Thanks to the Discord server which is filled with wonderful readers who helped me with ideas!
I understand this Chapter is completely different in feel, but I felt like it was necessary.
Twelve Years ago.
Skylar didn't know what it was, but there was something that always felt funny to him.
Maybe it was how his parents doted on him so much, or maybe how they always came to him a few moments before they went to his brother.
It wasn't that noticeable, except sometimes it was.
Sometimes they'd forget about Harry entirely, too busy fretting over him. Sometimes they'd grab him lunch and chop the things too big to eat and Skylar would almost be done before they scurried to grab Harry's food. His brother used to complain about it, he cried sometimes when they were in bed but he got food so it was okay, right?
Skylar didn't think much about it, his parents were the ones in charge, right?
He didn't think about it because that's how life was.
Harry was a good brother, he gave him some toys or the extra sweets he didn't want. Harry didn't keep him up at night, and he didn't argue when Skylar tossed and turned too much. Harry was wonderful, and held things for him when Skylar was getting his shoes on.
Harry asked him questions sometimes. Things about why his shoes were new when his weren't. Why his clothes were new when Harry hadn't gotten anything yet. Skylar didn't know the answer, and that sometimes made Harry nod.
One night they were in their room, getting ready for bed when Harry climbed over. Harry liked Skylar's sheets more than his own, that made sense because Harry's sheets had a stain from when Skylar spilled juice on the covers.
"Sky?" Harry asked quietly, Skylar said that he liked it when Harry talked quieter so it didn't hurt his ears when his head hurt. "Why do you get so many different things?"
Skylar thought and frowned. The answer was obvious to him, maybe it wasn't to Harry?
"Because I'm special!" Skylar grinned, toothy and excited.
Harry's eyes were big and green, just like their mum. Sometimes they watered, like now.
"Okay." Harry accepted quietly, fumbling with the soft blanket in his hands, "why are you special?"
Sometimes Harry stared at him. His eyes were pretty but sometimes they weren't. They looked at Skylar a lot, really hard and sometimes they didn't blink. Skylar didn't want to say anything about it because he loved his brother but sometimes when Harry looked at him hard, it scared Skylar a little.
"Mummy and Daddy said I was special." Skylar settled on happily. That made plenty of sense.
Harry blinked slowly and nodded, that made sense to him.
"Sky? Why don't Mummy and Daddy love me?"
That was a tough question. Skylar didn't know the answer, but he couldn't say that. Otherwise Harry wouldn't think Skylar knew things!
Skylar hummed and thought. "Maybe you don't smile enough?"
"Oh," Harry blinked again and tried to smile. It looked weird, his eyes were too bright an kinda creepy. "Okay, thanks Sky."
"Yeah!" Skylar grinned, patting his brother on his shoulder. Harry hopped down and walked across the room to climb into his own bed. He didn't say anything else that night.
(Skylar got his own room his next birthday once he told his Mummy and Daddy how sometimes Harry would ask him questions late at night. Sky kinda missed Harry, but now he had more room for all his toys so he didn't mind it.)
Lutain didn't know what to think of the strange human.
The human lived in a den smaller than Lutain's old den, darker with stale air. It smelled of foul rat droppings and waste. It was sick, cold and damp in a way that would surely rot the human's scales.
The human had strange eyes, bright unlike most. Beyond that Lutain couldn't imagine much more, humans all looked the same to him even through the glass.
Lutain was thankful to be free, even though his rats would not be regular anymore and it was too cold for his taste. He was crammed under the humans scales which alarmed him. He never knew humans could remove their brightly coloured scales, or exchange them for others.
This humans scales were weirdly shaped, much too large for its body and muted where others were firm. They looked like they were half torn, fringed and sticking like stuck shed.
Everything about this human was strange to him, but he owed this human his freedom. This human was unique, and it could talk.
Lutain never knew a human that could talk before.
"What are you doing?" Lutain asked the human curiously. Was it preparing to hunt? Lutain was hungry himself, maybe this human could provide him with a rat?
The human looked at him, small and misshapen in the dark. It was warm, bright for Lutian's heat sensing. The human looked at him with its bright eyes. It must have been a hatchling to be so small.
"Getting ready for bed?" It responded, hissing but clearly confused.
Bed? What was bed? It sounded like a strange word that Lutain didn't know.
"Bed?" Lutain echoed, interested.
"Yeah," the human agreed, pausing before it shifted the pelts and coverings from the small ledge it was sitting on, "this is a bed. You sleep on it."
Sleeping in a specific spot? How fascinating. Lutain always slept in the warmest spots or carefully hidden locations to help him digest his dinners.
"Warm?" Lutain asked curiously, perhaps the bed was heated as well.
The human paused, tentative as it fumbled with the coverings. "Not really. I could...I could sleep on my side? You could lay with me and I could keep you warm? I'm sorry it isn't much...can I help you at all? Please stay."
Lutain scrambled to comprehend what the strange human was saying. The human could make things warm? Lutain always had to find heat on his own. Laying on its side seemed interesting, perhaps it designated its sides based on the unnecessary amount of limbs? Where would Lutain go after? It wasn't as if this den had an easy exit, which baffled Lutain even further.
"I'm sorry I can't sneak out, my...my aunt would be really mad."
What a strange human.
Snakes didn't have to concern themselves with this level of thought, although Lutain was feeling very intrigued. He didn't know of any other speakers, maybe they were all like this? Lutain didn't know that much in truth, but he was completely willing to learn more.
Later that night the human curled on its thin fabric on its foreign bed, and it gasped out sobs like it was regurgitating its food. Its face was wet, twisted in expression Lutain imagined was only possible from its lack of scales.
Lutain watched it belt out pitiful noises in its human tongue, begging desperately perhaps. Why did it cry so? Surely it was no longer a hatchling and it was able to survive on its own, why would its sire wait for it? Why would its kin care for it?
How strange. Perhaps humans like snakes, would forget about this in a few more seasons.
(In a couple years, Harry Potter forgot it ever happened at all.)
Bellatrix Lestrange didn't know what to expect of the little boy that her husband and brother in law brought home. At first, she imagined she could use the poor little thing for target practice. At least a human child would scream and move more realistically than conjured crows or stolen dogs.
It surprised her, the sudden boldness of the little boy. The way its large green eyes were constantly filled with fear and dread, the way its hands shook as it peered around her home with such obvious terror. The poor thing wouldn't last a day on its own, before some silly little monster snatched it up and wrung its neck.
...But the snake around its neck, oh, that was the surprise. That was the punch that rattled Bellatrix's teeth and made her vision swim. The little boy was terrified of shadows itself but was so starved of love and attention it sought the company of animals before the company of humans.
Bellatrix couldn't help but find herself enthralled by the little creature, by the small pudgy cheeks it had and the weirdly large feet on its little body. Thin frame, thick hideous glasses and wide innocent green eyes.
Bellatrix wanted to pluck them out, so they would stop staring at him. He looked at her like he was waiting for the knife to fall, the single curse that would take his life and he was waiting for it.
That wasn't fun. Bellatrix didn't want to play with tools that were ready to break themselves.
It was settling into her home, living in the small room Bella never cared much for. Her husband and brother were working around, cleaning and readying things for a new human in their midst. It bothered her a little bit, if they were so desperate to have a new pet why wouldn't they simply purchase a cat? A new dog? Bella wouldn't even kill this one.
The wide eyed knobbly child bumbled around, peeking around corners and trying to be sneaky. It was sad, truly; its footsteps were loud and its mumbling was rather aggravating. How often did it need to be let out? How often did she need to get it fresh water? Weren't little humans needing training to use the loo?
Merlin, maybe she needed to contact her dear sissy to find out all of these puzzling questions.
She muttered, scraping a knife against the kitchen table. She woke up grumpy, sour and feeling stir crazy. It wasn't her fault that wherever they grabbed the little brat from had burned down. Well, maybe it was partially her fault. They were wanted now, more attention drawn to them after she had been doing wonderful at hiding under the radar. She couldn't even go for a stroll, instead she was trapped in the house with some feral baby human while her husband and brother were off finding a new place to stay low.
Once her Lord returned...they would all pay.
For now, she was going to carve a crude shape into the kitchen table with a sharp knife, and wait until she could wreck a window.
The stairs creaked under weight, Bellatrix glanced up from the corner of her eye.
The young little human was slinking out, looking like a skittish alley cat. The snake was around his neck, looping down over his arm. She wondered where he had gotten a snake as pretty as that one, bright yellow bellies were pretty rare.
She had seen an array of snakes in her life, most of them fast and likely lethal. They swarmed to her lord, and she treated them all with adoration. They were beautiful creatures, although she didn't understand them. They were mindless animals, but her lord cherished them, so by default she would as well.
The boy looked at her, peering at him from the stairwell. He stared at her, eyes bright and focused. The snake flickered its tongue, the only clue that it was alive.
Bellatrix itched to curse the brat, but she still wasn't sure why exactly he had been brought to her. What exactly was it here for? Was she supposed to curse it?
"What?" She snapped back, stabbing the knife sharply into the table. It stuck there, vibrating like a tuning fork.
The boy flinched, a whole body shudder although it didn't run away. Skittish and easy to spook, but holding its ground for some unseeable reason. The snake shifted slightly, clinging to the boy's bony shoulders.
Bella's skin itched. Surely she wouldn't get in trouble for cursing the boy too much.
She stood slowly, nails scratching over the grooves she cut into the table. With a jerk, she pried the knife from the wood. The boy watched her movements carefully, not budging.
"What are you looking at?" She sneered, taking a jerky step forward to spook the child into skittering up a couple steps. If it had ears like a cat, they would be pressed flat to its head.
"'There's a good kitty." She grinned, taking a slow cautious step forward. Her steps were much quieter than its childish movements. It's eyes widened slightly, catching the glint from the knife.
"Why don't you come here to play?" She asked, taking another closer step. If she healed the child afterwards, she was sure the thing would be too skittish to ever speak up about what she did. She'd even be so nice to clean the bloodstains from the floor.
The boy licked its lower lip, a small tongue that Bellatrix itched to pluck out. Maybe she'd gouge out its eyes too, if only so she wouldn't have to look at those disgusting glasses.
"'No." It spoke, voice soft and quiet and very unsteady. Bold, but quiet.
Bellatrix stilled, tilting her head slightly to the side in amusement. So it could talk after all? How interesting.
"Don't you want something to do?" She asked with a wicked grin, "you've been watching me."
The little boy twitched, looking ready to bolt up the stairs again.
"...You're the mad lady." The child croaked out, voice airy and high pitched like all snotty nosed brats, "...Bellatrix Lestrange."
Bella grinned, "so you do know me!"
The boy's eyes widened further, looking more panicked than before. Perhaps he didn't like how excited she was to hear that he knew her? She liked being recognizable, it made people cry at the sight of her.
"Stay back." The boy warned, voice warbling in its obvious fear. It's eyes were wet, glassy on the edges.
"Oh!" She gaped in delight, "are you going to cry? Ickle little kitten gonna cry?"
The boy's face twitched, lower lip shifting ever so slightly. It was inching backwards, hand against the wall as it traced the railing.
Bellatrix took one step forward, and the boy breathed heavily. Not hyperventilating, but looking on the verge of some idiotic decision.
Bellatrix was curious what a little brat was capable of doing.
"I'm going to gut you," Bellatrix whispered, loving the way the little boy paled into something ghostly. It's eyes were pinpricks, adrenaline causing it's miniature fingers to twitch and flutter.
The snake hissed, lifting into a small twig of an opponent. Bellatrix Lestrange knew better than to test the speed of an unidentified snake, especially one that seemed so intelligent.
She could pull her wand to shield her one side to deflect the snake, but it would be far too obvious what she was doing. It was unlikely the boy would be able to do anything about it anyways.
Maybe this was the challenge her husband brought. A fun little game; get past the snake and slaughter the child.
"Aren't you cute." Bellatrix cooed, finding the challenge very exciting. "A pretty little boy like you."
The boy's nostrils flared, looking far too terrified and brave to ever survive in a house with her. What a pity, she always wished her toys would last longer.
She lifted the knife, eyeing the snake as she twisted into a prepared position.
The boy shifted, jerking his shoulder out with the snake leading. The small reptile reared back, hissing and spluttering in a way that would make another pause. Bellatrix had seen Nagini, she had fed the massive creature severed arms. She didn't pause at the small ribbon of an animal.
The snake lunged, she smacked the thing sideways near its neck. It deflected off course, as surprised as the boy was.
The knife glinted, the boy threw his hands up in alarm before he opened his mouth.
Bellatrix loved how they screamed.
The boy's eyes changed, somehow shifting. The pinprick black of its pupil dilated rapidly into a thick black circle with a green rim. It shuddered, and suddenly Bellatrix's hand snapped.
She stumbled away, dropping the knife from twisted fingers. A surge of heat through her arm; dislocated fingers and one fractured pinky.
She felt the joints, snapping the cartilage like the neck of a small rodent. The snake had recovered by then, coiling around protectively. The boy was breathing heavy, eyes pinpricks once again. The knife forgotten on the floor.
Bellatrix slowly looked at the boy, holding the bruising joints that she didn't care much for.
"You…" She trailed off, straightening the joints once more, just to make sure they were bending right. "...you dislocated my fingers?"
The boy crossed one arm in front of him, chest heaving. Protective, wary of what she would do next.
How fascinating, how absolutely fascinating. Did the boy somehow charm the snake itself? Did he control it somehow?
"You were going to stab me." The boy choked back, sounding defensive and terrified. The tremor was back. "You were going to stab me."
He had dislocated her fingers, nearly breaking them. Without a word, faster than she could see.
It was magic, it could only be. But careful magic, able to target the hand around the knife and only that. Purposeful, controlled.
"Of course I was." Bellatrix sniffed, huffing as the boy looked even more unsettled. "I was bored."
The boy's neck moved in a nervous anxious swallow. How precious.
"Can you do it again?" Bella asked, eyes flickering to the knife, "do I need to stab you again?"
The boy balked, shaking his head quickly.
"I- maybe?" he croaked out, chewing on his lower lip, "I- I don't know."
"Do it." Bella snapped out, grin faltering. What use was a toy that didn't surprise her?
The boy's eyes flickered over the room, barely willing to stay away from her longer than a moment. Smart of him.
The boy's face twitched, eyes wet and stressed.
Bella huffed after a few seconds, lunging forward at the child unexpectedly.
The snake recoiled, ready to strike. The boy's eyes widened in alarm and he jerked back, one arm raised between them.
The crack this time was audible; loud, crunching through her bones and body and sending her jerking to the ground.
Bellatrix Lestrange wheezed on the ground, clenching her jaw through the unexpected flare. She had certainly experienced worse, but the surprise of it had caught her off guard.
She tilted her neck, cracking it to relieve the pressure. There was nothing she could do for the shattered fingers and likely broken arms until her husband returned.
"Oh, aren't you precious." She cooed back, ignoring the way her hands twisted into gnarled things.
The boy's eyes widened, a flush swelling high in his cheeks. The boy looked away, sheepish and bashful. Oh, that was interesting.
"You're perfect," she coed, watching his reactions in delight. "I like you, I'm going to keep you, my ickle little present. You're perfect."
The boy choked, an audible wet gasping noise. Eyes wide as if struck, flush getting darker. Its hands shook, overwhelmed at the praise.
"Really?" It whispered, looking on the verge of leaning forward to soak in the praise.
"I like you," Bellatrix crooned, a small grin spreading across her face. The boy looked like a flower, soaking up adoration and affection. "Can you make me happy? Can you destroy the table?"
The boy was swaying, eyes wide and starstruck, he hadn't looked away from her.
"You like me?" He whispered, more to himself than anything else. "You aren't going to get rid of me?"
Oh, what a poor poor kitten.
"I think you're wonderful," she cooed, resisting the urge to claw its hair and tug its scalp, "break my table."
The boy's eyes flared, it swayed in vertigo and disorientation.
How desperate to please.
This was better than another toy to throw curses at.
Rodolphus knew he should have killed the child, just to spare the hassle of keeping it alive. His brother agreed with him, watching with frowns as Bella coddled the boy like it was something precious.
Maybe it was precious, or something different all together.
It took a strange sort, to swoon and grin wide in delight when getting your severed arm reattached.
Bella always was strange with her affection, but this kid was warped even more.
The child, Adrian Selwyn, was something fascinating to watch.
A pet project, created and growing like a tumor. Something malignant on its own, developing into a single moment in which he would destroy everything Dumbledore had ever accomplished.
A martyr for the light, a symbol of peace. The truth of all the man's lies, the object of public faith and hope. Grown from nothing into the greatest threat; Dumbledore's greatest mistake.
It was interesting to see the child grow, to see him develop into something warped and distorted from the smallest signs of human decency. The lengths he would go for praise, the limits he would surpass for a single confirmation of his duty.
The boy would sever his own leg for a moment of affection. He had never seen an example of a human so starved, so desperate.
If his plans fell through, simply revealing how traumatized and damaged the boy was would be satisfying itself.
He was strong too, that perhaps was the most interesting sight. An experiment years in the making, destroying the concepts of ethics and morals to fashion a boy into the shape he wanted.
Bellatrix had raised him proper, feeding him the barest touches of love and companionship after acts of horror. Desensitizing him into something comfortable in pain and gore. Raising him along a snake, normalizing animalistic tendencies and thought patterns.
The boy was interesting- he had the makings to be someone intelligent but the continuous stunted social interaction had quelled that. Only in a few areas did the boy shine, thankfully all in areas of little threat or interest. He would gladly pander to these strange obsessions, crafting a false sense of security and kinship through whatever odd connections the boy made.
What hassle was it to have one of his men fetch a skull or claw? How much effort to obtain little pesky treasures in exchange of thoughtless and utter loyalty.
The boy was willing to throw his flesh at his feet, and felt love the moment he cursed his flesh until it burned.
The screams of suffering, the laughter of pleasing him.
What a wonderful little self destructive monster he made.
He would be socially ostracized, set apart from others his age due to his face. Isolated from his lack of social comprehension. Desperate for affection, aggressive from his rearing. Forever stumbling over his deep seated loathing for Skylar Potter, willing to die for his revenge.
In the end of it all, the boy would be something so loyal to his cause and his devotion, that he would never be a threat. If that ever occurred, he had marked the child as his own. He would always find the little vermin, tracking him down from the outrageously large mark on his skin or the trace he left in his mind. An accident of course, but if he ever felt too threatened he could always tear apart the boy with torture, leaving him empty and drooling. His soul would be protected forever in a lifeless shell, captured in a moral issue.
His only threat would ever be Dumbledore, and the man would never kill an innocent boy in vain for a greater cause. Perhaps he would create a situation with his old manipulations, but the blatant slaughter of a defenseless child?
Never, and so, he had finished it..
The prophecy didn't matter, because in one smooth motion he had completely and utterly, won.
Snape hated teaching potions to the Gryffindor and Slytherin students.
He adored his Slytherins, they were all steller students and capable of extraordinary things. Aligned next to Gryffindor idiots, it turned his classroom into a war zone.
He knew his Godson Draco was the cause of much of the aggression, but he couldn't address this blatantly. He would talk to the boy after class in private, until then, Snape was confined to a single room with not only one headache, but multiple.
Neville Longbottom was capable of melting a cauldron while boiling water. Ron Weasley was so daft, it was a mystery how the boy hadn't killed anyone prior. Hermione Granger was a know-it-all that went out of her way to bask in the idiocy of her fellow peers. Skylar Potter was the worst.
He loved Lily, he truly did, but he would never forgive her for spawning an absolute oaf of a child.
He could handle those four if it weren't for the black sheep of his own house, the lazy excuse of a Slytherin.
Adrian Selwyn was a walking disaster.
The boy was quiet, observant in a lazy dazed way. The scars were obvious, often making his features look more ghoulish than normal with the dim light of the potions classroom. Perhaps that was why his partner, Theodore Nott, often threw glances at him. Even Snape felt sickened when he looked at the boy.
He couldn't imagine the agony the child went through, but he had suspicions that the curse somehow left him brain damaged.
The child barely did homework, what he did do was pathetic and sloppy. His essays were late, he overslept constantly. He ate like a starving dog and looked equally as sloppy. Snape was beginning to suspect the boy was abusing cleaning charms in exchange for actually bathing like a civilized human being.
Whenever the boy sat on the aisle seat with Skylar Potter nearby, it almost exponentially increased the disasters in the room.
For some reason unconfirmed, all of his Slytherin students were terrified of Selwyn. Snape had run countless security scans over the boy, searching for dark artifacts or weapons. He only ever detected the curse scar, which was a threat in itself. That, and the blasted snake.
If it wasn't for the Headmaster's assurances that the serpent was a "Traumatic-therapy-assistance-animal," Snape would have the ruddy creature burned.
He had to deal with serpents enough with the Dark Lord, he didn't want to have to deal with them in his classroom also.
Skylar Potter seemed far too chipper, trying to bridge the gap between Gryffindor and the single Slytherin student. His efforts were amusing, as they almost always failed. For how often Adrian Selwyn and Skylar Potter interacted, it was obvious that Adrian Selwyn absolutely loathed the Golden Boy.
Snape couldn't figure out why, especially with the alarmingly powerful Legilimency barriers on the boy's mind. He suspected they were trauma-constructed; made from memories selectively forgotten in the heat of torture. Bellatrix Lestrange was a foul and insane lady, it was a marvel the boy survived at all.
(Severus Snape suspected that the boy lied about that as well, it was impossible to ever be reared by that lady. Likely lying for attention.)
If Severus Snape had a choice, he would expel the useless Selwyn brat at the soonest convenience. It was a pain that the boy exceeded at Care for Magical Creatures, otherwise he could have presented a case and had the lethargic waste removed from his dungeons.
Until then, Snape was perfectly content ignoring the brat who was determined to ghost his way through his Hogwarts years with pathetic grades, and equally pathetic work effort.
Adalonda was utterly surprised and delighted the moment the small creature, Cerestes, came to her.
Begging for power, knowledgeable and ignorant all at once. Proud of his inferior skill with magical creatures; certain that his rudimentary information would somehow protect him.
Desperate for love, leaning on those to help carry the weight of his troubles. Obvious with his flaws, so innocently trusting in anything loyal to his cause.
What a poor poor pitiful creature, created and destroyed over years before she even met it. Generally it would take years to reach this level of chaos, this level of potential disaster.
He leaned on only one other, talking about them fondly and with indecisive trust. He could confide in her, he could ruin her work by mentioning things that tasted wrong.
Adalonda knew this other human would be no threat to her; if push came to shove she could easily worm her ideas into Cerestes' skull until he turned against the world in animalistic rage. She could rewrite the mind of this lesser little insect, and see what would happen with her subtle prompting.
It had been a long, long time.
And Adalonda was very bored.
This Cerestes, well. She always wondered if she could drive a human so mad, reality was no longer recognizable.
Remus didn't know what to think of the boy when he opened the door and stepped inside.
He had been warned by Sirius; the things Adrian had said, the things he did.
Remus could barely recognize the boy he once knew and invited into his office. It had been years since then, years and he had done nothing.
He couldn't help the guilt, but he could help now.
He could help now if he understood why.
He opened the door and slipped inside. Everything was soft, rounded corners and pale in colour. It smelled sterile, blunted over what actually happened.
Remus couldn't believe it, he couldn't believe what James and Sirius desperately told him the moment he returned. He couldn't imagine it, until he had seen the damage himself and looked at the records of Headmistress Umbridge's death.
He couldn't believe it until he saw the recorded and documented death of Luna Lovegood.
But it didn't make any sense.
From what Remus knew, Adrian Selwyn's only friend was Luna Lovegood. Remus had taught her as a second year, he certainly remembered the odd yet thrilling charisma of the girl. She was kind, she even brought him chocolates and referred to him fondly. It didn't make any sense.
And the rest of the information? That Adrian Selwyn was a parselmouth and apparently controlled a basilisk? The monstrous creature that Salazar Slytherin had locked away in an imaginary chamber was suddenly real and had murdered someone?
(Adrian Selwyn had killed someone?)
No, no that didn't line up. The boy Remus knew was in a difficult situation, but eager to please and dying to impress. He had expectations pressed on him that overwhelmed the boy and linked him to something sad. Once the year was over, Remus had been debating taking the child to another mind healer to determine if the boy wasn't only curse-damaged, but also depressed or anxious. It would explain the sudden plummet in his grades towards the end of the year, especially with no obvious cause.
Remus had suspected that something happened with the impostor the year earlier. Adrian had taken many detentions with the hidden death eater, perhaps the man had...done something to the boy, traumatized him further and triggered this slow deterioration.
Adrian wouldn't have done this, he wouldn't have done this.
Adrian would have bitten off his own fingers to make Remus proud of him, although that had taken a long time to get to. The boy had stumbled over words, confessing half-truths that Remus could hear the instant he confessed to living with Bellatrix Lestrange. There was more to the story but he never pressed because Adrian Selwyn was abused.
Adrian Selwyn had whispered under his breath over and over, that he was useful. Trying to assure himself, trying to promise himself.
He wouldn't snap and kill someone when he was so pressured to do the right thing.
(From the small confessions and half smiles, Luna Lovegood was his anchor. He wouldn't do this.)
The boy in front of him, curled up in a pale blanket on a pale bed, looked like he maybe would.
He had never seen Adrian look so maddened. He looked like the prisoners from Azkaban, twitching on the cusps of something violent. Asleep apparently, but not restful. His blankets were bloodstained, scabs around his cuticles. His face was pale, waxy and unwashed. Remus doubted the boy had been let out in a long while, or had seen the sun in weeks.
Adrian was looking sick, grieving and mourning even unconscious. Scarfing down food but not gaining weight. Did the stress of the situation somehow compromise his immune system? Was the curse-scar activating now that he was at his weakest?
He hadn't laughed, Sirius said. He hadn't laughed and instead he stared at walls like they talked to him. He wallowed, curling on the bed or in the corners when he could. Lashing out viciously without actions. Spitting venom, staring at his hands numb and detached. Sirius wanted to have a mind healer come in to see if the boy was experiencing dissociative episodes.
(They couldn't have one come in, now with Adrian wanted as a suspect for a double murder.)
Could they give him medicine? Potions for depression? Not with how something was clearly wrong with him, not with how his limbs shook and he stared wide eyed at nothing. Haunted, something murdering him slowly.
Adrian looked like he had the world and he lost it without ever realizing what he had.
Sirius told him that the boy hadn't even responded to praise or other signs of affection. He recoiled at physical contact, finding basic human decency somehow wrong.
He didn't know small talk, or casual conversation. He was fascinated with small things that was general knowledge; famous toys from when Skylar was a child, music bands, even trademark sweets. He had a large gap in his memory or perhaps he wasn't experienced with it at all.
(Merlin, growing up with Bellatrix Lestrange.)
Remus sat on the softened chair, looking at Adrian Selwyn's small sleeping form in nothing more than a cell block.
Remus was going to have to tell Sirius to spell all plates and utensils unbreakable.
(Remus was terrified what Adrian Selwyn would do with broken ceramic, loneliness, and overwhelming utter loss.)
"I'm not afraid of dying anymore." Adrian confessed in a whisper, talking out loud although Newt Scamander knew that he wasn't supposed to hear it. "I'm not afraid of it. It's hard to be afraid when I'm...I'm so tired, of being afraid. I'm sad now."
Adrian smiled, tracing a single finger along the condensation on a window. "I'm sad now, and I don't even know why anymore."
Newt Scamander had seen many terrible things, but something about Adrian Selwyn shook him to his core.
Tonks loved Adrian.
She loved him so so much.
(Sometimes, watching him keel over and vomit blood into a snowbank; she wished he had died as a child to be spared of all his suffering.)
A lifetime ago
She knew, that words were always small things.
Translated emotions to express to another. They were always inconsistent, broken and fraying on the edges.
She knew, as she talked gently with cues and whispers, that sometimes words were so very important.
It was the little things that people remembered, the half muttered promises in the stairwells. The laughing under lantern light. The shrieking delight near windows and sniffles by the courtyard. Somethings would always stand out in memory, like photographs repeated over and over until that's all you knew.
She knew when she was talking, when her words were important. When the moment was perfect and she knew she could change everything.
These exchanges were the ones she'd remember, because they hurt oh how they hurt.
She talked, hoping that maybe she wouldn't have to be afraid of hearing others' condolences. She talked, hoping that maybe she wouldn't have to go buy a black dress. She talked, hoping that maybe, she could imagine him happy.
He talked and she talked and she wanted to cry.
It was so cold, and she loved their bridge but it scared her so much.
"Well...you see.." she trailed off, feeling cold and knowing that this, this was what he would remember in a dozen years.
He looked at her. He looked grotesque and burning and one day he would burn himself out; she never knew when it was but there was one thing she could say and she would say however many times he needed.
"What is it Luna?" He asked, and he looked so, so tired.
"You're not unlovable, silly." She smiled, because if she didn't, she thought that she would cry. "Because I love you."
Our memories demand attention, they demand us to remember and watch them over and over. Sometimes they are not nice, sometimes they are cruel, and vicious, and they hunt in our minds like wolves after a kill. Sometimes they ambush us in dark corners, ensnaring us and leaving us a bloodied mess. We can't ignore our past, we can't pretend our memories don't haunt us. When we know this, when we can look at our histories and the echoes of who we were to ourselves and who we were to others, and... Sometimes I can't tell what's real and what isn't, what happened and what didn't.
I can't simply move on, but it's my choice to try and try and keep trying to walk away and emerge something new from my broken life.
Anontbhfam: I thought Selwyn was just gonna lead the Basilisk to the hall when the fighting starts to have it somehow die in the crossfire or kill everyone trying lol
Adrian accidentally kills every single opponent he had in the entire story by being a complete numbskull: a summary.
r0ulette: 'Ive been watching My Hero recently and I keep getting images of Bakugo in my head whenever Adrian says things.
I actually laughed at this. Ironically enough, I have plans to post a My Hero story either today or tomorrow. Don't you dare insult my Baku-baby. He is my child and I need to give that good child some decent trauma.
Guest: Wouldn't Newt have some idea how to kill a basilisk? Granted, roosters are always a good option to kill anything with their constant cries.
The plan is set in motion! I didn't want to reveal it too soon because it is set in surprise, but Newt completely helped with it.
shadowman21: So Adrian can't die because horcrux and the only person who would use the killing curse on him would be Dumbledore. Because if he doesn't Voldy lives, ugh Horcruxes make things complicated.
I ghost wrote this at 3:32 AM with my hand elbow deep in a bag of junk food and my eyes bloodshot from sleep deprivation.
Rooster the king: Ewwww... I don't like Daphne.. She is the start of Adrian 's second horrible life... Kill her I say or make her mad in fear... And
What the hell! Adrian going to save the ungrateful bast**ds and B**hes... I will quit this fic if u make him do that...
Those good for nothing potters enjoying themselves when their one son they chased away and another on the run and their best friend are living in poverty ...
They don't deserve to live
Adrian is a strong, independent, slowly dying man. He needs no allies. He just needed everyone out of the Great Hall and his mortal weakness is being a dramatic ass when he can.
Guest: Generally well-written story. For what you seemingly tried to do, I think you did well.
Personally, the end result left over a bad taste. A main character who is so utterly weak and helpless for at least 90% of the story is just not appealing in any way to me. Your start was fantastic - your beginning year at Hogwarts was quite decent - and then it just went down hill ever since. A few brief glimpses of good scenes, but generally just angst overdone to the extreme.
Too many I'M ABUSED WHY IS THE WORLD SO CRUEL moments. While I'm not saying it can't happen, that people completely lose themselves like this, it certainly isn't great to read about. Not because dark or depressing stories are inherently bad, but because the end result just ended up unappealing. There should be some light in all the darkness, and the inner turmoil should not continue being the same for such a long time.
You call him extremely talented and intelligent, but you have him fail at the most basic recognition of human emotion throughout the entire story. You twist his ability to view the world to fuel your plot, and it gets old, fast.
Other than that, I feel the Remus relationship felt extremely forced, but that may be because you used so many timeskips and we didn't actually really see them properly bonding. We just saw him choose this particular kid to nurture for no good reason. The Tonks addition was also completely unfounded based on what we were shown - but again, you used timeskips.
I'd say this was very much the same with Luna as well, who ended up becoming so incredibly important to him in the end.. it's just.. we never saw that. Sure, they were two bullied people who didn't treat each other like garbage, but if you want the reader to actually feel strongly about these relationships, they'll have to be built in view.
You could have spent 30k less words crying "woe is me" and spent them characterizing and showing relationships instead. But you chose to keep it full dark, pretty much the entire time, and it was exhausting.
First off- for any readers do not interpret this review as a flame. It is constructive criticism and does not deserve any negative retaliation.
There's a few areas I could comment on, but in all honesty this review shouldn't ever get an excuse. The best response I can give you is that I agree. Wholeheartedly in truth. I feel that I stretched out the timeline for the years at Hogwarts far too long and made that part of the story incredibly dull and repetitive. Cyclical and very predictable. The story is very angsty, but because I repeated the same ideas of "woe is me, my life sucks" it did get boring. I should have alternated it with different styles, or different events and mental development. Instead I kept repeating the same thing in a very dull blur. The highlights didn't appear as much as I wanted; I failed horribly in writing this story in a well constructed timeline. The time skips towards the end should have been used at the start of the story over the unimportant things, the latter part of the story should have been drawn out longer. Luna was important but only because of the fanbase's preexisting attachment to her. If she was an OC, nobody would like her.
Antithesis was made both as an experiment for me as a person to grow stronger as a writer, and to test out various techniques and styles to see which ideas would be better for a professional story or novel. Obviously there would be some level of growth or skill development throughout Antithesis, but I very much would like to redo a good portion of this story now that I've learned what I have. Thank you so much for your criticism, it's especially helpful not only for knowing how to approach future stories, but also knowing how to develop ideas better.
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