Summary: An 'accident' concerning a Dementor changes Harry's life. After OotP, non HBP-compliant.
Disclaimer: JK Rowlings owns Harry Potter.
Not Just A Kiss: Chapter 6: Friends?
August 28th 1996 – morning
Harry had been able to keep his powers in check for twenty hours straight, which meant he was allowed free reign of the castle. He had to return to his room – his prison – at night, where he could let go of his control for a bit, but the remainder of the time he was free.
This had been celebrated two days ago at the staff table. There were few of the staff remaining at Hogwarts during summer, but those who were felt sorry for Harry. With the exception of Snape, of course, who'd been avoiding him like the plague.
Harry had noticed he could only use his 'fun' powers – the flying, for instance – if he let go of his control. He didn't want to do that, afraid he wouldn't be able to stop himself if he encountered someone, so the only upside to his... condition... was lost to him.
He hadn't told Dumbledore about the Dementor in the Forest. He knew he should, but... well, it was difficult. The Dementor had helped him, after all. Dumbledore would chase it away, and something inside Harry didn't like that thought. Besides, Harry was curious. He'd even thought about going back inside the Forest, but the memory of the Centaurs and their pointy arrows had extinguished that notion.
Now, August 28, was the day Harry had been dreading.
Dumbledore would take him to Diagon Alley.
Where Ron and Hermione would meet him.
Dumbledore decided they'd Floo to Diagon Alley. Harry was very careful to pronounce it exactly the way Dumbledore did, before he stepped into the green flames. He didn't want to end up at Borgin & Burkes again.
There was a moment between leaving Dumbledore's office and arriving at Diagon Alley, and during those few seconds Harry thought he could hear something... voices? There was someone talking to him, but he couldn't -
His... condition hadn't improved his less-than-graceful landing. He would have landed flat on his face if Dumbledore hadn't grasped his arm and steadied him. His eyes twinkled.
Harry groaned silently. He really disliked the Floo.
He took a moment to look around. No matter how strong his control of his darker nature was, he could still sense the people nearby. It was staggering. All those little flecks of life and warmth...
"Harry!" A pair of arms folded around him when Hermione pulled him in a hug. He struggled a bit, surprised, and she let him go.
"You're cold," she said with a worried frown. "Are you ill? Is it because of what you couldn't tell us in your letter?" Her eyes went over him, looking for differences.
"We've been waiting for you to arrive, mate," Ron said, with a lopsided smile. "How are you?"
Before Harry could answer, Dumbledore cleared his throat. "Well, Harry, I have my own business to conduct here. I'm sure you're in safe hands with your friends. Shall we meet again in, say, three hours, before Ollivander's? If there is any problem, go to him, he has a way to contact me quickly."
Harry nodded dumbly. Of course he wanted some time with his friends, and of course Dumbledore had other things to do than to baby-sit him, but still... He wasn't looking forward to telling his friends what he had become.
"Very good. I'll see you there, Harry." And then he was gone.
Ron gave him a good-natured inspection. "You're still as graceful as ever with the Floo, so I guess: not Vampire. And you told us you weren't a Werewolf. So, what's your news? And how can you 'not exactly' eat someone?" He lowered his voice a bit. "Have you been turned into a girl or something?"
"Ron!" Hermione admonished him.
Ron shrugged. "What? It happens!"
"Girls don't eat people, Ronald."
"When you're in a bad mood you sure can bite our heads off."
"Why, I never -"
Harry couldn't help it, he had to smile. "No Ron, I haven't been turned into a girl."
Hermione frowned at him. "Why are you so nervous of telling us, Harry? It can't be something dangerous, because Dumbledore took you here, a public place. You can trust us."
Harry's heart hammered in his chest. "If I tell you, you'll keep it quiet, right? Please? Even if... even if you don't want to see me any more?"
They started protesting that it couldn't be that bad, but Harry interrupted them.
"Please, just promise me."
Hermione sighed. "Very well, I promise."
"Me too," Ron agreed.
Harry led them a bit out of the way, far enough from prying ears to not be overheard. Then he took a deep breath.
"I've been attacked by a Dementor."
"Like last year? Umbridge sent some more? But how?"
Harry shook his head. "Not like last year, not exactly. We still don't know if it was send of not, or why it all happened, but... It Kissed me. And I survived."
A short, stunned pause, until Harry said, very softly: "The Dementor didn't."
He tried to find the words to describe what happened, what he now was. "It- it left some of its essence behind, in me, or something like that, and since then I've had some.. urges, but I've been practising control and everything is getting better, I can keep it locked away for twenty hours straight now."
Silence. Around them, Diagon Alley bustled with people, with life, but the three of them were quiet like statues.
Harry could see they both had paled, their faces filled with unease.
"Well, that's... new," Hermione broke the silence. She stared at Harry for a few more moments, before she quickly averted her eyes.
Ron shook his head slowly. "C'mon Harry, that's not funny. Just tell us the truth."
"That is the truth, Ron," Harry quietly admitted. "But I'm on top of it, honest. It was difficult at first and only Snape or Dumbledore could come near, but now I'm fine. See?"
He forced a smile and begged silently for their fear to go away. In an attempt to lighten the mood he changed the subject.
"So, anyone up for a visit to Quality Quidditch Supplies? I need to get my broom fixed."
Ron reluctantly nodded. "Sure."
Hermione however said: "I'll be in at Flourish and BBlott's. Er... Good luck, Harry. See you later."
Ron was rather quiet in the shop. The same went for Hermione, when they met up with her at the book store. They bought their supplies for the coming school year, and afterwards they went to Florean Fortescue's for an ice-cream.
The conversation was strained. Harry realised with a pang of pain in his heart that they were still afraid of him.
The ice-cream wasn't that good either. Oh, it tasted fine, but the chill reminded him of another cold, one that was now more or less locked away inside him but still close enough to the surface to make him shiver.
When they both started to make excuses to leave early, Harry couldn't ask them to stay. He couldn't get the words to leave his lips. He did ask where the other Weasleys were, but Ron just shrugged and told him they were all on their own errands and would meet each other in the Leaky Cauldron, and "sorry Harry, but well, Hermione and I are dating and we'd like some time, if you know what I mean..." Ron trailed off miserably.
Harry looked at them. "You're together? That's great for you, guys."
Hermione smiled shyly. "Yes, Ron and I wrote a lot over the summer, and Mrs. Weasley invited me to stay for the last week before school."
"So we'll be going, then. See you at Hogwarts, Harry."
He watched them leave. They would be together for a week, and yet they didn't want to spend one day of it with him.
He couldn't blame them. He was, after all, a monster now.
He walked around the Alley some more, waiting for the hours to go by. There was nothing else he could do.
Was this how his life would be from now on? Friendless, isolated, rigidly in control... but ultimately alone?
He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. Otherwise he could replace 'rigidly in control' with 'imprisoned and probably dissected'.
He decided to go to Ollivander's. Perhaps the Headmaster would be early, and they could go back to Hogwarts.
He'd just stopped in front of the wand shop when the door opened to reveal the face of its owner. Ollivander smiled at Harry.
"I had been hoping you would come here before Albus arrived. Come in, please, Mr. Potter. I would like to speak with you."
Harry frowned. Why did Ollivander want to see him?
He followed the old man inside.
The shop hadn't changed much. It was still dusty and narrow, with hundreds of boxes stacked upon the long shelves.
Ollivander closed the door behind him and then turned towards Harry. His pale eyes seemed to glow in the faint light.
Harry's control faltered a bit in this strange circumstances. He quickly reigned in the cold again, but not before getting a flash of warmth from Ollivander. There was something odd about it...
Harry had noticed, in the time before he mastered his... condition, that there was a slight difference between the warmth he took from the Headmaster and Snape, and the one he got from Dobby, or the Centaurs.
Ollivander's was different too. He felt... red?
The wand maker had closed his eyes and shivered when Harry's cold touched his mind.
"I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean -" Harry started, but Ollivander interrupted him with a smile.
"It isn't your fault, Mr. Potter. I should have explained more before ushering you into my shop. I do not blame you for feeling threatened."
Harry didn't know how to react to that, so he changed the subject. "You wanted to talk to me?"
"Yes. Before Albus joins us, so we'd better hurry. He'll be here in an hour, and I expect you have many questions."
This was getting even more mysterious. Harry voiced his thoughts. "Why don't you want Headmaster Dumbledore to hear us?"
Ollivander smiled sadly. "Because, for all his kindness, Albus doesn't understand us. He doesn't discriminate against Dark Creatures, but only as long as they try to act like humans. But sometimes it's more important to act like what you actually are. For him we all are humans with extras added on. But we aren't."
We? Harry's eyes were wide. "Are you like me?" He wasn't alone in this!
But Ollivander shook his head. "I'm sorry, but we're only the same in the sense of both being Dark Creatures. You are much rarer, Mr. Potter. I know only of two people who were in the same situation as you are, and neither of them ever made peace with their abilities. I hope you will."
"How do you know of those others, and how do you know of me? And if you don't mind me asking, what exactly are you then?"
Ollivander's eyes reflected silver in the gloom. "You didn't sense anything when your mind touched mine?"
Harry shook his head. "No, sir. Well... I know it sounds silly, but you felt... red."
"I should have known you had not encountered one of my kind since your transformation." Ollivander's smile revealed a set of suddenly very sharp and long eye teeth. "In the future, you should know that what you apparently sense as 'red', means a vampire, Mr. Potter."
Harry didn't back away. Something inside him said he shouldn't be afraid. As his momentary loss of control had shown, even vampires were vulnerable to him, if worst came to worst.
"You haven't answered my other questions yet, Mr. Ollivander."
The wand maker chuckled. His teeth had shortened again to a normal length. "Indeed. I know of you because Albus told me. He hoped I knew more about your special circumstances, no doubt. Which I do, but that's not what I shall tell Albus. He would forbid you to visit Azkaban. I think you should go there as soon as possible, though of course it is your choice."
It was a relief to find someone who could tell him a bit of what was happening to him. He didn't quite grasp Mr. Ollivander's reasons why the Headmaster shouldn't know about this, but he decided to ignore that for now and just listen.
"You said there are others like me."
"No. There were. The last of them died nine hundred years ago. He told me about the previous existence of another, but I only know it because I happened to befriend him. He was an ordinary wizard, but in those days the magical government was extremely strict. My friend was suspected of having cursed the sheep of a village, I don't know the entire story behind it, only that in those days that was a horrible crime and justice was dealt swiftly. They already used the Dementors as a punishment, and my friend was Kissed. Apparently the Dementor faded away and he got some of its abilities – I'm sure you understand what I'm saying.
I met him several years later. He didn't want to speak about what exactly had happened during that Kiss, but he did admit to visiting Azkaban and being able to converse with their leader. They had offered him some kind of proposition, which he had declined, and after that they stopped following him."
Harry was silent. He too was being followed by a Dementor. It had saved him from the Centaurs.
So the answer lay in the prison. It was an unpleasant thought. He didn't want to go there, if he could help it.
"Do I have to go to Azkaban?"
"I don't know. I hope you will, just like I hope you will at least consider whatever the Dementors will propose. I'm no expect on this, Mr. Potter, it's a mystery for all of us, but I do know that my friend always seemed to be... lost. Missing something. In quiet moments I sometimes sensed an inactive mental link, though I can only guess that has something to do with his decision." He sighed. "If you want to tell this to Albus, you may. It is your choice. But I cannot help but hope you will meet the Dementor leader, and accept your destiny, whatever it may be. Great things indeed."
Harry swallowed. He didn't know if he wanted to tell this to the Headmaster. Perhaps it could wait.
And about going to Azkaban...
He met Ollivander's hopeful eyes. "I'll think about it, sir."
In his heart he decided against it. He didn't want to be a Dark Creature. He wanted to be human.
Ollivander offered him a cup of tea and they waited until Dumbledore arrived.
The Headmaster greeted Harry with a surprised: "You're early, Harry. Did everything go al right with your friends?"
Harry looked at the floor. "Fine, sir."
"Very well. Quinten, my old friend, you know why I'm here. Can you help Harry?"
Ollivander smiled at Harry. "I doubt he needs much help, he already has marvellous control. Except of course in threatening situations, which is just as well."
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, I know, but has this ever happened before?"
"His case is an extraordinary one," Ollivander answered. "I know of two other cases, both a long time ago. I shall ask around in certain circles. If I find anything I will notify you and Mr. Potter."
"Thank you, Quinten."
They went back to Hogwarts. During the Floo-travel Harry could hear the voices again, though now they sounded more sinister.
He said goodbye to Dumbledore and had dinner in his room, relaxing the hold on his darker nature. The answers he'd hoped for had turned into more questions. He didn't plan on going to Azkaban, so he could ignore all of this, right?
He had a lot of things to think about.