This is my first attempt at something Harry Potter related, so any comments that would improve the quality of the story are always welcome.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Edit (02/01/21): First two chapters have been Beta-read by Sol, of the Flowerpot discord, whom I owe a great debt of thanks. Check out the server if you're a fan of Harry/Fleur or you're looking for a good community of authors and readers.
Harry Potter sat aboard the Hogwarts Express, his back pressed firmly against the window of his compartment, feeling the movement of the train along his spine. He held his wand in his right palm, freely releasing an array of sparks, his eyes calmly looking onto the colourful display, comfort taken in the simple use of magic after it's absence in his life.
It was in moments like this that the world passed him by; in the simplest expressions of what many, even muggleborns, had begun to accept as normal. So often did he spend his days alert to everything that went on, his mind working overtime to never be caught unaware, that it seemed only when he was truly alone could he be calm. Hogwarts, with it's seemingly never-ending corridors and hiding places, would always be home to him.
The sparks, he noticed, were made of the primary colours; they rotated in fixed order. The pattern grew curiosity within him such that he attempted to change the colour of the sparks, hoping that by envisioning another colour, it would become so. His mind, focused and soothed by the simple display of magic, focused purely on a shade of turquoise he remembered seeing on a secondary school student's tie that he'd seen the day before. He closed his eyes, focusing on the tie: its shade, its depth, its shadows.
He opened his eyes, hoping for the colour in his memories to greet him. However, all that he met was the same three primary colours- blue, yellow, red - unmoved, their cycle unbroken. No lighter nor darker, no more or less intense.
That would require further research, thought Harry. His mind raced at the possibilities, with avenues of thought already forming as he considered the problem. The movement of the idea thrilled him. Truly, just being in the magical ambience of the train drove him further than the mundane world ever could. The calm caused by the sparks had disappeared, replaced by a budding excitement, and Harry knew it would not return. However, he knew that such a question would not be solved on the Hogwarts Express, and so instead his mind wandered onto his first order of business as school began again.
Skipping the opening feast.
Ever since his first year, Harry had hated going to the feast. He simply couldn't stand the massive groups of people at these events. They made it unbearable. Even when he attended assemblies in primary school, being bracketed by groups of people made his chest ache. He would spend every moment of the feast in a strong panic, every fibre of his being wanting to be anywhere but there. With every noise that his peers made, he would feel his muscles tense. He couldn't control it.
He knew he couldn't go through that ever again.
Every year since he began attending Hogwarts he had attempted to build up the courage to get out of the feast. He had always imagined these grandiose plans, each one more ridiculous than the last, to get out of attending the feast. He thought himself the magical James Bond with enough apparatus to fill a Malfoy vault, shimmying through the pipes of the castle. He pretended that his escape from the feast was what swayed Earth from total annihilation, if for only to give himself a feeling a purpose.
During the summer, he had spent most of his time attempting to think of a method to remain undetected. His relatives had seemed to continue ignoring his existence entirely, so he wasn't without free time. Harry had spent considerable time reading material on concealment charms and had practised them quite considerably on the train journey, from as soon as he got on the train at Kings Cross, all the way to just outside Durham. The issue was that he rather lacked any talent in their application. However, after what felt like years, he finally succeeded in a version that didn't actively make him more obvious to the average onlooker.
If he were being truthful, he knew that there really wasn't a need to go to the trouble of organising such a plan. He wasn't a high profile person to begin with at all. He could count the times he'd been the talk of the school on one hand and still have five fingers left and he was rather glad of that too. However, he needed some excitement in his life and this seemed to be the only source of it he was getting.
Through the halls, he could hear a female prefect call that Hogsmeade was only five minutes away. Another voice said that all years should put their uniforms on if they hadn't done so. He deliberated for a moment or two.
This would finally be his chance to start a year at Hogwarts without feeling like the walls were caving in.
Escaping had been rather easy, Harry had realised, as he made his way through the village of Hogsmeade. It was not like coming to Hogwarts only to immediately leave was common, after all. Truth be told, all of the supervision had been focused on making sure first years didn't get lost, so there really wasn't any thought to be spared over some odd truancy by a fourth year. He didn't even bother with the charm.
All he really had to do was wait until everyone else had left the platform, then quietly make his getaway toward the village. Hagrid's hands were too full with the new set of first years to even spare a glance elsewhere along the platform.
The issue now lied in how he could get back to Hogwarts Castle without notice. He knew he couldn't return immediately, as the ghosts would be patrolling the halls for any wayward first years. He knew then that he would have to entertain himself for a good few hours, his plan being to wait until just before the feast would finish and attempt to fall into the crowd without notice.
He'd never been around the village before, having not had the permission slip signed by his family. The village school trip wasn't particularly interesting to him; especially when visiting it meant he'd have to go with his entire school year. However, as he meandered through the streets, he could truly appreciate the quaint beauty of the small village.
Hogsmeade appeared as a postcard come to life. Every house came seemingly from a Dickens novel, with thatched roofs and piles of firewood outside their front doors. Despite it only being the early evening, there wasn't a person in sight, all no doubt retired to quiet pubs or reading books in front of the hearth. Harry hadn't spent a great deal of time thinking about what life would be like outside of Hogwarts, but he thought it would be wonderful if he could live in a quiet village like this.
He passed shops he'd heard people mention; The Three Broomsticks, a rustic pub that would serve a strange beer, even to students. The local clock-menders - a confusing profession, considering the repairing charm existed. What most tempted him however was the local stationary shop that, from a distance, looked to store even muggle paper; he preferred paper as he could both write with a pen and erase any of his mistakes he made, unlike the innately magical parchment he was required to use.
He decided not to visit the shop though as he didn't intend on anyone noticing that he was in Hogsmeade. He chose instead to sit on a park bench in a quiet corner of the village in an area that was without many of the student traps that filled the rest of the village. He thought of using magic, of perhaps perfecting some of the transfiguration that had piqued his interest towards the end of last year. However, the laws of underage magic were never particularly clear, and he wasn't about to test their limits then. Rather than that, he opened one of the few notebooks he had not filled and worked on just about the only hobby he had beyond magic.
Being the black sheep in his 'family' had led to a rather limited range of activities he could do when he was younger. He knew that doing anything that required any modicum of effort from his relatives would be impossible and so he found that anything he did would have to be self-reliant.
His exposure to art had come from primary school. He would never forget the first time he held the pallet of cheap paint his school had provided for his class to use. He suddenly realised that all of the thoughts in his head, even the ones that felt too jumbled or too dark to properly see, could come alive on a piece of paper. Every beautiful thought he had could be seen and become real by his hands.
Art was one of the few times that he could be free; any tension that he held would be wiped away as he could just create.
He had decided upon something simple as he was out of practice, having not really done much in the way of art over the summer. He had thought of perhaps capturing the view of Hogwarts castle from Hogsmeade but decided against it, for Hogwarts was home; it deserved more attention and thought than what he had available.
No, instead he chose something he found himself always going back to. It was a memory that he'd found himself clinging to. In truth, he didn't even know when it happened or even it was, it was somehow always...there. It was barely even a memory, in truth. It was just a flash. An image.
He closed his eyes. No matter how long it had been, he would always see that snapshot perfectly, the world behind his eyes alight as he saw what would always see, what he had always seen; a slim pale hand, in it was a strikingly pale wand. Then, the hand moved suddenly, twisting and twirling, and a green light like which he had never seen anywhere else appeared, bright and dark and calm and raging all at once. Then, suddenly, nothing. Darkness.
When he was younger, the memory scared him. It didn't make sense - still didn't in fact - he couldn't even comprehend what he saw. Why was someone using a wand? Why was there nothing after the light? Who's hand held the wand?
As he discovered magic, little parts were cleared up. He learnt that with magic, light was rarely just light. He knew, very very well, how incredibly valuable a wand could be in a person's hands, good or bad. However, parts still eluded him.
In time he took comfort in the memory, strange as it was. It seemed to be the only thing that stayed constant in his life. It soothed him, knowing that despite how chaotic his mind felt, that one specific section of it would never change.
He would begin, as he always had, with the fingers. Their movement felt important to Harry and he felt he needed to capture it perfectly. Then, he would form the hand. It was so pale, almost translucent, almost inhuman.
However, he would always be caught, the flow of his pencil grinding to a halt, when he began to attempt to draw the spell. He could never quite capture the colour - it had depth in a manner that all other colours didn't. It was truly unique in a manner that colours could never be. In his attempt tonight, he was meticulous. He carefully chose every brush and considered every single motion of his hand. Yet still, he couldn't even come close to capturing what the spell truly was. It angered him, strangely so.
He knew, logically, that the memory was just that. A memory. But he felt, deeply, that it was bigger than that. It felt cataclysmic in a manner that grew beyond even him. His memory felt grand.
He had been forming, creating, for so long that he had slipped into his own world. Time passed, the world around him darkening as the sun fell from the sky, making way for the full moon in the night.
His focus was only lost as sound filled his ears. He heard footsteps, loud in Hogsmeade's sleepy silence. A shadow formed from the lamppost near him, lying atop his notebook and distorting it's colours.
"I was going to ask what a boy like you was doing in a place like this, but I got bored waiting for you to realise I was here," the owner of the shadow said, the voice unmistakably feminine.
Harry looked up and saw a sight unlike any that he'd seen before. The girl, too near his age to be a woman yet, was utterly remarkable. She was change personified, chaotic and absolutely enthralling. Her whole being seemed to be magical, moving and changing with a will of its own. As he met her eyes, they changed from green to blue to violet to a twinkling, warm brown. Her hair was flowing as though moved by an unseen wind, framing her heart-shaped face in a violet hue.
Harry could not remember a time he had ever seen something quite so beautiful.
"So, what are ya doing then? It has been a while since I was there, but I do remember you were kinda supposed to go to Hogwarts. It is the opening feast today, after all," she continued, a teasing grin across her face.
Harry froze. His mind literally couldn't form a coherent thought, let alone a response. He'd often found social situations difficult; but it was usually groups that caused him to struggle, not this.
"Ah, so you're the silent type then. Bit annoying, but I think I can get past it. Mum always did say I could talk for England," she said, apparently uninterested in silence. "So, I suppose I'll introduce myself. Name's Tonks. One name. Wasn't born with any others. None at all. Parents just wanted to keep it simple, only gave me the one. Quite progressive, really."
'Tonks' spoke in a manner that just made Harry warm. He didn't know whether it was her accent, or the words she spoke or the cadence or how the corners of her mouth picked up when she was thinking of what to say, but it made him just smile.
"Erm...I was born in South London. My favourite colour is pink, but don't tell anyone," she said, winking conspiratorially as she whispered the last sentence. "However, and I feel this may be the most important thing about me currently, I'm a Junior Auror. So, I'm fairly curious as to what a boy - cute as you may be - is doing out of Hogwarts, alone, at night."
At this, Harry panicked. Any serenity caused by this mysterious stranger had vanished. Gone.
What if she told McGonagall? Or Dumbledore?
He thought about lying, but still no words seemed to come forth.
Taking his silence as reluctance, she pressed further. "I mean, I get teenage rebellion. I do. Professor Sprout could tell you some stories. But, why would you miss the Opening feast? You get to see all the little firsties all nervous and that. It's great. So, w'ya here?"
Harry just wanted to get out of here. He desperately wanted to search for a place to run. His clothes felt warm against his neck, a forgotten pencil in his hand gripped like a lifeline.
In his nervousness, Harry stuttered. "I-I was - t-there w-was a guy s-screaming - I-I took t-the wrong t-turning -"
"Hey hey hey, not that big of a deal. Not actually gonna arrest you or anything. Literally just wanted to have a bit of banter," she said, her hands raised in non-aggression. "I feel kinda bad now. You were just sitting here, minding your own business and I've ruined your whole ambience."
Was it a ploy? Was she just trying to trick him?
The pounding of his heart had now subsided, though he still felt on edge. He didn't know why, but for a reason beyond him, he felt she was being genuine.
"I'm sorry for being a bit of a dick by the way, you just sorta piqued my interest. It's not like patrol in Hogsmeade is particularly fascinating, after all," she continued. "You sat there, drawing like a nerd instead of going to the feast. Who does that? I mean seriously?"
"So, because I've probably ruined your evening and you definitely want me to just get away from me, I'll let you do so. Nice meeting you, quiet artist truant boy."
"Harry is easier." he said, smiling.
She laughed. Truly laughed.
"Cute and funny? You must get all the girls," Tonks said, her voice again teasing after an almost absurd length of time. It wasn't that funny. "Goodnight Harry."
Harry smiled, before looking at his weather-worn watch. 8:01. Crap. He was going to be late.
He rushed, hastily collecting all of his luggage and began running toward the 'secret' passage he had once seen the Weasley twins use, sparing a wave to Tonks. It was in his haste, that he had entirely forgotten to pick up his notebook lying on the park bench.
Harry had managed to get inside the castle without any issue. The passageway that began at Hogsmeade was dark and long and ran under the Herbology greenhouses toward the south-western side of the castle, finishing directly below the Gryffindor tower.
He was cautious, knowing that Filch would be looking to start the year by making someone miserable. He often camped out near his house's tower, knowing that many a Gryffindor had chanced a midnight run to the kitchens or to Hufflepuff dorms nearby. He knew his path, it being a simple one. There were no trick staircases and it was luckily quite a short journey from the exit of the passageway - through what appeared as though it were a rip in the plasterboard of the wall - up a simple set of steps to the tower.
The only stumbling block beyond that would be the password.
Harry thought of attempting to perform a concealment charm, being after all in the magical safe haven of Hogwarts. However, in order for the charm to be even remotely successful, he would need to over-exaggerate the enunciation of the spell and he really didn't want the noise to alert anybody.
So, he was going totally without magic. It reminded him of when he was younger. Whenever his birthday would come around, he would make himself scarce for the afternoon and go to the park near his house. Often he'd just sit, enjoying the quiet summer days away from his relatives. In hindsight, his uncle and aunt must have known he'd left. Maybe they, in some rare act of kindness, allowed him that temporary freedom. They probably just enjoyed having a house that didn't have him in it.
Harry heard light footsteps, making him instantly tense. They sounded as though they were coming from the corridor behind him, which was...impossible. The only way to get to the corridor was either from the entrance Harry had come from - he liked to believe he'd have noticed them - or from the adjoining steps. The steps, known rather comically in 'Hogwarts, a History' as 'the loud steps of loudness'. So, again he'd like to imagine he could've noticed them before then. Therefore, there was only one possibility.
"Pleasant evening, is it not Harry?" asked one Albus Dumbledore. Harry didn't know how he got there and probably never would. The normal rules of magic just didn't tend to apply to the Headmaster, after all.
"Er, yeah. Wonderful, professor." Harry replied, confusion colouring his voice.
"It's nights like this where I'm reminded of my younger years. I fear you wouldn't have entertained my company in those days. I was rather less interesting than I am today," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling. "I'm glad we've managed to cross paths now, as I don't think we would've had the chance to catch up otherwise."
"Professor, I did intend to go to the opening feast, but I was-"
"I'm sure you were simply taking a toilet break and had accidentally misplaced yourself, my boy. Or perhaps you had a flash of inspiration and had suddenly thought of the thirteenth use of dragon's blood? I'll likely believe whatever happenstance you've managed to think up. If I'm honest with you Harry, it doesn't matter where you were. I'm rather more curious as to why you were there.
"Now, we could simply leave our conversation here. I could walk back to my office and finalise the preparations for the Triwizard Tournament. You could walk to your dormitory, say disorder to Agatha's portrait, and be on your merry way. Or, you could tell me why you didn't come to the opening feast. That's up to you."
Harry thought for a moment. "As I had been saying, I did intend to come however I had to go to the toilet and rather got sidetracked."
"Of course." Dumbledore smiled a half-smile. "Very well, my boy. I do look forward to seeing you throughout the year. Your professors had always said you had shown promise; let us hope you get a chance to showcase that."
"Goodnight, Headmaster," said Harry.
"Toodle pip," said Dumbledore, briskly walking away.
They parted ways, Harry walking the short distance up to his dorm. The conversation raised many questions for Harry. However, the day was growing long and those questions would still be there after a night's rest.
Harry met the portrait of the Fat Lady at the top of the set of stairs, his apparently heavily footsteps waking her from her rest.
She yawned theatrically, then began. "You do know what time it is, don't you? Honestly the nerve of the youth of today. It's your first day of term, young man. Show some respect."
Harry half-ignored her. He, like every other Gryffindor since 1734, had grown used to her antics. "Can I give you the password?"
She huffed, throwing her arms in the air with all of the grace of a tired toddler. "You think you deserve to go into this dormitory? Back in my day, you'd not get away with that."
"The password?" Harry repeated.
"Fine, fine," she said. Her voice took a mocking tone. "What's the password?"
"Have a lovely evening," The Fat Lady said, rolling her eyes and yawning theatrically.
The door opened, showing an empty dorm room. The fire was still going - it being inextinguishable as far as Harry knew - but no-one was sitting around it to take in the warmth. Everyone had already made their way up the stairs to bed.
He checked the time on the grandfather clock. 11:38. Perfect. He might just be able to get away with this.
He walked up the staircase, careful to remember to go up the correct stairs; those befitting a Fourth Year. That would take some getting used to. He thought quickly, quietly casting a silencing spell on the door of his dormitory and, thankfully, the bedroom was like a crypt, save for the snoring of Dean Thomas, the others having fallen into a deep sleep after their huge meal. His stomach twinged at the thought of food. He'd have to wait until tomorrow to eat.
He slipped into his bed, the majority of his luggage already having been moved to there by the house elves. His exhaustion was so great that he nearly forgot to change into his bedclothes. He closed his eyes, not even bothering to take his glasses off, his whole body almost sinking into the mattress. His mind had switched off totally, truly falling into a deep rest.
There it is. My first chapter.
Again, if you have any comments that would help me improve as a writer, they are always welcome.