Title: The Wounded Welkin (1)
Category: Harry Potter, sixth year
Pairings: HP/SS, most likely. Some others as well.
Spoilers: SS/PS, CoS, PoA, GoF, OotP
Distribution: Fanfictiondotnet, and eventually my personal website. If anyone else would like to post it somewhere, feel free to do so as long as you tell me about it and give me due credit.
Summary: When Harry is removed from the Dursleys in the summer of his sixth year for his own safety, the last thing he's expecting is to be propelled on a new adventure that this time, he's unlikely to survive.
Warnings: Hmm… Profanity, of course, future violence, and also in the future, slash. Which is male/male 'interaction', for all you ignorant people out there.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, and didn't get him for Christmas, even though he was on my list. Any other stuff I'll relinquish any claim to once I actually write it in.
Tranquility was rather like roller coasters or chocolate fudge, the dark-haired boy reflected as he paced in his tiny room. A little bit was nice, every so often, but any more than that and you began to feel sick. Or in this particular instance, bored absolutely stiff.
It wouldn't have been so bad if he'd had chores to do, like he'd had last summer and every other summer of his life. He'd hated having to do them, then, but now… hell, he would've been endlessly grateful to his dear family if they'd even bother to recognize that he existed, instead of taking the Order's warning to heart and completely ignoring him like they had for the past three weeks. Anything that broke the monotony and kept him from thinking about… things… would have been more than welcome.
Sure, there was the annual homework… Harry could practically hear Hermione's voice inside his head the entire time he did it. But seven classes couldn't possibly generate enough homework to last the entire summer, even with a git like Snape assigning as many potions essays as he could.
He'd finished the last of them two days ago. And ever since he had been going slowly, quietly mad.
Harry had a feeling the Dursleys knew it, too, as much as they tried to delude themselves he didn't exist, let alone live in the same house as they did. They didn't see each other much anymore- mostly unexpected encounters in the hallway those times the Boy-Who-Lived could no longer put off the need to use the toilet or take a shower. Every time, they seemed utterly shocked, as if he had somehow intruded on them, and kept as far away as they could until he took the initiative and continued on.
Thankfully, though, those encounters were fairly rare. He usually waited until they weren't home, or only Aunt Petunia was there, puttering around down in the kitchen, before he stirred from his room. Mealtimes with the family he ignored, and to keep from starving he snuck out once they were asleep and ransacked the pantry. He'd lost weight with such a routine, but hey. If it kept him from having to spend more time than necessary in their exalted presence, he figured it was worth it in spades.
He wasn't above annoying them as much as he could, though. There were nights when he couldn't sleep at all, nights when he knew he would dream of him, of them and the biggest mistake of his life. He spent those nights pacing endlessly, and he smiled grimly down at the trail his feet had already worn into the bare wooden floor, imagining how the sound of his footsteps must keep them awake at night as well.
Misery loves company.
Now if only joy did, as well. Maybe then Harry could find someone who was happy and let some of it wear off on him, the wonder of osmosis at work. Didn't he deserve some happiness in his life?
Guess not… Somehow he wasn't surprised, though. He did fuck up royally, after all. He practically murdered a person who deserved happiness more than anyone in this world ever has, simply to balance out the shit Fate threw at him at every turn.
The teenager finally stopped moving for a minute, his head low and his arms hanging limply at his sides. It was one of those rare moments in time when the nervous energy that had filled him ever since that night run outs, leaving him like a wind-up doll with no key to turn. Whenever it happened, there was nothing he could do except ride it out, but that didn't matter, since it never lasted long.
And sure enough, it was only a brief time before Harry's nerves were jangling at him again, screaming for him to do something to use up all that bottled energy. He forced himself to sit down on his bed instead, since he knew from experience that there was no way to use it up. It just built and built, and raced through his body like an out-of-control bludger, bashing through anything in its path.
Well, no, that wasn't completely true. It had subsided for a bit when he, and pretty much everyone else on the Hogwarts train, cursed Malfoy into a pitiful wreck.
Maybe it was related to magic. He didn't know. He tried not to think about it overmuch. For all he knew, it was part and parcel to It.
Yes, It. That damn Prophecy he now considered to be the cause of pretty much every misfortunate thing that had ever happened to him. He knew it was childish of him to refer to it that way, but... damn it, if Dumbledore and all the Order were going to treat him like a child, he was going to bloody well act like one!
Harry rolled over and buried his face in his little-used pillow. God, he sounded bitter, didn't he?
Well, maybe just a little. What, me, sarcastic? You betcha…
Giving up for the moment on trying to smother himself, he twisted so he was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, and sighed. He admitted it, he wasn't only childish and a screw-up, but capable of brooding even more morbidly than Moaning Myrtle.
And that was an accomplishment. You could trust him on that.
For a few minutes he listened to the creaks and groans of the silent house, trying to, if not sleep, at least rest his eyes. And it was a good thing he did, too, or he might have missed the quiet sound of the front door opening and closing.
Harry blessed the DA as his wand came almost immediately to his hand, and he padded quietly over to the door. Putting his ear to it, he listened for more signs of the intruders, and heard nothing.
If anything, that confirmed in his mind that it wasn't a member of his family down there. Even if he'd been distracted enough to completely miss hearing any of them leaving their rooms (Dudley and Uncle Vernon both sounded like a heard of elephants even though Dudley's diet seemed to finally be showing some results, and Aunt Petunia wasn't much better), that still begged the question of just what the blazes one of them thought they were doing sneaking around at night.
Harry'd thought that was his job…
Frowning at the silence from downstairs, he went back to his bed and knelt, pulling up the loose floorboard there. A quick tug freed his father's invisibility cloak, and as he donned it even as he opened his door. It did pay to be cautious, after all. The last two years had served as plenty of incentive to get that thought through his thick, Gryffindorish skull.
Too little too late. As usual.
Wand at the ready, the wizard waited for his eyes to adjust at least partially to the darkness before he headed to the top of the stairs. The house was still quiet, but he could see a dark shape, a person, making its way up the steps. Even invisible as he was, he stepped back and waited for them to make it all the way up, his wand held at what would be neck level on a grown man.
Which was, sadly, nearly above his head, but as he didn't really believe that this was the time to have a mental rant over his rather stunted growth, he pushed the thought from his mind and got ready.
After what seemed like forever, the man (as it turned out to be) finally stepped onto the landing, and froze when Harry's wand brushed the back of his neck. "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" He whispered harshly, practically in the man's ear.
It was a moment before he answered. Apparently, he really wasn't expecting to get caught, least of all by a half-trained boy. "Harry?" It was a voice he recognized.
"Professor Lupin?" Harry asked, half-surprised, half-suspicious. After all, the last thing he was expecting at the moment was his old Defense professor, especially since he'd been sending him those reassuring letters the Order had demanded every three days.
He sighed in exasperation. "Harry, how many times have I told you to call me Remus? I'm not your professor anymore."
Well, that settled it. No one but Remus could pull off that gently aggrieved tone as well as the werewolf did. Harry lowered the wand. "Er… I lost track," he admitted, abashed.
Remus shook his head, still almost unrecognizable in the darkness of the hallway. "It doesn't matter anyway. I'm here to pick you up."
Now that surprised him. "What? Why for?"
The wizard glanced around, like he was trying to find something, and Harry realized he was still wearing the cloak. He looked relieved when the boy pulled it off. "We've received word that the Dark Lord knows where you are, and is going to attack some time in the next couple of days."
"What?" Later Harry knew he'd wince at the memory of how his voice squeaked when he said that, but right then he was too busy feeling the adrenaline rush.
"We need to get your things and get out of here," Remus said urgently, and the rather odd thought, under the circumstances, at least, passed through Harry's mind that there was a very small possibility that his relatives might sleep through this, but that it was about the same size as the single brain cell left in Gilderoy Lockhart's head.
Shaking the thought away, he nodded and grabbed the werewolf's arm, pulling him towards and into his bedroom. "My trunk's in the corner," he said, pointing it out as he crossed back to the loose floorboard and pried it up. He heard Remus cast a quiet Shrinking Spell on the trunk from behind him.
Harry always kept those few of his possessions under the floorboard that he couldn't stand to lose if the Dursleys got an idea like they did in the summer after his first year. The photo album Hagrid gave him, now holding a few more pictures, was the first thing to come out of it, and Ron's Sneakoscope was next. It was reassuringly silent, and a few more odds and ends followed, leaving the little hollow bare.
"Alright." Harry stood back up again, swaying a little as that pesky nervous energy decided to wane just a bit. Since he hadn't eaten yet that day, or slept for two, it and adrenaline were pretty much all he was running on at the moment, and he took a precious second to toss a few mental curses its way. The damn thing had had him jumpy for a month, and it chose now of all times to consider puttering out on him.
"Are you alright?" Remus asked worriedly, noticing the boy's temporary inability to stand correctly and staring at him with concern.
Harry grinned at him as cheerfully as he could. "I'm fine, Remus. Just stood up too fast."
He stared for a few more seconds, and Harry knew he'd noticed the weight he'd lost since Remus last saw him, and the dark circles under his eyes that matched the werewolf's own. Just when he was beginning to think the wizard might say something, he simply nodded, and walked past him and through the door.
Harry caught up with him in the den, where the adult was studying the electric fireplace intently. "Arthur pulled some strings and got your house reconnected to the Floo network for just this one night. So all we need to do is…" He gestured with his wand, and the entire room filled with dust as the fake fireplace came flying out of the wall, just like in the summer before fourth year.
There is no way the Dursleys slept through that, Harry thought as he waved a hand by his face to keep the dust away, coughing. And sure enough, after about three seconds of shocked silent, he heard the sound of pounding feet upstairs.
"Incendio" Remus grabbed him by the arm and shoved a packet of Floo powder into his hands. "Go!" he roared, pointing to the fire. "You're going to Hogsmeade, the Three Broomsticks!"
"What about Grimmauld Place?" Harry asked, surprised.
The werewolf shook his head. "We disconnected it from the network. The only way in now is by foot or portkey. Now go! Hagrid will be there to get you to Hogwarts!"
The sight of a red-faced Vernon Dursley stomping down the stairs was more than enough to keep the boy from hesitating further. Gripping his wand, cloak, album and Sneakoscope in one hand with some difficulty, Harry tore open the flimsy bag of powder with his teeth and tossed it onto the flames. They turned a bright green, and he stepped into them with a shout of "the Three Broomsticks!"
Almost immediately he felt nauseous, as the Floo spun him around in tight circles, and dozens of fireplaces flashed past his eyes in a never-ending procession of dancing flames. He held himself as close as he could, trying to take up as little space as he could to keep his elbows from knocking into the walls.
Then one of the fireplaces grew larger instead of flashing by, and he found himself stumbling at last out into the well-beloved pub, and was caught by a pair of strong arms. "Alrigh' there, 'arry?" Hagrid asked the boy in his arms, and his familiar, rumbling voice calmed Harry more than anything else had that evening.
He gave him a slight nod, smiling up at the half-giant. "Yeah, Hagrid, I'm fine. Just… a bit shaken up." He noticed Madame Rosmerta watching them from a corner, and nodded to her as well, receiving a friendly smile in return.
Hagrid chuckled, a sound like a small rockslide. "Ah'm nah surprised…" He carefully let Harry loose, making sure he could stand on his own two feet before letting go completely.
"Well, Ah'd better get yeh up ter the castle," he said cheerfully, brushing some of the soot off of Harry with one plate-sized hand. "Don' wan' yeh out 'ere longer than yeh 'ave ta be."
"What about Remus?" the teenager asked, glancing at the fireplace behind him. "Shouldn't we wait for him?"
Hagrid shook his shaggy head. "Nah. 'e'll be along soon eno'. Imagine 'e's just dealin' with yer relatives, settin' up a coupla extra wards an' suchlike."
Harry nodded reluctantly, casting another look at the flames. "Alright…"
It took them nearly half an hour to walk up to Hogwarts, and he shivered the first ten minutes of the trek as the chill night air bit through the thin clothing that was all he had to wear. Then Hagrid noticed his silent shudders and draped his enormous coat over his shoulders. Harry gave him a genuine smile and then concentrated on keeping the fabric from dragging on the ground.
Then they were standing in front of the great doors that formed the entrance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As Harry stared up at them, he couldn't help but wonder what would happen to him this time in its beloved halls.
(1) Welkin is a rarely-used literary term for sky. My reason for choosing this as a title will be apparent in the next chapter.
A/N: As stated in the summary, this will eventually be a crossover with at least one other genre, possibly more. And this chapter was originally written not only in first-person POV, but in the present tense, neither of which I'd ever attempted before. Obviously, I've since decided to rewrite it in my usual style of third-person past tense narrative, but if I missed changing a few verbs or pronouns, I apologize.
And also as stated, this will be slash, most likely Harry/Severus, and possibly mentions of Harry/Others.
Also: school is starting tomorrow. Whether this is a good or bad thing for my writing has yet to be determined.
2 January 2005