The wand, the stone and the cloak. These three items were situated in front of him in an orderly fashion. He studied them meticulously. He's seen over a century of peace pass by since the last battle. Nothing happened even when he used all three items, met death, and was revived. Was the tale of the three brothers a myth after all?

Ah, well. These peaceful days were nice after a lifetime's worth of excitement and adventure.

"Grandpa?" A mop of unruly black hair peeked through the opening of the door.

He smiled, "Come in Hadrian. Come give Grandpa a hug."

With a bright grin, the boy ran up and jumped on the bed, narrowly missing the three Hallows. Well, there's no harm since they were nothing special anyways. He snatched up the wand and tapped Hadrian's head, turning the boy a noxious purple. He also sprouted a grey beard and a scaly tail.

"Cool!" Hadrian giggled and glommed the elderly man, "Now I have dragon pox just like Siri!"

"Don't show your mom now."

"I won't!" He promised, though he launched out of bed and ran off to wreak havoc. Harry watched his namesake with fondness. Although he'd taught him well, Hadrian would very likely be caught and his poor mother would probably turn accusing eyes on him. It was quite well-known that ickle Hadrian shared many of his grandpa's traits, notwithstanding his marauding tendencies.

With a sigh, Harry leaned back into the pillows and rested his eyes. It wouldn't be long before his short-lived peace would be disturbed. In the moment he'd drifted off to sleep, a black miasma shrouded the room. The occupants of the Potter manor remained wholly unaware.

A skeletal finger tapped the temple of the sleeping Harry. He woke suddenly, and greeted death with a wry smile.

"Hullo again."

"Curious," A rasping voice intoned. The hooded figure was not unlike a dementor. The sound of rattling chains accompanied his every breath. "Why are you smiling?"

"Well, it's been a while. I've been expecting you."

"Yes," Death leaned closer. His breath smelled surprisingly of crisp autumn leaves and birchbark. "You've escaped me many times. You can escape me no longer."

Yet the wry smile did not fall from his aged face. He hummed slightly in agreement, "My mentor once said that death is but the next great adventure."

Death straightened and his next words hinted at amusement. "Ah, yes. Albus Dumbledore. A quirky fellow, that one. He kept his little indulgences up until the end."

"Quirky, yes. I'd like to think so."

Death paused. The black swirling mist freezing along with it. The passing of this man was a momentous occasion indeed. It called for celebration. The hooded figure crooked a bony finger and two glasses of Ogden's finest appeared on the bedside table. It lifted one in salute, and rasped, "To Dumbledore, then."

Harry picked up the second glass. "To the next great adventure."

As he sipped, he missed the mysterious glint that flashed across Death's features. He smiled tiredly and his eyes slipped closed. It was a good day to die.

Not long after the black miasma had faded, a woman dangling her tail-rearing son by the scruff of his collar entered the room. Her features stormy and her gaze formidable. "Dad," she called, "you—"

One glance at the closed eyes, the stillness of the man's chest, and the odd angle of his arm — as though reaching out for something — told her that he had passed on unexpectedly though peacefully.

Later that day, the news rocked the foundations of the wizarding world. Harry Potter had died.

The next he woke, Harry felt an unbearable itch spread across his body. He couldn't open his eyes and his limbs felt clumsy and weak. But the itch was soon relieved as a damp cloth washed over his body.

"Ah Yue! Ah Yue!" A soft and tender voice called. He would've replied 'Bless you' if he could.

"Ah Yue, look at our son! He's so precious." Harry was moved and enveloped in a comforting warmth and soft fragrance. The speaker was close by. His mother? Perhaps this was his next life.

"He's too small and weak." A deep masculine voice replied. Something like disappointment laced his tone, "He may not survive his next winter."

This Ah Yue character had some nerve! Determining his fate right after he was out of the womb! After a lifetime of dealing with similar people, this was one characteristic he could not stomach.

"Oh hush!" His mother rebuked, "My Yu'er will grow up strong and healthy. He'll be the most beautiful boy in the city! You'll see!"

Harry's tiny face scrunched up in disdain. Mother! He didn't want to be beautiful!

She noticed, "Oh look, you've distressed him. Out with you. Out."

Acquiesingly, the man closed the screen door as he left. His mother rocked him in her arms. The easy warmth and soft humming soon lulled him to sleep. This brave new world, he didn't hate it. On the contrary, if he could enjoy the comfort of a mother's embrace, he might soon come to love this world.

Contrary to Ah Yue's belief, Harry —Yu'er— did survive the next winter, and the winters after that. He fell sick with high fever after the first harsh winds hit but recovered quickly. Despite that, the physician predicted that the bout would affected his metabolism and muscle growth. It seemed he would remain tragically short for this lifetime too.

After three years of careful child-rearing, Harry's unusual intellect and talent stood out. Although smaller and shorter, he quickly outshone his peers in speech, mannerisms, and understanding. While others found interest in playing ball in the main courtyard, little Harry was found buried behind books in the main library. Where and when he had learned to read was a mystery.

Harry found the new culture fascinating. Having never had the opportunity to travel to distant countries, Harry wholly immersed himself in learning everything he could. He discovered that the people, environment and culture here were remarkably similar to that of ancient Asian civilizations. Too bad he never had the opportunity for contact in his past life.

Children were expected to learn, from a young age, the martial dao (way). Unlike the different forms of martial arts like kung fu and tai chi, these martial dao were passed down generation to generation within families or clans. These methods were coveted and secreted away. Thus, orphans or outsiders had no methods to practice and could only rely on their innate talent. In addition, children of nobility, or with means, were expected to master the four art forms before adulthood. These were: painting, literature, poetry & calligraphy, and playing the qin. The more one excelled in a particular subject, the further they were encouraged to master it. Talent was pursued. Also, it seemed that these sissy talents were a plus on the side of wooing girls. Since he was not yet four, he was not forced into studying with his brothers.

He stood up and stretched his tiny arms. He needed a step stool but he could just reach the next shelf to replace the text he'd borrowed. It had grown dark outside and if he wanted to continue reading, he'd have to burn daylight oil, which was expensive. Oil lamps were already a luxury in this small rural town. Even the library couldn't really be called a library. It was more of a room with a few shelves of books on history, war strategy and cultural practices. Books were short on hand and a luxury of the times. When he exited the book room, he saw a familiar figure from afar.

"Mama!" He cried, and ran up to her. Only she was a he —and quite obviously not his mother. The man had sharp black eyes, a pointed chin and thin brows. His silky black hair was pulled into a high bun, the rest flowing down to his waist. He looked neat in a way which seemed meticulously put-together, and Harry was reminded of Lucius Malfoy who probably spent hours grooming his appearance.

Although boys wore their hair short, or in buns, that would change too. Noblemen wore their hair long, down their backs in black curtains of silk. It made it hard for Harry to tell from behind whether an adult was made or female. Moreover, men and women wore long floor-length robes with full sleeves that brushed the ground as they walked. This man happened to be wearing the same light blue shade as his mother.

"Who are you, child? To think he mistook this gentleman for a woman, he must be an exceptionally dimwitted child."

This manner of referring to oneself and others in third person was commonly used between strangers or in polite speech. The man was cold and expressionless, slight disdain evident in his tone. He loomed and the fact that little Harry only came up to this man's knees did not bode well.

Harry froze.

Seeing that the child was mum, the man impatiently tsked, "Come." He grabbed the tiny arm and tugged the boy along. Harry nearly fell and his short legs struggled to keep up with the stranger's brisk pace. When he nearly fell for the third time, the man whisked him up and settled him into one arm, never breaking stride.

There was all manner of strange men and women in this small town. None of them ever treated children with care like his doting mother. This was partly the reason why Harry and many of the other clan children didn't venture out of the compound. The other reason being that the small town was situated on the highway between two large cities and, the governance being less stringent than larger cities, seemed to attract crime. It wasn't rare of for children to disappear off the streets after dusk. Although, it was unheard of for a child to disappear from the safe walls of the clan compound since there were bound to be adults patrolling around at this time.

Petrified, Harry perched stiffly on the man's arm as he navigated through the winding corridors with practiced ease. Should he scream for help? What if this man was a human trafficker? Harry was smaller than most kids and his body couldn't handle grunt work. He wouldn't last a month as a slave. Should he plead for mercy?

Harry still hadn't made a move when they finally stopped at a set of wooden double doors. He'd never been in this area of the compound before. The man directly threw open the doors without so much as a knock and set Harry down in the middle of the room. There were a dozen chairs situated around a long polished table. At the head of the table sat a wizened elderly man with an impressively long white beard. This must be the conference room.

"This boy," he directed a sleeve at Harry and announced to the gathering, "I want this boy."

Several murmurs broke out as the adults in the room craned their necks to see the tiny child nearly hidden behind the man's long sleeve. Many expressed their surprise but no one was more shocked than little Harry. He knew it! He was going to be sold off to slavery!

"This child," the clan elder stroked his beard in thought, "he's Ah Yue's youngest son, is he not?"

One of the men cupped his hands and respectfully bowed, "Yes, Elder. He is Kamitani Yu and is not yet four winters." There was an undertone of disproval as he glanced at the child who was not paying attention. Harry was seemingly staring at nothing while desperately thinking up ways to get out of his impending slavery.

The stranger-slave trafficker flicked his sleeves and then folded them with a cold 'hmph.'

Ah Yue, whom Harry just noticed was in the room, stepped up and addressed the Elder. "Father, this is indeed my son. However, he is weak and frail. When he was a babe, he suffered from high fever and will forever be smaller than the other children."

'Yes, father! Save me from an early death in slavery!' Harry inwardly crowed. He never saw much of his father, other than the occasional time he came to visit his mother since they had separate rooms and quote, 'father was busy' but now he saw his father in a new light.

But the man cut off the elder before he opened his mouth, "I will have this child. That is final."

This seemed to shock many in the room, but no one dared to refute his claim. Even his father Ah Yue was reluctant to speak before he was called upon. Harry's heart sank heavily in despair.

"Now, now, Great Master," the Elder, as peacekeeper, had no choice but to step in. "Please consider the boy's age. His meridians have not fully developed and his health is not so good either. It would impede progress should you take him in as he is."

Great Master! Harry froze in shock. This stranger looked not more than thirty. His clothes didn't look particularly rich or princely either. But judging on the respect the Elder showed him, the way men older than him seemed reluctant to upset him, he must be someone special.

The Great Master hummed noncommittally, "This is true." He seemed to glance down at Harry, who met his eyes with curiosity. There was a slight twitch of his lips before he knelt down to Harry's height —to the great dismay and shocked gasps of everybody present.

"What say you, child? Do you want to go with me?"

Harry, who finding no hint of his intention in that calm gaze, seemed to think over his answer. He had not outgrown the doting care of his mother yet. He wanted to experience more of his small world before he deemed himself ready to explore the world outside. But he didn't want to upset this great man. He lowered his eyes and cautiously replied, "This one is too young and inexperienced."

It seemed like the right thing to say. The man smiled for the first time. Everyone around blew out a breath of relief when suddenly the stranger threw his head back with a loud and raucous laugh. He looked crazed and Harry was startled out of his wits. Every man in the room held his breath when the Great Master finally calmed down.

"I like you, Kamitani Yu. Dimwitted and honest," He chuckled. He stood up and addressed the disbelieving onlookers with abrupt aloofness, "When five years have come to pass, this great one shall return for this child. If any harm has come to him before that time, your Kami clan will know what it is to long for Hell at Heaven's gates [1]."

Harry was horrified. He wasn't safe. His sentence had just been delayed!

Despite the obvious threat, all the adults cupped their hands and bowed in respect. Yu'er's father had to push Harry's head down to remind him to bow.

"Thank you for gracing us with this honour, Great Master." The Elder also bowed as the man left without so much as a 'by your leave.'

Harry was astounded. These people acted as though it were a blessing rather than a threat! Who was this Great Master?

[1] "To long for Hell at Heaven's gates" : means to be at death's door, unable to die, wanting reprieve. (I totally made this up, but it sounds cool, doesn't it? LOL.)

The prefix 'Ah' is used between close and familiar friends and family for someone of the same age or younger. The suffix 'er' is a term of endearment, usually meaning son.