Disclaimer: Harry Potter is owned by J.K. Rowling and Shingeki no Kyojin is owned by Hajime Isayama. I own nothing. Also, this story will contain heavy spoilers for the Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan manga and what will be season 4 of the anime. If you are not caught up on the manga material, I urge you to do so. If you're caught up (or don't care for spoilers) please enjoy.
Chapter 1: From You, In Another World
"You are free."
Those were the words that always seemed the most vivid of them all. Just three words conveyed with sorrowful tenderness was enough to endure. The manner in which it was spoken held nothing but a belief that it was an undeniable truth since birth. It should have been such an easy thing to say, and it was, for reasons far greater than they ought to be. And yet, they were meant for them. Maybe it was the unspoken promise that came along with those words that seemed strong enough to shatter the illusion - the illusion that the truth was not.
His truth, to be precise.
For what he knew to be real seemed to be anything but a solemn promise.
When he opened his eyes he knew exactly where he would be.
There seemed only melancholy tenderness in that devilishly caring voice. He wanted nothing more than to listen to it; to let that simple birthright come to him.
Of course, it had to end.
Kknnn! Kknnn! Kknnn!
Three raps sounded against the door to be followed by a shrill voice. "Up! Get up!"
Green eyes opened at the sound to be met with the confined darkness of what was his room. The single mattress below him creaked as the lone occupant sat himself up and reached for a pair of thick, wire-framed glasses.
"Are you up yet?" the shrill voice of the woman on the other side of the door asked in a more even tone.
"Yes. I'm awake." It really had just been a dream.
"Well hurry up," her shrill tone became more apparent once again. "Breakfast needs to get done before presents are opened. Hurry and get dressed now, your uncle is waiting."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," he replied as he slipped on a pair of extremely wide and baggy slacks that he held up with a very frayed and used belt as well as a button shirt that was three sizes too big. Pulling the chain for the lightbulb, the darkness was illuminated around him in the cupboard under the stairs where he spent his days. For over ten years he had lived this life as Harry Potter.
-June 23rd, 1991-
"Oh, there he is! The birthday boy!" Aunt Petunia's joyfully, shrill cry served as an extra, yet unintentional, wake-up call for Harry as he worked at the stove to flip the frying eggs and stir the bacon that would be breakfast for his relatives.
His older cousin by five weeks had just waddled down the stairs and had to stop so his mother could take the obligatory picture of him on his eleventh birthday. Dudley forced the muscles in his porky face to pull up at the corners of his mouth for a smile while his eyes tried to look to the side and into the living room where his father had stacked all of his gifts.
"Happy birthday, son!" Uncle Vernon cheered his son while raising his empty mug of coffee for Harry to take and fill up. "More sugar in this one, boy," his expression soured for a spill as he gave his nephew the task.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," Harry felt the words automatically slip from his lips as he poured another cup and added at least four scoops of the white powder into the dark liquid.
"And hurry up with the bacon," Uncle Vernon ordered while he buttered a piece of toast before devouring half of it in one bite.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon. Not like you need it," Harry muttered the last part.
"What was that, boy?" Uncle Vernon asked. Harry could feel the beady gaze on the back of his head. He was all too familiar with the look he was getting right about now.
"I said, yes, Uncle Vernon. I'll bring it right over." Harry could feel the glare lessen as he lifted the pan off the stove and returned with a full cup of coffee and the smell of fresh, crisp bacon. He knew that even if Uncle Vernon did not believe his lie, he would forget it with the prospect of fresh food.
It proved successful as his uncle's beady gaze turned to strips of greasy pork as he plucked four strands onto his plate and instantly began munching away at them, the grease tickling the underside of his black walrus mustache. "Hmm. Would you care for any, Tuney?" Uncle Vernon asked his wife, Petunia Dursley.
"Oh, no thank you, Vernon. I'm trying to cut down a peg." Whereas Uncle Vernon was a human-based walrus, Aunt Petunia was tall, blonde, and slim with a long neck and bony horse-like features. And then, there was their son, Dudley Dursley, the birthday boy himself.
Dudley had inherited his mother's blonde hair, but that was about it. Instead of resembling a walrus as his father did, Dudley was closer to a pig in a wig or even a beached whale. His neck was constricted by the collar of his shirt, the button of his pants ready to pop off. Most parents would have been concerned if their child was that unhealthy, but in the eyes of the Dursley's, there was no finer boy than their little Dudders. They went out of their way to spoil their son every chance that they got, including; using the spare bedroom on the second floor as a storage space for all of his things and having Harry take the cupboard, never saying "no" when Dudley asked for something, and buying more presents for him every year no matter the budget. This year was no exception.
Everything the Dursley's did was for the sake of being Dursleyish. Harry figured it was their idea of normal as they wanted nothing more but to live the quietest of lives free from any gossip - except if it was about other neighbors, of course. And Harry also figured that was the reason they treated him the way they did.
Unlike the two other males in the house, Harry was a toothpick compared next to them. He was skinny, not exactly bony like Aunt Petunia and he had softer features with no trace of a horse to be found. He had rather messy black hair that refused to be tamed by any natural methods. When Aunt Petunia tried to cut it short, it grew back overnight as an act of defiance, one that he was happy with. His eyes were unique with their distinct green shade, but what truly stood out was the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He had the scar for as seemingly long as he could remember. When he had asked Aunt Petunia how he had gotten it, she had been very quick to answer that it had been from the car crash that had killed his parents and left him an orphan and she would speak no more of it when he asked.
It was not something that he reflected on often, but when he did, he felt that she was lying.
He had never called her out for it. Doing so would earn him a week locked away in his cupboard without meals and he was thin enough with what he was allowed to eat. Being away from the Dursley's was always an appealing idea, but to spend it locked up seemed a far greater punishment.
Instead of helping himself to the food Harry had prepared, Dudley directed his attention into the living room where an assortment of both wrapped and open gifts was gathered. Christmas might as well have come early. Harry saw a new bike (which he knew Dudley would not use for exercise), a new computer, games, boxing gloves (oh joy), and maybe even a potato gun. It was enough to leave any child satisfied.
"How many are there?" was the first thing Dudley asked.
"Thirty-six. Counted them myself." Uncle Vernon smiled proudly.
"Thirty-six?! But last year I got thirty-seven!"
Harry hid a roll of his eyes as he brought the pan to the sink to wash it out. No matter where he was in the house, he would hear the meltdown play out in full.
"Well some of them are quite a bit bigger than last year," Uncle Vernon attempted to reason with the tantrum side of Dudley.
"I don't care how big they are!" Dudley yelled.
Aunt Petunia galloped in like a charging commander to placate her frustrated son. "Now, now, Dudders, don't forget about the zoo. We're going there today with Piers. And tell you what, while we're there, we'll buy you two more presents. How does that sound?"
"Two more?" Dudley repeated. "So, then I'll have… thirty… thirty…"
"Thirty-eight, sweetums," Aunt Petunia told him. And just like that, the tantrum ended. In a way, Harry was almost disappointed it had ended before it had begun. Usually, he was on the receiving end of Dudley's bad side for no reason in particular. It was rare for him to actually go off fully on his parents, whose job it was to placate him before he could do so properly.
Uncle Vernon took a pause from his breakfast. "Dudley's friend is still coming along, then?" he beckoned Harry over to get his plate.
"Last I checked, yes," Aunt Petunia answered as Dudley began to toss wrapping paper across the room as he tore into his gifts. "Why?"
"I phoned Ms. Figg across the street about looking after the boy," he referred to Harry. "She's been having problems with her hip; doesn't think she's up to it." Ms. Figg was a kind, if not strange, older woman who often watched Harry with her litter of cats when the Dursley's went out and about.
Aunt Petunia's already long face began to dip. "Well, what about your sister, Marge? Bit of a drive for her, but would she be willing to come out and watch the boy?" Harry certainly hoped not. While his aunt and uncle tolerated him so long as he mainly kept out of sight and mind, Marge was someone who wanted a very close eye to be kept on him at all times. She once set one of her dogs on him and he was forced to spend the night up in a tree. He feared that her dogs would rip him to pieces as the Dursley's watched on and laughed before dumping him on the banks of a river somewhere. Bit of exaggeration on his end, but it was the first thing to come to his mind.
"Last I heard from her one of her dogs was feeling off." Harry hoped that it was Ripper. "You know how she gets when it comes to her dogs." He could see the hesitation from Uncle Vernon and the thin beads of sweat on Aunt Petunia's brow. "I could phone one of the other neighbors and see if they'd be up to it."
"They all think he's a delinquent child. They won't take him." With the hand-me-downs that they supplied him with, it was no wonder as to why anyone else on Privet Dr. would think that way. It also didn't help that Aunt Petunia had concocted some of those rumors herself when asked. Funny to see that it was coming back to bite her.
Seeing an opening, Harry felt the need to weigh in. "You could just leave me here. I'll keep to my cupboard and-,"
"As if we don't know what you'll do if you're left alone!" Uncle Vernon bullied into his train of thought. Exactly what I just said I would do. "I'll not have my home at the mercy of your freakish devices." And there it was.
Freakish was the word the Dursley's always used to describe him and they more often than not referred to him by either the title of boy or freak. It hadn't been until kindergarten when the teacher had done roll call that he had heard his full name spoken out loud before. He had not believed that to be his real at first either, it seemed different from what he thought his parents would have named him, even though he had never met them.
"Alright," Harry relented any further argument he had. If he had chosen to continue, Uncle Vernon's face would go through its chameleon phase from red all the way to purple. "So who will watch me?" the question got things back on topic.
Aunt Petunia scanned the room, afraid that some neighbors might have some way of eavesdropping. "Vernon, you don't suppose we'll have to… take him along, do you?"
Upon hearing the question, Dudley instantly stopped unwrapping whatever number present he was on to start the fake tears welling up in his eyes. "B-but I don't want him to go," Dudley began his act. "He's going to ruin everything! He's going to ruin everything, mommy!"
"Oh, my precious litter Dudders!" Aunt Petunia bent down to wrap her arms around Dudley's nonexistent neck. "Don't worry, he won't ruin anything. We'll figure something out." Harry was the only one to notice Dudley stop his fake crying as he shot him a smug smile.
"Get back to your cupboard," Uncle Vernon ordered. "I've got calls to make. I won't have you mucking up Dudley's big day."
And so the next half hour consisted of Uncle Vernon phoning various neighbors to the task of looking after Privet Drive's resident delinquent. "Yes, would you be interested in-," "Just give him some chores to do is all. He's quite-," "Well, um, I believe he's up to date on his shots, right, Tuney? Hello?" He was met with the same response every time. With no other choice left, the Dursley's were reluctant to accept that they had to bring him along.
The following tantrum from Dudley had been a true spectacle to behold. He had dropped his new computer on the ground, cracked several of his games, and bent the seat on his bike as well. Harry believed it was one of the few times where their promise to buy him new gifts for the ones he broke had no effect on his behavior. And it shouldn't. Harry knew Dudley was never ever really going to use most of that stuff anyway, it would just end up collecting dust in the second bedroom.
Of course, Dudley's tantrum did come to an end, but not from his parents doing. It came from a knock on the door to signal that Piers had arrived for the trip to the zoo. Not wanting to be seen crying in front of his friend, Dudley instantly ceased the tears and went to answer the door.
Harry had never really liked Piers; he didn't like any of Dudley's "friends" as they were more a gang than anything else. Aside from Dudley, it was Piers who got the most fun out of their pastimes which largely consisted of tormenting Harry with their favorite game: Harry Hunting. It was a stupid game where they would all chase after him, yelling insults and threats his way. Harry ran with the wind as his ally, thinking that they might start throwing rocks at him which worried him more than their insults ever did. He even found himself on the roof of the school at one point with no recollection of how he had gotten there. Uncle Vernon had turned a nasty shade of purple when Dudley told him about it.
That was how it mostly ended; in the event that they ever caught up to Harry, he surprised himself that he actually had the courage to try and fight back. He didn't know where it came from, maybe it was an instinct that if he fought back, they would leave him alone, maybe it was the feeling that someone was concerned for him, or maybe he was just crazy. Harry had even hit Piers hard enough the one time to bloody his nose. Naturally, they had proceeded to hit Harry harder after that, leaving him with bent glasses near the ally by Magnolia Crescent.
Harry couldn't help but recall that day as the Dursley's and Piers began to pile into Uncle Vernon's car as he realized that he would have to sit in the back with his two biggest tormentors. Before he could get in, Uncle Vernon blocked his path.
"I'm warning you now, boy," he pointed the car key in his face, "any funny business, any at all and you'll find yourself with no meals for a week."
"I understand," Harry felt obliged to say. "I'll be on my best behavior."
"Too right you will be," Uncle Vernon squinted at him before squeezing himself into the driver's seat.
"So long as they are," Harry let the remark escape before he awkwardly sat the window seat and tried to look anywhere but at the two boys laugh and talk about some stupid school called Smeltings or something along those lines.
The drive to the zoo seemed especially long for Harry as he had to endure not-so-subtle kicks to the leg from Piers and flicks to his ear from Dudley. They snickered the whole time, knowing that he wouldn't dare do anything with both Dursley's seated up in front. Harry had to keep reminding himself to just endure it until they arrived at the zoo, grinding his teeth all the while and clenching his fists.
When Dudley finally flicked him hard enough to knock his glasses askew, Harry brought his hand up to swat Dudley's away. It was the wrong move.
"Dad, Harry just hit me!" Dudley cried out, acting as he had just gotten burned. It was lucky they were at a red light because Uncle Vernon would have slammed on the brakes in traffic.
Uncle Vernon's beady gaze was reflected in the mirror, glaring right at Harry. "What the devil is wrong with you, boy?!" Dudley and Piers hid their smiles.
"Sorry. I thought I felt something buzz next to me, I didn't know it was him." It was a lazy lie, but it was the best he had on short notice.
"Boy, I will turn around now and drop you off at-,"
"But, I still want to go to the zoo!" Dudley's protest drowned whatever threat Uncle Vernon was going to make. Today, like always, was all about Dudley. Uncle Vernon went back to driving as the light changed, but his lingering mirrored gaze spoke promise that Harry was not free of punishment later.
Upon arriving at the zoo, Dudley instantly wanted to visit the gift shop where he got three additional presents instead of the promised amount. For snacks, a vendor was selling ice cream and Uncle Vernon got some for the two boys and lied to the vendor by saying that Harry couldn't have any because of allergies. Naturally, when Dudley was going to leave a half-eaten cone behind before heading to the gorilla enclosure, Harry offered to throw it out and managed to get a few licks in before his uncle would notice.
The gorilla exhibit proved to be quite fun. All the great apes of their kind were out today and Dudley and Piers had bullied their way to the front of the observation glass to watch the apes as Harry blended in with a crevice off to the side. Harry smiled in amusement as he saw the resemblance between a baby gorilla and his whale of a cousin. It looks like he had another thing to compare Dudley with if he ever dropped some of his weight.
It had been fun up until Dudley and Piers started making faces at the animals and scratching under their arms and banging on their chests. Seeing this, a male gorilla grabbed a handful of droppings and tossed it right at the glass barrier.
Seeing this, Dudley and Piers shared a laugh as they amped up their teasing, knowing that nothing would happen to them so long as the glass was intact. The gorilla lumbered off in boredom shortly after that little display.
It would have been great if that had actually hit them, Harry thought of a dung-covered Dudley as they made their way to the reptile house.
'Or if it had been thrown by the Beast.'
The voice was of a young girl, probably right around his age. Harry did a double-take, expecting to see someone standing behind him, maybe noticing the laugh he had been holding back at his cousin's expense.
There was no one there.
Had he perhaps imagined hearing the voice?
The next voice was quite real. "Hurry up!" Uncle Vernon waved him over to the reptile house. "Quit your lagging, boy."
"...Right." He took one last look around. "Sorry."
Suffice it to say, Harry was a bit out of it as they moved through the crowd in the reptile house to view animals such as the crocodile, iguana, and komodo dragon. Every few minutes he would take a quick peek over his shoulder, expecting to see someone standing right behind him. It didn't help that he felt someone was watching him right now. Harry knew that if someone was planning on kidnapping him, the Dursley's would hardly bat an eye at his disappearance, they might even celebrate when they got home.
For some reason, the voice reminded Harry of the one from his dream. He knew that this one was different, however. The voice he had heard just now was clearly a young girl, not the melancholy of the man in his dream. Harry knew that for certain since he remembered all of his dreams.
He remembered them not because they were recent, but because of how unique they all were. He would dream of horses riding, zipping through the air as the wind whipped across his face, a bedroom with a large cradle and toys next to it, faces of people whom he did not know, a wing insignia; being tall, taller than any creature on earth, empty eyes staring back at him, forests with giant trees, clay at his feet and a pillar of light at the center of it all, the feeling of the earth itself shaking as the noise canceled out everything else. Ever since he was but a child, he could recall each and every dream in perfect detail.
This was different. More like he was…
'Getting lost in thought?'
He almost jumped out of his skin at hearing the voice again. Harry didn't even turn around this time because he knew his back was pressed up against a wall. Nobody in the crowd around him was even looking at him and her voice had sounded like she had just spoken directly into his ear.
"Did you… say something?" Harry quietly asked out loud, hoping that someone around him might speak up and admit what they had just done. No one did. He felt his pulse quicken.
'I did. You're not going mad.'
"...Where are you?"
"What'd you say, boy?" Uncle Vernon asked with annoyance as they began moving toward the snake side of the house.
"..." Harry floundered for an answer before finding his tongue. "I was just… asking where you would be. I need to go to the washroom."
Uncle Vernon huffed at the bother before pointing over to the snakes and walking off, leaving Harry ample opportunity to slip off by himself to try and clear his head.
Harry closed the door to the men's room behind him, waiting until the sole occupant finished washing his hands and left before speaking out loud.
"Is someone there?" There was no one else in the washroom except for him now. If he heard her voice again then…
'I'm certain that you're the only one in the room.'
His head shot up to look directly into the mirror, expecting to see someone standing right next to him. He was entirely alone.
"W-what is this?" his eyes nervously darted around the room, finding nothing out of the ordinary. "Where are you?" he almost yelled.
'You're not mad. But if you keep talking to yourself, other people might think you are.'
His mind raced with a thousand questions raced through his mind, the most basic of which was, What is going on?
'Like that. I can hear you just fine.'
He felt inclined to bring his hands up to the sides of his head. You can read my thoughts?
'Not exactly. I don't think it works like that.'
Well stop it, Harry let his will convey his thoughts. Whatever this is, just stop it.
'You don't mean that.' She sounded sure of herself.
"I do! Just stop it!" Harry finally shouted out loud.
"Pardon?" a man who had just opened the door asked, staring at Harry in confusion.
His ears turned red. "I - um… sorry." He moved past the man and back into the reptile house where he could easily spot the escaped gorilla that was Dudley. Before making his way over to his relatives, Harry gave himself a few taps to the side of his head, just for good measure.
Dudley and Piers were pressing their hands right up against the glass of the python habitat. "Make it move!" Dudley told his father who banged his fingers against the glass. When that didn't work, Dudley and Piers began pounding on the glass shouting, "Move! Move!" the snake paid them no mind.
"I think he's asleep," Harry said, noticing the stares being directed their way.
"He's boring," Dudley sighed as he pushed past Harry so he and Piers could go and harass some other animal. Soon, it was just Harry left to stare at the python.
"Sorry about him," Harry felt the urge to apologize to the snake. "I think he feels a little too at home when he's here." The python perked up. "Must get boring, lying there day after day, watching people press their ugly faces against the glass."
The python nodded.
Harry blinked in astonishment. "Do you… you understand me?"
The python gave another nod of its head, its tongue flicking out.
'You can talk to snakes?' she was back.
Please, Harry closed his eyes. Please just go away.
'You're fine talking to a snake but not me?'
Go away already.
'If I was a snake, would you talk to me then?'
Just get out of my head!
Get out already!
'Open your eyes.'
Will you just-, Harry's train of thought was interrupted by a cry of "Snake!"
Opening his eyes, Harry saw that the glass keeping the python enclosed had vanished. With nothing blocking its way, the snake coiled itself on the floor at Harry's feet and stared up at him. "Thankssss~" it hissed out as it began to slither its way out of the reptile house as parents grabbed their kids and ran to get out of its way.
Dudley and Piers, who had been on their way back to view the now active python, froze in their tracks; Dudley's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates as the snake sent a hiss his way before slithering off. More people ran and jumped to avoid the serpent as a few members of the zoo staff came running to try and recapture the snake to no avail. It slithered on past them and right out the exit door.
It was actually quite comical to watch, but the mood instantly soured when he felt a ham-like hand squeeze his shoulder. Looking up, he saw a red-faced Uncle Vernon. "Think that was funny, did you, boy?"
"Uncle Vernon, I didn't-,"
"We're leaving, boy. Get back to the car." Despite his red face, Uncle Vernon's voice was quite low. It was unusual for the bully of a man so Harry knew that his uncle's fury was bottling up to be released later. He could only nod and accept that he was going to be blamed for this.
During the ride back, Aunt Petunia made a consistent fuss over Dudley's well-being and how traumatic the situation must have been for him. "Dreadful beast almost took his leg off. Are you sure you're alright, Dudders?" The snake had only hissed at him, and even just biting off one of Dudley's toes would have kept the snake full for a week, probably.
Piers, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to talk about the excitement. "It was so big, wasn't it, Dudley? Whatever happened to the glass? It was like it just vanished."
Even though he kept quiet the whole ride back, Harry could tell Uncle Vernon was staring at him in the mirror, blaming him for all of this. Then again, anything that couldn't be explained was blamed on him. It all had to do with what they referred to as "freakishness" and Harry was the epicenter for all of it.
After dropping Piers off at his own home, Uncle Vernon sped the rest of the way back to number 4 Privet Drive. Aunt Petunia ushered Dudley back inside thinking that he needed her after that traumatic event. In reality, Dudley looked ready to burst right out of her bony grasp and go to his room to play a game.
Uncle Vernon followed right behind Harry into the house. As soon as the door was closed his ham hand grabbed a handful of Harry's dark locks. "What happened?!" he pulled Harry's head back as a bit of spit flew out of his mouth.
"I don't know," Harry tried to keep his eyes open through the pain he was feeling in his head.
"Don't play me for a fool, boy!" Uncle Vernon yelled. "You expect me to believe the glass just vanished on its own, do you?!"
"How would I know?" Harry challenged back with his own logic. "I never even touched the glass. Dudley was pounding against it, maybe ask-,"
"Don't you dare try to shift blame to my son!" he started turning purple. "Don't think I don't know what you're trying to do!"
He should just keep quiet and let his uncle continue to rant and rave. Harry already knew that he didn't do anything and in a few days the whole thing would be chalked up to him being a freak. And he said, "Well that at least makes one of us."
"Grrh!" Uncle Vernon growled as he dragged Harry by the hair back to his cupboard and gave him a forceful push back. The back of Harry's knees met with the edge of the bed and he landed back on it. Cli-klak! The sound of the deadbolt being locked in place. "Best make yourself cozy in there. Maybe learn to keep your cheek in line while you're at it."
Hearing his uncle waddle off, Harry winced as he brought a hand up to where he had been grabbed. He felt some wetness up there and plopped his head down on the ripped pillowcase he was allowed. Small spots faded in and out of his vision to the point he retired his glasses next to his bed and made ready to just fall asleep and be done with it.
Come the morning, he would remember this one with perfect detail, as usual.
A batch of flowers. A single drop of red staining the pure white petals. A giant tree. Falling, drowning. A terrible roar of defiance, chunks of rocks falling on houses, a cave made of crystals, a giant structure at least 50 meters high, tall beings wandering aimlessly; screams as a gaping maw awaited. People gathered all around now, watching a man on a stage. Then it was gone, replaced with a war-zone. That defiant roar was stronger than ever. The sight of the clear, crystal water lapping against the shore.
And then, his dream seemed to be put on a pause. There was someone else there with him. A blonde girl of around his height with two longer bangs that framed the side of her face. A shadow seemed to obscure the upper portion of her face but her mouth was visible to him. And she spoke.
'See you soon, Harry.'
Thank you for reading. Next chapter, following the strange occurrence at the zoo, Harry hears that voice again following an unexpected letter addressed to him. Chapter 2: Communication.