some items.” Lady Malfoy turned and headed the other direction. Harriet trailed after her just like Draco had done with his father. Feeling a little loss. Was it a Malfoy thing to just walk away and hope that people follow them? Draco did the same thing at school. Greg and Vincent never questioned it.
“Tell me Harriet, did you have an enjoyable summer?” Lady Malfoy asked. “Draco has told me that you were traveling around.”
“Yeah.” Harriet replied. There was a pause. When it became evident that Harriet wasn’t going to continue, Lady Malfoy gave a polite but distant smile.
The conversation ended then and there.
The walk to the apothecary was quick and short, since they were only a few buildings away. Once upon a time, Harriet would have salivated to walk into the store. Already her eyes were straying to the show cased merchandise and thoughts were itching to make themselves known.
That dream died when she saw the price tag, and her wallet only held forty galleons. Forty galleons for new robes, school books, ink and quills, and other items that were small but needed nonetheless. Harriet didn’t have it in her budget. And after spending a summer with nothing she was desperate to keep at least a little of money squirreled away.
The door swung open without Lady Malfoy touching it, and she walked in with her nose held high and her eyes looking sharp. Harriet trailed after her like a lost dog, one that had been kicked a few times and had fleas. The inside was cool and dark, but the air moved around in a cool breeze. It was needed to keep some things fresh.
A man with white hair, much like Lord Malfoys was, and dark gray eyes stood behind the counter. Lady Malfoy did not hesitate, stepping up to him and saying, “second year potion kit, along with the addition of these items.” She held out a list. The man took it, glancing at the ink before nodding his head and disappearing into the back room.
Harriet took a chance and wandered behind an isle. What sort of things did they have here? Bottles lined up, clean and wiped so the materials inside were not hidden. Frog tongues, hippopotamus teeth, Glasgow wings. So many options. So many things. She followed the shelves, only to stop to turn a bottle to peer inside better. Oh, how her heart wished to have these things.
“I’ve seen you before.”
Harriet jumped and whirled around, eyes wide. The shopkeeper was behind her. A basket of small items in his hands. His dark eyes did not leave hers, as he picked up a bottle of murtlap essence and placed it within the basket.
“It is not every day a child looks in my shop and sees wonder." He gave her a faint smile. “It does not help that you remind me of… well. Another one just like you.” He tilted his head, and suddenly Harriet gained the sudden impression that he was a predator. Just like how she knew when a chicken was scratching for seeds, this man was not what he seemed.
And somehow, he knew she was not just a little girl either.
“I have something for you, perhaps it will endear you to come back again.” With long legs, he strode down the aisle and plucked a dark bottle from the highest shelf. This vial was dusty, and cobwebs clung to it. If he had not taken it from it’s hiding place, Harriet wouldn’t have noticed it. With casual indifference, he dropped it into her hands. “I would hope that you take the wonder you saw, and make it a reality.” He whispered.
And with that, he turned and silently walked back into the depths of the store.
Harriet silently gazed down at the vial, and stared into the thick yellow liquid that held a bobbing eyeball. It slowly twirled in its bottle, until the front of the eye came into view.
It’s iris focused on her and dilated.
Meanwhile, down the road a bit and past the absolute chaos of the bookstore, two boys split off from their family. It wasn’t hard, their mum was going on about how Lockhart was in the building and was doing her best to make Ronnikins and Ginny presentable. She wanted the newer versions of the books to have his signature. The older bashed up books from the second hand store down the street was for them, and George didn’t care. And he was certain that Fred didn’t give two shits about it either.
Why all of them needed their own series of Lockhart’s books was beyond them. Honestly, they should all just share them. It wasn’t like they all had the class at the same time. Plus, with Ginny as a shoe-in for Gryffindor, they could just leave them in the common room. Easy peasy, with a few extra galleons to spare. But after their dad got a decent raise their mom lost all frugality when it came to the younger siblings of their family.
“You sure this is the right place?” Fred leaned in and whispered, peering down at the worn parchment in George’s hands. They both had it memorized but it was a new daring step they were taking. Rereading a paper with instructions didn’t seem too hard.
“Says the curtain by the market.” George replied, not even glancing at the words. He stared at the dirty and ratty curtain that was held by a rope. “I don’t see any others.”
Fred let out a nervous chuckle. “Well then, let’s get on with it. Lockhart isn’t going to bedazzle mum forever.” And pulled back the thin linen cloth.
Behind was a dark street. And beyond that, Knockturn Alley. George could recall the numerous stories their dad would share of the dark things that went down in this shopping district. Why would the ministry even keep it open for it to continue when it seemed like a smart thing to just destroy all together, it was beyond him. But nerves still prickled his skin.
It was dark. Like the sun was muted and the stones above their head were caked with grime and years of scum. They had both tried to wear less obvious outfits. A black but thin robe, but as George glanced around he saw they fit right in. The few who wore anything better were standing at the corner, smoking a pipe with orange smoke rising from it. Their hooded eyes gave the boys a calculating look.
“This way.” Fred said, clasping his hand in Georges and pulling him down into the shadows. The streets barely had any lamps, making the darkness loom and seem like a trap. Like a puddle that was deceptively deep. They passed by huddled figures on doorsteps and broken shop windows until Fred paused, staring at a shop with a boarded up sign saying, ‘Parcae.’
They were already in this far, might as well. George stepped up and pushed at the door, and it swung inwards. A wave of sickly heated air blasted them, and inside was lit up by black candles.
“Come in,” a woman with long white hair that covered her face. She sat behind the counter on a cushion. Her long bony fingers beckoning them in. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Fred stepped in, swallowing. “I know.” He whispered.
His hand burned when they returned to Diagon Alley. George kept giving him concerned glances, but Fred knew he made his choice so he would appreciate it if he wasn’t treated like some glass figurine. Their family was still there where they had left them, not twenty minutes ago.
Was it only twenty minutes? It felt like ages.
His palm throbbed with pain.
Fred swallowed hard. He wasn’t used to pain, and it itched and niggled until it was constantly at the front of his mind. His fingers curled around his puffed and welted skin, hiding it from the world.
“Where have you too been?” Ron asked, a snack in his hand and his mouth full. “You missed it, it was bloody amazing.”
“None of your business,” George replied, “but what happened?”
“None of your business.” Ron parroted back at them, then rolled his eyes and turned away to go bother Neville.
That is when Ginny stepped in, shy sweet little Ginny, and spoke up. “Dad punched Malfoy.”
Both boys were speechless for a moment. “Wait really?” Fred choked out. “The older or the younger one.”
Ginny had to muffle a snort at that. “The older one. If he punched a kid then he’d be arrested, you know.” She gave them a smile, “but yeah. Malfoy and Dad traded some insults and then next thing you know, he’s hitting Dad and then they’re on the ground and wrestling.” She leaned in, “Charlie is better at it though.”
George let out a huff, “man, I can’t believe I missed it.”
“Yeah,” Fred replied, a little hollow as his palm flared again. As if to remind him why he had missed it in the first place. To whisper, ‘remember me? Remember what you promised? Remember the deal.’ “Me too.”
The office of Dumbledore within Hogwarts was a beautiful sight to behold. That is, if you were a child or a dimwitted village idiot. To Dowager Longbottom, anybody who stepped in after graduation and still admired the silly decorations or two-bit books on the shelves had to be the latter of the two described. Her long skirts trailed against the floor, but picked up no dust or debris from the ground. She was a witch, and if she couldn’t magic her hem then she was as magical as a toad.
It was a good thing that nobody took a look at Augusta Longbottom and compared her to a toad.
“Good morning, Lady Longbottom.” Dumbledore, the fool, stood up as she entered. It was proper to do so, but the fact that Albus was wearing lime green robes did not appeal to her mood.
“Sit,” she bit out tersely. “And tell me exactly why Lord Dumbledore, I am here and not shopping with my grandson. Leaving his supplies for the next year with those,” her upper lip curled slightly, “Weasleys.”
Truth be told, Augusta Longbottom could not tell exactly why (Dumbledore) she allowed the Weasley’s into her grandson's life. Nor could she forbid him from seeing them because as much as she would want to, the thought never came to her (again, Dumbledore’s doing). But she hated them nonetheless (for once, not Dumbledore’s doing).
“Augusta,” Albus tried to speak but she held up one gloved finger.
“It is Lady Longbottom, Lord Dumbledore. I will not be insulted by you if I am here at your request.”
Albus tilted his head, accepting the criticism. “Lady Longbottom, I am here because, to be honest, I do not know what to do. I am afraid I need your help. Moreso, I believe Neville needs your help most of all.”
Augusta sniffed, “just say it. What is it that you want? I do not care for such pointless attempts for manipulation. I have seen better attempts than your words in a dog begging for a bone than your pitiful efforts.” She tapped her cane upon the ground.
If Dumbledore was offended by her blunt words, he didn’t even blink an eye at it. Instead, he smiled good naturedly and continued. “During these months I have been around your grandson, I have come across a rather alarming habit of his. I do not think it is something to worry about, Lady Longbottom, but I can see it becoming one if it goes unchecked.” He paused, and Augustus gave him a impatient look. “Neville has an astounding amount of imagination. Now,” he held up both hands to prevent the onslaught of words, “I am aware that is not a bad thing. However, combined with the fact that he is a well known household name, I believe that it has, as muggles would say it, gone to his head. Neville has started a habit of making up adventures and to the point where he believes that they are real. And, not to mention, he has managed to convince several of his peers that they had happened as well.”
Augustus pursed her lips like she was sucking on a lemon. “I should have never agreed to those children's novels.” She bit out, “I wanted to keep him away from the spotlight.”
Albus nodded sagely, “indeed. Just last year, I thought it was peculiar that there had been a rumor of a mountain troll wandering the hallway and that Neville had apparently taken it down by himself. I never questioned it until this summer, when I saw how invested Neville was to these stories.”
Augusta looked far away, and her eyebrows lowered. “Yes, I recall a troll being mentioned in a letter from him. I did not pay it much attention at the time.”
“Then you understand that what I am about to ask of you, Lady Longbottom, will be for Neville’s sake.” Albus leaned backwards, “I do not want to become between you and your heir. But I also do not wish for Neville’s fame to get to his head, and for making up stories that could later impact his future. I propose a simple solution, in the hopes that it will be enough to make him think before saying things,” Albus said. “All I ask is that you check in with me if he starts writing anything out of the ordinary. I will be able to tell you the truth from the story personally.”
Augusta did not look happy. “What out of the ordinary things do you think my grandson would write to me about?” She gave him an accusing look.
Albus smiled gently, “perhaps I should have used the word outlandish instead. If he were to write to you how, say, a giant spider in the woods tried to eat him or perhaps if the books were infested with doxies. This is a school, Augusta. I would never let any harm come to him or to any other student. The wards protect them from dangerous creatures and dark spells. All I ask is for you to verify with me that he is saying the truth. Not all the time. Just when it seems a bit questionable.”
“And what do I do if he does send me these things, hmm? And they are just figments of his imagination.”
“I will simply ask that you do not feed into it. The more attention he gets for convincing people with his stories, the more he will continue it. Ignore his words. My worry is that he will lead the other students here with his stories that their parents will be involved. I do not want anybody to think that Hogwarts is a dangerous place for their children.”
Albus leaned forward, a smile on his face. He knew he already won by the sour look on Augusta’s face. He picked up a bowl held of his favorite candies and held it out to her. “Lemon drop?”
A Diary soaked up a drop of ink that night, and the soul inside of it sang for blood.
if i spent half the time writing instead of playing minecraft we'd be on the fourth book by now.
Chapter 4: In Which Harriet Gets An Autograph
Harriet spent the rest of her summer at platform nine and three quarters. It was empty, and nobody was going to come until it was time for school to start up again. And it made a nice place to live in for the remaining weeks until the train was set to depart. Harriet kept herself busy by finishing up the remaining homework and occasionally venturing out to Diagon Alley and to wander the streets and remind herself that she was magic. Just because she didn’t even have her wand didn’t mean that she was powerless.
In fact, Harriet hoped above everything that her magic was normal now. Her core was unlocked now. She hadn’t been able to use her wand when she was recovering and hopefully she could actually do magic.
(Harriet was looking forward to seeing Flickwick’s face when she cast a charm that didn't explode. But don’t tell him that.)
She was excited to go back to Hogwarts. Because everything has changed now. It was like she was starting all over again. Except instead of being an outsider, she could actually learn and enjoy the magic her classmates all had. She poured through her old text books and her new ones, looking forward to the day when she could perform the spells.
Except for potions. The book remained untouched from where Harriet discarded it after giving it a skim. It was still atrocious and painfully bad to read. Well, it wasn’t like Harriet was going to learn something new. Except for how many times she could cause a potion to explode. (Take that Snape!)
The only time Harriet had when it came to potions while on the road was simple pain reducers. Or something to calm the fever inside of her. She had little in the way of ingredients to make them. Instead she had to resort to picking whatever muggle or magical plants she came across and trying to make due with them. Daphne’s fever reducers worked the best. Until Harriet ran out of them and a day later the heat and sweat came back with a vengeance.
It was like making a potion by wrapping a broken pot with duct tape and it still managed to hold it’s water. It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t very good either. But it worked. At least Harriet had made a potion that stopped the coughing. That was the most painful bit.
The day finally came when the train rolled her way into the station, beautiful and resplendent. The Hogwarts express was a sight for sore eyes, and by then Harriet was practically vibrating with impatience. She had been waiting months to go back to school. And it was finally time to go back.
Somewhere in the back of her head, Dudley and every normal kid wailed at the idea of wanting to go back to school. Harriet ignored that, and instead waited until she could board and change into her school wardrobe. She hadn’t grown much this summer, and her clothes from last year still fit fairly well. Her robes might be an inch or two above her ankles, well. No biggy. Only Daphne would notice that. And Daphne was a perfectionist, so not everybody was going to see it.
Her scuffed and worn Mary Jane shoes tapped at the floor as she waited. It was hours until the train departed. And the wait felt like an eternity. The sky was still dark and the sun wouldn’t creep over the horizon for some time. She couldn’t sleep the night before, too wired to even think about it. But as she waited and the seconds ticked on, Harriet leaned back into the soft cushion and relaxed. For the first time in months, she knew she was safe. And that was enough to send her into a peaceful doze. Curled up on a seat on the Hogwarts Express, Harriet rested her eyes.
(The trees touched the top of the sky. It was impossible but it was real. Harriet had a pain in her neck from looking up up up at the trees. The city that Vernon had dumped her in wasn’t as massive or cramped as London, but it was different due to the fact that the forest seemingly surrounded and grew its way into it.
The muggles didn’t notice.
Harriet watched as a skateboarder cruised down the sidewalk and tripped over a large protruding root. The boy didn’t even detect what caused his scraped knees, and Harriet just pondered the strange sight of a bustling city covered in foliage. Thankfully, it seemed like the plants in the city were not as towering or as mind-breaking as the ones near the border, which encompassed the entire sky. Their branches were ladened with leaves and vines, and the higher it became the denser and darker it became.
Almost in a trance, Harriet wanted to see one of the trees for herself. Not the normal sized ones that grew in the middle of the street, forcing cars to suddenly swerve around it. Harriet picked her way through the plants and forced her way to the outskirts until she was face to face with one of the largest trees she had ever seen. The light only dared to skate around the depths of the forest. Within a few dozen meters it stopped shining on the ground, and darkness writhed like smoke in the air.
Harriet, without thinking, without thought, stepped in. And a voice began to whisper in her ears. They sounded slick and silky, but she was unable to catch the words themselves. She gently, like a doe, stepped through the nearly invisible underbrush. Leaves gently brushed her arms refreshing and cool, taking away the summer heat that lingered on her skin.
Wind rustled past her, moving slow but it gained speed. Ripping the leaves off of their plants and hurling them at her. Harriet had to turn and-
A robed figure stood behind her.
There was a niggling sense of familiarity, but Harriet couldn’t place where she had seen them before. (A memory rose up from her consciousness. But her psyche shrieked and threw it away, forcing the recollection back where it came from. Shoving the memory of a scythe in his bone-white hands away.)
“I don’t understand how you came to be.” The darkness rose up and curled around the shadowed figure. A dark hood covered his head, and light didn’t dare touch him. In fact, light threw itself away from him.
“Well,” Harriet replied, “I don’t understand taxes so we both can be confused, thank you.” She crossed her arms and sniffed, doing her best Aunt Petunia impression.
The hood tilted, and somehow Harriet got a sense that he was amused. Was it a he? His voice was man-like. But she couldn’t tell any features. He leaned forwards, “can you hear that?” He whispered, and Harriet focused on the sound that had been whispering in her ears. The silky voice that she couldn’t understand or catch the words.
“I think I’m trying to find it.” Harriet mumbled, “but I can’t understand it.” She looked up to the dark branches that loomed over her. Birds called out to each other in the darkness, warning of danger or to flee before it is too late.
The figure leaned even closer, that the tendrils of darkness brushed up against Harriet’s bare arms. It felt nice, but in a weird way. “Would you like to?”
She paused, then nodded. “I think so. Yeah.”
Then Harriet looked up and a few inches from her face was a skull. This was a dream, so the sight didn’t send her into hysteria. But it was weird. Most people in her dreams have a face rather than a skull. She stared at it, and Harriet had a rather irresistible urge to poke it. Well, it wasn’t real so why not? So she did. Right in the eye socket. It didn’t feel awful. Just sort of buzzy.
If the skull could blink, it probably would have. But then again, Harriet had her finger where his eyes were supposed to be. “You’re not what I expected.” The voice came out of the head, but it’s mouth did not move. The intimidating rasp of his voice dropped, leaving a rather befuddled and normal tone.
“How can you talk without moving your mouth?” Harriet asked, then paused. “How can you talk without a head? Without vocal chords? What a silly person you are without sensible things such as a face or hair. What hair color do you think you’d have if you had-”
The figure leaned back and it’s skull disappeared behind the shadow of it’s hood. “Okay! We’re off topic now. Uh, look over there!” He pointed, and Harriet glanced away to look at a bush.
“A shrubbery?” Harriet questioned and then looked back and saw that they were gone. “Oh very funny, ha ha.” She dryly said. “Oldest trick in the book.”
The wind rustled once more and fell silent. Harriet glanced around, even peered behind a tree. But whoever came to ask her weird questions was gone. Instead Harriet just found nothing but trees and plants and rotting wood. “Hello?” She called out, “I wanted to ask more questions about your face.”
The voice murmuring in her ear rose in volume. And Harriet halted as she strained to hear what it was saying. She closed her eyes, and-
“Master,” it whispered, “come get me I need you we need you come get me I need you to come I need you we need you master please please please please plEASE COME GET ME COME GET ME COME-” It shrieked with desperation.)
Harriet woke with a start. Panic bubbled up, and she felt nearly sick because of it. The noise was still ringing in her ears. She stared at a wall, waiting until her heart calmed down and by the time she had, the dream had slipped from her memory. Her only vague recollection was of the Nottingham forest and a skull that rudely disappeared.
Dreams were weird anyways.
She shuffled up from where she had fallen sideways on the plush leather seat and glanced out the window. Then did a double-take. The clock had apparently moved ahead by several hours and people now ran across the station like ants. In fact, Harriet was certain that had been what woke her up. Now that it was apparent to her, it was quite noisy on the platform. Which was a hard shift from the deserted and nearly solemn place it had been for the past few weeks. It felt alive now, and Harriet was glad that she was already in a cabin. If she had been stuck in the chaotic mess it was now she’d have to plug her ears.
The door was open abruptly and Harriet jumped, her wide eyes looking over to see-
Fucking hell, she had forgotten about them. Prefect Weasley was standing there, a sour expression on his face. “Sorry, but you cannot be riding alone.” He gave her a disappointing look. The head-boy badge pinned on his robes glinting in the light. “If you think everybody who wants to ride alone gets their own cabin, then nobody would have a place to sit. Keep the door open for others.” And then he moved along, and Harriet was reminded why she found the Weasley's rather… annoying. And that was saying it kindly.
Oh well. She glanced outside to check on the giant station clock that hung on the far wall. The train was to leave in five minutes anyways. She scanned the area, looking to see if she knew anybody. Susan and Hannah were boarding together, and what looked like their families were waving them off. The clan of Weasleys were scampering like ants with a disturbed nest, their carrot red hair marking them. Daphne was hugging a little girl, and it looked to be a sad farewell. But the one person Harriet wanted to find wasn’t in view. She jumped onto her tiptoes to see above the heads, but Neville didn’t appear.
Maybe he was on the train already?
Leaving her bag to mark her spot, Harriet tentatively left the cabin in the hopes of finding her friend. Neville had promised to spend more time with her, and she was excited to hear what he did over the summer. He had the best stories to tell. The passages were filling up, but mostly everybody was just trying to find a place to spend time with their friends. There was an open cabin in the middle of the train that held benches, which mostly older students with large friend groups tend to hoard. Harriet pushed through the groups of people moving past her. Her small stature helps as she squezzed past tight areas.
She peered into cabins as she went. Even the ones who had doors closed, the window small enough she had to peek her face into view every time she wanted to see. Older years. A few first years, who had found a new friend to talk to. Near the back of the train Harriet peeked in a cabin and saw Draco surrounded by his year-mates. He stared out the window, and it looked like Pansy Parkinson was hanging off of his arm. Well, he looked busy. At least Harriet caught Greg’s eye and she gave him a small wave. He smiled back.
Going in that direction was a bust. Harriet hadn’t seen Neville yet. So she turned around and pushed herself in the other direction. The train was starting to hum underneath her feet, and it was getting close to leaving the station. Prefects usually stopped people from moving around too much when the train was in motion, and a new sense of urgency came to her search. Where was Neville?
At this point, Harriet was getting a bit exasperated. The Hogwarts express wasn’t that huge. And unless he was extremely late, Neville was hiding. She peeked around corners and peered into every shadow. Where was he? He had promised.
Harriet's shoulder slammed into somebody, and she muttered an apology. More concerned that she couldn’t find her friend on the dumb train full of annoying people who got in her way, than who she actually spoke to.
George Weasley moved out of the way and let his gaze linger on the small girl who practically elbowed him into the wall, and wondered, like he had with every girl he looked at, ‘was this her?’
Neville was hiding.
He had to be. Or maybe Harriet had missed him because she had checked every compartment. There were some places where she couldn’t look, like the prefect’s cabin where they had their meeting on the train. Or the boys bathroom. Not that she wanted to look in there. But he could have gone in there and she could have missed him. Hogwarts Express had left the station, and Harriet should’ve been excited by this fact. Except she couldn’t hang out with Neville. It put a damper on her mood.
She could just say it was just bad timing. But Harriet was too smart for her own good. And if it wasn’t for the fact that Ronald Weasley was also missing, she would have just let it all go. But he wasn’t there on the train either, so that meant he was with Neville. And that meant… Neville wanted to hang out with Ron more than he wanted with her.
A cutting blow.
Trying not to let her frustration or her anger boil over, Harriet tried to push the thought aside. Neville was just not there. And Harriet could still spend her time on the train doing other things. Like being alone, and reading a book. Going over her first year textbooks for the umpteenth time. Like she had, all summer long.
Damn it Harriet knew she shouldn’t have gotten her hopes up. She kicked at the ground and let her shoes scuff the ground. Neville did what he always did, he made false promises. How many times will she let herself fall for the same trick?
Harriet knew she was winding herself up, but she couldn’t stop herself. It was okay to be angry. And Harriet didn’t know where Neville was and what he was up to. There could be a legitimate reason why he couldn’t meet her.
But it was disappointing all the same.
Harriet found the cabin she left her bag in, and opened the door. Much to her disappointment, although Harriet didn’t know why she didn’t see it coming, the Prefect Weasley had said that she couldn’t be alone, there were two other girls in the compartment. First years, by the look of their pure black robes.
They looked up at her and Harriet gave them a polite smile and picked up her bag as the door closed behind her. Conversation was the last thing Harriet wanted to start, so she avoided the gaze of the two girls and stared out the window. They seemed to understand her reluctance and kept quiet. The country-side came into view and the muggle world fell behind. The train rocking gently.
“I have never seen another person with a mouth-jerber before.” A small but lilting voice spoke up. And it was just weird enough that it caught Harriet’s attention and, against her will, looked at the firstie who said it.
Blue eyes that were so light they looked silver stared into her. And it struck how wise they were on such a little girl. She was smaller than Harriet. “I’m Luna.” She tilted her head to her friend, “and this is Ginny.”
“Hey.” Ginny replied, and stared Harriet down as if daring her to say something stupid. There was a lot of… anger in her. If she was a cat, Harriet could see her bristling.
Luna stared at Harriet with her silvery eyes and gave a small smile. “You don’t have to say your name. I know how mouth-jerbers work.” She gently reached out and touched Ginny’s hand, which caused the red-headed girl to calm down. “Remember when I had one? It ate my words. I couldn’t talk for a while. After mum...” She trailed off. Luna turned back to Harriet, “I thought mine was bad. But yours is practically twice the size of what I had.” She gave a soft smile.
Ginny gave a huff but didn’t comment, and Harriet honestly didn’t know how to react. What were they talking about? Mouth… what? Harriet hadn’t heard anything like that before.
“Daddy said that mouth-jerbers don’t like poetry. The lyrics cause them to itch and they leave.” Luna kicked her legs out, and she looked shy, “if you write poetry it deters them from staying.” Then she fingered a paper in her hand. That’s when Harriet glanced down and noticed it wasn’t just a sheet of paper that she had assumed it to be, it was a magazine.
Honestly, Harriet hadn’t seen one of them besides the massive collection in her mother’s trunk. At one point she thought it had gone out of business because she hadn’t heard anybody talk about it. But here it was, an edition that Harriet hadn’t seen before.
She must’ve leaned over to get a better look at it, and it caught Luna off guard. Or maybe she was shy because she pulled it closer to herself. “Daddy writes it…” Luna trailed off again, “do you know the Quibbler?”
Ginny took this moment to lean in. Her actions and demeanor was practically daring Harriet to say the wrong thing. It was a touchy subject for them. Like they were waiting for Harriet to hurl insults at them.
But fuck that because Luna just said that her dad wrote the Quibbler and there was only one name after each article as the author. And it took a second for it to sink in because holy fuck. The look on her face must’ve been misread and Ginny looked seconds away from tearing Harriet apart, but instead Harriet turned to her bag and threw open the top. Digging through the contents as fast as she could, she practically ripped out her favorite copy of ‘The Quibbler ’ and held it out with shaking hands.
“Could,” Harriet said in a cracking voice, “I get your autograph?”
Hogwarts was as breathtaking as it was the first time. Except Harriet rode in the carriages carried by black horses with beautiful wings. The lovely creatures knickered as she passed them, and she gave them a shy stroke before turning away. The view of the castle wasn’t as good as it was on the lake, perhaps that’s why they made the first years go by that route. So they felt the magic of Hogwarts on the still waters of the lake, and took in their awe by themselves. If Harriet had seen the castle through the dusty and bumpy window of a carriage it wouldn’t be as good.
They made it to the castle long before the first years did, and Harriet hoped that Ginny and Luna both had a nice time on the lake. After Luna signed Harriet’s copy, which apparently was a 1976 May edition which was rare to own, it was lovely to see her open up. Ginny had relaxed when it became apparent that Harriet wasn’t going to make a cruel joke or make Luna cry. She had left near the end to find her family and make sure ‘they didn’t take a toilet seat from the train.’ And Harriet liked to listen to Luna chatter on. It wasn’t the nagging that Hermione had done their first train ride a year prior, but it was clear that it was something Luna was extremely passionate about.
Harriet didn’t mind listening to Luna at all. Was this what it felt like to be an older… friend? Luna looked smaller than Harriet ever remembered being and already Harriet would stab anybody who made her cry. Which was saying something. She had never felt this… overprotective over somebody before.
The hat sang a lovely song, which reminded Harriet of a Beatles tune (could the hat plagiarize Muggle songs?) and watched as the firsties came in with wide eyes and were sorted. She gave a polite clap for them, her eyes wandering and not really paying attention. She did look up when Luna was sorted into Ravenclaw, which was brilliant. Turns out Ginny was a Weasley, which didn’t surprise her. Really, she should’ve known from the bad attitude and the red hair. How many were there? Another three or four that Harriet didn’t know about?
Food appeared after that, and Harriet was glad for warm cooked food. She was tired of food she could steal out of vending machines and granola bars. So a nice warm stew with a thick roll was practically gold.
“Hey Potter!” A cheery voice called out, and a faceless Hufflepuff Prefect slid into the seat next to her. Ah yes, the Herd. They were already making their moves. Harriet barely gave him a glance before shoving another spoonful of stew into her mouth. “Madam Pomfrey asked me to let you know if you’d meet with her tonight after you’re done eating. Are you okay? Would you like me to walk with you there?”
She gave her head a shake and dismissed him. The boy hesitated, “if you’re sure…” he trailed off, and when Harriet didn’t reply, he walked away awkwardly. She rolled her eyes at his actions. It was nice to know when she’d actually get her wand back. She had missed it.
Harriet finished up her meal and without a word grabbed her bag and left. She didn’t need to stay for the beginning year orientation that the Herd held in the common room. There wasn’t a password nor anything different since last year. It wasn’t like they needed to hold a meeting at all when everybody except the firsties knew it all already.
Taking in a deep breath as Harriet walked the stone hallways, she was hit with nostalgia. It was just so nice to be back. Having a roof over her head and the food was already worlds better than the last few months. Maybe next summer Harriet could just hide away in the kitchens. Nobody would know she was here. It wasn’t like she had anywhere else to go.
Pomfrey’s office was in the same place before. And already the mediwitch was there, beating Harriet to the punch. “Miss Potter,” she gave her a once-over and frowned. Clucking her tongue, she guided Harriet over to a bed and pulled the curtain behind them. “Have a good summer then, Miss Potter?” She asked, as she waved her wand around. Casting different complex charms.
“I’m just going to do a simple core scan and diagnostic test. Barring anything life threatening, you can be out of here within ten minutes.” Pomfrey patted her pocket, and gave out a sigh. “Hold on, I am always so out of sorts at the beginning of the year. Let me grab some parchment and your wand and I’ll be right back.” She shut the curtains behind her, and Harriet heard several drawers open and close.
Harriet waited patiently and picked at a loose thread on her skirt as she pretended not to hear Pomfrey cuss and bump around. “I cannot believe I am missing scrolls for Merlin's sake,” Harriet heard her mutter quietly. “Why is it I get the short end of the stick. We have needed new stock every year for the past decade and yet I get the least amount of funding… I’ll just have to use loose leaf paper for now.” When the curtain opened again, Harriet could see how much Pomfrey seemed out of sorts. Her hair wasn’t fully pulled back all the way, and her apron was on backwards.
“Alright then,” she gave Harriet a warming smile, “here is your wand, and I want you to cast a charm. If you feel any kind of pressure, pain, queasy, or dizziness, stop immediately. Make the,” she glanced around, “flower pot float. The diagnostic spell will write down the-”
The door opened and the sound of a sobbing kid cut in. Pomfrey glanced behind her and gave out a large sigh. “Please complete the task and do it once.” She held up one finger, “after that please wait for me to come back. I need to tend to another patient.”
Harriet nodded, and the curtain closed again. But the sound wasn’t blocked. Wasn’t it supposed to? Harriet vaguely recalled that the curtains were to protect privacy by having silenced charms woven into them. But she wasn’t concerned to hear about a firstie who missed home.
Instead she fingered her fathers wand and looked down at the brown wood. With a nervous lick of her lips, Harriet pointed it at the flower pot and whispered, “wingardium leviosa!”
The first thing she noticed was the wand buckled in her grip. It expanded and moved like it was breathing. There was some kind of, well the only way Harriet could explain it was it felt like it tried to resist her. Like it didn’t want the magic that flowed through it and it showed it’s displeasure at being used like it. But it gave in with a shudder, and the flower pot shivered and floated into the air.
Harriet let out a breathless gasp and a loopy smile broke across her face. She did it! She did it!! She could barely contain her excitement. With care, she pointed her wand up and the pot followed, moving up and further than any feather in class. At that point, Harriet wanted to dance! Magic! It was all magic! It was amazing!!
She bounced the pot back and down, and then her wand gave a shudder and, “ow shite!” Harriet hissed, and dropped her wand. The pot wasn’t too high, and landed with only a dull thud. No injury. Which was the opposite for Harriet’s hand. She inspected her palm, and to her bewilderment, she had a splinter.
Harriet put her palm up to her mouth to try and suck it out as she picked up the wand. She gave it a quick inspection, but it seemed to be perfectly normal. She couldn’t even find here the splinter had come from. The wood seemed normal. Seemingly content with what she found, Harriet shoved it into her pocket. Her palm still up to her mouth, she glanced at the pages to see what the diagnostic scan had to show. The ink was still drying on the pages.
Well, she was healthy. A little underweight. But honestly, who wouldn’t be after being on the streets for a few months? She looked at the next page. A list of all current health issues. Ha! She didn’t have a fever. Thank goodness she had made a decent hodgepodge fever reducer. It wasn’t very good, but it worked enough to fool this test.
Next page just had jargon and whatnot, so it wasn’t very interesting.
But the next page…
Harriet’s blood turned icy cold because written in the ink was her core. It listed everything wrong with it. It was scarred and cracked and damaged. Just like Harriet was. But that wasn’t the issue. Yes, but it listed how it was injured.
Shit shit shit. It was illegal. Harriet hadn’t known it at the time but she had heard things since then and holy shit this was-
She had to remember to breathe. Just breathe. She sucked in a breath and nearly vomited.
This was the smoking gun that would get Harriet kicked out of Hogwarts. And she felt sick. So terribly sick. The dread mixed with her nerves and her stomach flipped. She could feel her blood draining from her face. If they found out, if Dumbledore found out- she was thrown into prison. No questions asked. They didn’t care that she was twelve. It was super duper illegal to the point that nobody could talk about it. And here, written in ink, was the evidence.
Her fingers curled into the parchment and she crumbled it as she shoved it down her shirt. It burned against her skin. Why had she thought that she had gotten away with the ritual? Just because she lied about it didn’t mean there was other evidence out there. She was so stupid! Just because they believed her once didn’t mean that they were never going to find out.
A horrible thought occurred to her. Her lungs burned. Breathe. Harriet had to remember to breathe. What about the original scan that Pomfrey did on her, back when Harriet was recovering? Was it listed there too?
She felt trapped. But… Harriet really had no other choice but to look. Right? Otherwise this would haunt her for weeks until she could find her way back here. And Pomfrey wasn’t at the top of her game right now. She had to check her file. She just had to. This was her only chance.
Harriet really, really, really didn’t want to.
She nudged the curtain aside, and peered around the corner of it. Her hands shook. Pomfrey wasn’t there. Harriet slowly crept out and hesitantly walked up to Pomfrey’s desk. There were papers everywhere, bottles and quills and ink- it was a desk of a bad day at the job.
Iggy must’ve been looking down at Harriet, because to her pure luck, Harriet’s file was there. Labeled with her name and everything. She couldn’t stop herself from yanking it off the desk and flipping it open. It was a scroll. She pulled it free and tore through it’s contents, looking for the similar scan that she had just seen.
Seconds ticked by. A minute. Maybe more. There was a lot about Harriet that she didn’t know. Apparently her father had some kind of genetic disease of some kind that required it to be noted and, in any other circumstance, would have been interesting to read. Instead, Harriet desperately wanted to know about what they knew about the ritual.
The burning of her magical core simmered and reminded her of the agony it threw at her. The phantom pain constricted her breathing.
Then there were all the notes of the potions that Harriet had blown up or burned her. Pomfrey kept a very detailed account, much to Harriet’s absolute dismay. It was easy to disregard that, until finally, Harriet came to the incident. Her eyes searching, practically burning because she didn’t dare blink, for the same passage to be found.
Harriet saw it.
Cause undetermined until the core settles.
With an explosive sigh of relief, Harriet wilted. They didn’t know. The injury was too fresh or something. She went to curl up the scroll but it did it by itself. The length of paper snapped up into a neat roll and was completely undisturbed.
“Miss Potter, what are you doing?” The voice made Harriet jump and lose her footing. She turned around to see Pomfrey. The woman looked even more frazzled than before, and very put out.
The adrenaline rush was shooting Harriet into new heights. “I uh,” Harriet held up the stack of papers that held the diagnostic charm up. Sans one paper. She prayed that Pomfrey didn’t actually check to see if that page was missing. “Was putting it on your desk?”
“And the scroll?” Pomfrey crossed her arms.
“Had my name on it?” Harriet shrugged as nonchalantly as she could.
The mediwitch gave out a great big sigh. “Put them on the desk and do not touch them.” She sat behind the table, “did you feel any side effects when you cast the charm? Any tightening, discomfort, hard of breathing, lung pain, etcetera.”
Harriet shook her head.
“Wonderful.” She gathered the papers and placed them into Harriet’s file along with the scroll. It laid perfectly flat even though it physically shouldn’t. Magic. Do files have pocket dimensions in them? “Now get out, and stay out. Do not blow up another cauldron this year, Miss Potter.” She shook her finger at Harriet.
Harriet didn’t need another excuse. She left as fast as she could.
Later that night, when she was all tucked in bed and Hedwig was asleep in her terrarium, Harriet lit the paper on fire. No evidence. Nothing that could be traced back to her. One scare was enough for her. Never again. She will be more careful.
“Iggy! She poked me in the eye. What the hell, Iggy? What kind of kid does that?” Death howled down the infinite abyss of Death Incorporated, and Iggy only sighed and rolled her eyes.
“What is he saying?” The Entity looked up from their paperwork. They blinked as they were trying to refocus on their surroundings after being deep in thought. The paperwork was slowly being whittled away. Page by page.
“Shhh,” Iggy leaned over and placed a finger onto the Entities lips. “Don’t talk. Write.”
Chapter 5: In Which Dominos Were Lined Up and Gently Pushed
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
If birds could sing,
What would be their song?
If children could cry freely,
What would their emotions say?
I do not know.
I do not know what to cry about now
I only have untold rage.
(Because Luna told me to write poetry.)
The first week passed, and they were well into the second when Harriet felt comfortable enough to relax in the castle. After the near scare of the first day, she kept a wary eye out. Walking on her tiptoes and peeking around corners, even though she’d get the weirdest side-eyed looks from the portraits. The first few days she was convinced that Aurors were going to get her. They were just waiting for her to get out of class and take her away and kill her in some dark corner of the wizarding world. But when that failed to happen, the next worry was that Pomfrey was going to notice the missing piece of paper and Harriet would be called in to retry the test. But that didn’t happen either.
Cautiously, oh so daringly, Harriet let her guard down.
With a few months separating her school years, Harriet saw both an incredible amount of difference between her first year to her second, but it felt like nothing had really changed either. She had all of the same classes, but at different times. Everybody was a bit taller. And the Herd mostly focused on the little group of firsties that followed the older students like lost baby ducklings. Hannah and Susan had grown even closer than before, which felt like it was impossible because they were already very friendly, and Harriet felt shunted to the side. But that was usual.
It was the same, but also it was different. Classes held harder lessons and the homework increased. Teachers held them to a higher expectation, and Harriet felt the pressure increasing. The friend groups around her didn’t seem to separate, instead it looked like everybody was closer and sticking with the people they knew. That loneliness that once ate Harriet up seemed to be a distant memory because it didn’t bother her now. Yeah, there were other kids but it was normal now to be by herself. In fact, Harriet preferred to be that way. Unless she was with Draco and the others, because it was nice to listen and to be included. But the other Hogwart students were loud and obnoxious, and they were more of a pain to be around. Draco couldn’t be around her all the time. He was busy doing other things and being cunning. Vincent had once explained how cutting it could be in Slytherin, so on top of all the school work Draco had to fight his way to the top of whatever Slytherins did.
Rather than worry about friends and silly drama, Harriet went to her hidden room under a staircase and set up shop. And there, she thrived. A layer of dust had settled since she had been there. With a few days of hard work, the small room sparkled and Harriet turned it into her paradise.
There were pieces of her travel that she kept she used to decorate the sparse room. A pretty stone Harriet had found. A broken record player that she used a bit of string and tape to hold the needle up. A few picture frames that held pretty pictures of trees and a lake. They were things that she had scrounged up from a dumpster, really. But they were hers, and Harriet liked them.
Chad sat on a shelf next to the record player and Hedwig’s terrarium. Chad was the name Harriet picked out for the floating eyeball. It spun around in an uncontrollable way, gently twirling. Occasionally it would look out at her, and it’s pupil would move. It was a pretty light green color. Harriet had no idea if that meant it could actually see her, or if it was just part of it’s magical property. It wasn’t connected to any brain, so it was like how some dead bodies would just twitch. A reflex that still kicked in sometimes.
But then again, there was magic so Harriet could be horribly wrong.
It still didn’t have a brain so what could a floating eye even do?
Honestly, Harriet didn’t even know what to do with it. It was humanoid and unless Harriet figured out which race, gender, and what owner of the eye was, there wasn’t much she could do with it. Instead, she kept it. Because she could talk at it and it was very funny to shake the vial and see it spin around. If an eye could glare without an eyelid, it might be doing that. Harriet pretended it had a personality. It amused her to pretend that Chad was a helpless eyeball that could only help but watch a twelve year old witch create potions.
And with Draco being busy, Vincent and Greg with him, and Daphne was doing whatever she did, Harriet was pretty content with her solitude. Neville hadn’t had the balls to come up to Harriet about whatever meager excuse, and to be quite frank, Harriet didn’t care anymore. She put enough energy into a relationship that didn’t seem to mean anything to him. The few times Harriet saw him he was running around with Ronald.
The only thing preventing Harriet from spending all of her free time in her cupboard was the Herd, and since Harriet became a second year they didn’t seem all that interested in pulling her into their group activities. If they made her sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya with them again, she might knife somebody.
Maybe they were just focused on the first years. The older students who had tried to find her barely gave her a glance before turning back to their friends. Perfect.
Nobody gave Harriet the time of day and she was content with that. More time with her experiments.
‘Although that might be a mistake,’ Harriet thought as she retched into a bucket. If there was nobody to bother her from her experiments, she wouldn’t make horrible mistakes like this. The vial of greenish fluid that she dropped after swallowing it’s content slid across the ground, it’s contents depleted but there was enough to drip onto the ground. Harriet gagged again, her brown hair falling from it’s braid and into her face.
“Never again,” Harriet muttered to herself. But that was a lie. The headache and aches of the last few days were fading away. The fevered sensation was gone, and Harriet felt nearly okay again. She had been able to make a newer version of her medicine but it tasted like absolute garbage.
But hey, at least it kind of did what it was supposed to do.
Harriet went to her classes. Her father’s wand didn’t appreciate her waving it around, and sometimes it would give her a small painful shock in protest. But Harriet was a pro at ignoring it now. Much to Flitwick’s delight, Harriet vastly improved in his class. She waved her wand in the correct manner and whispered the right pronunciation and her magic worked.
It felt amazing every single time.
Transfiguration was still a hard class. It wasn’t as simple as charms, it required more concentration and the ability to force your magic to turn something into what you imagine. That class her father’s wand bucked and tried to escape Harriet’s grip, doing whatever it could to dislodge itself from her hands. But McGonagall hadn’t said any backwards compliments yet, so Harriet was feeling very good about herself.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was always an interesting class. Harriet had never really paid Quirrell any attention and that was even before she was told he was possessed by an evil wizard hell bent on destroying the muggle world. Honestly the smell of garlic was off putting.
Now, the room was more open. The windows were uncovered, allowing in the sunlight. And the air held the faint smell of lilacs. There were bookshelves and a rather large portrait of their own teacher who beamed at them from his place on the wall.
Gilderoy Lockhart was a man of… different taste. For the most part, he was a fun person to be around. He smiled and joked, and if Harriet saw him around an older student, he flirted. Not in a gross old man hitting on a young girl way. It was more akin to him flaunting his beauty around the older students. He filled the days with humor, although the brunt of the joke would be on him. And Harriet could see why everybody liked him. Except for the Gryffindor's, but that’s also because they shared the class with the Slytherins. Harriet heard that Lockhart didn’t buy into the whole school rivalry and treated Slytherins fairly normally.
Harriet honestly liked him. He was nice, and his classes were entertaining. He would pull up a few students and reenact his books. He was silly and made his classes laugh with his antics. Hell, his tests were jokes as well. Harriet didn’t mind spending time in his class. He went out of his way to try and include different programs for students. Rumors were going around about a potential art group, and maybe a drama club too.
The one time Gilderoy had called on Harriet, he was just so kind when she stammered out the answer that she instantly took a liking to him when he turned his attention to another kid.
As for Harriet’s other classes… well.
Potions was shit and will always be shit and it was terrible and do not ask Harriet about it.
If Harriet thought that potions could get worse, she was correct. In fact, potions as the class wasn’t a problem. She was told to sit down and just watch. Snape hadn’t changed. Even as Harriet had grown Snape was still impressively tall and looming over her. She kept her head down and tried to not lose anymore Hufflepuff’s house points. Harriet didn’t mind it. No, what was worse and very demeaning was when she walked into her remedial class, and was handed a ruler and knife that was barely sharp enough to cut the basic plants.
The curt instructions she was given was to cut the leaves in their precise measurements, and Harriet was left alone.
It rankled her that she wasn’t even allowed to brew anything. During the summer she was used to having her freedom, but it was now clear that everybody was walking on ice around her. Except for Snape, who thrived being a smug bastard. This felt even more demeaning than before. And it also irked Harriet she couldn’t spend her time doing something to help her research. Halloween’s moon was going to come up within a month and she wanted to have a clear selection of ingredients for that night.
Harriet bent her head down and used a ruler to cut up her pile of ingredients, and tried to keep herself from actually exploding. Her emotions seemed more raw recently. And her anger showed it’s ugly face and wanted to blast everything around her with fire and brimstone. But she clamped it down. Letting her mossy brown hair fall into her face to obscure her heated gaze.
Of course, that didn’t mean that nothing else happened. It was boring, nothing to look at or really do besides complete her task and hope that Snape would let her out. The first week Draco, Greg, and Vincent weren’t there. Harriet missed them because at least they took some of Snape’s attention away.
But by the second week they were there. Draco looked like he was sweating buckets. Greg and Vincent were sitting in their normal spots, and they weren’t even trying to pay attention to their cauldrons. Clearly something was going down, and Harriet didn’t draw any attention was she sat down and got started with her menial task.
Chop chop chop, went the dull silver knife, ripping more than cutting, as Harriet measured out faire-chives. But just like Vincent and Greg, Harriet didn’t pay much attention to it. There was something much more interesting happening now.
“Mister Malfoy,” Snape drawled as he looked up from his paperwork, “do you have something you’d wish for me to look at?”
Draco squared his jaw and held out a perfectly rolled up scroll with a neat bow on top. “Yes Professor.”
Snape took it with his long fingers, his silver and black ring glinting in the light. Harriet peeked up and stared through her bangs. What was going on? And why was Draco so nervous?
Snape snapped the scroll open and his dark eyes scanning whatever was written on it. His mask didn’t change and it was impossible to tell what was going on in his mind. Draco looked worried. He gave Vincent and Goyle a few glances, shifting around in his boots. He even gave Harriet a look, and she gave him a confused smile.
Then Professor Snape snapped the scroll shut and turned to Malfoy, holding it out to him. “I would substitute a few items. However, your theory is sound and the results from this would be adequate. It can be improved upon.” Snape spoke in a low tone. “Are you certain this is what you wish to submit for your candidacy?”
“If you say that I can improve it, I will do so before I submit anything. However, I think it can benefit not only society but also the lives of others.” Draco replied sounding confident. “Even if it isn’t accepted, it’ll still be shown to other Potion Masters. And at the very least, they could use the idea and perfect it with their own specializations.”
“Your bleeding heart is concerning.” Snape sat down and pulled out a fresh sheet and began to scrawl upon it with a practiced motion. “But I cannot fault you with this idea. I would advise not to let others steal your product, even if it does help others.” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “Your work should be your own.” He then held out the parchment, the ink still drying. “Try these substitutes. I will allow you to work on it while you are in this classroom, and nowhere else. Do not try to do this unsupervised.”
Draco gave a polite nod, and eyed the parchment. “Thank you sir.”
And with that, the conversation ended. But it didn’t stop Harriet’s interest from sparking. If it wasn’t for the words ‘potion masters’ that was thrown around, she probably would have forgotten all about it. But the creator inside of her leaned forwards and yearned to know every little piece of knowledge about what they were talking about. Instead Harriet had to wait. But it crushed her to do so.
Draco took the time to study and pulled out a few books. Greg and Vincent finally looked at the cauldrons to see the melted remains of whatever they were working on. And Harriet had to chop those damned plants with the ruler next to it. Otherwise Snape’s wrath would fall on her.
It wasn’t until later, much later, Harriet tentatively asked as they walked to astronomy, chewing on a corner of an ice mouse, “what was all that about?” The taste of vomit still lingered on the back of her mouth, and she wished it wasn’t so rank.
Draco lit up like a candle. He was passionate about it. “Oh! I’m trying to make an original potion to sell to Gringotts.”
When Harriet’s brain started working once more, her first thought was 'how?’ And then following that word, came ‘can I do that too?’
Draco was very vague when it came to Harriet’s tense and probing questions. And then astronomy came and went and then he had to go and Harriet was left alone with her thoughts. Money. If Harriet had money then that meant-
Well that meant the whole world opened up to her. She could do anything. Create her potions with unlimited resources. She could have an apartment somewhere, or, or rent a hotel room! No living on the streets again. And she could have better clothes! Robes that weren’t too short. Better shoes.
Her mouth began to salivate at the thought of just the food. Oh, to dream about actually having money. Logically Harriet knew she had some. But it was all locked away and she couldn’t touch it. In fact, it was being stolen from her. Galleons upon galleons were given away to those who wanted to trap her for the rest of her life.
But that was her family's money. The vaults of her parents and grandparents.
If Harriet opened her own personal vault, then she could have free access to it all. And Harriet had tons of potions to sell. She didn’t mind, as long as she got a percentage of the profits and whatnot. She’d have to peruse some of Hogwarts library for any kind of legal jargon for contracts and whatnot. But Harriet would, and could, make her own money from her creations.
The burning desire was eating at her. And Harriet didn’t know if she could actually sleep tonight. She wandered down the halls to the Hufflepuff dormitory, but at the last second decided to go to her potion cupboard. She could sleep there if she wanted to, she had the blankets there for it. But for now her mind couldn’t stand still, and her hands itched to work and plan.
Two turns from her cupboard, Harriet looked up and saw long blonde hair and recognized Luna Lovegood some distance down the hallway. The moonlight caught on her hair and it was a beacon in the darkness.
It was far too late for her to be out. And Harriet’s only excuse was astronomy had ended and, well. She was also wandering in area’s she shouldn’t be. But still. She had an excuse. Harriet followed Luna as she peeked around corners and into classrooms.
Harriet tapped onto Luna’s shoulder and made the small girl jump. She turned, and let out a sigh when she saw Harriet.
“Hello Harriet,” Luna sniffed, wiping at her nose. Harriet noticed that her silvery eyes were rimmed and red behind her thick framed glasses. “I didn’t see you there.” She sniffed.
“What’s wrong?” Harriet asked tentatively.
That was obviously the wrong thing to say because Luna began to cry. With those tiny little hiccups and Harriet was not prepared for this. Harriet froze for a few seconds. Her mind whirling as she tried to think of the right thing to do.
She reached out to hug her but she didn’t know if Luna wanted a hug, so she stopped. What else was good? Maybe a consolidating pat? Or uh, something like that? Harriet ended up patting Luna on the head hesitantly while the little girl was crying into her hands.
Ah. Okay well. Luna didn’t seem very comforted by that. What else?
Harriet went back to the original plan. One hug, right? Maybe Luna would like it? Or maybe she’d cry even more because Luna didn’t want a hug. But what if she really wanted one? But also what if she didn’t want one? Hugs were good, though, right?
What do people do when a girl is crying in front of them? Harriet, in her panic, just grabbed Luna hard by her shoulders and tugged roughly her in for a bruising embrace. Harriet was as stiff as a board and stared over the top of Luna’s head, the voice in her head screaming at her ‘WRONG MOVE IDIOT.’
Then Luna let out a shaking huff. Shit, yeah, this was a bad idea. When Harriet hurriedly stepped back after releasing Luna, she found the girl giggling while struggling through the tears. She wiped her face with a sleeve, and peered up at Harriet with a wobbling smile. “You really don’t know what you’re doing.”
“No, I don’t.” The confession left Harriet in relieving breath.
Luna gave her a cheeky, if wobbling, grin. “The hug was nice. If a bit crushing.”
That seemed to cheer Luna up even more and she laughed. “Thank you anyways. You have good hugs.”
“So what were you looking for?” Harriet asked quickly, hoping to change the subject. “If you don’t mind me asking.”
Luna gave a shaking sigh. “The nargles took some of my things. I was trying to find them.”
Harriet frowned. “Nargles, aren’t those supposed to be native to warmer climates?” She followed as Luna started walking down the hallway again, peering into corners to see where Luna’s missing things had gone.
Luna grew silent then finally replied, “yes, I had forgotten about that. But it has been an awfully warm summer, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, I think so. What did the nargles take? Did you leave cream out for them?” Harriet responded.
“I have. But they haven’t been very interested in it. I’m missing my bag, with all my textbooks in it.” Luna said. “And maybe my shoes. But I think a heliopath might have those.”
Harriet opened a door and looked inside. Empty. She hummed in agreement. “Heliopaths do like shoes. When was the last time you saw your bag?”
“Just after lunch.” Luna responded. “I left it at the Ravenclaw table to go use the bathroom and it was gone when I came back. Nobody saw it leave.”
Harriet stopped just before she closed the door, and she looked at Luna carefully. Her thoughts move hundreds of kilometers a minute. “Nobody saw it leave?” Because it didn’t make sense. Everybody saw everything. If a bag just up and vanished then it wouldn’t be a nargle because they didn’t do things quietly.
“Yes, I asked the other girls but they said it disappeared.” Luna didn’t even seem to notice how strange the statement was. Because if a bag just got up and walked out of the Great Hall without anybody noticing then Harriet was a fucking social butterfly.
Nothing happened in that hall without somebody seeing something. There was always a witness.
Luna paused right in front of a stairwell, and seemed to brighten a bit. “I think I see it.” She looked out a window, and Harriet followed her gaze to see a bag and it’s contents at the bottom of the courtyard fountain.
Luna’s shoes were included in the pile.
Here is how it started:
Fate was a bitch. She knew she was one, and she was called it several times amongst other nasty names. She was kind and giving, but also strict and cunning. She gave paupers islands of gold and silver, while cutting down the other needy. It was what she wanted, and she got it.
And so, it was Mary from HR who trembled in front of Fate as she informed the Higher Being that the Entity had been let go after the disaster that took a universe away from the Office.
“You fired,” Fate let the words start out as a hiss that slowly transformed into a fiery serpent, “the only being who worked on that fucking universe and you didn’t tell me about it? ”
“I- I was only doing what protocol stated,” Mary tried to give a weak excuse, “if there was an unauthorized change in a universe code then they were to be terminated.”
“Oh,” Fate spoke coolly, “I think I know what can be terminated now. ” Flames lit up in her hands, and Mary quivered.
And a conversation went like this:
Destiny knew Fate well enough that the Higher Being would be waiting for her in her office. Office was rather… corporate term. The Non-Profit Organization of Destiny tried to keep away from using harsh words such as ‘office’ or ‘taxes.’ Instead, it was Destiny’s sitting room, and taxes were called ‘tiny bills.’
Their PR representative was still trying to figure out a friendlier term for taxes, but they were getting there. Destiny could foresee it.
What she didn’t foresee was Fate three bottles in on moonshine (literal light from one of Jupiter's moons, strong as hell but damn it burned) and soused on a floating cushion. Destiny’s favorite floating cushion, but as Fate’s best friend and fellow higher being, she allowed it for now.
Pink flushed across Fate’s face, and the strong drink lessened the lines and stressed wrinkles on her beautiful face, leaving her looking younger than she had in eons. “Destiny, we’ve got to stop it!” She said far too loudly.
Destiny smiled, a gentle ‘I know everything but give you cryptic clues’ smile that she herself had patented. “Fate, lovely seeing you here.”
“Fuck off.” Fate replied instantly, before tipping the bottle back and taking a swig. And another. And another.
Destiny reached over and snatched the bottle, and then banished it into an abyss. “That’s enough, darling. You need to get a hold of yourself.”
Fate gave Destiny a sour look, one that she wore too often. “I am holding myself, see?” She grabbed her own arm. “I’m holding on tightly.” She shook her arm as if to show it off. Before Destiny could respond, Fate slumped down further into the cushion, nearly falling off of it. “But that's not why I’m here,” she spoke, as she stared up into the painted starry sky of Destiny’s sitting room.
“I am assuming it’s about Death’s and-”
“Yes I am talking about the little,” Fate made a furious hand motion, “thing.”
“Then why are you-”
Fate sat up, her hair wildly crackling. “What the fuck was Magic thinking? Huh? Death is already bad, but to have two of them?”
Destiny gave a blank smile and sat down on her second favorite floating cushion and splayed her hands out. “You don’t know if the child will take after Death. That is what she is, just a child. And besides, she could be more like Magic. What do the humans say, it takes two to waltz?”
“Tango.” Fate bit out. “Two to tango.” She reached up and summoned yet another bottle of booze and cracked the lid off of it and downed it within ten seconds. Destiny allowed her to do so, if only to let Fate take a second before speaking again. Fate was obviously having a crisis here.
And if Time was here, Destiny was sure he too would be drinking his heart out.
“It isn’t every day a new higher being is made.” Destiny mused, “you never know who the child will take after. The fact that Magic saw her when she was mortal, before Death claimed her as his, and gave Potter a piece of their power, it must mean something. Do you remember Life and how-”
“Life is fucking gone.” Fate bit out. “Stop bringing her up all the time.”
“Life was the younger sister of Death. Perhaps Potter might take after her.” Destiny cocked her head to the side, a gentle smile on her face.
Fate took the bottle in her hand and threw it against the wall. It shattered, the sound cutting through the air. Fate sat up, her hair crackling with power and her eyes burning like stars. “Stop talking about her. ” Her voice echoed through the room and the lights flickered.
Destiny remained calm. She knew she was poking the bear when she brought up Life. A touchy subject for all of them.
“I cannot believe that out of all of us, you are taking their side.” Fate snarled. “Magic and their bullshit about not bothering the universe because their brand new fucking kid is in it-”
“I never said that.” Destiny interrupted. “I was only talking about how the child could take after a different being, rather than Death. And besides, I am certain Death had already popped down to see what his spawn was doing. I have heard Time is going to try something with her as well.”
Fate grew quiet. “Wait, was I going to be the only one who wasn’t going to do something?”
Destiny laughed at that. Butterflies fluttered around her head and flowers grew at the sound. “Oh I don’t think you were ever going to do that. You were planning something, weren’t you?”
Fate bared her teeth, a fierce look on her face. “Magic locked it all down. I was going to use the employee responsible for this fuck up to hack in but they got fired. I looked through the records but I can’t find a way into the universe. Let alone manipulate it.” Fate glanced over at Destiny, “but you’ve found a way in, haven’t you.”
Destiny opened her glowing eyes, and she allowed herself a rather shark-like smile to appear. She laughed, but this only made the flowers wilt and the butterflies to drop, as Destiny’s gentle disposition evaporated. “Don’t you know, Fate?” She purred, “there was once a prophecy.”
Fate’s eyes lit up.
This was what the story was supposed to be:
Neville Longbottom won the war. He fought against Tom Riddle nearly every year of his life, and he won a battle that cut the wizarding world in half.
The first year he confronted the Dark Lord in Hogwarts.
In his last year, he defeated Voldemort after sacrificing everything to the cause.
He with his friends destroyed the horcruxes and fulfilled a prophecy. He was married with a lovely redhead woman and they had several kids, and he sent them off to the school where he witnessed horror and danger each year. Neville Longbottom was the chosen one who fulfilled his destiny and fate, and lived happily ever after.
This is no longer the case.
And this is how the dominos were carefully lined up, and then gently pushed:
The door closed behind the two boys, and the seer whom Destiny wore like an ill fitting rag crumpled to the ground. The lights in Knockturn Alley broke as she moved away from the universe, leaving the already dark and dank scum lined path covered in more shadows.
Destiny returned to her sitting room, a pleased look on her face. She picked up a small bamboo rake and dragged it through the small sand garden she kept on her desk. Humming, she wondered what her little niece would do now. Would she thrive under the stress? Or would she fall, leaving Magic bereft of the loss of their child?
Most of all, Destiny couldn’t wait to see what Fred Weasley would do in order to fulfill his oath to her. Without a doubt, it would push little Potter headfirst into Destiny’s and Fate’s grasp as the prophecy latched onto her.
Oh, how amusing it will be to see it all happen.
Recall when Magic spoke, the last thing that was described was "the pride of a parent."
That was foreshadowing. Boom.