Disclaimer: I only own the plot, the concept, and any original characters and places that you don't recognize.

Tears of Twilight

Chapter 04
Snake Charmer

Restless nights under a clear moon
I languish in want of lush green
Apparition of the twilight, daring rogue pilfers gold
Broken locks, stolen keys, missing treasure
He walks a path of hazard and chase
Graceful and sly, seductive and alluringly dangerous
Snake charmer, steal my heart away

"Halt! Halt, I say!"

Like he was going to stop.

Loud bells clamored to life, shattering the night with the alarm. Though to his ears they sounded doleful and weary, hardly raising the panic and call to action that they were meant to. He did not stop, nor even hesitate, for the smallest moment in time. All he could feel was the liquid thrill, rushing pleasantly through his veins and pounding in his ears. His body was rejoicing with him, the power of his magic and blood singing a song that only he could hear, his leather boots slamming against the white marble floors as he ran. Behind him were the guards, who protected the gold of their decadent ruler with the dragon-like ardor that only comes from having their every desire fulfilled for the sole use of their muscle and strength. They were ones who would do anything to take back their beloved metal treasure, which even they did not truly own.

He loved every minute of it.

The edge of the wall's ledge loomed before him, the periphery of the boundary separating the island of ordered mass of civilization from the vast sea of the beautiful chaotic wild. The desert, an errant breeze blew fine sand over the hewn stone blocks that made up the outer wall of the city. He never could admit that he did not love the desert. If asked, he would have to admit that the desert was a bit like a woman – a striking and dominating one with an independent streak as wide as the milky river of stars that shined in the sky, whose moods varied and required a lot of effort to win even just some small amount of favor in her eyes. One that could elicit both adoration and frustration from you, one that you felt you couldn't live with or without.

And he had a lot of experience with women. Quite a bit, actually. It was unfortunate, that he hadn't met a woman such as that during his wide travels. As such, the desert was his true mistress. And it would be she that would open her arms and provide him a haven.

Above him, the pale round face of the moon had rising high, pouring silver light onto the land. It illuminated the pale sands, lending an ethereal beauty and innocence upon the simultaneously cruel and stunning landscape. Certainly it was a fine night, truly, for blissful romance and wicked danger.

"We've got you! Return the treasure and we will let you slowly rot in prison and spare you the slice of our blades!" There were some out-of-breath chuckles at this little annotation to their usual blather. They were not paid for mercy and a death would just provide them a little more gold in their purses as well as the satisfaction of taking a life feeling some strange justification for their blatant ambition. The guards stood in a semi-circle around him, the wall's edge completing the trap, their spears brandished and scimitars unsheathed. It did not escape his sight that the barrel-chested sentries were having, their dark faces imperceptibly colored with the flush of exertion, misted lightly with perspiration. But surround him, they did. Their bulky heavy bodies blocked the only way past them. He lifted both his hands, devoid of weapon or treasure, in a placating motion. But a smile, Cheshire and assured, crept upon his face, his lips saying eloquently enough what he did not put into words.

He didn't care. For he knew that he would escape. Dim-witted sheep as they were, able to catch him? That would be a feat of complete and utter impossibility. If the best bounty hunters of the age, the most vigilant of guards, and the wisest of kings all have had trouble dealing with him, what chance did they have? The only time he could be captured was if he himself had decided to be, which he had done before and had benefited massively from. But, for the moment, it wasn't exactly in his best interests to be.

The grin widened into a wry smirk, one that conveyed his otherwise well-placed arrogance and his mutually large contempt fro them, before he back-flipped over the edge. The movement, from start to finish, was fluid and graceful, as if he forever belonged to the air around him. As he completed the flip, falling over into empty space, his cape and loose clothing (ideal for such an environment as this) billowing he executed his acrobatics, disappeared from the sight of the astonished guards.

Mingled within the shouts of horror and shock, he heard the occasional comment – most pertaining to his state of sanity. Somewhere, barely heard over the tumult of hasty footsteps to glance over the parapet (he could already sense their eager and hungry eyes searching the foot of the wall below, like hyenas for a kill), he could hear the distinctly clipped and vulgar voice of the head guard and a few of his officers.

"Is he mad?!"

"Washe mad?!"

"Considering his record, probably was…do you think he's dead?!"

"Why did he do it? We could have spared him…right?! I mean, I'm sure his majesty would be happy to employ his services…why are you all looking at me like that?" Evidently, that one came from a newbie to the force. As predicted, the others promptly ignored the owner of this voice.

"I don't see him! Where is he and the treasure?!"

"But he must surely be dead! He can't just get up and walk away!"

"Don't just stand there!" Yep. There's the chief. "Go and find the body! We must return the treasure to his majesty!"

A stampede of hurried footsteps, their boots much heavier than his own, disappeared into the night. The bells had slowly died down. From beneath the marble ledge, which sparkled in the light of the full moon, he grinned at victory.

Did they really, honestly, think that they were going to capture him?

How absurd.

> > > > > > > >

"I see you have returned. I assume you were successful?"

"Must you ask?"

"Hmm…cockiness has been the fall of many a great man. I would be upset if you join their number and fall as well, Shahin al-Kamel."

"Yes, I know, Ahmed. You've told me a dozen times already."

"And you never listen."

"True. Why do you bother after all these years?"

"I suppose that somehow, though proven otherwise countless times and probably turning a blind eye to the desires of heaven and your actions, I still possess the hope that you would one day listen. It would do you some good, Shahin, and spare you a quite a bit of trouble."

"That's completely irrational."

"When is hope ever rational?"

He was looking down at an old man, who was clad in heavy robes of white, black and red, both of them standing in the full glare of the desert sun, the ground caking and the sand blowing idly in the wind. The elderly man's face was concealed but for his eyes, old and wrinkled, a bit of white blindness starting to fade the dark brown irises. Like himself, he wore a head covering to shield his head from the heat and face from the sands.

From the saddle of his horse, he fairly towered over the aged merchant, whom he knew as Ahmed ibn Jasharan. Unlike his steed, the old man's camels seemed as ancient as he was, their floppy ears dropping and eyes seeming as if it had seen enough for its lifetime. His cream-colored lightweight clothing, robes, and cape blended in well with the monochromatic hues of the desert, whose temperatures during this noontime could be adequately called 'hellish'. His soft frown boots were already shod in the stirrups, the carefully crafted saddle a memento from his escapes in Spain. Oh, how much fun he had there…especially in Cordoba. But he had always had an insatiable wanderlust burning within him – so it wasn't strange that he left.

Of course, like most of the things of peculiarity about him were largely foreign…and did not come to his hands by any innocent means.

But what was innocence to one whose concept of fear was smaller than a great deal of the population, whose respect for the property of others skewed and twisted? He was the trickster of old, pure nerve and valor exemplified in the restless soul of a charming rogue, driven not only by the promise of wealthy easily won but by the challenges of transgression in general. He lifted a gloved hand to his brow, making a mocking salute, before spurring the horse forward into the dry sandy expanse. He quickly left the old man and camels behind, his steed faster without the heavy weight of the glittering and seductive gold and silver.

He had only kept one piece of the treasure with him – one that those annoying guards wanted to recover most of all. He had his reasons. After all, such a thing, though small and looking unremarkable compared to the other items he had robbed, had great importance to him…and to others who wanted the power to rule. It was quite a catch.

The wind blew back his loose cape and the drapes of head covering, the roan colored horse the only thing moving for miles.

> > > > > > > >

He entered the kasbah near sundown. And by the exited chatter of the roving multitudes, news of his latest caper had spread. Traders were the greatest messengers of news, faster than those lazy officials that the rich lords employed. But he could not gloat over his great victory for now, to be revered by the murmuring crowds. That would be stupid. Nice, certainly, but still undeniably stupid.

Instead, he settled for mingling in the beauty and chaos of the city's kasbah (up north, they called the town 'Algiers', though he had heard so many names for the place, he wasn't that picky). Around him, languages mixed into a disturbing mass of confusion and commerce, generations of human innovation of spoken word used in every fashion in an attempt to communicate. All for the sake of gold and goods. Truly, the world ran on money. Though never born among the native peoples of this region of Africa, he did enjoy the bustling atmosphere. It reminded him a bit of his birthplace, where the influence of Arab and Egyptian (along with the addition of his Persian maternal grandmother) provided an eclectic mix of culture. He had journeyed far from Saridh, but he felt it was worth it.

Deftly, he moved through the throng of people pushing and shoving to get where they wished, his eyes (like Ahmed's before) the only feature of his face revealed. He noticed the suspicious eyes of an Arab trader he knew quite well from Medina, how the dark orbs followed the movement of everything around him. It was a firm fact that Abu Harun would welcome his presence – the only thief to be allowed by the paranoid merchant. How this came about was quite an amusing story, involving a set of porcelain vases from the Far East, but it was unimportant. And with all the gossip spreading as widely as it was, it would be a great danger to them both.

Especially considering that currently in a leather pouch close to his side was concealed a treasure fought over by all who conquered and who wished to conquer. What gave kings their power, empires their life, the prosperity of ages, whose very existence was the shape of the tombs of the mighty Egyptian pharaohs.

And he, Shahin al-Kamel, had stolen it.

Cuffing a mangy street pickpocket over the head before the child had a chance to perform his tricks, the ugly boy baring yellow rotting teeth in a snarl as he glared and cursed from the blow, he slipped unnoticed into a dark alleyway. It was thankfully devoid of any other human presence.

All he needed now was to find the door. That was the downside of traveling so much and putting such complex spells up to hide the location of one of your bases– it was difficult and wholly frustrating to find when you came back.

There was a hissing beneath his feet. Welcome back, the sinuous snake, pale and tan as the dusty street, murmured as it uncurled itself from the dark shadows. It has been awhile, Master. What have you done this time?

Shahin grinned. A great deal, Sashenka, he hissed back at the reptile, his tongue easily adapting to the flowing tongue of the snakes. It had been a skill he had been born with, though he took careful care never to reveal it. Snake speakers were too highly mistrusted by the authorities since many who spoke it used snakes to poison and kill. Even if he really had nothing to lose from anyone learning about it anyway. I would tell you more, but it appears that I have a problem.

I see…, Sashenka replied, and he could sense a slight laugh (for a snake) in her hisses. You forgot where the door is again. This from the master thief who had broken into hundreds of palaces, tombs, and churches?

Very funny, Sashenka. Very funny.

Miss Ellery said he would be a victim of strange behavior after he was completely released from the hospital. After three days of being out of the hosptial, Harry was inclined to agree. Now, so far, it had been ten days of utter confusion, madness, and general chaos. Where? In his mind. It was terrible and hard to deal with, having your very mind as a battlefield for some strange unknown force that he was unable to understand. There were times where he thought he literally was going mad.

During the day, he was assaulted by warnings, messages, signs, and premonitions that he had to interpret in a matter of seconds, right there on the spot. He retreated even further into himself after his first time walking outside. Within five minutes, he was back in his room, clutching his head and shivering. This slightly worried the Dursleys, if only for the fact that they were concerned the Order of the Phoenix would blame them for his accident. He did nothing to allay their fears. They didn't care for him and they hurried him out of the care of Dr. Abrams and Dr. Dempster, nodding 'yes' and 'alright, we'll do that' in regards to his treatment with the kind of fake saccharine facade that Harry knew the hospital staff would catch. Besides, he was too busy trying to organize the mayhem that ran rampant through his head. Often these flashes of insight and their messages slipped past him as cryptic as ever, his mind usually too overwhelmed to deal with it all anyway. And then there was the feeling that despite all that was going on, he was being watched. Gnareil, he had decided, was a veritable nightmare. And at night came those strange dreams that both terrified and exhilarated him.

It was still raining.

He was still undergoing treatment, despite the fact that through some providence (or Miss Ellery) had let him out early. Every morning and night, he was to apply a strange silver gel that would help his burns heal and keep fresh bandages on. It was difficult the first few times, but it got easier as he had more practice. Also, Dr. Abrams gave him painkillers to help with the pain he felt, preferably every night until she said so. It would help him rest, since the burns and injuries made moving very difficult and hard to do. After being knocked out for a full ten hours the first time, he vowed to only take them after he was done with everything at the end of the day. He just hoped Dr. Abrams would give him less powerful ones by the time he got to Hogwarts.

As much as he hated to admit it, he had to be thankful that Voldemort sent those clothes along when he did. Granted, the Dursleys accepted the explanation that the Order sent them. That cold feeling was still there and he could never seem to get warm. This was a constant worry to Dr. Abrams, who couldn't find an explanation other than to wear warm clothing and drink hot liquids. He couldn't blame her - a burn patient always feeling cold and having a below normal temperature? The new clothes were thick and of good quality, though he did admit he looked out of place in the summer. Harry was unsure how to go about this now - should he thank the person who was essentially out to kill him for his charity or to throw the thought aside. What he was thankful for was the lack of Voldemort in his head. It made things a bit easier to deal with - he didn't need an evil Dark Lord to make his mind more of a battle zone.

Another part of the recovery was suggested by Dr. Dempster, who he was required to see at least once a week. It involved writing down his thoughts and feelings in a notebook, just letting it all come out, instead of holding it in (something he usually did). "Bring this in next time you come," the psychiatrist had said, handing him a pen and notebook. "I expect some writing in this, young man. You can't internalize everything. While you're with Dr. Abrams and Dr. Steadman, I'll take a look at what you wrote." After his examinations with the pleasant female physician and the rowdy Irish surgeon, he would go back to that comfortable room to discuss what he wrote. And it did get slightly easier. Though he still wasn't inclined to speak all that much. And he never showed Dr. Dempster the other notebooks he had been keeping.

What neither of them realized was the extent he would write. What started out with one blank composition notebook somehow resulted in more than a dozen. Every single inch of paper in every single one of them was covered with his scrawl, the legibility fluctuatng with the extent that the gnareil or his injuries affected him. But even Harry had to admit that it was getting to be too much. Dempster was getting worried as well since Dr. Abrams scolded the both of them over his sprained wrist. Dr. Parmar, the head of the ward himself, came in asking about hypergraphia. And from the descriptions and the symptoms listed to him, Harry was afraid that he might be afflicted with it.

But he had no time to spend mulling over some mental illness that implied he wrote excessively because of an overabundance of words. The gnareil was enough. Miss Ellery had said it would pass once he gained some semblance of control over it. It didn't seem like he would anytime soon. And writing had become automatic now. Too automatic. And it scared him.

He labelled each notebook with their subject. Some were general, filled with his thoughts on the way his life was and everything that a normal teenager would write about - a journal. These were the ones he would show Dempster. Others were filled with accounts from his dreams, the names of the people on the cover. It would help him organize the memories and help somewhat with the dissociated feeling he felt afterward, usually writing in the third person to get back to being 'Harry'. One time he had grabbed one of these instead of the journals when being rushed out to the hospital by Uncle Vernon. Needless to say, he was shocked to hear Dempster claim he was quite talented at writing fiction. Harry did nothing to contradict him and let him believe that he was talented at writing (when he knew he wasn't) and that those words in those specific books were fiction.

Then there were the gnareil books, which were filled with gnareil signals he received during the day. Most comprised of warnings to avoid his cousin, less-than-happy uncle, and any accidents that might occur in the Dursley household. A couple even referred to people walking past the house while he was looking out the window. The warnings were useful - getting hit and bumped by anything would cause him a great deal of pain. But there were others. The first clear sign that he was actually comprehending a gnareil premonition was two days ago at the dinner table.

The Dursleys were nervous about something...and were going to leave the country without him.

They feared the Death Eaters.

They feared the Order of the Phoenix.

They feared him?! Well, what kind of freak could survive an explosion like that?

He wasn't going to stop them. It would be better for them in the long run anyway. And it wasn't as if they ever loved him to begin with. Besides, another feeling - something not quite like gnareil, but all the same compelled him - not to act on it. To see what would happen (he was feeling a bit impertinent that day), he attempted to broach the subject.

He found himself the next second spread-eagled on his small bed, gasping as if the air had been punched out of him. His conclusion? Whatever was the second strange thing: it was taking over his actions, like gnareil had taken over his mind. And in the increasing storm of his life, he felt like he had no control over any part of his fate. Even his own mind was not in his own hands.

They would be leaving without him to the States in three days, the crunching of tires on gravel heralding their return from their agent. With a sigh, he leant back into the thin pillows of his bed, finding no comfort or peace of mind. What was happening to him was frightening him, everything was coming all at once.

He cast a dark look at one specific book that haunted his thoughts. Harry got up and hurried out of his room, eager not to be in the same vicinity as the first and hardest-to-fill notebook. The notebook he had, on a whim of that second compelling feeling, emblazoned with a strange circle of runes and symbols, the one he called 'Nightmare'. In it, all the parallels, all the mistakes, all the patterns...they were all in there. And it went farther than that. Not only was he able to pinpoint the exact personality profiles of every one of his friends and enemies - he had projected their fates in just a mere matter of days. And he had a feeling that with each one, he was right on the mark.

Harry Potter was now more aware of everything – and he was finding himself wishing that he were ignorant once again.

The Dursleys were gone. He had expected this. Aunt Petunia left him a short and stilted letter on her special purple stationery, saying they had to go to the States for 'business' and they weren't sure whether they would be coming back anytime soon. They also claimed they left him in Britain to 'continue his treatment with doctors that he knew'. They wished him luck during the summer and that he better notify the Order that they were unable to bring him along. They also left him a small pile of pound notes.

It was too easy to read between the lines. The message had been carefully worded with barely any feeling but fear behind the words. And Uncle Vernon's fat and greedy fingers had carefully counted the money. Just touching the crisp bills, he could feel the overbearing and slick feeling he had been feeling from his uncle since he had been released from the hospital.

It had been another trying examination, both physical and mental. Dr. Abrams had insisted on a few difficult physical tests to check out his movement and healing. Harry wasn't put off by her smile – she was shocked because he was making rapid leaps in recovery that should have taken a few months to make. Then Dr. Dempster was asking about the Dursleys – how they were treating him lately, what was the cause of their animosity, why they didn't seem to care for him. If he didn't know better, Harry would guess that the insightful shrink already knew the Dursleys had skipped the country and he was alone.

It was still raining.

Harry walked out of the hospital, his limbs aching and feeling sore, but still incredibly chilled. He wore the new clothes that he had been sent – a pair of blue jeans, a black turtleneck under a thick woolen green sweater. He kept his hands in the pockets of his heavy gray raincoat, the water droplets sliding off the repellent material of the hood. The new boots he had bought with the pound notes his relatives had left him were proving useful. His face was focused on the cracks on the sidewalk, as he turned left to the busy avenue. Without Uncle Vernon, the only way to get to the hospital was through a combination of long walks and buses. It still took about two to three hours, especially since the traffic nowadays was awful.

As he walked despondently, a cane suddenly appeared out of nowhere at chest level. And it was a very familiar cane. The gnareil warned him enough ahead of time to avoid walking right into it. "You're scared of your abilities, child? Of seeing beyond the veil of unawareness that protects our fragile minds?" a familiar woman's voice drawled moodily. He looked to his side to find Miss Ellery standing there, the elderly black woman standing proud and sure in a long out-of-date gray dress, a black shawl over her gray chignon of hair. The wrinkles of her face were drawn grimly, her black eyes looking at him in blatant disapproval. "There are better uses for our gifts than moping, child. You've got to grow up and realize that."

"Gift?" Harry repeated mockingly. "What are you talking about, a gift? It's a curse!" He gesticulated wildly and completely forgot they were in the middle of a busy street. But as he went to withdraw his outstretched hand, a harried looking businessman running straight through it as if he were a ghost. Eyes wide in shock and unease, he kept his hand out and saw what happened repeat again and again, this time with a housewife and a older teenager with enough piercings that it made one wonder if they were more metal than flesh.

Look down, his gnareilwas commanding. Figuring what was going on would be explained, he followed suit and looked down at his feet. Gleaming on the pavement, were clean and smooth lines of color contrasting against the crooked fractures of the cement. They glowed brightly in the drabness of the rainy day, twisting and swirling in patterns that he both recognized and did not know. They were intertwined in an elaborate circle under his feet and Miss Ellery's, enclosing them in its design.

It looked remarkably similar to the design that he had drawn on the notebook 'Nightmare'. The runes and ordering, as well as the central symbol, were different, but the similarities were far too glaring to ignore.

"You're familiar with this," Miss Ellery proclaimed, as if reading his mind. "It is impossible for you not to. Manifests instinctively know these mandalas." She smiled calculatingly. "This is the Circle of Sight. It is a simple one and not too difficult, but exceedingly useful. You will have to learn it…and more."

"The Circle of Sight?" he asked skeptically, looking down at the glowing lines. It was hard to perceive…but he could see…"The Eye…"

"So you do see it? You are further along than I thought," the older woman mused. "It is probably because of the circumstances." Harry opened his mouth to ask, but Miss Ellery cut him off harshly. Even though she rapped her cane against the magic channels on the ground, they were unchanged. "Do not ask, you are not ready for this. And I do not say this in order to spare your feelings. You have every right to ask. But because you have the right does not mean that you are prepared to take up the responsibility of such dangerous knowledge. You will know soon, but now is not the time."

"And when will I?" he asked stubbornly. His eyes glared at her intensely – one bright and clear emerald, the other crimson and unnatural. "When will I be ready?" He felt only more annoyed by her cunning smile. It reminded him so much of Professor Dumbledore throughout the years that passed. He was not a child.

"Do you think that I am stupid?" Miss Ellery commented dryly. "You aren't a child, you're sixteen. You've seen Death, you've experienced Letuseil many times. But until when you can handle your power and can hold your own, it is better for you to not concentrate on it," she answered. "I've seen you – and you know it. It is how you recognized the Eye of the Circle of Sight. Not consciously, but you felt something."

He looked away, but she continued. "You have the dreams. But you haven't realized why they are so real, have you?" Harry didn't answer. "Because they aren't really dreams, child. They're memories."

Harry looked up at her in surprise. His mind immediately flashed the images of himself as the small black cat with the large ears, as the daring and charismatic thief who stole a golden treasure.

"The mind and soul are complex. They are pieced together, different combinations from different souls, to make each truly unique. But there is one thing that is always true: these pieces will always retain the memory of the past. The good and the bad."

The mystery gets deeper as Miss Ellery opens up a bit more about what's going on with Harry, though she did admit that she couldn't tell him something important. What she's holding back is very important and she does have her reasons for keeping them from our rather angsty protaganist. And they are good ones. Though we really don't know exactly what the strange woman is up to.

What Miss Ellery had done with the magic circle is very important.

For those that don't know, hypergraphia is the opposite of 'writer's block'. Yes, this does exist. It is when there are too many words to let out.

The 'Nightmare' notebook is going to get a lot of questions. I'll just say this - it's very significant to the plot and will come up later. Harry, though he hates it, does have to refer to it often. Harry's gnareil and the new feeling are essential cores of the story.

Hope you liked it!

---Raven Dragonclaw