The Abuse in a Violently Different Dimension
By VG Jekyll
39. Just Like You
We didn't understand the truth
We were blinded by the eyes of youth
But time kept on moving
And a change has come
You think that I don't know
Where you're coming from
It was morning and Harry had been chewing on some well buttered toast when the mail arrived. He usually received a letter from his mother once a week and lately also Sirius tried to write as much as he could.
Today he didn't see a familiar owl circling about, which meant no mail for him, so he snatched the Daily Prophet from where an owl had dropped it in front of Nathan. This was something which had become a bit of a habit.
Nathan didn't appear to mind it much today, as he was more interested in a triangular shaped package he'd received. Usually he would at least attempt to get it back. Or complain loudly that Harry should just get his own subscription to the paper.
Harry stared in dismay at the front page. It announced in large font that there had been another attack by what they assumed had been Death Eaters. The attack had similarities to the attack during Christmas. The only alteration was that the Aurors had been in time to help, instead of only arrive for the clean up.
There was still a long list of casualties and missing people right next to the article.
Harry quickly skimmed through the rest of the paper to see if there was any other mentioning of Death Eater activity. There wasn't, or maybe it had not been considered interesting enough in the shade of the front news.
He did take notice of a personal add with a photo of Dennis Creevey, asking if anyone had seen him or knew information about his whereabouts.
A strong sense of guilt filled him again, even though Harry knew there wasn't much he could have done. He had know the kid and his brother well in his own dimension. Colin had always seemed like a fixed presence together with his camera. In this universe, he couldn't even remember having seen him, or his brother for that matter.
Not far away from him at the Gryffindor table, Neville Longbottom had also got his hands on a paper. He stared grimly down at it and appeared to be in a bad mood. Not much later all the students who had seen their newspapers were talking loudly about the attack.
Ron was waving his paper around and started boasting that if Voldemort was there right now, Neville would be able to handle him better than the Aurors.
Harry rolled his eyes at the childish way of thinking and was about to turn away from the clowns, when he noticed Neville slamming his paper down. He hissed something sharply at Ron and then stalked angry away. Ron was left staring after him, his mouth wide open in shock.
Harry was just as startled as the people around him. He already heard them talking about how even though Ron Weasley still hung out with the Boy-Who-Lived, the whole of Hogwarts had noticed that relations between him and Neville had been frosty lately.
The Hufflepuff quickly jumped to his feet and chased after Neville. The guy was fast, for Harry couldn't see him when he stepped out of the Great Hall, but thankfully the Grey Lady was hanging around and helpful enough to point him into the right direction.
He figured from the path he was taking, that Neville was heading back to the Gryffindor dorms. He started to jog in the hopes op catching up with him.
"Neville!" he shouted out, as he finally got a glimpse of the Gryffindor. The other immediately froze and glanced back at him. He looked very pissed off.
"Hey Neville," Harry repeated as he crossed the last distance between them. He send the other a concerned smile. "Are you okay?"
Neville shook shortly his head, seemingly confused as to why Harry had followed him and appeared so amiable while before he'd still kept his distance. Even their talk during Christmas hadn't made the dark haired boy warm up to him.
"No. I'm not," he answered shortly.
"Is there anything I can do to help you?"
"What? You? Why would you, of all people, want to help me?"
Harry was silent for a moment. Perhaps he could've expected that reaction. "Because I care, okay?" He admitted. "You seem to carry a heavy weight and I know the feeling of people placing these expectations on you and not knowing if you can live up to it all."
All the air seemed to leave Neville's lungs at that declaration. He then gave him a short nod. He slumped against the wall and rubbed with his hands over his face. When he dropped his hands to his side again, a grimace tugged the corners of his mouth down.
"I haven't told anyone about this," Neville started to tell. "I thought it was better not to let people know, or show any weakness. But it's just really hard."
"Okay," was all Harry could bring out. He was worried for what he was going to hear. But he had offered to listen so he would have to deal with it and be kind about it.
"My-my aunt. She was there in Inverness during the attacks and she got killed."
"We were close, you know. She was also my godmother and always said she would've been proud to have me as her own child. She was-she probably was tortured to death. When they found her body, it was mangled and twisted and sliced up." He sniffed and rubbed with a sleeve over his nose.
"I saw how they found her in a pensive. I wasn't supposed to see it, but they were trying to keep it a secret from me. And I hated that! There was so much blood. I still see her face in my nightmares, frozen in this agonizing soundless scream. It's horrible!"
Harry felt the blood leave his face. This was really bad. And for Neville to have walked around not being able to share his feelings and fears! Why hadn't he been able to share this with his friends?
"I know about those sort of dreams, I have them too." Harry admitted and came to lean against the wall besides Neville. He pushed his hands deep in his pockets and stared resolutely at the floor, even though he could feel Neville's questioning gaze on him.
"The images of people I once knew, dead or hurt in front of me. And I can do nothing. They plead me to help them, they curse at me for not being able too. People I loved lying around me, Death Eaters laughing at me and taunting that I was too late. That I will always fail my friends. My family. That it was my fault that my godfather fell through the Veil."
"The Veil?" Neville asked confused.
"Ah, uh yeah. That's nothing. Just something silly I made up in my dreams. Sort of a portal of death." Harry quickly invented.
There was a long profound silence after this, in which each mulled over the revelations of the other, until Neville finally interrupted it.
"You're not really Harry Potter, are you." He said. His voice was soft, but certain. "You can't be him. Are you an undercover Auror? An Unspeakable?"
Harry froze for a moment, shocked that yet another person had found out, then he just slumped and relaxed. Who cared anymore. He was a shitty actor and would not be able to keep it a secret from many people anyway. Better be honest and upfront about it.
"Yeah, I'm not him."
Neville, slightly dazed at that admission, shook his head. "You sound too old to be a student. You've seen war, haven't you?"
'I've seen a few battles, attacks really. Not war. Not yet." Harry pulled his hands out of his pockets and pushed himself away from the wall to face Neville fully. The other looked serious and very unlike the show-off he had been in the beginning. Perhaps this was what made Harry share his thoughts.
"But I think it's coming. And soon."
"Where's the real Harry?"
"I don't know."
"Oh," Neville was exceptionally accepting of it, thought Harry bewildered.
"I don't think I can do it," the Gryffindor confessed miserably.
'Defeat Voldemort. I'm just a kid. How an anyone expect me to do this? Sure, I was but a babe when he first disappeared, but there is no real proof that it was because of me!"
This was something that had also been bothering Harry.
"But you're not alone in this," he told Neville, who scoffed at his words.
"I know exactly how many people I can count on to watch my back," he told Harry, a dark and glowering look on his face.
"I know how people think about me. I know politics. I'm nothing but a glorified punch dummy! The thing they throw in front of them in the hopes that someone will waste their energy on it, instead of on them." Like Harry he had pushed away from the wall and was now gesturing wildly. He took a deep breath before he continued ranting.
"My parents both hold high positions in the Ministry and I can tell you, they have absolutely no problem in using me to get themselves higher in the pecking order! I don't doubt that when faced with Voldemort, they would just push me to the front and tell me to make them proud."
Harry was about to argue that it couldn't be like that. That Neville had his friends to count on. But then he remembered that the other hadn't even been able to talk to them about his aunt, about his fears.
And then came the memories of his own years at Hogwarts in which it always had come down on him and his friends to defend themselves with no adult in sight to aid them. The Ministry had done nothing. Papers had called him a liar and attention seeker. No one had done anything against the looming threat of Voldemort. Attacks were glossed over as incidents.
"Well, you have me now."
"I-eh? What?" Neville floundered at Harry's words.
Harry grinned at him. "Well, if you get pushed to the front, I guess I'll just have to step up besides you."
The Gryffindor was silent for a moment as he appraised Harry and seemingly tried to gauge his sincerity. Harry simply raised a brow and that made Neville smile wryly.
"You would do that. I can see you doing that." Neville said and then let sort a short bark-like laugh. "You know how I knew you weren't him? Not only were you acting really weird, you have this... power around you. I can sense it, it feels like a prickling over the skin and a makes the hairs in my neck stand on end."
He shrugged. "It's something I've felt it with more people who are magically strong. At least stronger than most. But yours was so sudden, and I figured it could have been like a growth spur or something." He let his gaze glide over Harry, assessing again. "But I guess it wasn't. Who are you really?"
"I'm Harry Potter from another universe, who got send here by a freaky accident," Harry told him, wanting to stay truthful as he felt closer to the boy than he had previous thought he ever could. Neville was not how he thought him to be, which showed that Harry really should stop being so prejudiced.
"Really," nodded Harry.
"So, I guess I can keep calling you Harry then. Anyway, I don't have to tell you not to tell anyone about what I told you. And I'll do the same."
"Cross my heart..." Harry promised and made the corresponding motion with his hand over his heart. It made Neville chuckle slightly and do the same. It was like a promise between them.
"And hope to survive."
To Be Continued
VGJekyll: Hi! I'm still alive! I was inspired to write again by a film on Youtube called: 'A Conversation with J. K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe'.
Go watch it if you have time, it's very nice to see and listen to.
If you see spelling/grammar/other mistakes, please tell me!
[Just Like You – Keb' Mo]