An adventurous mind
Harry was reminded of the time when he had first prayed.
He had been seven, locked in his cupboard and had gone almost three days with no food. He was delirious and possibly hallucinating, dreaming of a repetitive green light in his nightmares, and dealing with the reality of darkness and isolation in the day time. Harry had knelt down, ducking his head from under the stairs that jutted out above him, and had whispered for god to save him. After god failed he prayed to Jesus, then to life, then to his parents, then to that big fat Asian statue (Buddha as he knew now) that someone else had prayed to in the park, and finally to that large tree by his school that he had been half convinced was secretly god in disguise.
Now he was knelt, bare knees wedged in thick clumps of scratchy grass, and the feeling of a light almost inconsequential heat on his back. There was a smell of sun and honey in the air, a sweet tangy aroma at the back of his throat. Harry thought he could detect a hint of elderflower. There was a similar feeling in the air, as had been in his cupboard. The feeling that he was surrounded by something larger than he knew, and that he was doing something more glorious and supreme than he could imagine.
Harry was only kneeling, but there was a certain feeling around him that made him think something so much more important was happening.
He opened his eyes wide, glancing around the meadow. It was his first time here, and he had only ever seen the place before in one of his day-time dreams. Only, he was not injured here. No, his skin felt fresh and vibrant, the back of his neck was no longer stiff from sleeping on it crooked, and his chest did not hurt from the storm he had created with his magic's rage.
Harry felt... content here, as if in this place he simply was.
He stood slowly, rising gracefully, smoothly like a legato, and brushed off at his clothes. Blue denim summer shorts and a bright green shirt was adorned upon his person, the clothes were soft and rubbed at his skin with a texture similar to silk. Harry knew that denim shouldn't feel like silk, but for some reason it did here.
Flowers dotted the ground around him, like street-lamps along a road. They were bright and flush and shone with morning sunshine, the wind blowing them around harmlessly with a gentle caress, they fluttered their petals to him soothingly, mischief and welcome and family in the action. Harry turned to the sky, gasping as he breathed in fresh air that felt like the warmth of an embrace, and clenched his knuckles as he closed his eyes.
It was glorious.
Harry breathed out slowly, gingerly opening his eyes again and noticed with a detached sort of interest that there was no sun in the sky. Endless blue stretched out, engulfing, and Harry imagined how lost he could become looking into the large and never-ending abyss above him. There was no time here, no movement, only an everlasting calm that stretched and filled into every morsel of his body and the environment around him.
Harry felt at home even if he had never been here before.
He walked, slowly, trekking his way across the meadow that did not seem to stop. Harry wanted to explore this beautiful place, to understand every inch of beauty there was, to memorise all of it so that this feeling could last forever. He skipped, like a young child with no problems, spinning merrily as he did so and humming That Song under his breath in joy. Their was a dark lust in Harry's heart, an unquenchable thirst and need for this to continue on forever, for this contentment to carry throughout his whole life never pausing once, absorbing Harry inside of it.
He did not run from this feeling, did not feel that he was being sucked into something dangerous. Harry, as a boy who had not truly wanted something in many years, embraced this all consuming desire, smiling deliriously and wandering around the meadow in a drug-like haze.
Eventually he came across a pebble path. The stones were wonky and uneven, but somehow when he walked across them they didn't hurt his bare feet. Harry knelt down and picked one up, holding it to his chest and breathing in deeply once again. That feeling had returned, the feeling that he was simply a vessel, simply one, and that there was a whole world out there. Harry felt so small and incomplete compared to the glory of this meadow, to the glory of this perfect place.
He didn't know for how long he travelled along that path. Maybe he had never walked anywhere at all, for there was no time in this twisted perfect place. There was only beauty and calm, everlasting and enveloping, all consuming and all wanting. It took and took and took until a person was no longer a person, but just something that added to it to make even more beauty. Harry wasn't scared of being consumed by it all, and perhaps that was the most frightening thing of all.
The path eventually ended, after only a moment or days he could not recall, but Harry only knew that it did. The grass stopped abruptly, cut off by a river that flowed from no where. The water was clear and Harry could see to the very bottom of the riverbed, fish jumped in and out on scaled wings, not afraid to fly, moving under and around the bridge that stretched from the path. Instead of pebbles all crowded until they created a wave, there was now thick black slabs of tile. They were so clean that instead of black they looked to be a pale blue at first glance, since they reflected the sky above them so competently. Almost like the ocean in that regard.
They were soft on his feet, perhaps softer than his clothes, and Harry imagined himself skating across them as if it were ice. One would have assumed the grass would have been softer, for some reason Harry wasn't shocked that it was the tiles. There did seem to be something awfully familiar about this place, as if every step he had taken he had already moved through before. A wild sense of deja vu perhaps.
Harry dipped down to the ground, settled on the edge of the low-hanging bridge, with his feet hanging in the water letting the warm current flow past them and tingle his toes. It was mesmerising, seeing the sunlight reflect off of the crystal clear stream, to feel the gentle tickling at the soles of his feet.
Harry closed his eyes and leaned back until his head and back rested against the ground, hugging his arms around himself for extra warmth. He let out a deep breath and smiled, what a lovely place this was.
Harry awoke, and smiled when he found himself looking up to the grand blue sky. The tiles dug into his back, like wires from a fence, and he fidgeted involuntarily. He stretched back, arching his back like a cat until he was a bridge, and tried to loosen his muscles from the stiffness they had gained from napping on uneven ground. Harry groaned lowly, lifting his arms high so they stood as pylons, breath smelling of morning and slight distaste, and nose flaring as his lungs tried to seize as much air as possible in a yawn, before flopping back down to the ground and letting out a sigh.
He smiled impishly, smelling the sweet tang of something around him, and clambered to his feet, almost tripping on the feather soft tiles. The day still shone bright, sun no where in sight, and Harry decided to continue his travels of the hot marble bridge, perhaps curious to what other treasures he could find in this mysterious place. A meadow, and then a bridge, what other things would reveal themselves to him and force him to pause and admire their beauty?
Harry ambled forward at a slow pace, taking his time to walk over the bridge and back onto the soft pebbles of the path. After what may have been minutes or seconds the stones petered out again into lush meadow and his feet stroked along long grass that reached up to his knees, as if reaching for the sun. Harry dipped a hand down through the stems, as he brushed against the swampier grass an almost itchy feeling tingled down his arm and he stared as a red rash appeared on his skin where the stems touched him.
A shrill bark sounded across the marsh, echoing over the shin high water that sucked at Harry's feet and made a pleasant squelching sound as he ambled along. The sound of trampled flora and discontented water grew louder and louder until Harry could see something red through the bars of green steel. Large black eyes stared out at him, and for a moment Harry thought the beast was going to attack.
Harry's heart started to beat faster, but it was not out of fear as he started to realise who this may be. It was out of excitement.
A large red fuzzy blur pounced into the air, and flew for a few metres, before crashing into Harry's chest. Harry, with experience from the tabby he had been cuddling up to the past few weeks, caught the nimble creature and looked down into the adorable expression of the fox-like thing. A tongue darted out and licked his rash ridden arm, causing him to wince as the pain grew worse. The small animal looked at him with apologetic eyes and quickly hopped out from his grip and down, with a splash, into the bracken water below.
Its face was shaped like that of a fox, except more plump and moon-like. Pale brown ears perked, blunt at the tips, and alert for danger. There were white triangular markings around its onyx eyes, and bright red fur graced the rest of its savagely grinning face and all the way down its back. The chest of the red panda was pitch black, along with its legs and paws. A wet black nose, one like a dogs, twitched as Harry continued to stare at the beautiful creature, it seemed annoyed at the lack of action occurring.
Harry felt a feeling of familiarity stir in his gut and whispered in awe,
"Magic, is that you?"
The red panda gave another high pitched bark, wagging its large bushy tail like a squirrel, and glanced with overly intelligent eyes to the direction Harry was already walking in. Harry knelt down in the water, goose-bumps springing up down his naked legs from the cold, and he held out a hand to stroke the fur of his beautiful friend.
Magic licked his hand once in an affirmative, before giving an impatient snort and bounding off past the crumpled path of grass it had created. Harry followed along in bemusement, tracking his racoon-like friend with a path broken grass stems and disturbed water. It was a bit surreal to find out that his magic was a red panda in this maddening place, a red panda of all things. Although... Harry paused to think, it does make sense, since red pandas are wild creatures and can be quite vicious. My magic grew up in a war zone always having to fight for me, so its quick to the kill and fiercely protective, but is also very nurturing. An ear splitting whine called across the swamp, and Harry smiled in acknowledgement. Magic wanted him walking quickly, not stopping about and having a think to himself.
Harry trudged through the water, a sucking sound at his bare feet as if it were a bog, and took in a deep savouring breath. It was the kind of smell that people either loved or hated, the marshy sticky swamp smell with a faint hint of manure. Harry had always loved it; the rawness of it, the freshness that made him feel like an animal, made him feel alive. When he had been only seven, at the park, chased up a large tree in the beginnings of Harry Hunting, he had mourned to himself over the losses of grand jungles and free open plains. Harry had daydreamed over the wild, of being free and foraging for chocolate and eating fried chips all the time. He had dreamt of being a lone traveller and walking all the way to the ocean, the feeling of sand on his feet for the first time, the roaring of the waves, pounding of the shore louder than his own heartbeat.
Harry didn't long for that any longer. Some nights, when he held himself close and his magic pounded in his chest painfully, he would wonder what it would be like to be free and away in the wild. But, truly, he knew he didn't want that. Not if he couldn't take Neville and Luna and his family with him, not if he couldn't have his mother there to hug him and give him sloppy kisses and make him warm hot chocolate and whisper about how she loved him.
It wasn't worth it if the people he loved, more than himself, weren't there. Harry, as a young child hadn't understood that, because he hadn't loved anyone except the idea of parents and the small toy horse that was his only companion. Harry had used to be 'the boy in the cupboard' and hadn't understood about the world, had only known that he was a freak and was trapped with relatives that would rather him dead than alive. The Harry walking through the swamp was one happy with himself, and prepared for almost anything. He understood the world was a glorious and unforgiving place, neither calm nor chaotic, and wouldn't trade it for the anything.
They walked for what felt reminiscent of an afternoon, pushing pond weeds and swamp grass aside became second nature. Harry felt a pleasant ache in his thighs, a burning, that spurred him on to continue. Maybe this swamp was endless, and eventually he would collapse from exhaustion, but Harry still followed his magic, determined to get wherever they needed to.
Pond weed turned to algae, and algae turned to stiff dry land that felt like desert but looked like mud. The soil was dried up, cracked from lack of rain and water, and looked similar to an old peat sighting that he had studied in primary school. The soft stiff tiles of swamp sand stuck to his wet feet, making a silly squelching sound, and Harry walked quickly on the hot reflective surface so as not to burn himself.
He followed small paw prints in the soil, stopping for a moment when he spotted a small wild garden of Vampire Blossoms, glinting dangerously in the gentle sunlight. Harry stared for a moment, remembering what Neville said about how they were fatally poisonous, taking four side steps to the left and walking around them.
Magic sat a few metres past the garden patch, with an adoring sort of smile on its face, and paws tucked in tightly to its chest, slightly bent and ready to pounce at any moment. The ground had morphed back into grassland, a sweet meadow that made Harry want to spin and spiral around it in luminous insanity.
Harry yelped as Magic bit him on the arm, and it burned like he had pressed it against a kitchen flame. The red panda hopped away with a pointed look and Harry sighed, resigned to the fact that he would always bend to the whims of his beloved magic. He wouldn't be skipping around in the meadow today.
He spotted a new path up ahead, this one was made from crumbling bricks, all slotted together with patches of fierce weeds pushing through the edges. It somehow fitted this large consuming meadow of flowers, especially with the old rustic natural feel to it. Harry raced after the red panda, his bare feet tapping dried mud along the tops of the fading red clay.
As they charged together, as if they truly had somewhere to be, the path changed and the bricks became more compact and polished. The once scattered and randomly placed flowers suddenly morphed into plump and happy garden beds, with a dark slated oak wood surrounding them all in little paddocks. They reminded him of the garden that used to be his job to take care of at the Dursleys. Harry glanced at a large cream archway he could see in the distance, and marvelled at the huge bush of lavender wisterias hanging from it. It looked just like the one in his garden at home, the one that his mother had been pruning last summer.
Butterflies, birds and bees fluttered and made loops around the softly lit wonderland. Harry breathed in deeply, giggling like the child he was when Magic raced up a fruit tree, leaving scratches down the sides, and hung from the edge. He walked slowly under the cracked marble archway, which was tinged with moss that he hadn't seen before. Harry twisted his neck looking further around the place and spied large dark looming fir trees far off in the distance. If he strained his ears he could hear the faint sound of running water.
"Where are we going?"
Harry asked Magic when the red panda dropped from the lemon tree and into his waiting arms, snuggling into Harry's neck and making him wince as his chest hurt. The furry thing yipped lowly and Harry let his friend drop to the ground, before watching him skip languidly along the slight upward slope of the brick path. Harry sighed, realising he would simply have to trust his magic, and continued to follow it, his legs starting to hurt from the distance he had travelled; Harry didn't exercise often, and he had been walking for an inordinately long amount of time.
The brick layed track continued on, almost endlessly in Harry's eyes, but he amused himself by singing songs to his magic, and watching the wild red panda run in glee.
"Why do you build me up, buttercup, baby, just to let me down? And mess me around... And then worst of all, you never call, baby, when you say you will. But I love you still..."
The path raised from its small upward slant into a steep hill, curling like the arc of a far off ocean on the horizon. The garden beds were replaced with small trees and rose bushes, Harry cut himself on one of the thorns when he brushed against a plant, only for the small bloodied prick to heal like it had never been there in the first place. Strangely enough, it seemed that whenever Magic came too close to him and licked him or brushed against him he would break out in a red rash and feel the same burgeoning pain that felt like he was bursting, other than that he could sustain no injuries, even the pain in his thighs ebbed away when he stopped walking for a moment.
The hill was larger than Harry had first assumed, and once he was at the top he could see all the way back to the swamp land. Harry spun around at the top, calling out triumphantly,
"I'm the king of the world!"
Then he laughed a full belly laugh and restrained himself from flopping down on the ground and staring at the sun-less clouds. A dull whine brought his eyes away from the beautiful view and Harry looked back over to Magic, who's nose was scrunched up in jealousy. Harry brushed a hand over the red fur, smiling when his magic's nose untwisted, and said consolingly,
"You're beautiful too, Magic."
They continued on, both gay and happy in this new world.
A mellow mix of piano and violin, entwined in perfect harmony and depression echoed. The haunting and longing sound of That Song curled and twisted around Harry's ears and down into his veins like a drug, making goosebumps spring up on his skin. Anyone else would have run from it, scared of its tragic beauty and dangerous promise. Not Harry, he knew That Song was a part of him, a twisted and ancient part of him, but just as much a part of him as his magic or his scar. He could never abandon something like that, never be afraid of it or treat it as a freak, for Harry knew there was truly no normal in the world and therefore no freakish.
It was something Mel had convinced him of, that everything was normal since nothing was the same. We were all different, so there was nothing to base normal off of.
A few paces off the path was a lime plastic fold out chair. It seemed lonely, just sitting there in the non-existent sun, the plastic hot and empty. Harry felt it was eerily familiar, and his eyes widened in confusion at the bright red bikini resting on the arm of the chair. He stopped for a moment, Magic stopping with him and sitting obediently on the path as if it had already knew this was going to happen. Harry walked leisurely over to the plastic fold-out, running an arm over the edge of it.
"Ah, I see, you've gained a girlfriend... Well, I do wish the best for you. I still have the shell in my room. Father had a fit when he found it, he thought it had been from Jer, he thought I was still seeing him, even long distance."
The voice was sarcastic and sharp, reminding him of Severus Snape, but Harry could tell it was missing a certain alto that would have made it him. It was like the day visions he sometimes got, the ones that sometimes came true. Harry... had a strange feeling about the voice. Truly he should have remembered it... but... It was gone from him them.
He walked back over to the path, and his magic stood on four paws, ready to race across the path again. That Song grew louder as they travelled, making the ground vibrate with it. It seemed to crescendo over and over, bringing noise to the brink of human understanding, the same magnitude as the rumble of an earthquake. Harry knew for certain that this place was no where on Earth, for if it had been he would have surely died from the sheer volume of That Song sinking into every crevasse of his being. His heart started to beat staccato, his eyes closed to try and push against the pounding wind upon him, Magic curled at Harry's feet against the noise, holding on for dear life.
"We need a stabiliser."
"I don't understand, the magic replenisher should have helped."
"He could be allergic, we have no magical history."
"You'd think we would but..."
"Okay. He's stable."
That Song quietened to a dull roar.
Harry felt like he had fallen down from the sky, and noticed the path was missing. He pushed Magic gently away from him, noticing the frazzled appearance and once soft hair sticking up madly, he giggled softly. He fought the urge to laugh madly, with a half-hearted sigh, and felt considerably giddy for no discernible reason. Harry lifted his gaze, gasping in awe as his eyes fell upon magnificence.
A large marble statue of a sleeping sheep was in front of him, or perhaps it was a ram. It was gigantic, the same size as the Great Hall, his full height only coming up a minuscule amount on the hoof. Enormous twisting coils of horns rested like curls of elegant and purposeful hair either side of the sheep's ears. The hooves were folded over one another, legs crossed in a way that if it were a person they would be seen as important or impatient. Realistically carved fur was all over its body, a body for which Harry could settle on no gender, for Harry knew next to nothing about sheep. It was disconcertingly white, as pale as the moon, with a slight grey tinge from dust or mould or age or perhaps it had been made that way. It could have gained the grey like the slight dulling of a unicorn's coat as it aged, or like how bridges over water turn red from rust. Something in Harry's mind rung out that it was meant to be grey, that it signified something. The eyes were closed, a dark line between the eye lids emphasising the shadow made from no sun, heavy elegantly shaped eyelashes forged from the tips of the lids protected whatever precious jewels lay beneath the cream flaps of fabricated skin, and if Harry squinted he thought he saw a flash of green.
Strangely enough his magic kept its distance, hiding behind Harry and biting at his leg in an effort to get him to move away.
The sound of rushing water cornered his ears and Harry looked down to see a stream of sparkling water, falling from the sheep's eyes like tears and pooling with elegance below, seeping deep into the ground. Harry walked forward, almost in a trance, to brush against the statue. It was so glorious. Surely it would be okay to touch?
He winced as Magic took a firm bite of his shin, physically dragging him away from the statue and back onto the path. Harry shook his head, his eyes blurred and head filled with cotton. There was a peculiar dryness in his mouth, one he associated with fear... but Harry hadn't been afraid for a long time. He looked down at the painful canines dug into his shin and realised that it was his magic that was scared. A wave of unexpected compassion consumed him and he knelt down and brushed softly against the red panda's back, feeling the teeth loosen from his leg and pain ebb as the teeth let go. Harry whispered soothingly,
"You'll be okay, I won't touch the statue."
Magic relaxed even more, and its eyes shone with gratitude. As if it were saying thank goodness, Harry had to wonder what was wrong with the statue to worry his poor magic so much.
Harry knocked twice on the hard wooden door. He waited, his magic sat on the ground by his feet, the same pose as a beloved dog would. Harry felt like he should be on the floor and Magic should be standing tall, since their relationship was one of equals... yet he still didn't want to have to stand and wait on his achy legs, and he did not mind sitting below his well loved magic. They had travelled for what felt like hours longer, and his legs were taking longer to heal. Harry had the suspicion that it was because Magic was sat beside him.
In truth, Harry didn't really care about standing, or about the pain in his legs, he just wanted to be closer to his magic. Normally it literally hung off him, and the small distance between them this whole time was slightly unsettling. Harry smiled a sad sort of smile, it was okay, hadn't he thought not so long ago that life would still be beautiful even without his magic by his side?
Something about this place upset Harry's balance, and made him... his version of whiny.
The door swung open, but there was no one behind it. Harry simply shrugged and walked through the opening, his magic following along closely beside him, making his heels burn with invisible friction. The arch was made of black stone, the same colour as the soft tiles from the bridge. Actually, the whole fortress was made of black stone. There were no windows, only large slabs of black and torches framed by golden handles in the shape of lilies. The smell of dust, musk and elderflower was in the air, undertoned by the aroma of old parchment and ink.
Since there were no windows Harry wasn't sure how many stories to the fortress there were. From what he had seen outside the place was heavily guarded, with sharpened wooden spikes jutting out from the ground and slits in the architecture for arrow holes (something he remembered from Hogwart's architecture). He suspected the place to be some sort of army encampment, or the home to something incredibly valuable, but for a place with no sun he wasn't sure if his ideas held any precedence.
Once inside, the door shut soundlessly behind them, and empty torches lit up with green fire, casting jade shadows all about the place and making Magic's hackles raise involuntarily. Harry hummed That Song soothingly, and saw Magic relax into an alert stance beside him, but less aggressive. To Harry's intrigue once he hummed That Song the torch flames pulsed to a low purple flame, which was more comforting in his opinion. Purple was currently his favourite colour, tied with yellow. The room was empty, and about the same size as one of Professor Snape's dungeons. The floor was a grey cement, contrasting harshly against the old era slabs of mortar on the walls.
Harry looked around the place, finding the hole he had just walked through melded into the wall. Had he not just walked through it he wouldn't have known where it was, since it was melted so seamlessly away. He walked forward, slowly, and carefully, wondering if this was the type of place to have other defences and if he was walking to his doom. As space separated him and Magic, the red panda grew more agitated and bounded right beside him, tail raised in a fighting pose.
...Maybe his magic used the tail to strangle people.
Harry smiled at the absurd thought.
After a few more moments of tense silence Harry stopped, realising how silly he was being. There was no reason to be scared, no consequence that he wouldn't accept. Death was a part of life, he already knew that, and torture and pain were only temporary, whether they be in body or mind. The bad would always eventually pass, and peace would always end, it was best to simply take things as they come and enjoy the good parts of life.
The torch flames morphed yellow, and a grating sound like cogs turning engulfed the room's silence in holy sound.
Harry glimpsed another archway opening up and walked under and through it. A circular staircase ambled upwards, into the unknown. The first stair creaked good-naturedly when Harry stepped upon it, and Harry giggled under his breath. He and Magic began their climb upwards, on yellow velvet stairs, the fabric soft on their mud caked feet.
The second floor was filled with many books, a wall to wall library with multicoloured literature that made Harry's head spin. He was a Ravenclaw. Magic seemed bored by the sudden fountain of knowledge, standing with eyes dancing about impatiently as Harry looked around the place. The smell of ink and parchment was stronger in here, for obvious reasons, and Harry filtered through a few of the shelves to see what they held.
Strangely most of the books seemed to be blurred, or empty with no titles. Some had dates from times that hadn't occurred yet like Wisteria 1993-1997, which Harry didn't truly understand. There were books of information he already knew, such as Baffling truth of Charms Vol I, and some for things he didn't Animagus Transformation or Side effects of lycanthropy or The Religion of Magic.
Harry tried to pull these out, only for them to be stuck indefinitely, and unreadable. He turned to another shelf, this one seeming to be far older than the others, and successfully took out a book.
HP Memories Age 0-1
He ran a finger down the binding, shivering in delight at the soft velvet covering, instead of dull plastic. The book smelt of warm milk, and was as soft as a pillow, making Harry smile at the welcoming aura. Harry flipped open the first page, eyes roving over the information.
Harry James Potter was born on July 31st 1991 at 11:59 PM. He opened his eyes for the first time, and stared with blurry vision at the beautiful red haired woman who had birthed him, at that point not knowing who she was. He let out a baby sound, reminiscent of a gurgle, and was cooed at by others visiting the room...
It went on like that for a while, detailing Harry's first days in beautiful imagery, and giving Harry a better idea of the people he no longer saw as parents. That was his mother's right.
Magic grew impatient, and bundled its way over to Harry, bumping against his leg, and gesturing to the door at the end of the library which would lead to the next floor. He indulged his beautiful friend, brushing behind his ears in affection, before walking over to the next set of stairs.