Disclaimer: Standard stuff (I don't own anything, I won't be making profit, any resemblance to previously published content is purely coincidental, JK Rowling is the coolest, etc.). If I make any legal errors regarding copyrighted material, inform me and I will correct them immediately.

Harry Potter and the Lightning Scar

Numb. Harry James Potter was numb (and not comfortably). Shoulders sagging, he trudged up the stairs to his room, taking no notice of the cat flap at the bottom of the door or the absurd (it'd be comical, if it weren't so alarmingly indicative of neglect) number of locks lining the frame—they were, after all, old news for him. He didn't even take notice of the door slamming behind him, the many locks snapping and clicking shut, or his gargantuan uncle stomping down the stairs.

The boy flopped down onto his lumpy, stained mattress, wallowing too deeply in self-pity to bother removing his glasses, clothes, or shoes. An objective observer would (perhaps after calling child protective services) indulge his self-pity; he was merely a child, and one whose most deeply-held fantasy had been snatched away at the final moment.

Harry had just returned from his third year at Hogwarts, the (albeit ridiculously-named) premiere school of magic (of the witchcraft and wizardry variety, rather than the card tricks and sleight-of-hand variety) in the United Kingdom. His despondency was caused not only by his forced return to his relatives—whose attitudes toward his very existence ranged from indifference to outright hatred, and whose behavior toward his person ranged from neglect to abuse—but the fact that he had been so close, so very, painfully close to realizing his lifelong dream of living with someone who loved him. His long-lost (or, more precisely, long-imprisoned) godfather, Sirius Black, had been poised to adopt him. Then, of course, Harry's typical luck kicked in, and—after an alternately exhilarating and terrifying evening—Sirius was on the run as a fugitive from the corrupt "justice" of the Ministry of Magic, and Harry had been consigned to another summer with the Dursleys.

Emotionally exhausted (and cried-out, not that he'd ever admit it aloud), Harry fell asleep, and did not wake until dawn.

As Harry slept, two men were getting steadily more intoxicated at a dark, dingy pub that most passersby didn't even know was there. That was no fault of the bar's advertising practices; rather, it was due to the enchantments which hid it from the notice of muggles (that is, humans not born with magic). Indicative of the British magical community's seeming inability to name anything without being whimsical (after all, proprietors needed to make sure their clientele knew they were Magical with a capital M), the pub was perhaps predictably named "The Bubbling Boggart." Not that this matters. Anyway, the salient point was that two men sat in a booth, reminiscing about bygone days, and alternating tears of mirth and sorrow in approximately equal measure.

Both men appeared somewhat worse for the wear, and not only as a result of their inebriation. One was well past what could be called "thin," and deep into "gaunt" territory, with hollow cheeks, sunken eyes, and almost skeletal hands. He had dull, scraggly charcoal hair, a hoarse, rasping voice, and conspicuous nervous tics (including a dog-like tendency to sniff at the air). His companion, though in somewhat better acute condition, still looked distinctly shabby, and had the appearance and bearing of a long-time sufferer of some chronic wasting disease.

As the clock struck midnight, the reminiscence faded to silence, and both men finished their drinks. The silence stretched almost a quarter of an hour, as both men gazed at the bottom of their glasses. Finally, one cleared his throat, and said to his brother-in-all-but-name "Remus...what are we going to do about Harry?" Their eyes met, and after decades of plotting and scheming together, it took but minutes to come up with a plan.