A/N: An apology to all the people who followed the original chapters 2-4, which I deleted a while back; I honestly had no intention of going further and they were written in a moment of boredom, but now, almost three years from when I first posted this oneshot, I know what I want to do with it. And those chapters were terribly written anyway.
I have a loose plan for this story but, again, it is falling secondary to some of my other (published or unpublished) stuff, From Fire specifically, so don't expect regular updates. At the moment I only have specific plans through about Fourth Year, and although the years get progressively longer it is far from an established concept.
Expect some plot holes. This is far from my primary story and detailed continuity isn't something I care about a whole lot about, nor the progression speed. This story is purely to relax after working on the harder ones.
Lastly, something to know for this story: Harry is very smart. Tony-Stark-level smart. However, he is still a child, and inexperienced in magic, so don't expect him to suddenly master all kinds of strange things or understand particle physics. He has a knack for that kind of stuff, yea, but he is just a kid. So remember that.
Harry looked up at the glittering stars dotting the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall, feeling a surge of excitement at the world he was entering. A world of magic. He'd always thought he was different, his aunt and uncle said he was a freak, but now he knew that even if he was a freak he wasn't the only one!
"Potter, Harry," Professor McGonagall called out. Whispers ran rampant through the hall as he stepped forward, unconsciously trying to flatten his thick black hair to no avail. He took a seat on the stool and the hat was placed on his head, sinking down over his eyes.
He almost jumped when a voice spoke in his ear, his hands curling around the edges of the stool to keep himself steady.
"Hmm," the voice said, drawing the word out like a suspicious adult. "My, what a curious mind you have. Intelligence, oh my yes! Ambition and curiosity aplenty, though your work ethic could use some work. Adventurous, brave, you are an enigma Mr. Potter. But where to put you?"
Not Slytherin, Harry thought as hard as he could, remembering Ron and Hagrid's words.
"Not Slytherin, eh? But you have such potential; with a brain like yours you could change the world! With great risks come great rewards, after all."
Harry shook his head slightly and kept chanting his mantra, Not Slytherin.
"You're sure? Alright, better be GRYFFINDOR!" The last word was screamed out to the hall and the hat was plucked from his head.
Harry looked out over the cheering Gryffindor table and felt, for the first time, that he belonged.
"Wow Harry, that was great!"
"Awesome wandwork! You gotta teach me how to do that!"
Harry ducked his head to hide the grin across his face as Seamus and Dean hurried past, their words making him feel lighter than air. He'd gotten a lot of attention for managing the Levitation Spell on his first try, even managing to move a textbook by the end. Flitwick had been very impressed and had awarded ten points to Gryffindor.
Ron nudged him. "How'd you do that so easily?" he asked. The ginger boy had needed a bit of help, having struggled with the wand movement, but Harry had helped him with it and soon Ron's feather was twirling through the air.
Harry just shrugged. Magic came easy to him he'd realized, just like maths and science in school. Even if his grades weren't as good as they could've been he always understood what they were talking about, and magic was no different. The hard part was getting the wand movements right and he'd practiced those on the train to school. "I have a good memory," he quipped, grinning at his friend and receiving one in return.
They headed towards the Great Hall but were stopped partway when a very angry bush materialized in front of them. It took the a moment for him to realize that what they had initially thought was a plant was in fact Hermione Granger, or rather her hair. "You didn't follow the directions!" she snapped, hands on her hips and face flushed.
Harry and Ron shared a confused glance. "Excuse me?" The dark-haired boy asked.
"You didn't pronounce the spell right! It's Levi-o-sa, not Levio-sa!"
Try as he might the boy couldn't resist a grin. "It worked, didn't it?" If anything his words only made her angrier. "I mean Professor Flitwick doesn't even have to say the words, why should pronunciation matter so much if you know what you're doing?"
Her hair puffed up even higher like a cat's. "Because—because that's what it says in the book!" She just about shrieked, drawing annoyed looks from the growing number of students heading to lunch. "You can't just ignore the rules!"
"Maybe you can't, but he can," Ron cut in, crossing his arms and scowling at her. "Stop yelling at Harry because he's better than magic at you! This is why you don't have any friends!"
Her eyes went wide, the fire draining from them as she seemed to slump inwards. Harry saw the tears gathering there and winced, but before he could apologize on his friend's behalf the girl had turned and run off.
"Nice going, Ron," he muttered. Ron grimaced apologetically.
Later that night they would save Hermione from a rampaging troll and from that moment on, their duo would become a trio. She and Harry never really saw eye-to-eye on the matter of following the directions, but since he always made it work she refrained from saying anything more.
Harry had never been a big fan of Christmas, the Dursleys only ever taking the opportunity to remind him of his lack of family, so when he awoke on the twenty-fifth of December he was shocked to see a small pile of presents at the foot of his bed. Ron was sitting cross-legged on his mattress, a maroon sweater with the letter 'R' covering his torso. He gave Harry a grin, mouth full of pumpkin pasty as he spat out, "Mewy Kw'mas."
For the first time, as he unwrapped his gifts, Harry understood why people liked the holiday, There was a sweater from Mrs. Weasley—he instantly put it on, touched by the gesture from a woman he'd only spoken to once-, a large box of chocolate frogs from Hermione, and even a book on Herbology from Neville, as thanks for helping the boy with his homework a few times.
The last parcel gave him pause, the enigmatic script making him frown before he realized the full gravity of them and tore the gift open. From inside it spilled a beautiful silvery cloak, Ron gasping from his bed as he quickly explained what it was. But for Harry its powers of invisibility were second to the fact that this had belonged to his father, and was the only thing he had of the man besides bad eyesight and messy hair.
He clutched it to his face, tears springing to his eyes as he breathed in deeply, faint traces of lemon and cedar making him smile. He didn't know if it was what he sought but it was comforting to imagine it to be; the smell of home and a family that loved him.
It was only when he and Ron were leaving to head down for breakfast, Harry tucking the Cloak under his pillow for safekeeping, that he saw one last package perched on his dresser. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a simple string, his name written in crooked letters on top. He paused, grabbing it with a small frown as he turned it over. It was thin and rectangular, almost like a book.
"You coming?" Ron called out from the doorway, clearly anxious to go eat.
"You go on," Harry answered with a small wave, not wanting to hold back his friend from his beloved food just so Harry could open another present. The redheaded boy shrugged and closed the door behind him, footsteps fading as he hurried down the stairs.
Harry hopped onto the bed and pulled at the knot on top, biting his lip as he undid what was probably supposed to be a bow. Finally it came loose and he pulled it away as he unfolded the paper. Inside, as he expected, was a book, except it had no name, just a smooth leather cover. He felt strangely hesitant as he pulled it open. And froze.
There, on the first page, was a moving picture. A man with spectacles and messy black hair had an arm wrapped around a beautiful redheaded woman with green eyes, broad smiles spread across both their faces. In her arms, wrapped in a green blanket, was a baby with her eyes and his hair, blinking curiously up at the camera lens.
It's me, Harry realized in awe, one finger tracing the edge of the photograph. The couple spun in a circle and baby Harry giggled silently as they smiled down at him.
It was the family he'd always wanted; the family he used to have, one that loved him more than anything. Breakfast was completely forgotten as he watched the photograph cycle over and over, Lily and James laughing to themselves a dozen times as they coddled baby Harry, completely oblivious to the fact that their lives would be brutally cut short not long after.
The enchanted paper felt like it weighed a ton as he turned the page, revealing yet another one. This one was of himself, a bit younger, fast asleep and dressed in a baby outfit with animated Snitches zooming across the fabric. A pile of stuffed animals made up his pillow, and from the side of the picture large hands—my Dad's hands—pulled the blanket higher up his sleeping form.
The next one was a birthday party, James and Lily's faces pressed right up against his as they helped him blow out the single candle on the cake in front of him. Baby-Harry snatched James' glasses, Lily laughing as James blinked wildly and baby-Harry tried to eat them.
Harry's chest hurt as he flipped through the scrapbook, his sleeve wet from the many tears he'd wiped away as he saw the months leading up to their death. He saw them having a summer picnic, baby-Harry grabbing at flowers; he saw them playing in the snow, baby-Harry crawling his way through a snowdrift, determinedly trying to grab the Christmas lights; there was even one of him, only a few months old, dressed as a lion, eyes curiously dark-colored.
And then it stopped.
He turned one more page only to realize it was the last one, staring at the back cover in shock. He checked again, hoping that he'd just missed the rest, but that was clearly it. All he found was a small note tucked in the back, "From Hagrid."
Harry stared at it for several moments before he hopped off the bed and grabbed his clothes.
The walk to Hagrid's was twice as long as it would've normally been, the ground covered in a foot of snow and the walkway long buried. Twice he slipped on icy patches but pressed on, the photo album wrapped in his cloak and tucked under his shirt to keep it dry. He knew Ron would be looking for him but he would apologize for ditching his friend later; right now there was something more important.
His hands were numb by the time he knocked on Hagrid's door, the light through the windows telling him that the groundskeeper hadn't yet headed up to the castle to eat. Therefore it was only a moment before the door swung open and the hairy face of the enormous man was looking down at him.
"'Arry!" Hagrid boomed, smiling beneath his beard. "Come in, come in!" He stepped aside, though his bulk still filled much of the doorway.
Harry squeezed past and entered the hut, basking in the warmth of the fire. A large black dog hopped off the severely worn couch and trotted over to him, drool dangling from his jowls. The boy tensed, not having the best experience with dogs thanks to Marge Dursley, but Hagrid just chuckled.
"Ol' Fang won't hurt ya," he informed Harry, patting the dog with a large hand. "He's more scared of you tha' you of him."
Harry let the man nudge him towards the couch, taking a seat on the edge as Hagrid grabbed a tray of cakes from the counter and placed them on the small table before the fire. He took the chance to pull out the photo album which immediately caught the dark eyes.
"Ah, got my present, did ya?" Hagrid looked immensely pleased with himself as he sat down and said, "Owled everyone I could think of fer pictures, Professor Dumbledore gave me a few himself, and Professor Flitwick helped me make it. Ain't too good with my hands," he admitted, blushing slightly.
"I love it," Harry told him honestly, earning a proud smile. He held it close to his chest. "I just—I mean, I was just wondering—why aren't there any more?"
Hagrid seemed surprised by the question. "More? Why yer mum and dad took more pictures o' tha' anyone I know, thought I'd found them all." He looked upset to think he might've failed, and Harry was quick to reassure him.
"No, sorry, I didn't mean it like that," he apologized quickly, opening the book and flipping to the last page. "I just mean why aren't there any pictures before this?" He pointed to his infant form. "Wasn't there stuff from, you know, when I was born?" As he said it he realized how selfish it sounded and he quickly made to apologize again but was cut off by Hagrid's booming laugh.
"Ah, I'm sure yer mum an' dad would've loved some pictures o' baby you," the giant man chuckled, "bu' they couldn't have, seein' as they only got you when's you were three months along. You'da think ya didn't know you were adopted!"
For a moment Harry thought his heart had stopped beating. Hagrid, unobservant as he was kind, continued prattling on.
"You was only a baby when they got ya, bu' they loved ya the secon' they saw you. Wouldn't shu' up abou' ya whenever they saw me." One sausage-like finger gestured to the Halloween picture. "They had a big ol' Halloween party to celebrate getting' you, ya know? Only time I ever saw Professor McGonagall tipsy." He smiled in remembrance. "Professor Dumbledore—great man Harry, great man—gave ya a bewitched lion to match the costume that'd roar whenever ya hugged it. Never left your side."
The clock chimed out the out and Harry started, his heartbeat sounding too-loud in his ears as Hagrid made a surprised sound.
"Ah, better get movin' up to the castle Harry, breakfast'll be ov'r soon," he grunted as he pushed himself to his feet.
Harry, for his part, hadn't moved, just staring down at the picture in shock. Oblivious to his turmoil baby-Harry giggled as he made another grab for James' glasses, Lily laughing along, green eyes shining.
Harry didn't tell his friends what he'd found out. Not Ron, when he met up with the redheaded boy to apologize for missing breakfast, nor Hermione, either through letters or when she returned to the castle. This secret was one he felt belonged to him alone, like speaking it aloud would damage it somehow.
Though both could tell something was different about him neither knew exactly what it was, and after their initial inquiry neither bothered to ask again, far too concerned with discovering the identity of Nicholas Flamel. Harry tried as best he could to keep up with their search but his mind was often elsewhere, a fact which did not go unnoticed by others.
Professor McGonagall held him back after class one day, asking him, "Is everything alright, Mr. Potter? Your practical work is excellent but you've neglected to turn in three of your essays, which is most unlike you."
He'd been quick to make up an excuse, but she wasn't the first; Flitwick asked a similar question after Harry's inattentiveness resulted in his accidental use of the Severing Charm instead of the Mending Charm, almost decapitating the professor. Even Oliver Wood picked up on it, not-so-subtly threatening Harry to get his head in the game or be replaced.
He couldn't help it. Hagrid's words had burned themselves into his mind, replaying over and over every second of the day. When he was young his parents had been a mystery, the Dursleys' lies not stifling his desire to have known them, the possibility that they'd actually loved him. Entering the Wizarding World only added to this belief when he discovered the gift they'd passed down to him, more tangible than their looks or even the sacrifice they'd made for his life.
Knowing that he had another set of parents out there was confusing on so many levels. One part of him was angry that he was no longer the blood child of Lily and James Potter, the people he'd looked up to. Another was guilty that they'd given their lives for a boy who wasn't even really theirs. And the final piece was hope, an illogical but constant curiosity that he might have more family out there, family who didn't know about him but might love him anyway.
Unfortunately these daydreams were detrimental to his focus as well as pointless to boot, since he had no way of knowing who his biological parents even were. That didn't stop it from eating at him day after day, or sending him prowling through the library in search of some sort of genealogy spell or potion, though to no avail. Ironically it wasn't until he'd lost hope and stopped looking that he found what he was looking for.
Ron and Hermione's search for Nicholas Flamel had yet to bear fruit and so when he had no luck on his own search he forced himself to go back to that one, having spent far too much time looking rather than helping his friends. It also let him finally use his father's Invisibility Cloak for the first time; in the light of what Hagrid had told him the magical garment seemed far less important.
Something held him back from waking Ron the night he finally donned it. This time—the first time—he used his father's cloak, he felt like it should be done alone. It was strange being under the cloak; though he could still see himself he knew that, to the outside world, he was completely gone.
The Fat Lady jerked from her sleep when he pushed the door open, inquiring who was there before she shrugged and returned to sleep. The other portraits were snoozing in their frames, even the staircases having ceased their constant motions. Hogwarts at night was both peaceful and eerie.
Harry's socked feet made no sound as he crept through the halls, ever-watchful for a prefect or teacher. He nearly tripped over Mrs. Norris at one point, the cat seeming to sense his presence but unable to actually see him. Filch followed closely behind and Harry ducked into a corner just in case the old man managed to sense him out. He remained there for almost a minute, waiting until even the caretaker's footsteps faded before continuing his journey.
Though the Restricted Section was his goal, he ended up wandering through several unnecessary hallways on his path there. Some detours were intentional—seeing the castle without students everywhere was an incredible experience—while others were accidental, the darkness making many turns look identical. It wasn't until after midnight that he finally entered the enormous Hogwarts Library.
He lit the tip of his wand, disliking darkness thanks to his time spent sleeping under the stairs. And unlike the cupboard where he knew every nook and cranny, the library's darkness was eerie, several of the bewitched books making soft noises as he passed. He pulled the Cloak tighter around himself the same way a small child would their blanket as he cautiously opened the door to the Restricted Section and crept inside, wincing at every creak.
If Harry had thought the main library was creepy, it had nothing on the Restricted Section. There was a stark absence of windows in the back of the library, the only light coming from the tip of his wand. The books here were noisier, shifting and whimpering like scared animals, the sound making his skin crawl. Shadows seemed to reach out with long, curving arms and more than once he pointed his wand at a silhouette he could've sworn was alive.
He hurried straight to the "F's", the air seeming to get heavier the further inward he went. He felt a surge of gratefulness that Flamel's last name didn't begin with a "Z" as he ducked into the row, pulling the Cloak from his head so he could see better. The books appeared to grow more agitated once he was exposed and he decided to make his time in here brief.
However, as his eyes trailed along the rows looking for anything connected to Flamel, a different title caught his attention. It was a red, leather-bound book with the words 'Fawley's Wizarding Genealogy' inscribed in gold. His breath caught as, Flamel forgotten, he reached up and pulled it from the shelf.
On first glance his heart sank, seeing only endless pages of wizarding genealogy as he skimmed through it. Names such as Malfoy, Black, Lestrange, and even Weasley took up entire chapters, long paragraphs describing the families' histories and their "purity of blood", whatever that was. He was just about to put it back when his eyes landed on the final chapter: Discover Which Families You Tie Closest To.
As the muggle world presses against our borders it becomes more important than ever to retain knowledge of our family lines. The necessity of keeping our blood pure is why we must always be aware of our family's history, and which lines remain pure enough to interbreed with.
Described below is the Sanguinem Necessitudines Potion, devised by Lilian Lestrange in 1843 to discern whether her son's bride was pure of blood as she claimed. (She was not, and was subsequently executed for her attempt at subterfuge.)
Using this potion a witch or wizard can discern their family tree—however, should any of muggle blood appear the potion will immediately cease generating further ancestors, as impure blood renders the magic weaker. This potion should always be used as a test to ensure the safe continuation of magical lines, lest they intermingle with tainted blood and the magic be ruined.
Harry frowned, the book's constant referral to 'tainted' or 'impure' blood reminding him of the things he'd heard about the Nazis in World War II. Was there some kind of wizarding prejudice he didn't know about towards black people?
So caught up was he in his thoughts that he didn't notice Filch's arrival until it was almost too late. Fortunately his hearing—which wasn't as damaged as his eyesight—caught the uneven footsteps just in time to yank the Cloak back over himself. Unfortunately he wasn't fast enough to avoid bumping into the man as he tried to escape the Restricted Section.
Filch's high, nasally voice called out like an alarm after him; "Student out of bed! Student in the library!" Mrs. Norris meowed loudly in harmony as they followed him with surprising speed, his Cloak whipping up around his feet as he tried to get away, the book clutched tightly to his chest.
His luck further darkened when Snape appeared at the end of the hallway, his menacing form looking even more terrifying in the darkened hallway. Harry had been so caught up in getting away that he hadn't paid attention to where he was going, and had wandered into the one hallway that the Potions Professor happened to be coming from. Worse, it was so narrow that the man wouldn't be able to pass by without bumping into Harry.
He looked left and right, eyes locking on a door he hadn't noticed before. Not having time to consider anything else he ducked inside just as Snape swept by. Filch greeted him from the end of the hall; "You asked me to come directly to you, Professor, if anyone was wandering around at night, and somebody's been in the library's Restricted Section."
"Well they can't be far," Snape answered in a cool voice, "We shall find them shortly."
Harry went still as their footsteps started up, but for once he was in luck as they were heading away from him. Taking a deep breath he finally turned to look around the room he found himself in. The old desks and unwashed windows were one thing; far more interesting, however, was the mirror.
"Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi," he muttered aloud, forgetting for a moment to keep quiet. It took him several moments to what the words meant, only for him to almost smack himself when he realized.
The stolen book was still held to his chest, begging to be put into use, but Harry also wanted to know what he'd see in the mirror. Fame? Power? A life without the Dursleys? So, taking a deep breath, he stepped in front of the glass.
For a moment it was just his reflection and then it shifted. His eyes widened and he turned quickly, the image so real that he'd actually thought a crowd of people appeared behind him, but there was nothing, so he turned back.
It was his family. James and Lily stood behind his image, smiling and waving. Farther back there were more people but he paid them no mind, his gaze sliding to the pair on either side of James and Lily. He couldn't see their faces, just silhouettes of a man with brown hair and an even vaguer woman, but somehow he knew that they were his biological parents.
James' hand rested on his mirror image's shoulder and Harry put a hand on his own, half-expecting to feel something there. But there was nothing, just the cold of the empty stone room.
Yet he would remain the entire night, and several nights after, until finally Professor Dumbledore took the mirror away.
Harry glared at the grey sludgy mess filling his cauldron; all that remained of his latest attempt at the Sanguinem Necessitudines Potion. He'd been hoping that brewing the darn thing would be easier than saying it, but he was wrong.
Not for the first time he cursed Snape's terrible teaching, taking the sludge and dumping it into the fireplace. When he'd started brewing the potion he thought it would be like cooking; add some ingredients, stir, repeat.
He was wrong.
Not only did the potion require incredibly specific pauses—he'd been three seconds late stirring and it had turned brown and murky—but it also needed spells that he didn't know how to cast and which were only vaguely described in the book. The only possible upside was that it didn't require weeks of brewing time like some potions, though that wasn't much consolation.
Rubbing a hand over tired eyes he began the hike back to Gryffindor tower, taking the book with him. He'd taken up residence in an abandoned classroom for the sake of brewing, not wanting anyone to know what he was up to. He'd been owl-ordering ingredients and storing them in his trunk just in case anyone found his hidey-hole.
But even all those inconveniences hadn't stopped him from trying again and again to brew the Sanguinem Necessitudines Potion. All the trouble he went to would be worth it in the end if he could just discover any family he might have out there.
The Fat Lady shot him a disapproving look as he said the password and he belatedly realized that it was probably after curfew. He ducked into the common room slowly, hoping that he would be alone.
To his disappointment there was indeed someone there, two in fact, both with their arms crossed sitting on the couch. Hermione's frown was far outweighed by Ron's angry scowl. "Where were you?" he demanded loudly, jumping to his feet.
Harry blinked confusedly at his friend. "What?"
This just made Ron angrier. "Norbert!"
Harry's eyes widened as realization slammed home and he winced. Tonight was the night he was supposed to help Ron and Hermione sneak Hagrid's dragon to the top of the Astronomy Tower. He'd been so caught up in his potion-making that he'd forgotten, just like he'd forgotten to be there for the hatching. "I'm sorry guys," he said with a guilty grimace, "I was just… busy."
"Busy?! We got caught by Filch 'cause we didn't have your Cloak! We lost a hundred points!"
Thankfully Hermione cut in before the redhead woke the whole tower. "Where were you?" she asked, less angry but still definitely in the vicinity. "You're always off by yourself now."
Harry shifted the book in his arms uncomfortably. What was he supposed to tell them? He didn't want to tell the truth; they'd laugh at him for sure and Hermione would probably tell him exactly why he shouldn't go looking, even if he already knew.
Ron caught the motion and strode forward, face aflame. "Is it something to do with this?" he demanded, grabbing for the book.
Harry held on tight. "Let go!" he yelled, trying to pull it back. But Ron's attack had surprised him and the book was stretched between them, a cover in each boy's hands, and what came next was inevitable.
Both froze as the sound of tearing paper filled the room as the spine split right down the center. Pages went flying; landing on the floor is disarray as the boys were left clutching the halves of the cover. Hermione's eyes were wide in shock at the sight.
Ron went very pale. "I—I'm sorry," he blurted quickly, dropping the cover, "I didn't mean—"
Harry whirled on him furiously, crying "Get out!" with such force the room seemed to tremble. Both his friends immediately turned and ran, leaving him standing in the wreckage of Fawley's Wizarding Genealogy, the cover slipping from his hands as he struggled not to scream.
Harry stared at his cauldron in shock, watching the large spherical clouds of smoke emanating out of the top in five-second intervals, just as the book said. The mixture was deep lavender and smelled faintly of blueberries, exactly as the instructions described.
"I did it," he realized aloud, a choked laugh bursting from his throat as he checked the book again to be sure. Indeed, his potion looked exactly as it was described. "I did it!" He let out a whoop of joy, flailing his hands in a makeshift dance which he would've been mortified to be seen doing. But even embarrassment couldn't curb his glee at having mastered the Sanguinem Necessitudines Potion after months of trial and error.
He indulged in his joy for several minutes before the high finally faded and he returned his attention to the cauldron. Once the initial excitement was past he was hit with a wave of trepidation; this was it, this was his chance to figure out who his biological parents were. What would it say? What would he do if it was someone like Malfoy? Did he really want to know?
Yes, part of him cried, I need to know! To indulge that curiosity that hadn't abated ever since Hagrid spoke those fateful words over the Christmas holidays. But then, James and Lily had loved him as their own son, was it fair to them to want this?
His uncertainty only grew the longer he stood there, guilt and curiosity at war until he decided he couldn't decide now. So instead he dug into his bag and pulled out one of the empty vials he'd been using to hold the ingredients and, in one motion, scooped the potion into the bottle and stoppered it.
Harry watched the purple mixture swirl behind the glass, still warm to the touch. It felt heavy with the weight of its implications as he slipped it into his pocket and shouldered his bag, hurrying from the room which still smelled of blueberries.
His plan had been to go for a flight at the Quidditch Pitch to clear his head but such plans were derailed when, turning the corner into the Transfiguration Hallways, he caught sight of Ron and Hermione being shooed out of McGonagall's classroom by the woman herself. He turned to head in the opposite direction but they saw him before he could, hurrying over.
"Snape's trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone."
Harry looked back at his friends, a frown donning his face in response to their hesitant ones. They hadn't spoken to him in over a week; or rather he hadn't spoken to them. He'd managed to piece together the book, an activity which took hours due to the lack of page numbers, but his anger towards them hadn't faded enough for him to approach them, regardless of the many apologizes Ron had given.
"We had detention in the Forbidden Forest," Ron followed, "we met a centaur there, he said someone in the castle's trying to steal the Stone. It has to be Snape; we have to stop him!"
Harry's frown depended, remembering the dog bite he'd seen on the man's leg and the jinxed broom. With great reluctance he turned back to them; some things were more important than grudges, and stopping their crazy teacher was one of them. "Did you tell anyone?"
Relief flashed in their eyes at his acceptance of their claim. "We tried to tell Professor McGonagall but she didn't believe us, and she said that Professor Dumbledore got called to the Ministry!"
His eyes widened as it clicked and annoyance transformed to realization. "Snape's going after the Stone right now!" He exclaimed. "We have to stop him!"
"But Professor McGonagall said—" The bushy-haired girl began, only to be cut off.
"It doesn't matter!" Harry interjected harshly, a bit more so than he would've normally, and the girl's wince was proof. "If she didn't believe you before then she won't now."
Hermione looked both insulted on behalf of her favorite teacher and cowed in the face of his anger. He crushed down the guilt, remembering their verbal attack against him a week before. "Come on, if we hurry we can still catch him."
Harry's surprise at seeing Quirrel instead of Snape quickly morphed to fear when he realized who, exactly, was controlling the normally timid man. Seeing Voldemort's hideous face growing out of Quirrel's head was something that belonged in a horror movie.
"Harry Potter…" Voldemort breathed, his lipless mouth stretched into a smile that it lacked the skin for. "Such a curiosity you are, boy… powerful… intelligent… ambitious…"
Harry couldn't have moved even if he wanted to, Voldemort's attention making him feel like a bug under a microscope.
"I know what you seek, Harry Potter…" the face continued, eyes gleaming, "I know about that which you hold in your pocket… the dreams you hold of your true family… join me, Harry Potter, and I can fulfill your every desire… give me the Stone and I will give you power unimaginable!"
It felt like the room grew colder the more the thing spoke, dark power ten times worse than what he'd felt in the Restricted Section oozing off him. It licked his form like flames, tempting him. He almost wanted to give in, to gain the power he spoke of…
But then he felt a spark of anger as he realized that the man was trying to manipulate him, control him, and he let it grow into a blazing fire that drove back the cold. "Liar!" He shouted, turning and running for the door.
"Seize him!" Voldemort hissed, Quirrel running towards him in reverse like some sort of possessed doll. Harry slipped on the steps and threw his hands up, palms colliding with Quirrel's face, and the last thing he saw before he passed out was a column of smoke spiraling off the Defense Professor's body.
Harry watched the kind, if a bit barmy, Headmaster take his leave from the hospital wing, leaving Harry with even more questions than he had answers. The old man's words had conveyed a deeper meaning to them, a promise of more to know and things to come, and it made his head hurt just thinking about it.
"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good."
Harry swallowed, wiping his eyes with the heel of his hand. It made him feel strange knowing that it was his mother who'd been responsible for saving him, even from beyond the grave. He'd only been with her for a year but she'd loved him that much… what could he even say to that? He didn't remember being loved that much and it hurt to realize what he'd lost more than he expected.
Digging into his pocket he pulled out the jar of Sanguinem Necessitudines, which amazingly hadn't been damaged by his jaunt through the Third Floor corridor. The lavender liquid swirled innocuously, uncaring of the turmoil it caused him.
Strangely, hearing about Lily's sacrifice for him only made him want to use the potion more. Because knowing what he'd lost made him wonder if there was another parent who might love him like she did. What if he chose not to use it and missed out on a chance for that kind of relationship again? He had no one, no family, and if there was even the slightest chance…
Mind made up, he grabbed one of the notecards left on the bedside table and uncorked the potion. Bubbles of smoke began puffing out the top and the smell of blueberries filled the air. Then, taking a deep breath, he poured the potion out onto the blank backside of the card.
For a moment the purple goop just seeped into the page and Harry worried that he'd made a mistake, when suddenly it faded away. In its place a line grew from the bottom of the page, splitting into two branches which split the page horizontally. On either side appeared two names.
Steven Grant Rogers said the first name. It sounded vaguely familiar to him though he couldn't place it.
The second name, however, made him actually gasp aloud and drop the paper, which fell onto his lap. Anthony Edward Stark, it read.
Harry knew Tony Stark—everyone knew Tony Stark. Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, the man was one of the richest and most brilliant men on the planet. Not a month went by that he didn't come up with some revolutionary new invention or accomplish some ridiculous feat. And though some people didn't like the weaponry his company produced there was no denying that he had changed the world all by himself.
Tony Stark is my father? Harry actually had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. It could be just a coincidence, but what were the odds of that? He knew he was smart, no matter what the Dursleys said, and he could even see a sort of resemblance—
Calm down Harry, he told himself, shaking his head. It was entirely possible that he was just seeing what he wanted to see. The other name, Steven Rogers, didn't make a lot of sense to him; how could two men have a kid? Unless Steven was a girl, which didn't make any sense either, even if he'd heard girls with nicknames like 'Stevie' or something. Maybe two wizards could have a kid together?
But no, there had been no names appearing above either of them, which meant that they were both muggles. He pushed the question aside for now, focusing on the only thing he knew.
A bubble of hope rose in his chest unbidden, emerging from his mouth as a laugh. His father might be Tony Stark! And if he was, if he wanted Harry, then it wouldn't just mean no more Dursleys, it would mean he would have a dad! A smart, cool dad who could teach him all the stuff he couldn't learn in school because Petunia always had him placed in remedial classes. He didn't care that the man was a muggle; why would he?
So wrapped up in his own daydreams was he, Harry never considered the simple, horrible possibility that Tony knew of him. That he had never, and would never, want him.
A/N: Fawley's Wizarding Genealogy is a book of my own invention.
As of right now the story sticks pretty close to canon but it will diverge more and more within the next chapter or two. Don't expect regular updates; this story is something I work on out of boredom and only receives attention when I need a break from my bigger stories like From Fire—that one is X-Men/HP, so if you're interested check it out.
For those who are interested, Von posted a companion fic to this story entitled 'DoB: F'. The link is on my home page.