Disclaimer: I don't own the first nine (8 if Ding-Dongs is only one word) words of the previous disclaimer. It belongs to my sister, whose fanfiction name is Principessa Squish Avina.
Worth A Thousand Words:
"And I love you too, sweety-kins."
Ugh. It was starting to make him sick. Really, physically sick.
"Be right back, guys…" Harry Potter had the time to say to his two best friends before running to the bathroom to get rid of his lunch.
He had honestly been happy when his friends Ron and Hermione had hooked up in the Summer between their 5th and 6th years. Well, as happy as was possible for him to be in that time period. But, he really had thought that they should be together. Ron had asked Harry about it, and Harry had always given the go-ahead. Now, he regretted it.
When Harry had returned from the bathroom, he found Ron and Hermione in a position that he really didn't care to interrupt, so he just kept walking.
A lot had changed. He already knew that it would. It wasn't just Ron and Hermione, either. There was the return of Voldemort, and the wizarding world's realization of that return.
It was a darker time, and while no one brought it up, there was a lot of pressure on Harry. He hadn't quite sorted out his feelings from the previous year, and didn't yet trust himself with the burden of the world. If he was the cause of one man's death by caring too much, what would happen to all of the people he loved, not to mention the rest of the world, if he took on this responsibility?
Not only was there that lingering guilt, pain and confusion about Sirius' death, along with the pressure the world was unknowingly putting on him, but now something else was added on. Not that he would ever admit it, but Harry Potter was lonely.
Sure, Harry had friends. But Hermione and Ron had been the only ones he could ever really talk to, other than Sirius. He still occasionally hung out with the two, but he couldn't stand the sweetness for long.
Whenever he got tired of it, he went off wandering the castle by himself. In the weeks that they had been at school. Harry had discovered many abandoned corridors and classrooms, and even a new secret passage (with instructions from Lupin, he had added it to the Marauder's Map).
The passage just led to a different part of the castle; it was one not accessible from other parts of the castle without much twisting and stair climbing. By checking every time he used the map, Harry determined that no one was ever there, and rarely ever came close.
The past few walks Harry had been on had been devoted to exploring the wing he had come to think of as his. Most of the paintings were landscapes, and there were few suits of armor, but he liked peeking into random rooms, discovering their mysteries (if they had any).
Harry was turning the corner and had to hold on to the wall so that he wouldn't fall down the stairs that he suddenly found in front of him. Regaining his composure, he went down the staircase, a rarity in Hogwarts, as it was permanently stuck in its place and did not move.
Reaching the bottom of the staircase, Harry looked both ways to see if there was anything particularly interesting either way. The right was slightly better lit, so he turned that way. He was about to enter a room when he saw her.
It was her hair that caught his attention. It had the same color, texture and unkempt look to it as his. Then, he saw he smiling eyes and huge grin and he couldn't move.
No, there was no one in the hall with him. It was only a painting, hanging diagonal to the staircase. The portrait contained a beautiful teenage girl with a girlish form of Harry's hair, brown eyes, wearing a simple red dress. She was sitting on a rock in a slightly familiar landscape and gazing at Harry's bewilderment with amusement.
"Hello," she greeted in a slightly vague voice.
"Hi…" Harry said back, not really knowing what to say to a painting.
"I'd ask if you were lost, but you are definitely not a 1st year…" The painting cocked her head and studied Harry. "So… I'll ask you why you're here."
Harry had opened his mouth to answer when the painting kept her vow. "Why are you here?"
A brief thought crossed Harry's mind that the painting reminded him of someone, but it was wiped out as he answered. "I was just wandering around."
"Why's that?" the painting asked almost immediately.
Harry sighed, then started to explain. "My two best friends just started dating each other and every time I see them together, I get the sudden urge to puke."
"Puke? I don't believe I'm familiar with that term…"
"Um…" Harry racked his brain for various ways to describe the unpleasant deed.
The painting shook her head.
Again, a negative.
"Um… Toss your lunch? Blow chunks?"
The painting made a disgusted face. "I still haven't heard any of those, but I can picture it. You mean they make you wish to vomit?"
"Oh yeah! I forgot that one!"
The girl giggled. "You're a quite amusing visitor.. What's your name?"
"Harry," he replied, deciding that his last name would make no difference to a painting. "Do paintings have names?"
"If their painters choose for them to."
"Do you have one?"
The painting giggled again. "I have many. Would you like to know one?"
"Sure," Harry answered, smiling at her giddiness.
"I'm called many things, but you may call me Clover."
"It's nice to meet you, Clover," Harry said politely.
"And you as well, Harry. Hmmm… I rather like your name. Simple, but dignified. Your parents must be very adept at choosing names."
"Well…" Harry only felt slightly uncomfortable telling Clover this. "I'm sure they were… But, I never really knew them. They died when I was extremely young."
"Oh, that's a pity…" Clover shook her head, but was able to meet his eyes, which was unusual. She then was even more unusual and boldly asked, "How did they die?"
Harry, though surprised at meeting such a self-confident painting, had no trouble answering this. "They were murdered by an evil wizard." A memory flashed quickly in Harry's mind of his godfather falling through the black veil, that confused and surprised look on his face that had haunted Harry's dreams for months. He shook the memory out of his head and went back to his conversation.
As if Clover noticed his discomfort, she abandoned her questioning and swiftly approached brighter topics. "Your eyes are pretty."
Harry, shocked at both the sudden change in subject and the compliment, could only stand there.
"Um… Thanks…" he finally responded.
"What year is it?" Clover asked as soon as Harry was done speaking.
Harry, slowly getting used to her strange comments, answered, "1996. It's the 19th of October. Saturday."
"I could have asked someone else, you know. But it's so much more convenient than walking around the castle looking for a fellow portrait who knows. Besides, I had never really thought of it until now," she explained in a way of making conversation.
Harry didn't say anything, so Clover continued. "So, tell me about yourself, Harry."
Harry sighed and leaned up against the wall, trying to think of what to tell her.
"Don't leave out bad parts. I don't mind," Clover said, like she knew what he was doing.
Harry was silent for a few more moments and the talkative girl started again. "But if you'd rather not say anything, I could tell you about myself."
Harry agreed to this and sat on the floor across from her frame to listen.
Two hours later found them knowing each other's house (both in Gryffindor), year, favorites of everything, pet peeves, and the characteristics of their best friends. They were laughing hysterically at a joke Harry had made when he glanced down at his watch.
He cursed abruptly and stood up.
"What's the matter?"
"I've been gone for three hours. Ron and Hermione have probably stopped making out by now and are wondering where I am. And," Harry paused as if he were about to say the most important thing. "I'm missing dinner."
Clover giggled. "Go ahead and go."
Harry was about to turn to leave, but stopped. He was silent as he looked up at the painting he'd come to know as a person in the past few hours.
She looked back at him expectantly, waiting for him to speak, knowing he wanted to say something.
"Thanks," Harry finally got out. "I needed to talk."
Clover beamed down at him. "No problem. It was nice meeting a modern student." She paused. "You will come visit me again, right?"
Harry nodded with a grin. "The next time Ron and Hermione are cuddling and whispering sweet nothings to each other."
Clover grinned back. "I'll see you then. I might try to find my way to Gryffindor tower sometime."
"It's a long walk," Harry chided her. "Do you think you could manage it?"
"Oh do shut up, chauvinist ookle."
Harry laughed. "What in bloody hell is an ookle?"
The ever familiar giggle escaped her mouth again. "I'll tell you about it sometime. Right now, you're missing the famous Hogwarts mashed potatoes."
"You're right!" Harry declared with a fake gasp of indignation. "I had better go before they all disappear!"
"Until we meet again…" Clover said, curtsying formally.
"Yeah. See ya!" Harry added in modern language, and bounded up the stairs, through corridors, through the secret passage, down more stairs and into the Great Hall where his friends had just discovered his absence
OK… I've got another fic that I'm extremely serious about finishing… I just needed a small break, and the inspiration hit me, so I wrote the first chapter to this. I am planning on continuing this fic, but it might not be for a while. If Writer's Block for Troubled Waters comes again, I might work on this fic again. If anyone likes it, that is. R/R please!!
Oh, and Luna is appearing next chapter. Do not fear!!