KingAllen: It is a dominant trait for sure. Very soon some insight into Paradis will be shown, be from either Eren or someone else. As for your question, only Ymir can see Harry clearly, Eren would see him much as Harry could see him as a shadowy figure.
Draedon's Forge: Glad that you enjoyed! Don't worry, I'm not burned out, but there might be a slight wait between chapters since I also have something else I want to work on.
Well- O- Being: Some insight into what happened after will be shown in a few chapters. All I can say is the Potter's perspective will have to be shown as well to give full context to what happened. But Harry's anger is also justified considering all the lies that his life consisted of.
PaperbackAlloy: That is partially the reason, but not entirely. He has gotten brief flashes of other memories outside the Attack Titan, and this chapter will show a few others. He does have regeneration as well, but that too is a bit stunted due to his connection being off.
Longha: Thank you! Glad to hear it.
Austin: Yeah, his anger on the subject is justified even with the full truth still unknown. As for the what the Founding Titan would like like, it probably wouldn't just be a fishbone spine like it was after it attached itself to the head, but something more akin to another colossal form. When the story reaches a certain climax, I hope to make things interesting but also a little unexpected as well. Hopefully this chapter can also answer some of your questions regarding Harry's name and origins.
Colt Cobra: Well if someone wants to make a fanart of the Titan design once it gets fully revealed, that'd be awesome since I can't draw. Given the circumstances of his origin as well his presence would be a great deal of interest to any members of the Wall Cultists.
Darkscythe Drake: Indeed it does! This chapter will answer that question but he would have went missing around the year 855.
Yoana: That too is indeed something that will have to be addressed that wouldn't end will for one party involved.
Guest: Dumbledore does contain a few pieces of the puzzle himself. And as reckless as it was, it just wasn't something he could continue to keep secret. At this point, Harry really is set to just make his own path and achieve what he feels he deserves.
Zamasu black: There are a lot of possibilities that he can take that the next chapter will fully illustrate. And there is still more to be shown on the Potter's side of things and what was going through their heads when it all happened.
Procrastinatey: Glad that you enjoyed! I hope this one will satisfy as well.
BadWolfRisen: Here's the next chapter. Not a problem, I'm glad that others enjoy reading.
Disclaimer- Harry Potter is owned by J. K. Rowling and Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan is owned by Hajime Isayama. I own nothing.
Chapter 14: Back to a Cage
The day following his self-declaration, Harry was discharged from the Hospital Wing under the advice to "not push himself." It was a simple enough direction for anyone to follow, but the more Harry thought it over in his head, the more peeved he became.
To not push himself; what else was he supposed to do? In more ways than one, saying that to him now was something akin to an insult. How was he to grow stronger if he didn't push himself? How was he going to find a way to get to Ymir if he didn't push himself?
But that wasn't even the worst of it. No. That came from a bombardment of questions and stares whenever someone would spot him. Just coming out to the common room was bad enough.
"You actually went to the third floor? What was in there?"
"How bad was it? You were out for a fair bit, gave us all a right good scare."
"How'd you survive? Dumbledore said anyone who entered would die a horrible death."
"If you go back, can I tag along with you?"
"I heard Professor Quirrell was down there, too. Is that why he hasn't been in class?"
Turns out that when Dumbledore said the whole school knew, he wasn't kidding. Even if they only knew bits and pieces. And his response to the questions asked of him was always: "I'm not supposed to talk about it. Sorry."
He was met with more than a fair bit of disappointed looks at his response, but that's all he had to offer. Even if nothing was stopping him from telling the truth, he didn't want to. It wasn't anyone's business except his about what had happened down there. Or, maybe he was just being petty for having the truth withheld from him for so long that he wanted to be the one with that knowledge. And so he kept quiet. He remained steadfast right up until the end of the school year.
The final exams came and went, nothing too horrible except Harry made sure to reread his answers to make sure he didn't inadvertently write down anything pertaining to Eldian history or make any mention to Titans or the Paths. Even the potions exam was much easier than expected, but that was maybe because Snape stuck to behind his desk and not skulking about leering over their shoulders.
When it came to Defense Against the Dark Arts, some person from the Ministry of Magic served as a temporary replacement up until the final exam. He obviously wasn't prepared to be called in all of a sudden so he just had them read from the assigned text for each class. During one such class, Harry received a tap on his shoulder and a note from behind him from Pavarti.
Did something bad happen to Professor Quirrell on the third floor? Did he get hurt or something?
Harry wrote back.
He won't be in next year. That's all I'll say.
For being a stutter bug and not the most well-liked professor, Quirrell's disappearance did not go unnoticed. Harry was actually starting to believe that people thought Quirrell was down there to try and save him.
The real reason would be kept a secret. They didn't know about Voldemort growing out the back of their professors headall year, so his demise would honestly be less of a shock. Although, it did raise the question of who would take the position next year, and Harry doubted it would be the stooge minding his own business at the front of the class.
When the end of the year feast came around, Dumbledore gave another short speech about returning next year before moving on to declaring the winner of the House Cup. Winning it yet again was Slytherin with 472 points. Gryffindor was shy about ten, finishing in second. It was one of the few times that the green and silver table looked lively in their cheering. Malfoy certainly looked smug about the victory and Tracey and Daphne looked over Harry's way with a smile that read, "sorry, but you still did your best."
Except he hadn't.
During the final stretch of this semester, he had basically lazed on by while his mind roamed to elsewhere. Everything he did in class and on his exams weren't any great feats of extraordinary potential. He was just doing it to get by and advance. He hadn't done his best on the exams and he certainly hadn't done his best when it came to finding out more about travel between worlds.
It wasn't enough. It really just wasn't enough. But it wouldn't be for long.
With his trunk packed and Hedwig secured in her cage, Harry meandered his way with the rest of the students as they flooded the landing of the Hogwarts Express and the departure back to King's Cross Station in London. Hagrid was at the landing assisting some students to load their luggage. The giant man smiled at him and waved him over.
"Doin' alrigh' there, Harry?"
"I feel fine," Harry simply replied.
"Still, yeh looked a bit down," Hagrid commented. "If yeh aunt o' uncle o' even that cousin of yours give yeh any trouble, maybe jus' threaten teh give 'em a pig tail o' ears. They don't need ter know yer not supposed to use magic outside of Hogwarts."
They aren't even related to me, Harry wanted to say. Instead, he said, "I still wish I was going someplace else."
"Ah. No need ter sound so down 'bout it. Summer comes an' goes. Yeh'll be back here before yeh know it." Hagrid offered him a reassuring smile as he loaded up the last of his things. "Yeh've no doubt made some friends here. I'm sure they'll write to yeh and keep in touch. Yeh won't be completely alone."
I was never alone to begin with.
Harry just nodded to the large man and gave a small wave goodbye before seeking to find a compartment. From the looks of it, most of them were already full with other students so he made his way up toward the front where he figured it would be less crowded. It was still fairly packed but it was mainly with people he already knew, but he still moved to find an empty one.
He passed by one filled with some of the Slytherin's he had met with, but he rationed that in a place as public as the Hogwarts Express, Malfoy wouldn't want to be seen associating himself with a lowly Gryffindor. Another held Ron, Dean, Seamus, along with the Patil twins and Lavender. He wouldn't get much quiet there. The one he settled on was occupied only by Neville and Hermione who was deep into a book and a jar that held a recently captured Trevor.
"Is it alright if I sit here?" Harry asked the other occupants.
"Oh, of course, Harry!" Neville offered him a seat by the window. "Although, you didn't really have to ask. You let me sit with you on the ride here." Hermione gazed up from her book.
"Still, it is polite to ask," she mentioned. "Just going and doing something without warning can be rather reckless."
Harry put his luggage on the rack and looked out the window at the platform. Hermione observed him.
"Are you going to say anything?" she asked.
"I don't really have something to say," Harry replied. "That doesn't mean you aren't right."
She gave a small, "Hm," before returning her gaze to her selected text. "Let's just hope you don't go looking for another way to get yourself killed next semester."
"I guess we'll just have to see." Harry watched as the platform started to disappear as the whistle blew a final time. Neville looked between the other occupants and the sight of green countryside starting to appear.
"So, um, Harry," Neville began. "I know you've probably been asked this dozens of times before, but what exactly happened on the third floor?" He quickly looked embarrassed for asking. "I mean, uh, if you're allowed to say, that is."
If he was allowed to say? He could say whatever he wanted to, there was nothing stopping him from doing so.
"It isn't really something that I want to talk about," Harry instead answered.
"Oh." Neville shyly nodded and went to look out the window as well. Hermione peered over her book at him, curiously. They rode along in silence for a fair way until Hermione closed her book.
"Either of you have anything special planned for the holiday?" she asked. "During Christmas my parents threw the idea of a trip to France around so we might be going there."
"I don't think I really have anything going on," Neville rubbed the back of his head. "Maybe my gran will take me to visit her side of the family in a different part of the country. She was really glad that my grades started to go up after I got my new wand and she'll want to prove to them that me having magic isn't some sort of fluke."
"Like showing them magic?" Hermione seemed a bit bemused. "But performing underage magic outside of school is illegal. Professor McGonagall told me when I accepted to attend Hogwarts."
"Um, well," Neville averted his gaze. "For pureblood families, those rules aren't as strict. So long as an adult is present in the house when it happens, it usually gets overlooked or just passed off as being someone else performing magic."
"Really?!" Hermione blinked in response. "So if I were to visit a pureblood's house for the summer and did magic there, I wouldn't get in trouble?"
"Well… maybe some trouble, but not anything to get you expelled. Although, if I brought it up to my gran, maybe she'd agree to let me have some visitors over if you both wanted, for a day or so."
"I'd have to talk to my parents, but I'm sure they'd agree."
"Oh, uh, okay." Neville shyly nodded. "Would you want to come along, too, Harry? If your guardians would let you, that is."
Guardians. That isn't what I would call them.
"I don't think I'll be going anywhere this summer," Harry remarked. "And any magic I want to do isn't covered in any textbook."
Neville and Hermione gave him curious looks as the scenic Scottish countryside whisked on by. They rode in silence.
When the train pulled back into platform 9 ¾, students flocked out and to the barrier that would lead them back to the muggle station of King's Cross. When he was given the clear to go, Harry easily spotted the large, walrus shape of Vernon Dursley standing more than a fair distance away from the barrier between the two platforms. No doubt he didn't want to be seen around people walking around wearing robes or pointed hats. Harry wordlessly made his way over to him.
The male Dursley only gave a small grunt of acknowledgment before leading him back to where he had parked his car. Harry loaded all of his own stuff before climbing into the back seat as Mr. Dursley squeezed into the front.
During the ride back, Mr. Dursley didn't say or ask a single question to Harry, and Harry didn't say or ask a single thing of him in return. Really, Harry found he preferred it that way.
Soon enough, Harry saw the sight of uniform houses and well-kept lawns and hedges appear. They turned onto the street labeled Privet Drive and pulled up the drive to number 4. Mr. Dursley was home. Harry felt further away than ever before.
Grabbing his luggage, Harry wordlessly began bringing it all inside the house. Mr. Dursley kept a sharp lookout for any neighbors who might be spying out their windows in their direction. "Tuney, dear, I'm back." Mr. Dursely announced once the door was closed.
"Oh, you just missed your sister calling," Mrs. Dursley called from the kitchen. "She's taking a cruise this summer won't be able to pay a visit until next year."
The sound of footsteps echoed from upstairs. When Dudley reached the landing, Harry was even surprised to see that the other boy had gotten even wider in the time he had been away at school.
"Dad!" Dudley's porky face grew into a smile. "Now that you're back, can you drive me to the-," he paused at seeing the other boy at the foot of the stairs. "He's back, too?"
"Erm, yes, that's right, son. He's back until he goes back to his school in September again."
Dudley wore a bemused expression on his pudgy face as Harry worked to squeeze his way around Dudley's immense girth and up to where his room was. He closed the door behind him and took a brief look around. The room was just as he had left it - basically barren. The only real difference being that there was a slight buildup of dust. Perhaps they had not prioritized cleaning this room as thoroughly as the rest.
It was fine. It was just whatever, really. He had nothing but time at this point, he could get it clean to his standards.
Well… looks like I'm back. Harry plopped himself down on the bed. Maybe he could sleep this whole summer away.
'Anything I can do to make this holiday any less lonely?' Ymir's voice asked. If he hadn't known any better, he could have sworn she was kneeling right next to his bed asking him that question.
I don't know. What did he know? Maybe just… just tell me something - anything that can help fill in the gaps. Things about myself. Anything.
'I'm pretty sure that you know more about yourself than I do,' she slyly remarked.
Well, yeah, I know that. I just meant the real stuff about me.
'Okay. For example…?'
Is my - er, our birthday even July 31?
'Oh, I see what you mean. Well if it makes you feel better, we were born during the summer months here.'
Harry nodded. He'd have to just let her know to tell him when that day came around next. Also, how long was I there with you before… whatever happened that I wound up here?
'We were born in the year 854, just as the war was ending. And from what I know it wasn't until a year later in 855 that you went missing.'
From what you know? Harry parroted her words. Even you don't know?
'I hope you realize that it's a very touchy subject to bring you up in conversation,' her tone soured a bit. 'We were only about a year old when it happened from what I was told.'
Okay, okay, fair point. He thought about his next question carefully. Then, how about my name? Harry might have been his given name here, but what about over there?
'Huh. I did ask, quite a few times, really. As I said, it's a real touchy subject. Maybe something related to the names Frieda or Zeke, I'm not sure. But, this might sound a bit strange, I uh, I've sorta gotten used to calling you by Harry. If you want me to stop calling you that or even come up with a new name for yourself, that's fine, too.'
Well, uh, if you've gotten used to calling me that, you can still do it.
Yeah. Maybe once I know more that'll change, but for now I'll keep it. And that was his choice on the matter.
There was still plenty more he'd like to ask, but the fatigue from the train ride and then the car was beginning to catch up on him. Even if he were to take a brief nap now, Harry knew that he wouldn't miss much from dinner anyways. He gave into the exhaust.
"Father?" his voice came out as another young boy's. He was standing in the threshold of a shop of sorts looking at a balding man in a work smock. "I'm right, aren't I? My mom worked here before I was born."
The man looked over at this boy.
"That's where you met Mom. You met Karina Braun." A bead of sweat appeared on the man's face. The boy moved his left arm forward and a red armband with a white nine-pointed star was shown.
"Look… see? Mom and I have become honorary Marleyans. We're even able to walk freely outside the walls if we ask permission. You and Mom could even live togeth-,"
"Are you kidding me?!" the man scornfully interrupted. His face was pained with incredulous panic. "That woman put you up to this, didn't she?! She wanted revenge on me, is that it?! Damnit! She even forced her kid to become a Warrior for all of that! If they look into your origins, my real family is done for! You're trying to get me hanged, aren't you?! I'm getting away as far as I can! You and your mother, the two of you Eldian Devils!"
The scene changed to a dwindling campfire as the sun began to rise. There were three other people gathered around. A taller, awkward looking boy, a blonde girl in a white hood, and a brunette boy who would not meet his eye.
"I'm sorry," the brunette apologized.
The ground behind his perspective began to unearth as something came rising out with the sun.
A head far too big for its hunched body with strands of dark hair to match its beady eyes and permanent scowl etched onto its face. It reached a hand out to grab him before the brunette intercepted, pushing him out of the way. The hand closed around this boy, his face pale in horrified realization.
The scene switched again.
He was now walking along the side of a building with his head hung low. Something came rolling into his field of vision, stopping just ahead of him. It was a ball.
"Hey!" Someone shouted from around the corner. "You over there. Could you toss me that ball?" It was a dark-haired man with a pair of round glasses. He wore the same red armband with white star.
His child hand grabbed the ball and pitched it over to the man who caught it with his glove. "Not bad. Here!" the man suddenly tossed it back to him. Both of the kids' hands wrapped around the ball.
"That was a nice catch," the man complimented. "I was getting tired of playing with the wall. Think you could keep me company for a bit instead?"
"Your armband. You're…"
"One of those Marleyan Warriors you're training to become," the man finished for him. "Of course, I mainly just play ball around here since my Beast Titan isn't needed for the war. My name is Tom Xavier. My real job is research into Titan science." He tossed the ball back. "What's your name?"
"I'm Zeke Yeager." He threw it back.
"You're pretty good at throwing, Zeke," Tom complemented. "You're a natural pitcher." And back and forth they went.
Harry opened his eyes, pinching the spaces where his glasses usually pinched his nose. He looked out his window at the orange glow of the sun. He had probably slept through dinner. The Dursley's would be getting ready for tea and the evening news, no doubt. He sat up on the bed.
Those dreams - no, memories just now, they weren't the usual random jumble. They also seemed to be from two completely different Titan shifters.
The man with the glasses, Tom, he had mentioned having the Beast Titan. And from what Ymir had told him, Eren's half brother Zeke became the Beast later on. The first one however, although that boy had not mentioned his own name, he did mention a family name. Braun. And going off what she had said before, that could have only been the man known as Reiner.
It was strange seeing memories of these people who he now had names to put with them. The whole thing seemed rather intrusive, even if they were all just memories. Then again, Ymir Fritz had seen all of their lives play out during her enslavement in the Paths. Him seeing it now was just a side effect of having her power. He felt his stomach rumble and decided to see what leftovers he had been granted.
Exiting out to the hallway, Harry made to go downstairs before a sudden, "Hey."
He looked over to see Dudley standing in the threshold of his own bedroom, paused in what he had been doing at the sight of Harry.
"Yeah?" Harry asked, not knowing Dudley to ever just make small talk with him. They hardly ever talked at all.
Dudley's face showed confusion as he thought of what he was going to say. "Where'd you go?" he finally asked. "Why'd my dad have to go pick you up?"
That was his question? "I got back from a school I got invited to. Why do you care?"
"School? What school? Dad told the neighbors you went to St. Bruteasis, but you don't need a train to go there and they don't allow owls as pets."
"Well it looks like that's a lie then, isn't it. I went somewhere else." And I'd rather be somewhere else, too.
"Where?" Dudley persisted.
"Someplace different. Again, why do you care?"
"Because my parents won't give me a straight answer," Dudley replied. "They haven't all year whenever I asked. My mum just said it was a place your parents went to."
"Well, it looks like we have one thing in common then," Harry dryly remarked.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Dudley scrunched his face up.
"Are you really asking that?" Harry turned to face the large boy. "You get whatever you want, whenever you want. You never had to want for anything. And now when they don't tell you what you want to hear, you think they're keeping secrets from you. That's just a taste of the real world. It probably doesn't taste as delicious as all the cakes you've eaten."
Dudley's face began to resemble a tomato in a shade that his father would have admired. "You know what, I bet they sent you off to some mental hospital," Dudley declared. "You've always been a bit off. That's probably why my dad looked so disappointed coming back with you; he was hoping that they would have just kept you locked up there where you couldn't bother us anymore. They let your mum and dad free and they were a pair of freaks who never did anything for-,"
Harry pushed him.
He stepped forward and shoved both his hands into Dudley's chest, forcing him back a few steps. Dudley looked down and then back up at him, shocked disbelief written all over his face. Even Harry felt stunned by what he had just done. Sure, he had fought back against Dudley and his gang before when he couldn't run away, but never had Harry acted as the aggressor; much less in the Dursley household.
"You," Dudley looked at him. "What're you-?"
Harry stepped forward and shoved him again. He was scrawny compared to a whale-like Dudley, but he had caught him off guard. Dudley stumbled backward and knocked a picture of Marge on the wall askew. The sound of the television downstairs turned down. He found himself not caring.
He didn't really care what they thought of him anymore, they had never cared to begin with. But things were different now. He was smarter than he had been before, he knew the truth in where it mattered. Dudley might be big, but compared to a Titan, he was just a bloated ant. And Harry was… knocked down.
Dudley's hamish fist collided with the side of Harry's head, knocking his glasses askew and dropping him to the floor. Harry groaned as he rubbed the spot Dudley had struck him.
"What're you playing at?!" Dudley stood over him. "You think you can just - oof!"
Harry sent a punch right at Dudley's gut, making him double over. Getting back to his feet, Harry was ready to hit him again, but Dudley wasn't having it. He charged at Harry, tackling him into the wall and sending a picture crashing to the floor. The television clicked off.
Dudley went mad, pummeling him with punches as Harry did his best to cover his face with his arms. He eventually sent a punch of his own that bloodied the other boy's nose. In return, Dudley made him taste liquid iron. That was all he needed. He'd show Dudley, he'd show him just how weak he actually was when Vernon Dursley came charging up the stairs.
"What in - Dudley! What's going on here?!" he got between the fighting boys and pulled them apart. When Harry made a move to push him away to get back at Dudley, he felt a meaty fist grab his hair and found himself thrown against the wall, his vision going starry.
"Harry attacked me!" Dudley pointed an accusing finger at him. "He's gone mental!"
Mr. Dursley rounded on him. "What the devil is wrong with you?! What gives you the right to assault my son in our home?!"
Harry picked himself back up from the floor. "Maybe he should have kept his fat mouth shut on things he doesn't understand."
"I beg your pardon?" Mr. Dursley nearly sputtered.
"He doesn't know or understand a single thing about me," Harry defied. "And neither do you, Vernon." That was the final straw.
With his great walrus mustache quivering in anger, the Dursley man grabbed Harry by the collar and dragged him back to his room, and pushed him inside. "I hope you enjoy living in this room, boy. You'll be here for the next month."
"You gave me a place to live, but not a home," Harry challenged. "I wouldn't worry too much, I don't want to be here any longer than I have to."
Vernon Dursley slammed the door shut. In a quick bout of anger, Harry reached for one of his school books and threw it at the shut door. It wasn't long before he heard her voice.
'You mind telling me just what all that was about?!'
It's just a book. I can't hurt it.
'That isn't what I meant, and you know it.'
Harry clenched his teeth as he sent a kick to his trunk. And what was I supposed to do, just stand there and let him keep running his mouth?! He always had his friends around whenever he would pick on me before. I showed him I'm not going to deal with it anymore!
'More like you painted a target on your back!' she argued. 'Even if he always had his friends around before it doesn't change the fact that you're not as big as him, you're…'
I'm what? Weak?
'That isn't what I was going to say.'
No, but you were thinking it. He wanted to throw something else against the wall. Even when I have a Titan inside me, it still isn't enough.
'I was going to say you're acting like Eren did when he was a kid.'
Oh, yeah? And what's so bad about that?
'As a kid he lost almost every fight he got in. It wasn't until he joined the military and bulked up some and found a teacher in fighting that he became more of a threat.'
He punched the pillow, letting the force jiggle the mattress. It reminded him of the punch he landed on Dudley. Looking at his arms now, they were just sticks compared to blubber. Aside from the spells he was taught and the Titan that he could barely summon, his physical body was no marvel. Scrawny. Weak. It wasn't enough.
He was about to strike his pillow again when a thought popped into his head. He went over to his trunk, took out his school bag, the book he had thrown and began filling his bag with other texts. He let it drop to the floor as he took hold of the strap with both hands and curled his arms up.
'What is it you're doing now?'
He said I'd be in here for a month. He curled up again, lifting the bag up and feeling a burn in his arms. I'm not going to waste it. You said Eren was in the military; how old was he when he joined?
'Well, there was a three-year training period, but he enlisted as a cadet at age twelve.'
That's barely older than we are now. If he could get stronger, so can I.
By the time he let the bag drop to the floor for a final time, the only thing that burned more than his arms was his will.
His punishment continued for the rest of the month as promised. He was only permitted out of his room twice a day to go to the bathroom and all of his meals were just delivered up to his room for him. As much as Harry would have liked to dump it all out the window as a bit of defiance, he wasn't going to get healthier or stronger if he didn't eat something. Even if it was minimal, it was better than feeding off scraps.
Realizing that it was not enough for him, Harry began sneaking out at night to raid the kitchen for some additional food. Since his door had been locked from the outside, Harry had to sneak out his window by using his sheets as a rope. Aunt Petunia kept a spare key for the back door hidden under one of the garden decorations in case of an emergency so he used that to sneak inside. He took only what they wouldn't miss, covering his tracks by putting everything back the way it had been and always being back in his room the next morning.
He kept up with his impromptu training session as well, but also taking Ymir's advice to not overwork himself since that could be just as bad as not exercising at all. He found he really didn't feel too much of a difference, aside from being sore after he woke up in the mornings. The changes appeared more gradual.
While still possessing a slim and lithe build, Harry found that if he ran a hand down his torso, he couldn't feel the ribs pressing against his skin as a layer of tissue was developing. Even his arms, which were still thin, didn't resemble twigs anymore as they grew more proportionate to his build. While he wouldn't say he was the pinnacle of how a boy his age should look, he was faring far better than he had before in the past.
When the month punishment was lifted, Harry was free of his confinement. The Dursley parents sent him distrustful glares when he left his room. He didn't spot Dudley in the house and guessed he must have been off with his gang of followers. And now that he was able to leave the house, the first place Harry went to was across the street.
He gave a knock on the door and heard an older woman call, "Just a moment!" A few cats ran past her as she opened the door to greet her visitor. "Oh, Harry, hello!"
"Hello, Mrs. Figg," he greeted politely as possible.
"Are your aunt and uncle going out of town again? They didn't phone me about watching you."
"No, they're still home. I just wanted to know if you needed any help around your house."
"Help? Well… maybe the lawn could use a cut," she thought. "And I've been meaning to move a chair around in my sitting room. I have a few pounds that I could give you as payment."
"Oh, I don't need your money, Mrs. Figg," Harry waved his hands. "The only thing I'd ask for is some food." He motioned for her to bend down so he could whisper in her ear. "There are rats in my aunt's kitchen, she doesn't know what they've gotten into so that's why she sent me over here."
Mrs. Figg shook her head. "That son of hers must be leaving too many crumbs. I don't need to worry about rats here with Tibbles on the watch."
Of course, the one who really walked out of this with a win was Harry. By going over to Mrs. Figg's house, he got away from the Dursley's, got to do work that could help strengthen his body, and got food that he would keep for himself. And that became his routine for the weeks that followed. Until one day.
Hey, can I ask you something?
'Do you really need to ask at this point?' she asked in return. 'What's on your mind this time?'
I want to try it again. I want to try summoning a Titan.
That's it? Just, "oh?"
'I meant oh as in you finally decided to ask about that. It was only a matter of time before you did.'
Well, you were right. I'm ready for it this time.
'Summoning a Titan isn't based on how strong someone is. Marley might have trained child soldiers, but that was mainly just to brainwash them into being obedient.'
But it was able to happen before… sort of. Why not now? She didn't have an answer for him.
So, one afternoon as the sun was well into his descent, Harry left the Dursley household and made his way over to the playground by Magnolia Crescent. But he didn't stop there. He passed through the park and neighborhood to the open field beyond. The lights from the houses were faint and if anyone were to look out their windows at what was bound to happen, their vision would be hindered by the encroaching dark.
He stopped near the center of the field, some broken glass bottles were scattered around and the ashes of a fire resided from a summer fire. Harry picked up one of the broken shards of glass. Alright, I'm ready.
He cut the end of his thumb, thinking about the time in the mirror room. Looking up he saw a different starry sky. Where the makeshift fire pit had been was now a faded beacon of light. Standing beside him in this desolate plane was Ymir. A shadow of a figure stood behind her. She extended her hand to him. Harry confidently accepted it.
Back in reality, Harry felt his feet leave the ground as he was hoisted up by the nape of his neck. He felt a heat surrounding him on this cool summer's night. But it all felt wrong.
Harry felt he was about to fall at any second. Even though his top half was enveloped by steamy warmth, he could feel his legs dangling about. His feet touching a sinewy tenderness. Furthermore, Harry couldn't even see out of this thing, just the red muscle encapsulating him. He had to get out!
Rearing his head back, a hiss of steam billowed around him as Harry yanked himself free of his confinement, cool air assaulting his face. Among the kiss of steam, he heard what sounded like a car backfire. The noise startled him and Harry fell to the ground, looking around but seeing no one there.
'Are you okay?' her concerned voice spoke to him.
… Fine, Harry hesitated. I just thought that I heard something. But for the Titan…
It looked even worse than it had at Hogwarts.
There were no patches of skin on it this time, just red muscle. The only thing he had to work with was a torso and a head, not even one arm. The skeletal face was devoid of any eyes, not even a faint glow shown through. The moment he exited it was the moment that the body began to evaporate into steam. Harry felt around on his own torso.
'What is it?'
I was wearing one of Dudley's old hoodies. Now it's gone.
'Ah, I see. You probably lost it to the Titan. Don't worry, that happened a lot to past Shifters, too. Some articles of clothing tend to get absorbed on the inside due to the heat.'
At least it wasn't my pants, then. Forget what the Dursely's would say about the neighbors, no one wanted to be seen walking home like that. He would have to make sure that the next time that he tried this, he had some sort of backup. And try again he did.
In the days that followed, Harry made sure that he was always out of the house close to sundown, making his way back to that field to conduct further attempts at transforming. They were largely unsuccessful.
Everytime he went to do it, his Titan always wound up looking rather botched. It would be missing an eye or half a jaw, the skin would loosely hold to the bones, or sometimes it was just a skeleton. He thought he almost got a left leg the one time, but without any arms, he was unable to stand up. The only plus to even getting a single leg out of it was it gave Harry a picture of how tall it was if it could ever stand up on its own. He didn't have any means of measurement on hand, but he figured it would have been at least thirteen meters in height. But after a certain number of failed transformations, his actions didn't go without notice.
"And more on weather," the television anchor spoke. "If you're a resident of Surrey or Little Whinging, make sure you're prepared for a flash rain storm as locals have reported strange bolts of yellow lighting at night. Given the nature of these strikes a possible lightning storm could also be in the works."
Harry listened to the report from the bushes just outside the living room. It was really the only way he could listen to the news. With how frequently he had been going out at night, Harry was surprised that the Dursley's hadn't tried blaming him for the "weather," even if this time it was his doing.
'Are you still going out tonight?'
No one's seen me so far. No one that he knew of. Still, it is getting a bit risky. I don't want to run into an on-the-scene weatherman or something. Tonight might be it for a while. He didn't mention that it was also getting a little exhausting for him to keep doing this. After every try, Harry felt that he had just got done running a marathon or something and would just immediately go to bed once he got back to the house.
With the sun on the decline, Harry made his usual route to his destination. However, he was stopped when he came to the playground on Magnolia Crescent.
"Hey! Where do you think you're off to?"
Rolling up on their bikes was none other than Dudley and his bunch of cronies. Piers was there, as was Dennis, Malcolm, and Gordon. It looks like Dudley had proved him wrong, he did end up using that bike. They ditched their bikes at the curb and approached him.
"I asked what you were doing out here," Dudley repeated once he and his followers were within arms reach.
"What does it matter?" Harry asked in return. "I'm just taking a walk. It'll be dark out soon. Are you sure your mum wants you out this late?" Harry thought he heard Malcolm snicker at that before Dudley glared in his direction.
"I'll just tell her I was out with friends. I won't get in trouble, not like you."
"Your parents don't care how late I'm out," Harry informed him. "So long as I come back. Actually - I don't think they'd mind if I never came back at all."
Dudley actually seemed stunned. Perhaps he believed Harry was out here to run away.
"So why are you out this late, then?" Harry questioned. "Not that it matters."
"We came to see the lightning," Dudley replied. "Everyone says the field out here is where it keeps striking."
Harry inwardly cursed himself. He should have found more than just one place to practice his titanization. "Sorry to break it to you, but you're all out of luck tonight. Nothing's going to happen."
"Like you know," Dudley challenged.
"I do know."
"Liar!" Dudley called.
"Well go out to the field and see for yourself," Harry dared. "Nothing will happen. And if lightning does strike, your parents will mourn you." Now was the time to walk away. Dudley had been embarrassed in front of his peers, he should leave.
"At least I have parents who miss me," Dudley called back, his face red with frustration.
Don't get mad. Dudley's friends chuckled.
"Yours are gone forever."
I shouldn't get mad.
"You'll never see yours."
I should just…
His fist was already out and collided straight with Dudley's cheek. There was enough force to make the large boy stumble back a few steps. The rest of the kids looked back and forth between the two of them. Dudley rubbed where he had been hit and pointed at Harry.
Dennis and Piers ran at him. He pushed Dennis away, but Piers had gotten behind him and took hold of both of his arms, something he was skilled at from his time of Harry Hunting. "I got him!"
Dudley marched on over and punched him straight in the gut. Harry only stayed on his feet because of Piers holding him in place. Dudley hit him again. "Your turn, Dennis. He pushed you, too."
The other boy gladly obliged and hit him once in the chest before Dudley shouldered his way to hit him again. This time he aimed for the face.
Harry felt his head jolt to the side from the hit and his vision became blurry. The only thing he found himself thinking about, was Ymir Fritz pierced with arrows as hungry dogs and laughing hunters chased her through the woods.
"You're up next, Gordon," Dudley instructed. The other boy stepped up, ready to take a swing at their restrained victim.
Before he could take his hit, Harry jerked his head backwards and struck Piers. "Ow!" he cried as his arms slackened and Harry freed himself. Gordon looked stunned. Harry took the chance and clocked the boy right in the eye. Malcolm and Dennis jumped at him. He jumped out of the way, managing to get a quick punch on the back of Dennis' head.
He backed up away from the group of boys who had all gotten back on their feet and were now facing him. Harry brought his hand close to his mouth. He could do it. Right now, he could end it.
I'm not going to kill them, he assured.
'Still, you could end up getting expelled. If there is a way to get back hidden at Hogwarts, you won't be able to find it!'
His teeth ground against one another. He ran for the alley shortcut.
"After him!" Dudley yelled as they ran after him, Dudley being the slowest amongst them.
Harry reached the chain link fence in the alley he gave a tug to find that it was locked. "There he is!" Piers shouted.
Harry began to climb, getting no more than two meters off the ground before Piers jumped and grabbed onto his foot. Harry tried to shake him free, but Piers held on strong. That was until Harry had enough and used his free foot to kick the boy on the top of the head. Feeling dazed, Piers released him and fell to the alley ground as Harry made it to the top and hurriedly dropped to the other side. He ran to the exit of the alley, onto the sidewalk and straight out to the street. No sooner had he done so than a pair of bright lights came barrelling into his line of sight followed by a screeching horn. He shut his eyes.
And when he opened them, he saw that the lights of the triple-decker bus had stopped just short before the vehicle could hit him. A pimple-faced man dressed in a purple suit similar to the bus exited.
"Hello," he greeted. "My name is Stan Shunpike, Conductor of the Knight Bus, emergency transportation for a stranded witch or wizard."
"Emergency transport…" Harry repeated, feeling his heart beating against his chest from nearly getting run over.
"That is correct," Stan leaned against the side of the bus. "Witches or wizards in distress or-,"
"I'd like a ride!" Harry quickly said, hearing the fence rattle from the alley and realized Dudley's gang was hot on his trail.
"Alright, alright," Stan said, offering him room to enter the bus. "Where'll you be going, erm… what's your name?"
"Harry… Kruger," he said, not wanting this man to start freaking out. He made sure his hair covered his scar properly. "And… there are two places I'd like to go. The first is Number 4 Privet Drive. The other is the Leaky Cauldron in London." He hadn't planned on leaving the Dursley house tonight, but given all that had just happened, he wasn't about to get himself locked up again.
He sat on one of the beds on the first deck of the bus, the only other occupant sitting at the far end with a trenchcoat and hat. A bang that sounded like a gunshot and the Knight Bus screeched away before coming to a sudden halt in front of the Dursley house.
"I'll be right back," Harry said as he exited.
He entered the house and went upstairs to grab his school stuff. "Is that you, Dudders?" Petunia called. Harry didn't answer and came back down, letting the end of his trunk hit the stairs and carrying Hedwig's cage. Stan helped him load it onto the bus.
"Hogwarts student, eh?" Harry nodded. He wasn't even seated properly before the bus was zipping along. The light from the night and traffic became a blur around them. It reminded Harry of the motorcycle ride Hagrid had taken him on during his first trip to Diagon Alley, but far less smooth.
One sudden stop later and Harry saw that they were outside of an abandoned shop that secretly housed the wizarding pub and inn. "Here we are, the Leaky Cauldron." Stan helped him unload and Harry still had a few wizarding currency saved and used that to pay the fee. And with another loud pop, the bus was speeding away, lost to the night.
Entering the pub, Harry kept his head low as he made his way past the patrons and to where Tom the barkeeper was. "Excuse me," Harry got his attention. "I'd like to rent a room if I could."
"A little young to be having a room of your - bless me. Harry -!"
"Sssh!" Harry waved his hands in front of the bartender. "I'm not supposed to let people know I'm here." Or better yet. "Professor Dumbledore doesn't want people to know that I'm here." That worked even better.
"Oh! Right, right, of course. Little strange he didn't owl me to let me know you were coming, but he works secretly most of the time. Right this way. I got a nice room in mind."
It was moderately sized, styled almost how the dorms were back at Gryffindor Tower. Still, it was far more welcoming than the Dursley residence had been.
"I hope this'll do," Tom expressed.
"Yeah, this is fine. And don't worry. I'll owl Dumbledore and let him know I got here okay." Nodding his head, Tom left him to unpack.
'You came up with that all on the spot?' she sounded impressed.
Not really, and don't sound so surprised. I had been thinking for years about running away and what I would say if people started asking questions. I guess once I started learning more about this world that I came up with a story like that.
'Not bad at all. So what's your plan now?'
I guess to stay here until the semester starts up. The Dursley's won't care that I'm gone, they'll think I just ran away at last. I'll write Neville or Hermione to see if they can give me a ride to King's Cross in September. He strangely hadn't gotten any letters from anyone so far this summer. And since Diagon Alley is right here, too, I'll buy whatever I can to learn more about magical sources.
And the next day, he did just that.
Still having his key for Gringotts, Harry took out the funds he needed to pay rent for his room along with extra to buy books and some new clothes. Wizarding fashion was a little out of date compared to muggle standards, but Ymir assured him that the more Victorian style was actually a fashion standard on her end of things so he bought some clothes that actually fit him outside of his school robes.
He then went to find some books on Hogwarts' origins and founding. Anything that caught his eye, he purchased after skimming through the contents. One in particular, The Grounds of Hogwarts, had really caught his attention.
The land surrounding the majestic castle is home to some of the most magical creatures. Herds of wild centaurs roam the Forbidden Forest and some werewolf clans are rumored to have established themselves deep within the woods making it unsafe for students to venture there. But more impressive is the history behind the land itself. Before the Hogwarts Four established their school there, the land was home to many battles, magical, goblin, and mundane alike. While it is speculated these armies fought for control of the land, others have theorized there was something else involved. Whatever the case may be, something in the land is special and makes for the ideal setting for Hogwarts school.
He closed that book and purchased it along with all the rest. It was still incredibly vague, but it gave him the idea of searching the grounds themselves instead of the castle. Perhaps he could even find out more from Hagrid once he returned. When he got back to his room at the Leaky Cauldron, there was someone - or rather, something waiting for him.
"Harry Potter…" the creature looked up at him with its large, tennis ball eyes. It had pointed ears and a nose and was no bigger than a child. The only thing it wore over its body was a dirty sack of sorts.
"Uh… what are you?" More importantly, how did it know who he was or how he was here?
"Dobby, sir, Dobby the House Elf." He gave a bow of greeting, his large ears flapping with his movement.
Any words of advice on what to say to him?
'Aside from looking like a miniature Titan, I don't even know what a House Elf is.'
"Alright… Dobby, mind telling me what you're doing here?"
"Do… do I mind?" His green eyes began to well up and he used his filthy sack to dry them. "Dobby has never been asked if he minds before, sir."
"Okay…" this was becoming awkward very fast. "I'd still like it if you answered my question."
"Of course, sir," Dobby composed himself. "Dobby is not supposed to be here, but Dobby couldn't do nothing. Dobby knew he had to warn Harry Potter if he could."
"Warn me? Warn me about what?"
Dobby looked around, fearful that someone might be listening in. "There is a plot," he nearly whispered. "A plot to make most terrible things happen this year. That is why Dobby came. Dobby came to tell Harry Potter that he must not return to school this year."
Harry stared down at the elf, an almost dumbfounded expression on his face. "Is this some kind of a joke or something?" He considered the fact that someone had found out what he himself was planning once he returned to Hogwarts and was now trying to sabotage him.
"No. It is not a joke, Harry Potter, sir!" Dobby insisted. "I cannot say what it is, but it will happen this year. Harry Potter will be in great danger if Harry Potter should return!"
"Well I hate to break it to you, Dobby, but I have too much at stake to not return. I don't plan on getting caught up in any nefarious plot."
"Even if Harry Potter's friends have not written to him, Harry Potter still wishes to return?"
"That has - hold on. How do you know people haven't written to me?"
A pained expression crossed Dobby's face as he reached inside his tunic. "Harry Potter mustn't be angry. Dobby believed that if Harry Potter believed his friends hadn't written to him, he might not want to go back to school." He held a pile of letters in various handwriting. "Dobby will return them if Harry Potter promises not to return."
"Sorry, but that isn't going to happen," Harry denied the offer. "I'll just have to ask them what they wrote when I see them in person."
Dobby's eyes filled with grief as he tucked the letters away. "Terrible things will happen at Hogwarts this year. Dobby only hopes Harry Potter would have listened." With a snap of his fingers, Dobby was gone.
'Think any of what he just said was true? About someone planning something terrible?'
Someone was planning something terrible last year, too. The only plan I'm focused on is my own.
Thank you for reading. Next chapter, the second semester approaches, new faces are shown, and Harry finds himself returning to the place that could hold all the answers. Chapter 15: Solitude of Night.