This story has been bugging me for two years. I've tried to ignore it because I am so overwhelmed with all my other stories, but I lost the battle. But my plan for right now is to give everyone a taste of what is to come when I finish at least one of my other stories. Learning Friendship is the closest to completion, so when that is finished, this will be the story I pick up and work on. I hope everyone enjoyes these first two chapter!
This story is AU. Voldemort is still present, as are Death Eaters, but there is no Dark Mark, and some events are greatly different from canon. I know many of my stories contain CP, but this one will not.
Harry laid out the drop cloths on the floor in front of the fireplace and on the furniture nearby. Aunt Petunia had taught him how to clean the fireplace when he was four years old—that was two years ago, and since it was now being used every night during the cold winter months, he had to clean it on a weekly basis. And he was not to get a single speck of soot on anything but himself.
When Aunt Petunia had first told him what to do, he had been a bit frightened at first at the idea. He was terrified he would get stuck in the tight-fitting chimney. But he quickly discovered he was plenty small enough, and Aunt Petunia said she made sure to limit his meals even now so he could remain small enough to crawl up the chimney. She called him her personal "little chimney sweep," and she said it in a way she spoke to Dudley most of the time, and Harry craved to please her just to hear his own term of endearment that he had finally earned from his aunt.
So, once again, Harry made sure everything was clean and that all his cleaning tools were ready. He grabbed the brush and scraper first and pushed his step ladder into the fireplace. He took off his glasses and set them down next to the fireplace. Climbing to the top step, he reached up and pulled himself up through the throat of the chimney, grabbing on to the dampers and pulling himself onto the smoke shelf. When he was four, he needed Aunt Petunia's help getting into the chimney, but he prided himself on being able to get in on his own now.
Once he was on the smoke shelf, he gave it a good scrub. He couldn't see anything save for the light at the top of the chimney, but he could feel everything very well, and he could tell when most of the soot had broken off. He coughed into his elbow after briefly.
Now, to shimmy up the flue.
The first few times he did this, he had bloodied himself up. Now, he had a good strategy that only left him with scraped hands, elbows, and knees. He had to be careful not to tuck his knees too close to his body or arch his back too much or else he might get stuck. He was getting bigger, and he had asked Aunt Petunia what he should do if he did get stuck, and she had warned him that if he ever did get stuck, she would leave him there. So he vowed to do his best to never let himself get stuck in the flue.
Harry began crawling his way up the chimney, using his brush as he went along, only using the scraper on the hard bits of soot that did not dislodge with his brush. Soot and grime fell over him, falling to the shelf below. Harry only paused for a few seconds to cough harshly, a slight wheeze emitting from his throat. It took a long time to slowly make his way to the top, where his bag was waiting for him. He pushed his tools out of the chimney and grabbed the bag.
Then, he let himself fall.
When Aunt Petunia had first instructed him to drop back down, he did so straight as a pencil, and crashed to the hard smoke shelf and injured his leg in the process. It took him even longer to crawl back out that time. But the second time he did it, something amazing happened. His falling slowed down just as he was about to hit the shelf, and he landed lightly on his feet.
It was freakish stuff, but he decided not to tell Aunt Petunia about it. If he was going to stay in his Aunt's good books and be her little chimney sweep, he would have to keep this bit of freakish nature to himself. Besides, it worked to his advantage.
Harry felt his fall slowing down and he landed light as a feather on his feet on the shelf. He used his hands to grab all the soot that had fallen to the shelf (and all over him) and shoved it in the bag. He held the bag in one hand and began his long climb back up. Once a sweep got over the throat and to the shelf, there was only one way out—up.
Finally, Harry made it to the top of the chimney, and he crawled out, coughing soot everywhere. He carefully stepped along the roof over to the ladder Aunt Petunia set out for him before she left for her hair appointment with Dudley. Harry threw the bag to the grass below, then threw his tools down. He carefully stepped down the ladder.
Once he was on the ground, he dusted himself off as much as he could.
He was covered in soot from head to toe. This did not bother him much. He was normally a little dirty from all the chimney cleaning anyway. Aunt Petunia only let him bathe after a chimney cleaning since he was dirtiest then, but his baths had to be shorter than ten minutes. It did not offer a lot of time to get all the soot off that built up again and again over the weeks.
He took note of his hands and feet. They were bleeding slightly, as were his elbows, but he brushed off his wounds.
Harry ran back into the house with the brush and scraper, leaving the bag of soot outside. Aunt Petunia added the soot to her bags of fertilizer and compost for her gardens, which Harry would tend to later. He had to finish the chimney right now.
As he entered the house, he saw Aunt Petunia hanging her purse in the closet and helping Dudley take off his coat. She looked at Harry.
There's my little chimney sweep," Aunt Petunia cooed.
Harry smiled brightly at her as he walked over to the chimney, setting the tools in the bucket.
"And not a mark on my furniture," she continued, walking over to Harry. She patted the air above Harry's head, keeping her hand away from the filthy hair. "Good boy. Make sure it's spotless for our fire tonight or there will be no supper. And you'll lose five minutes on your bath time."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia."
"And don't get any of your filth on anything. You know Uncle Vernon doesn't like a dirty couch. Oh, what am I saying, you know what you're doing—you're such a hard working boy, you are. I'll leave you to it."
"Okay, Aunt Petunia," Harry smiled even more, the praise making him feel warm inside. Harry put his glasses back on and crawled into the fireplace and set to scooping out the soot and ash in the into his bucket. Dudley was already jumping on the couch's drop covers and turning the television on for the cartoons while Aunt Petunia brought him his lunch.
Harry's stomach growled but he ignored it. He didn't get lunches. Three meals a day was a big no-no for chimney sweeps. He had to stay slim. He only got a small breakfast and sometimes dinner. But Aunt Petunia told him it was necessary—who else would ever be able to clean her chimney? Harry had to be her hero, and he went hungry many nights for the sake of being that hero. It was something—love, affection, care—something! And Harry craved every bit of those moments Aunt Petunia talked sweetly to him, or even dared to pat his head once.
Harry focused on his cleaning, making sure to get every bit of soot and ash out of the fireplace. As he scooped up some ash from the back of the fireplace, he realized this ash had a strange look to it. It was like white powder with a bit of a sparkle to it. Dumping it in his bucket, he looked down at it.
He had never seen ash sparkle in all his days cleaning the chimney. It was the strangest thing, and he reached his hand out to it slowly.
Grabbing a handful of it, he let it sprinkle out into his other hand, watching it shimmer as it did so. He frowned, taking a pinch out of his handful and blowing a big puff of breath at it.
The powder flew into the air, sprinkling down to the ground.
Then, the fireplace swallowed him.
Harry screamed. It felt like he was falling through the air as millions of fireplaces flashed before his eyes. He landed harshly on the ground as he was spat out of a fireplace.
Jumping to his feet, his eyes darted around. He was in a strange pub like place and many people were staring at him with confused looks. Some of the people were very large men with intimidating scowls and thick arms.
Harry slowly backed into the fireplace once more. Someone was approaching him. He looked down at his hand to see the powder still in his fist. Wishing for the best and hoping it would take him someplace safe, he threw the powder down, watching it poof around him and glitter.
The fireplace swallowed him again just as someone tried to grab him.
He was freefalling once more, past millions of fireplaces. Harry was starting to feel sick and his breathing was picking up, his throat closing uncomfortably. He squeezed his eyes shut and whined, "Just take me home, please!"
And suddenly, the world stopped, and the fireplace spat him out once more. Harry fell to the ground, his heart pounding in his throat and his breathing jagged.
He looked up and found himself nose to nose with a stick. Holding the stick was a little redhead girl about his age in a pink butterfly top and jeans. She was standing over him, her dark brown eyes glaring at him.
"Who are you?" she demanded. "What are you doing here?"
Harry couldn't talk though. He couldn't breathe. He struggled to suck air in through his throat, panting and wheezing heavy. He reached up and clutched at his neck as if it might help.
"Hey, breathe," the girl said, lowering the stick and sitting next to Harry, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out."
Harry tried to copy her, but it was really hard. She stood up and ran off somewhere before coming back with a glass of water.
"Here, maybe this will help."
Harry took a couple sips, and the cold water did seem to soothe his burning throat, but it still took him a couple minutes before he could breathe normally again. He was shaking, and his eyes burned with tears as he finally calmed down and took a moment to look around.
"Oh good," the girl said, sitting down in front of Harry. "A dead body would be hard to explain to my dad. Even I couldn't talk my way out of that one. What's all over you? I got it all over my hand." The girl brushed her hand off on her jeans to little effect.
Harry frowned at her, but his eyes wandered around the house. It was a large living space with a couch and two armchairs surrounding the fireplace. He glanced to his right, taking note of the attached dining room and open concept kitchen. 4 Privet Drive could easily fit inside this place alone, and he couldn't even see the rest of the house. To his left, was a staircase.
"Where am I?"
"Err . . . Snape Manor?" the girl looked confused. "I take it you were playing with the floo powder and accidentally shipped yourself here. Is that it?"
"What?" Harry asked. "No! I was cleaning the chimney and then I saw this strange stuff and it took me all over the place."
"That's floo powder." The girl nodded before peering closely at Harry. "You look familiar."
The girl leaned closer to Harry, who leaned back anxiously. The girl brushed some of Harry's hair aside and her eyes widened.
"You're Harry!" she said excitedly.
"Yeah . . . how do you know my name?"
"You're my brother!"
Harry blinked, then slowly shook his head. No, that wasn't possible. His parents were dead and the only family he had left were the Dursleys. He had to get back to them. This girl was starting to freak him out.
"Yes, it's true. Well, half-brother. I'm Iris."
"Hi, Iris," Harry said. He looked down at his hand, but there was no powder left to escape. "How do I get home? Do you have anymore powder left?"
Iris seemed surprised by the question and her face fell considerably.
"You want to leave? But we just met. I'm your sister, don't you want to get to know me?"
Harry stood up, Iris following his lead.
"You can't be my sister—my parents died in a car accident. I'm an only child and I only have the Dursleys left and I need to go back. Aunt Petunia's probably worried about me."
"Your parents didn't die in a car accident," Iris said, twirling the stick in her hands. "But your dad was actually your adopted dad. Your real dad is still alive."
"He was my real dad!" Harry argued, stomping his foot for emphasis. He may not have known them, but he knew he loved them.
"I meant," Iris held her hands up defensively, "your biological dad. He's my dad, too. He talks about you a lot."
Harry frowned. Could it be true?
"How do I know you're telling the truth?"
Iris's face lit up and she smiled brightly at him.
"Follow me," she said.
Iris ran through the living room and past the kitchen, Harry behind her. She carefully glanced around the hall they were in before she grabbed Harry's wrist and pulled him into a study.
"This is Dad's study," she said, moving around the large desk that sat against the back wall in front of a window. She began digging through the desk while Harry looked around.
There were shelves of books and jars of strange things with labels here and there. A large bird cage with an attached stand that stretched out and ended in a hook just to the left side of the desk caught his attention. There were feathers at the bottom of the cage but no sign of a bird anywhere. A water and food dish had a place inside as well, but it looked untouched. Harry's eyes fell on the desk.
Journals and strange, crinkly paper littered the desk, some books were open on it as well, with more feathers in a case where pencils and pens would normally go. Harry picked up one of the feathers and felt its softness before he spotted the picture frames.
One was of Iris in what looked like a school uniform—a plaid skirt and white top. She was leaning against a wooden fence and flowerpots were hanging on either side of her. She was smiling radiantly.
There was another picture of her hugging a tall, dark clothed man who was leaning down next to her, her arms tight around his neck. The ma was also smiling, and Harry knew it was the father Iris was talking about. Before he could pick up the frame and get a good look at the man, he saw one more picture frame on the desk and his heart nearly stopped.
It was a picture of himself.
Harry picked up the picture and stared. It really didn't look like him at all. In the picture, he was sitting out by the garden, a small smile on his face as he looked up at what had to be a camera. What Harry found odd was the lack of tools around him—he always had his tools with him when he went out to the garden. And he his cheeks looked fuller than they actually were, and his hair was cleaner. His face also looked clean as well, which was a rare circumstance. And his clothes looked brighter rather than the dull appearance the usually had.
"This isn't me," Harry said, "it's just some look alike."
"It is, too, you," Iris said. "Look at the scar."
Harry looked back at the frame and his eyes widened at his trademark scar.
"And there's more where that came from," Iris said, closing a drawer and dropping several pictures on the desk.
Harry was shocked. There were many pictures of him at different stages of his life. First, as a young baby. He picked that one up: it was the first time he had ever seen his mother. She had red hair just like Iris, but green eyes like his. She was staring down admirably at the little curly haired baby in her arms. Another picture was still him as a baby, but both parents were present. He looked a lot like his father, how could this girl claim that anyone else could be his father?
And there were so many more pictures. Words were scribed on the back: Harry's first steps, his first food, his first swing set, his first Halloween and Christmas, his first birthday, and then those photos stopped. There were no more words on the back. The rest were just pictures with no backstory.
A young toddler Harry sitting near a Christmas tree looking up in awe. Harry frowned, he was never allowed to go near or touch the tree, but when everyone was asleep, he had always snuck out of his cupboard to get a good look.
Another picture saw him picking flowers in the garden as a three-year old. Harry vaguely remembered that. It was Mother's Day, and Dudley and Uncle Vernon had brought flowers for Aunt Petunia. Little Harry had wanted to do the same, but it only resulted in Aunt Petunia screaming at him for murdering her beautiful garden and he had been tossed in his cupboard and locked in for the rest of the night.
There was another one where Harry was off to school. He was smiling next to Dudley. That picture had more truth to it, as it was more for show in Aunt Petunia's case. She made sure to take several more of just Dudley in front of the school.
And the pictures continued up until the most recent one in the frame on the desk. Harry was more confused and slightly frightened.
"Who took all of these?"
"My dad's boss," Iris said. "Dad just wanted to know how you were doing. He wanted to watch you grow up. It was going fine before when Lily and James would bring you over to visit. They made him your second godfather you know."
"Lily and James?"
"No one ever told me there names before." Harry picked up a picture that had his parents and him as a baby in it.
"Really? That's strange. Dad says he misses not being able to have those visits anymore, but he said its all for the best that you're with your relatives. I never agreed, but I'm not allowed to tell anyone that you're my brother, so . . ."
"But how can I be your brother when I look just like my dad."
"You look like James because of some spell I think. Adoption spell or whatever."
"Yeah. You know . . . magic."
"Now, I know you're lying." Harry pointed an accusatory finger at Iris. "Magic isn't real! Your dad isn't my dad!"
"Yes, he is and magic is too real." Iris held out the stick she had been carrying and pointed it at him. "I can prove it."
"That's just a stick!"
"Oh yeah?" Iris flicked it and Harry couldn't help but flinch at the movement.
Bubbles erupted from the end of the stick and danced all around him, glowing different colors before they popped.
Harry watched the bubbles as they continued popping, their colors flashing around him. He blinked and frowned at the stick.
"This is a wand," Iris said proudly. "It's what a witch or wizard uses to make magic. Has anything strange ever happened around you before? You know, like things moving on their own or your hair changing color?"
Harry knew several instances where strange, freakish things had occurred around him. But he wouldn't call those things magic. That was just him being a freak.
"Not really," he said.
"Come on, there's gotta be something."
"Well, I made all my hair grow back when Aunt Petunia shaved it all off one time."
"Aha. See? You have magic. And you probably do it a lot more than you think. Kids make a lot of accidental magic. We don't mean to, but we can't help it either. Our core is still growing and releases itself sometimes."
"Even with a wand?" Harry asked, pointing at the stick in Iris's hand.
"Well . . ." Iris looked at her wand and twirled it. She licked her lips before saying, "This isn't a real wand. It's a kid's wand that shoots bubbles. But that's still magic. The bubbles change colors and all and it can even make music."
"But it's fake," Harry pouted. He knew it was all too good to be true. She was just a lying girl.
"No, it's not. It's fun and it's magic. Follow me."
Iris led the way to the kitchen, Harry still holding on to the picture of his parents. She pointed up at the top cabinet where glassware was settled.
"I'm going to get a glass down. Watch."
Iris stared intently the cabinets, her face scrunching in concentration. Harry watched for a few seconds before crossing his arms and glaring at Iris. Iris huffed in frustration, glanced at Harry, then focused on the cabinet again. Her fists clenched at her sides and her brows furrowed more.
"Come on . . ." she growled under her breath.
Suddenly, a glass slid across the paper slider in the cabinet. Harry lowered his arms and watched surprised as the glass slid again, closer to the edge of the cabinet this time. It clanked against the door.
"Wow," Harry said. "You're doing that?"
Iris smirked but didn't answer. She kept staring at the glass that was tapping against the cabinet door's glass. She flexed and clenched her fists again, willing the door to open and for the glass to come to her. Suddenly, the cabinet doors flew open and all the glassware came crashing down on the two kids, shattering, and sending shards flying through the air.
Harry and Iris screamed.
Footsteps sounded on the stairs and they came running for the kitchen. An older, plump lady in a strange dress-like costume burst into the kitchen, another stick, no, a wand, in her hand and at the ready.
"What happened?" she shouted. "Oh dear, Iris, are you okay? Don't move, you might cut yourself. Oh . . ."
The woman stared at Harry for a minute, blinking at him.
"Hello, dear," she said. "Who are you?"
"This is Harry," Iris said, brushing glass off herself and wincing at the scratches on her arms. "He accidentally came over here in the floo."
Harry hid the picture behind his back, afraid this woman might take it away from him.
"Harry." Iris smiled at him as she gestured to the woman. "This is Addie. She's my nanny."
"Hi," Harry offered a small wave.
Addie waved back before flicking her wand at the mess on the floor and it all vanished.
"Come kids," she motioned for them to come to her. "Let me look you over and get you all cleaned up. Then, I'm calling your father, Iris."
Iris huffed but walked over to Addie. Harry hesitated. Would this man actually claim to be his father as well? He didn't really want to meet this mystery man. He was confused, and the only life he had ever known was trapped in a fireplace somewhere. He glanced down at the picture of his parents. His family was gone. He only had the Dursleys left. And he had to get back to them.
"Come, dear," Addie said, waving him forward once more. "I want to make sure you've got no glass in you."
"Come on, Harry," Iris encouraged.
Harry followed Iris and Addie out of the kitchen and to a large bathroom, keeping just behind the two. Addie said something strange as she swished her wand and a small, silvery meerkat appeared and sat on its hind legs and listened. Harry watched fascinated.
"Severus Snape, there has been an incident with Iris, and you are needed home urgently," Addie told the meerkat. She shooed it away. "Run along."
The meerkat darted away and vanished through the bathroom wall.
Addie turned her attention on the two kids sitting on the edge of the tub.
She looked over Iris first.
"What happened in there?" she asked as she began using her wand to carefully pull pieces of glass out of Iris's arm.
"I was showing Harry that magic is real," Iris said, hissing as a rather large piece was pulled from her bicep. "He didn't believe me, so I was trying to make a glass come down to me but instead all the glasses came."
"I've told you not to try to encourage your magic, it is unpredictable at your age. Occasional accidents are one thing, but purposely trying to create disaster . . ."
"I wasn't trying to create disaster. Just get a glass."
"You're going to give me more grey hairs on my head, young lady."
"Your hair is already grey."
"Well, it's going white!"
Harry sat in silence, staring down at his picture. He listened to the two talk while wondering what the fastest way might be out of the house before this Severus Snape character arrived. These people were strange. If Aunt Petunia were here, she'd have a lot to say about these freaky things happening. But Addie and Iris treated it like it was an everyday occurrence.
"Looks like that's all of them," Addie said, giving Iris one last look over. "Your father will have something more for it, I'm sure."
"Can't you just put some healing salve on it or something? Did you have to call him?"
"You know he likes to be told when you get injured. And this isn't a scraped knee, young lady, you were playing around with your magic again and broke several of his dishes. And . . ." Addie jerked her head toward Harry.
Harry didn't move. Addie kneeled in front of him and smiled.
"Hello, dearie," she said, gently taking his wrist and pulling his arm out to look over. "I'm going to make sure you haven't any glass in your skin. My wand will pull any out if you do, but you'll hardly feel it. Anywhere hurt in particular?"
Harry shrugged. Nowhere on him hurt. Addie tsked at the small pieces of glass her wand managed to find and pull out of his arms. Addie glanced at his legs, then looked at Harry's back and gasped. Harry looked tried to look at his back too but couldn't see anything. Iris swung her head around and her eyes widened at the large piece of a wine glass stem embedded into Harry's shoulder.
"Bloody hell," Iris said, "you didn't feel that?"
"Language, Iris!" Addie snapped as she studied the glass in Harry's shoulder. She hovered her wand over it while she had an internal debate on what the right move might be here.
Footsteps came running down the hall and into the bathroom.
A tall man in a black dress-like material stopped in the doorway, his shoulder length black hair a bit frazzled.
"What happened? Is Iris all right? Do we need a healer? Is there . . ."
The man trailed off as his eyes fell on Harry and he stared for a long, intense minute.