Title: The Man from Adian Avenue
Summary: There is a strange, emerald-eyed man who lives on the corner of Adian Avenue, forever alone and anonymous. That is, however, until a young boy on the cusp of entering the magical world visits him and reveals, for a time, the true secret of the hermit of Adian Avenue. one-shot
There is a man who lives on the corner of Adian Avenue, in a tiny house with half shuttered windows. A strange man: eternally alone, accompanied only by an owl that often sits on the fence posts, simply waiting. He is a man of an indeterminate age, either late twenties or middle-aged, it is hard to tell, to distinguish what are lines of age and what are lines of hardship. The other residents keep a cautious distance, exchanging only pleasantries and nothing more with the man from the corner, the man with the brilliant green eyes.
I've been sent there today to that old house on the corner, sent on a mission of 'kindness' and 'companionship'. Quite simply translated, it means that my mother has run out of suitable punishments for me in regards to my latest letter of reprimand from school.
"Ms. Talbot," the letter begins, as my mother reads aloud to me the contents detailng my (latest) transgressions, "we at Saint John's Academy are required to inform you that your child, Malcolm Talbot, was caught hanging from the sewer pipes in the gymnasium, causing a potential risk to both himself and his fellow students." My mother sighed as she looked up from the paragraph, knowing now by heart the following closing lines, having seen so many articles of the same nature before.
"Malcolm, what am I going to do with you?" She sighs once more, and adopts an expression of exasperation, but I myself know by now that it is a facade, a face she presents to me out of habit now rather than real disappointment. She understands that I have no idea how I ended up four metres above the floor mats of the gym, nor do I remember taking ahold of the ventilation pipes above me. I can never recall the strange events that occur to me, from the most recent climb onto the pipes nor the first incident years ago of the disappearing vegetables. They seem to simply manifest themselves on their own.
As is such, she cannot find it within herself to truly punish me for something that we both know I had no intention of doing, nor no clear memory of having done it. So, she finds other things for me to do instead, like this most recent request of hers to visit the strange and ailing man of 24 Adian Avenue.
"Malcolm," she says, upon seeing my expression of disbelief, "he is only a man, a man who is lonely and who is not completely well. You've noticed his limp, of course."
I nod, and she continues.
"Well, it must be difficult for him to accomplish all of the necessary cleaning and such inside his home. I would like you to aid him for the day, just this once."
A protest rises to my lips, but I can see the hidden conviction and secret strength behind my mother's eyes and lips, and I keep my mouth shut. The argument ends before it had even begun.
And so, I have ended up on the doorstep of the house on the corner of Adian Avenue, nervously awaiting my day of trials with its strange occupant. I knock on the door, hesitantly. The echo moves throughout the small building, and I can hear it reverberate on the other side of the doorway. An endless moment passes, and then the door is opened quietly and patiently, revealing the man I have long regarded from afar with a curious eye.
"Er, hello sir. My-uh, my name is Malcolm, Malcolm Talbot. I live down the street," I say, gesturing behind me to point out the home that is mine.
He nods, and a stray lock of midnight black hair falls into his eyes. He brushes it away, unperturbed. "Your mother called to tell me you would be arriving. Please, come in." His voice is softer, quieter than I had ever imagined. Words seem to simply fall from his mouth, taking on a strange taste with an English accent different from my own, but only just, revealing that he has not always resided within these walls.
He turns away from the door, permitting me to follow him and make my way inside, entering the surprisingly spacious drawing room. It had seemed so small from the other side of the walls, but in here, in here there were several large plush chairs and a magnificent set of oak cupboards set against the wall. In the centre, surrounded by a large mantle, was a polished and gleaming fireplace. I grinned in disbelief.
"Wizard!" I mutter, and out of the corner of my eye I can see the man stiffen, all forward movement frozen..
"Par-pardon?" he asks, slightly off-put.
"Oh, I was just admiring this room. It looks so tiny from the outside, it's hard to believe that everything fits in here!" I exclaim, looking back at him with a smile.
He returns it, though somewhat half-heartedly. "Would you care for some tea?"
"Sure," I answer absently, as my curiosity, insatiable, returns me to my inspection of the drawing room. He leaves the room without a sound, passing into the kitchen beyond.
There was only one painting on the wall, the one visible from the front entrance, a portrait of a tranquil and sun-lit meadow, dull and predictable. However, in the rest of the hall, there were only photographs, tens of them, scattered around the room. I advanced on the nearest, a frame containing the bright and glowing faces of three young adolescents, wearing strange cloaks emblazoned with an alien crest. I reach out to touch it, and suddenly, I recoil in shock, crying out as if the children had risen out of their frozen portrait and bit me.
The girl, and the two boys, waving right and left, then breaking their greeting to laugh amongst themselves, as the tall red-headed one roars with laughter. Over and over the 'film' repeated itself and I watched, mesmerized, not even noticing as the man re-entered, placing the two tea-cups down onto the platform of one of the cupboards.
"Strange, isn't it," he says softly, but it still causes me to jump up in surprise.
"D-do they all do that?" I began, still in shock.
At this, the man sighed, and seated himself into one of the many available seats. "Please, sit with me Malcolm," he asks, gesturing to the sofa opposite him.
I do so, curious and nervous and slightly confused. I raise the tea-cup and drink the soothing amber liquid, hoping it will calm and soothe me.
"My mother didn't really send me here to help you do chores, did she?" I asked, realizing now the truth.
"No," replied the man, setting down his beverage. A long, silent moment passed before he spoke again, looking beyond Malcolm and into something beyond. "Your mother asked me to speak to you because she knew, somehow, who and what I was. I don't know how she knew, nor how she found out, but her suspicions were correct nonetheless."
He paused then, considering."Malcolm, you are a wizard."
I gape at him, incredulous. "What? I'm- what?"
"A wizard," continued the raven-haired man, "a person capable of performing and utilizing magic. A person who can summon objects from far away, who can disappear in a second and reappear a heartbeat later somewhere else, and who can kill without making a mark." At this, the emerald eyes grew dark and cloudy, and I felt my skin become blighted with shivers of fright, if only for a moment.
"You're a, uh, wizard too? I ask, though the words seem alien and strange, as if a snake had pierced me skin and poisoned me with a strength-sapping venom, a venom that dulled my vision and hearing senses with shock and disbelief.
The man nods, and reaches for his tea once more.
"Magic?"I whisper, looking down at my hands as if they would start performing some sort of incredible feat of their own accord. I realize something then, abruptly, and I turn my eyes back onto his, searching for confirmation. "Is that why so many weird things happen to me? Like when I ended up on the ventilation pipes on the ceiling at school?"
The man -wizard- laughs at this, lost in a memory. "Ah, yes," he began, smiling, "I myself once set a python on my great git of a cousin and his bully friend- on accident, of course."
"What will happen to me?" I whisper, as the identification and confirmation of my abilities and strangeness become real. Where would I go? I was different now, unique from all my friends. How could I ever go back? I'd be an outcast, ridiculed and ignored.
"They'll be a letter arriving for you soon; I expect it's your eleventh birthday in a few days' time?" I nod, and he continues, "It'll arrive by owl, on a window sill or open door. It'll tell you all about the school, Hogwarts, where you'll be able to learn to be a part of the magical world."
"World?" I croak, shocked once more.
He chuckles, amused. "A whole world, Malcolm. A world hidden from other people, non-magical persons. A world with different creatures and monsters, people and friends, wars and villains. A world with magic."
A long moment passes, a moment that holds endless possibilities and opportunities. I break the silence, needing to know. "Why aren't you there? Why do you live here, in this tiny house, on this back-end street? Why aren't you living where you belong?"
A sad, strange smile emerges onto his lips, and there is a faraway look in his eyes, and I know that he doesn't see me anymore. "There are some things that even magic can't do, or undo, for that matter. I can't return, Malcolm."
I know somehow that that is all he can say, bound by his own limitations and prisons of his mind and memory. "Thank you, sir." I say softly, knowing too that it is my time to leave. I have so many things to think about, so many words to share with my mother. I am excited: there is a whole new future set out for me. I rise from my chair and make my way over to the door, ready to leave.
A thought strikes me as I place my hand upon the catch of the door, and I turn back to him, a question etched into my mind. "You know, I don't know your name, sir," I say softly, looking once more into those vibrant but haunted green eyes.
A half-smile crawls onto his lips as he studies me. "You'll know it soon enough. But please, Malcolm, don't tell anyone where I am. Keep my house here a secret, if you could."
I'm puzzled, but decide to agree anyways, respecting his wishes. "I can do that sir."
He smiles fully now, and closes the door behind me as I leave. "Goodbye, Malcolm."
Five weeks later, as I sit beside a vibrant and chatty red-haired young girl and open the pages of my Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook, I realize why he has asked what he did from me, the man with the emerald eyes, the man from 24 Adian Avenue that saved the entire world. The man who once was and had been Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived.