Chapter 5

Once in a blue moor

She danced silently, to the music that could be only heard by her. Blades of grass touching her bare feet, the morning breeze moving her nightgown in rhythm with her dance. She was not an epitome of modern beauty, being rather overweight, her figure not as attractive as she would like it to be. But here on the border of a forest and a beautiful meadow, filled with summer flowers and the sound of bird's song, with no one here to witness her dance, but the warm wind, she felt fully and utterly free.

She was thankful to her mother, that she decided it was best for her to spend the rest of holidays, with her aunt on a countryside. It was a blessing – being able to escape from her scream filled dwellings back in London, where her parents have been constantly quarreling over her. Her mother thought it would be better for her, to not go back to Hogwarts ever again, while her father in his usual adamant manner, insisted on her being sent back there for another year of education. She herself didn't have a faintest idea of what she wanted to do – on the one hand she surely wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea of transferring to another school, with all that was connected with that kind of transfer – new faces, new teachers, new rules, completely new environment, and the stress connected with coming into this all, would certainly not help her in recovering from those rather nasty events that occurred in Hogwarts. On the other hand, she wouldn't dare to imagine, what would happen, if she had been indeed sent to Hogwarts. When she began her education there, she felt as if that place was second home to her – a feeling that many other students also had – but now, it felt so alien to her, that it would be like living on the alien planet. She was sure that she could handle the cold treatment she would receive upon returning there, but the loneliness of having to live in a place, where no one would ever say a kind word to her, just because of a mistake she had made once, was something that filled her heart with unease. And finding no way to solve this unsolvable situation, she did the only thing she was capable of doing now.

She danced.

Her aunt was an owner of this rather huge property in Wales, and she has been coming here since her youngest years. Or until recently, when three years ago, her aunt had fallen ill, which caused her parents to cease, to send her here, not wanting to impose on a sick relative. But this year, her aunt's health has improved enough, for her to be sent here again. And while having an energetic teenage girl under one's roof, hardly counts as a factor which contributes to the silence and rest required for one's return to health, her aunt Frieda had stated that it was of no importance to her, and that she preferred having her niece in her house during holidays. Her aunt, as all those old aunties in old fairy tales, was a rather weird but on the same time, very wise and lovable person. While not being a cat-person, prevented her from having a small herd of cats under her roof, she has substituted cats with rabbits, an so her house was full of Fluffies, Plushies, Windywinkies, Pupplehuffs and many other of the long eared rodents variety.

An especially strong gust of wind had made her realize, that while it was pleasant to dance here, her nightgown soaked with a morning dew, clung to her legs, making them uncomfortably cold. She wasn't about to catch cold in the middle of summer, so she stopped dancing and lazily began to trot in the direction of her aunt's mansion. Jogging slowly through the woods she had no need of hurrying back to her room, so it would escape her aunt's notice, that she has left so early in the morning. It was a wonderful quality of her aunt, that she allowed her to wander around as much as she would like to – granted that some places were of limits, like the Blue Forest, which was a living place of some more dangerous magical creatures – but pretty much the rest of the property was, for the holidays, her own kingdom.

Branches of a few bushes were moved away, and she saw, that she still knew the place very well, despite not being here for the last few years – she finally reached her aunt's house. Yellow elevation welcomed her eyes, and combined with the dark brown cover of the roof, and with ivy growing on the walls, the mansion looked, as if it was taken straight out of a fairy tale. The window of her room was opened, and the hangings were drawn outside the frame, by the strong, morning wind. She smiled – it looked inviting and cozy, as if it was an escape door, from the world of worries, leading into the world of faeries. So she walked to the window, and because it was placed barely above the ground level, she had no trouble in climbing up, and entering the room through it. She crossed her room, floor full of scattered pieces of clothing, and stood in front of the full length mirror. When she stood in front of the reflective surface that showed her own self, almost half a month ago, in her own room, she felt as if she was dying. But here and now, looking at her own reflection, her dark hair ruffled from the wind, her face reddened from running in the morning, her nightgown wet from dew, her feet bare and dirty from being in contact with the earth, she felt very much alive. But from somewhere in her mind, came the thought, that it would soon be over. She would be sent to school, and no matter which school it would be, she would feel alone there. Her time at her aunt's place would remain only as a happy memory. One of a few.

Romilda felt, that her nightgown was becoming wet also in the places, in which her tears have fallen. Strange grimace appeared on her face, as if she was trying to appear happy and smiling, while her tears still were flowing from her dark eyes. She fell on her knees, lowering her face, trying not to look in the mirror, not to notice how miserable she looked right now.

The sound of a small feet, quickly approaching, captured her attention. She was surprised to notice that while she was weeping silently, a small fuzzy ball, better known as Fubby, came through the door and into her room. The rabbit was now looking curiously at the distraught girl. She was about to catch the rabbit, in search for some warmth that could ease her emotions, when another sound had resounded. Steps of her aunt's slippers could be heard on the corridor, and soon enough her voice also followed:

"Fubby! Where are you darling? You fuzzy rascal, you know that you should be lying in your cot! Your vet told you so! So now come to mommy, or else..."

Aunt Frieda was known for throwing random threats in her pets' direction. But executing those threats was another thing. The sound of her slippers have stopped, as their owner apparently also halted. Outside Romilda's room, unluckily. For a moment Romilda hoped, that her aunt would continue to walk, but then her voice had sounded:

"Rommy, are you really sleeping in such a drafty room? I told you to close your window when you are coming back, didn't I?"

There was no helping it. The first rule of living in Aunt's Frieda's house was that every question asked by her, had to be answered. She made that clear all those years ago, when little Romilda had for the first time arrived here. It was apparently very good for a child to grow up in a house where it had to answer questions and fess up regularly. It helped in shaping an honest personality and whatnot. But now Romilda was very queasy about answering that question, for she would like it very much if her aunt would just leave her alone for now. But then she thought better of it, and as clearly as someone who had just until recently cried, said:

"Yes auntie"

Her nasal voice, must have alerted her aunt that she was crying, and surely seconds later, she have entered her room. Romilda raised her head to look at her mother's sister, awaiting her reaction.

Her aunt could be usually described as a rather jovial person. In her late fifties, she still had no gray hair, and her happy appearance and demeanor had on many occasions, been a source of consolation for many family members. So even when she came into the room, and saw her niece in her disheveled state on the floor, she hasn't lost her smile. Instead she picked up Fubby, and with the rabbit in her arms, she sat down next to her niece and with one hand gliding through the girl's hair started:

"Is it something really important, or are you just having a crying day?"- said her aunt in a very protective voice. For a second forgetting, that it is aunt Frieda she is talking with, Romilda tearfully exclaimed:

"Of course it is something serious! My mother wants me to go to another school, where I will be all alone friendless and alienated, and dad wants to send me to Hogwarts, where I will also be all alone friendless and alienated. I believe it qualifies as something serious!" - she screamed, tears falling from her eyes. Her aunt only looked at her.

Romilda sighed. "I have fallen for it?" - she said in a shaky voice, the tears still slowly flowing down her cheeks.

"Yes my dear, you have" - replied her aunt - "So now, that you have finally said what was sitting on your stomach for the last few days, let us discuss some things." Her aunt sighed, and her forehead became creased - "Tell me, my dear, why would you do such a disgusting thing, as using a love potion on your classmate?" - She quickly held up her hand to stop the outburst of anger from her niece - "You have to know, that I am not asking you this to blame you, but I need to know some basic facts of this situation, to propose you with some solutions. So, will you cooperate with me young lady?" The stubborn look in Romilda's eyes diminished a little, and she huffed only once, before, on one continuous breath, quickly exclaiming:

"Yes, I will. But, aunt, you have to know that this is not what it seems to be. Yes, I have used love potion on Lester Potter, and yes I admit that at the beginning I had a small crush on him. But these two facts are not connected with each other. After I realized that my crush was just that – a crush, I , by no means lost my interest in Lester Potter. It was not a romantic interest "– she supplied even quicker, seeing her aunt frown - "I just wanted to become his friend and at least if that was not meant to be, to become his acquittance. But no matter what I did, he would not see me as anything else, but that small girl that once had a crush on him. So I... I don't know what came over me to decide that a small dose of a love potion would affect his attitude toward me, so I could be able to become his friend. I now realize that at that point I wasn't even interested in a full friendship with him. I just wanted to reassure myself that I could capture someone's attention. And... well you know how it worked.." - Suddenly the young girl has looked utterly crushed. -"I won't be able to come there ever again without feeling guilty, Won't I?" - she said in a small voice, and little out of breath.

Her aunt face cleared and a vague smile appeared on her lips. She hugged her niece closely and said, still holding the sad girl:

"You know that you did the wrong thing, and that in itself is the right thing. But you can't expect your classmates, to see this as easily and as clearly as you do. They, for some reason, have chosen you to be their scapegoat, and when it comes to teenagers, unfortunately, they rarely change that choice once it is made. So, what I am saying is that... yes living in Hogwarts, with all this hostility directed onto you will be hard. And I am saying that it will be hard, because as well as I know my sister, I don't think that she could be able to persuade your father not to send you to Hogwarts. He's just as stubborn as you are. "- She said winking to her niece - "I know that it could sound as the advice taken out of the psychology book, but you will just have to be yourself." Her niece looked at her as if she clearly wanted to express an opinion that this piece of advice wouldn't improve her situation. However the older of the two continued: "Yes, you have done something wrong, but you regret it, and the... vengeance and mistreatment that others are imposing over you, should just reassure you that now, you are free of fault, having done the right thing of seeing your fault, and they are just expressing their anger. I am not saying, that you should allow yourself to be hurt, feel free to hex the lot of them, but don't treat those children as someone that could seriously threaten you and your way of life. They will always scream and curse – you just have to realize that it is normal, and handle it as if it was something that bores you. If they won't see a reaction, they will leave you alone. That is one thing. And the second... the problem of loneliness. Let me say, that if you are honest to yourself, and are living just the way you are, they will see it, and some of your classmates are bound to see you for yourself and not as the mendacious image of you, they have made up in their minds. And besides – I believe that this year will be more fruitful, when it comes to acquiring new acquaintances – with the new educational decree, you will have much more chance to find some fitting company, if no one from the old crowd becomes interested in you. Any more questions?"

Romilda was now staring at her aunt in disbelief. Her aunt basically, had just told her, to accept the mistreatment she was receiving as something normal. Only aunt Frieda could utter something as weird, as if it was the way of comforting her niece. It was so wrong to her teenage mind, but oddly it also felt comforting. As if the weight of this problem had been lifted from her arms. As if she had done anything she could do, and the initiative lied on the other side. It felt somewhat liberating from the responsibility of having to fight for one's colleagues.

"No aunt, no more questions" - She said.

Her aunt nodded and taking Fubby with her, started to leave. Romilda quickly said:

"And thank you auntie... I... feel better now". Her aunt smiled and winked at her niece. Walking out of the room she just said:

"And please dear, do close this window. It's freezing here. Fubby's health will suffer even more if you intend to expose him to such conditions"

That told, her aunt smiled and left.

Romilda resolved, that she would close the window, but from the other side. She quickly dressed in jeans cutoffs and light blouse, and jumped outside through the window. Her mood was now vastly improved, and that called for a visit, to one of her kingdom's beautiful places. Shoeless, young girl, running though the fields could be seen from one of the windows on the upper floor. Frieda smiled, looking proudly at the happiness of her sister's child.

The woman was waiting patiently for the father of her still unborn child, to come and take her home. She wasn't very happy that he was being so late, because standing here, on a deserted and dark railway station, wasn't one of her favorite pastimes. She was staring at the dark woods on the other side of the railway, with a small tingle of fear touching her heart, not knowing what could hide in such a dark place. She felt utterly relaxed, when she heard the sound of a car wheels on the gravel, and soon enough saw the car of her husband, pulling beside the station. She quickly hurried away, throwing the last glance over her shoulders, at the dark border of the uninviting forest. It was really with a benefit to her composure and sanity, that she hadn't noticed that something had captured and returned her gaze. A pair of eyes, placed high, on one of the trees was looking at the woman intently.

Not that it was a wrong thing to do. Looking at the pregnant woman, would be, for pretty much anyone, a nice way of spending time. The charm of a little bump growing in the woman's belly, would help many happy memories to arise in almost everyone's mind.

It was double so, for one Harry Potter, the actual resident of aforementioned tree branch, who was staring at the retreating woman's back. It caused him, to remember the only happy period in his life. Living in your mother's womb isn't usually the first thing that comes into your mind, when you want to recall something happy. Normal people would remember their childhood, their wedding day, the birth of their first child. But for Harry it was different, for it was the only period of time in his life, which he could recall, that was at least filled with some sort of happiness and love. A vague and swirling pictures of the time before his birth, before an occurrence that had ripped his normal life from him. An occurrence that had caused him to become a monster he was now. Before that horrid event, he was a normal person, whose destination was to be born normally, cared for, loved and spoiled almost beyond imagination, by his parents. Looking at the women in the blessed state was a reminding impulse for the young Potter. Reminding him of what might have been, had he been given a chance for a normal life, and what would be if he would somehow find a way to return to his normal form. Not that the hopes for attaining the second objective were very high, but yes... it was one of his longer term tasks to complete. The first of them, actually in the process of completion, being connected with finding a way to successfully get into Hogwarts and remain there relatively safe, until the storm connected with the "Return of Voldemort" would pass. So here he was, hanging from the branch of a tree near the Carmarthen station, somewhere in Wales.

It was here, in that small town, that Frederic Elmond had once lived. And it was in Carmarthen's muggle orphanage that this old wizard once upon a time, had seen some strange kid, who apparently was performing unusual magical feats without the use of a wand. That deeply concerned this wizard, so he sought to meet with this strange child, and upon coming across him, he realized that he was a mute, underdeveloped magically child, who had no chances of being noticed by the magical authorities. So it was Frederic Elmond who had taken it upon himself to talk with the old acquaintance of his father, Gustavus Vane, the chief of Ministry Registers, to ask him, to add this poor child to Hogwarts student list, so this poor child could receive some proper magical education.

Of course, no such person as Frederic Elmond had ever existed, for he and his story was just that: a rather general idea of the story, which Harry planted in the mind of Gustavus Vane, to support his mental suggestion. A story told to evoke helpful emotions, and then to be forgotten, remembered only vaguely, as something the subject had once experienced. And now, if his abilities were to be trusted, Vane would have sent the letter to this rather isolated place, and he would be receiving it the next evening, on the third of August. He would have plenty of time to handle both - the issue of concealing his rather monstrous appearance and the issue of forging in much more detailed way, the story of the new student's life as well as learning the basics of the sign language. But now, he would be making a visit to one of his favorite hideaways in this region.

The "New Carmarthen" was a complex of caves, placed around the old roman castle which stood in the town. These caves were a last resting place for many of the oldest buildings in the whole Wales. The structures stood almost unchanged and untouched since the the time of the middle ages, when they were buried under the ground by some powerful magic spell, centuries ago. Amongst these old walls, Harry felt safe and secure, for no being other than himself ever had dared to enter these tunnels. It was a place where he could rest, and exercise without the risk of anyone witnessing him. So it was a very eager Harry Potter that have jumped down from his observatory place on a tree, and started running quickly and silently as a wild animal, in the direction of the entrance to the system of tunnels. Unfortunately, the grotto by which one entered those tunnels, was rather far away from his current position, and he would have to be quick to manage to get there before the sunrise. That was, because the route to the entrance, led through rather populated areas. So he had to be very cautious and try to escape anyone's notice, for anyone witnessing him here, in this rather heavily populated by wizards area, would surely recognize him as "the dangerous Dark Lord". And that would certainly not mean well for his chances of remaining alive long enough, to get the letter.

His resolve to not get noticed being very firm, Harry focused for a moment, and once again his eyes flashed bright blue from under his hood. His running pace somewhat slowed, his silhouette slightly trembling under his robes as if from some pain, but he continued running as if almost nothing had changed. But changes became visible, when he threw the hood of his robe away, and two small horizontal slits could be seen, placed on the pale skin on the back of his head. And anyone observing this, would feel deeply disturbed, when both of them opened, exposing two, almost identical eyes, which now began to whirl around, independent on each other, looking for any sign of coming danger.

"And while they may not look very handsomely, they surely fulfill their function just right." thought young Harry. "And it is one of a few abilities that look as something in a way similar to the human transfiguration. It may come in handy if in Hogwarts they would like us to present our skills in that subject"

Jumping over a very familiar looking, dead tree trunk, Harry upon landing safely, turned right. There, a small path led into short underground passage, which unfortunately led into more populated parts of the town. He crawled swiftly through it, and when he came out of the second end, he quickly had to dive back into the hole. Few approaching voices could be heard, accompanied by the loud sound of footsteps. The voices were singing, apparently something that was supposed be a drinking song, but judging by the voices it was sung as an after-drinking song. Harry had to wait until three drunks were out of the hearing range, before coming out and continuing his run, still troubled by the fact, that most likely, he was going to get caught. But as the more rational part of his mind kept telling him, it was of no use to worry about it now, for it could only cause him to loose his focus. So he ran, trying to keep his composure, hiding whenever he came upon some people, and trying to keep out of the range of most alarming charms,he could see with his "special sight", laid upon wizards' houses.

One time, he had almost been discovered when some old man came from around the corner of a rather heavily warded house, and started to walk in his direction. He escaped only by falling on the ground, and hiding in a high grass, while causing some birds he found nearby, to attract man's attention, while he crawled around the man's abode. Tired and stressed, after several hours of sneaking, done to cover the distance of only a few miles, he finally came to the point after which it would be much easier to travel. After jumping down, from the roof of a shakily looking, wooden workshop, on which he had to wait until some woman had thrown away the waste, he crossed the small grove that grew nearby, and came to a halt, as the border of the great forest became visible in the distance. He stood there panting slightly, and while the eyes on the back of his head still scanned the premises behind him, his normal eyes focused on the edge of the opposite forest. Small flashes of a blue light could be seen, reflecting on the wet leaves of the oaks and beeches of which the forest was composed. He knew, that the small flying lanterns were Will-o'-the-wisps, that ruled in the forest, always eager to lead some unsuspecting muggles deeper into the forest, where their screams could not be heard, while they were immolated alive.

Fortunately for him, these deathly fairies were not interested in causing him any harm, for they "thought" he was one of the other dark fairies, that often visited these woods. So, after crossing the border of this forest he could be sure that he was relatively safe, even from wizards, who Will-o'-the-wisps treated no better than muggles. Of course, even wizard's children knew of the way of banishing these fairies, but that made them not that much eager to do so, especially in the dead of the night. He was about to move to the safety of the Blue Forest, when some silent voice from above him whispered:

"Who do we have here, my little snake carcass?"

The difficulty of it all, lied in finding a nettle. Really it was that simple – for some reason, these "oh so dangerous" flaming balls of blue light, from which the Blue Forest had gotten its name, were deeply afraid of this nasty plant. So, after arriving here just a few days ago, she had a full stock of it, expecting, that it would come in handy if she would like to go to visit one of the most beautiful places around here. A place she had fallen in love with, the first time she had seen it. Of course her aunt wouldn't be a very happy woman if she discovered that her niece was disregarding her rules, apparently dictated for her own safety. But honestly, she knew what she was doing and she was in no danger at all. Besides, if her aunt would from time to time leave her own dwellings and see how very beautiful were some parts of her land, she would certainly allow it. But seeing as her aunt was rather adamant on spending the rest of her life, closed in her house with a band of long eared rodents, and therefore not very supportive of that idea, Romilda had to pretend she was going somewhere else. She said that she was going to wander around and try to find some berries to eat, in a rather remote garden. But actually, dressed in a modest, forest green t-shirt, and jeans cutoffs, holding a nettle in one hand, and her wand in the other, while it was still bright, she crossed the part of the Blue Forest and came out, at the entirely different part of the world, apparently not confused by the sight that was before her. For instead of coming into some meadow, as one would expect in the middle of a forest, she came out to see the tons of open space, reaching to the horizon. She knew that these fields were not on any map, apparently contained by some magic in the confines of the forest. She turned around to reassure herself, and sure enough, behind her, a little translucent, but still visible, was the border of the forest. She contently turned in the direction of the open space, to gaze at that beautiful view.

The still bright sun, shined from above, showing the full beauty of this area. The ground was almost completely covered by everywhere present colonies of the blue heather, growing on the stone formations, on the small hills, and coming almost to her feet, at the edge of a forest. It was the calming aura of this place that allowed her to fully understand and appreciate the encouraging advice given her by aunt Frieda. Her mind now at peace, she allowed herself to slowly wade forward through beautifully smelling plants, slipping her bare feet through the flowers. She came to her favorite, star shaped rock formation, the size of an elephant, and slowly climbed on it, admiring the view which unfolded before her. The gentle wind moved the white clouds lazily across the blue sky, while causing the fields of flowers before her, to dance together.

"How could you feel worried in that kind of place. Just being here, takes all of your fears and problems away." - she wondered.

Her mind was at peace, and the problems she was worrying about a few hours ago, now were something unimportant and long forgotten. It wasn't long before the soft, warm wind and a fresh scent of heather, had lulled her to sleep.

The sun shined even brighter and the rush of the wind tangled her long hair. She was six years old, running across the fields of her aunt's property, being chased by the wind and by the aunt herself on her own, old styled and very slow broomstick. She was laughing loudly, happy that she was the one winning the game of tag. Jumping over the fence seemed as something that she could easily do. Her small legs trembled with effort, as she gathered all her strength to jump over the barrier. She heard her aunt shout wildly. She was about to ask why for the love of Merlin, her mother's sister had resolved to screech so loudly on such a beautiful day, when something weird had happened. She felt no ground under her feet. She looked under her feet and saw a very high hill, from which she was currently falling. Rolling down the hill, hurting her small body, over the stones sticking out of the ground. She felt that even her head was hurt a little by the conctant banging. At last, after rolling for what seemed an eternity, she had slowed and finally stopped, at the base of the hill. Her aunt now looking at her with a face as white as a sheet of paper, calling her louder, and louder. She wasn't interested in listening to her, she just wanted to sleep so badly now, so she could play with her aunt later. She was about to tell her aunt that, when something warm slowly oozed from her head, adding to the feeling of sleepiness. But that insistent voice of her aunt was preventing her from falling asleep. Her young body protested with a loud groan, but the voice still was shouting. She wanted to sleep so badly, and the voice could wait a little, she resolved, slowly falling into some dark place. But then, a very different, surely not her voice, had sounded, as if speaking right from her own mind:

"It's time to wake up, little one"

So she woke up. Rising from the cold and wet stone, she noticed it was dark, and even more strangely the weather in this magically contained realm, seemed to worsen. Dark, storm clouds were slowly gliding through the night sky, showering this usually calm place with showers of very cold rain, and the sound of a distant thunder has suddenly been joined by the howl of a very strong wind. The only source of light was a feebly shining moon, joined from time to time by the flash of a lightning. It frightened her greatly, because this realm of serenity was always calm, and no matter what weather conditions were outside, here, it was always sunny and warm. So, now desperate to find a cause of this disturbance, she began to wildly turn around, checking what could possibly be the reason of such a change. And, she had found the reason quick enough, for he was slowly walking in her direction, exiting from the forest.

The beam of the yellowish light hit the place he was standing in. Now, if he was more of a experienced dueling master when it came to dueling with wizards, he could have proudly said that it was the place he was standing in mere seconds before, and now after dodging the first spell, he was already attacking from another position. But, alas it wasn't the case. The beam hit him straight in the head, and luckily instead of causing any kind of lethal damage, had attacked his most precious tool. He felt as if every corridor in his mind was filled with liquid fire, so growling and wheezing from the pain he had fallen on the ground. Through his pain filled mind, rolled a quick thought:

"Either he knows what I am, and where my strengths lie, or he's just lucky in his choice of spells..."

However there was no time for more reflexions, as another beam of light came from the direction of his opponent, who now was behind Potter's back. Harry had to use some of his power to help lift himself from the ground quickly enough to avoid the second spell, which this time hit the ground he was lying on, just seconds before, causing it to explode in the silent poof. While being raised by the invisible force, Harry turned in mid-air, and now was facing his opponent. Who turned out to be some deeply-middle aged wizard, with a rather nasty scowl that adorned his face, which was marred with many deep scars. His tangled, dirty blond hair, hiding a big part of his face, but not being able to hide the look of pure hate in his brown eyes. The man raised his wand again, and furiously cast some brownish spell, that when neared Harry, changed into the swarm of many nasty looking daggers. Some of them Harry reflected with the small explosion of air particles, he had caused in front of himself, and some more he has dodged. Those who didn't hit their target disappearing in a puff of purple smoke. But one of them had been not affected by both actions, and embedded itself to its hilt in Harry's right shoulder.

Harry had to force himself not to scream, firstly – he reasoned with himself – because it would give that bastard some satisfaction, and secondly it could attract someone from nearby houses. Younger of the Potter brothers had to duck another nasty looking ray, which turned out to be a bone breaking spell, for when it hit the branch in the grove behind, a loud snap could be heard. After that he was not very eager to give his opponent another chance to come up with something even nastier, so he focused for a while, and touching the hilt of the dagger he abruptly ripped it from his shoulder, throwing it with a practiced accuracy in the direction of the wizard. The man smiled, apparently not impressed by such a feat, and slowed down the dagger with his wand allowing it to be caught with his left hand. Which very quickly turned out to be a mistake, when the man, shouting fiercely, as the heated, to the brink of melting, metal dagger burned his hand, threw it into some tree, upon hitting which, the weapon disappeared. Harry encouraged the particles of the conjured weapon, to speed up their movements, causing it to heat up while he was taking it out of his wound, allowing it to cauterize the injury, and later using it as a cleaver weapon. The wizard, shaking his left hand in pain, spoke for the second time, this time seething through his teeth:

"I don't know how you managed to survive you bastard, but be sure that even if I won't be able to beat you, many more will come, who will do just that"

And with that, he raised his wand arm into the sky, with a clear desire to shoot some kind of flashy message that could be seen from miles away. That could not be allowed. Harry focused, and looked into man's eyes, which was done with no problem at all, seeing as the man was glaring at him with anger. And through this eyes he entered.

He wasn't a Legilimens, so he saw no reason for following the Legilimency-Occlumency path. Wizards, when in need of using mind arts, used one, and only one of the brain natural routes to perform the feats connected with those arts. Legilimens attacked only through that route, and Occlumens defended only that route. Those were the only routes of the mind, that were capable of undergoing the influence of greater amounts of magic, with relatively no harm. So only in those two routes wizard's magic could be pumped into, either to attack or to defend. But Harry being no magic user, had a little different reservoir of places to attack, being able to choose from thousands of thousands of routes entering the wizard's mind. So going in was just as easy as choosing any pair of doors beside the locked one. And now that he came into the wizard's mind he could do much, much more.

The old wizard had suddenly found his right hand not responding to his will. Against his wishes, the hand opened, letting the long wand fall onto the ground. The look of hatred on wizard's face deepened, and Harry felt it, as a white hot, burning poker, poked into the side of his mental probe. It was not a very pleasant feeling, but Harry decided to bear with it for a while. His eyes flashed once more, as he withdrew his probe from the mind of this hostile wizard, and rushed with it, through his own mind, to push one of his buttons. A sudden slam of a very strong force had rammed into the wizard, throwing him at least ten feet back. He groaned when he hit the ground, but beside that he looked as if nothing that serious happened to him. He slowly began to rise on his feet. When he again was standing, he tried to wandlessly summon his wand, but it remained still on the ground, held there by Harry's vice like mental grip. The wizard tried to do this again, and Harry smiled inwardly at the stupidity of the man.

That was before, from his second wand, he shot out another spell in Harry's direction. The beam had grazed the edge of Harry's robes, and it was only thanks to the eyes on the back of his head, that he escaped being crushed by the tree, which was cut down by the spell's cutting power. Harry dodged to the right, allowing the tree to slam into the ground. Resolving to, from now on take this old fellow seriously, he used his probe to forcefully break away some of the larger tree branches, and wielding them at distance, attack the wizard with them. The man was trying to cast another spell, while running away from these overgrown clubs, when one of them had hit the wizard in his left arm, while the other hit him in his right knee, causing him to double over with pain. Another sweeping movement, hit the man's knees from behind, removing his legs from under him, and causing him to tumble to the ground, still holding onto his second wand.

"It won't do any good if he uses it, I think" Thought Harry, using the branches to hold the man down, restricting his movements. With one snap of his mental probe, he snapped both wands in half, sending sparkles flying around, some of them starting small fires on the summer grass. Throwing away the branches, Harry lifted the man by his leg, allowing him to hang upside down, facing him, his face for some reason expressing even more hate.

"Why should he be angry? It was him who started all this, got beaten and now he can't accept this. He's lucky I'm not the one who's angry " mused Harry grimly.

The man was rather unlucky, that he had no chance to call for help, for while Harry could handle an alone wizard from time to time, meeting greater numbers of them and coming alive from it ... well it wasn't as if he had any experience with that, but mainly because he avoided greater groups of wizards. So allowing himself to again look in the man's eyes, he analogically began to look around in the man's mind, searching for all memories of their meeting, and erasing them. Completely erasing someone's memories was not something that was to be taken lightly, for it could also be as dangerous to the eraser as to the one whose memory was erased. So Harry took his time, still listening carefully for any sounds that could announce anyone coming. When the process was completed, he lifted now unconscious man with his mental force, and placed him near the fallen tree. With some luck, the man would think that he was hit by a falling tree. But if that mystification was to be successful, Harry had to erase the burn he had caused on the man's left hand. It was here, when the process became nasty and complicated.

He laid his left hand on the man's left hand, and focused. Moving his probe through appropriate tunnels in his mind, he had found a way to connect both his and the man's nerve systems. Traveling into wizard's system, he began to wander around, gathering the extent of damage that his hot dagger had caused. Slowly the burn marks on the attacker's palm began to disappear, as he was erasing them. When all the evidence was removed from the palm of his opponent, he had to put it somewhere else, so he clenched his teeth, as the sum of all the pain caused by the burn, transferred to his nerve system. Nasty looking burn mark appeared on his own left palm, but he cared nothing for it. His rather quick metabolism, when put into self regenerating purpose, could handle this issue rather fast, when supplied with enough time to work on that. What mattered now, was the fact that the wizard lying in front of him, could be in no way used as a witness, of what had happened here. But the scene of their fight could.

So it was with serenity and focus that the young Potter had lifted two broken wands lying on the ground, put them in his pocket, where with little difficulty, he had mended them, just by focusing on the original structure of both the wand and the core, before leaving them near the prone form of the man. He also used his mental probe to roughen up the clean cut inflicted on a tree, so it could be taken for a natural occurrence, and took his time to spot and erase every burned spot on the grass. After doing that Harry left the scene quickly, entering into the Blue Forest.

And it was with great surprise and shock that the young Potter had found, that when he came out of the wood and onto the Blue Moor, the magically enchanted fairy lands, used as meeting place for their motleys, he encountered a teenage, rather... familiar looking, witch. A witch who was strangely, fast asleep on one of the fairies' altar, surrounded by the group of five tall, willowy silhouettes, each holding a long, jagged knife in its hand. Harry could hear the song of old days, sang by those dark fey in a bright voices, as if telling the story:

O who rides by night thro' the woodland so wild?

It is the fond father embracing his child;

And close the boy nestles within his loved arm,

To hold himself fast, and to keep himself warm.

Harry once again looked at the girl. Was she stupid? Coming into such place with nothing but a one nettle to scare away the Will-o'-the-Wisps? And yet strangely enough her face seemed so .. familiar, as if they have met before. The dark eyes, the slightly rounded face with full cheeks, the soft sound of a sleeping child ...

A sleeping child...

He was traveling through the dark halls of the New Carmarthen, seeking another entrance, that could be used in times of emergency. His eyes were as used to the dark conditions of this place, as the eyes of any other wild, night hunting animal. It was his territory, and he longed for it to be safe, so constantly trying to familiarize himself with all the routes, was something natural. As through the thick mist he had heard the words spoken:

"O father, see yonder! see yonder!" he says;

"My boy, upon what dost thou fearfully gaze?"

"O, 'tis the Erl-King with his crown and his shroud."

"No, my son, it is but a dark wreath of the cloud."

He has just been checking one of the tunnels leading upwards, in hopes of discovering that it could be used as a second entrance, when he heard a scream just above his head. He quickly hurried away, scared that someone may have been waiting at the other end of the tunnel. From somewhere a voice had sounded, as if coming from another world:

"O come and go with me, thou loveliest child;

By many a gay sport shall thy time be beguiled;

My mother keeps for thee many a fair toy,

And many a fine flower shall she pluck for my boy."

His knees were scrapped painfully from crawling so fast, but he could not care less. His primal instinct has taken over, giving him the strength to run and to ignore pain. In one brief moment of clarity he dared to look behind, and saw nothing alarming. But nonetheless he was not in the mood to go investigate. He was about to run along, when the ceiling of this small tunnel has breached, exposing him to bright sunlight. From the outside a choir of voices could be heard singing:

"O father, my father, and did you not hear

The Erl-King whisper so low in my ear?"

"Be still, my heart's darling -- my child, be at ease;

It was but the wild blast as it sung thro' the trees."

He had frozen in place, not willing to move, in hopes that he would not be discovered, but when nothing happened for a longer moment, he braced himself and looked over his dust covered shoulder. The hole, which appeared in the ceiling was rather big, at least big enough for a seven year old Harry to stick his head out. And against both the instinct and the reason screaming at him, he did just that, wanting to hear these voices again:

"O wilt thou go with me, thou loveliest boy?

My daughter shall tend thee with care and with joy;

She shall bear thee so lightly thro' wet and thro' wild,

And press thee, and kiss thee, and sing to my child."

The small, bald head of little Harry, looked really out of place, sticking carefully out of the hole, at the base of the rather big hill, under which part of the cave was buried. He could be easily mistaken for some albino gnome. Little Potter looked carefully around, noticing soon enough, that the source of the voice was coming, from the old woman who was screaming at the top of her lungs, while descending quickly from the hill. Harry was about to hide, when he noticed the cause of woman's distress. Almost next to him lied a very pale looking small girl, with a dark hair, which now was bloodied extensively, by the blood slowly seeping from great wound on the girl's head. The girl had her eyes closed, only her lips moved silently, in rhythm with the words of a strange song:

"O father, my father, and saw you not plain

The Erl-King's pale daughter glide past thro' the rain?"

"Oh yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full soon;

It was the grey willow that danced to the moon."

The girl suddenly opened her eyes slightly, looking straight at Harry. Her eyes were not focused, as if she wasn't seeing clearly what she was looking at, but nonetheless Harry ceased to breath at this moment. The girl's dark eyes were flooded with blood, and she slowly started to close them. Her lips were not moving, but from some otherworldly source, the next words came:

"O come and go with me, no longer delay,

Or else, silly child, I will drag thee away."

"O father! O father! now, now, keep your hold,

The Erl-King has seized me -- his grasp is so cold!"

Harry realized that something wasn't right. He remembered, that he once had been here before. He helped the girl, he had somehow had stopped the bleeding, by slowing the flow of her blood, he had escaped safely, after quickly sealing the hole with some earth. He was sixteen, not seven. So why he was relieving this memory? And where he was now? Why he was asking all these questions? Why he wasn't acting. Why...

A sleeping child ...

His eyes opened, his mind breaking free from the song's power. He saw that the group of Erlkonigs was coming closer, and closer to the sleeping girl, still holding their knifes, this time raised very high in the air, as if they were about to strike. The last stanza of the song was sang by the dark figures:

Sore trembled the father; he spurr'd thro' the wild,

Clasping close to his bosom his shuddering child;

He reaches his dwelling in doubt and in dread,

But, clasp'd to his bosom, the infant was ...

"It's time to wake up, little one" Harry said.

The movement of his lips did not produce any sound, that could be heard with human ears. But nevertheless the teenage witch, holding her wand with one hand, and the now useless nettle with the other, woke up and started to frantically look around. Apparently she couldn't notice the still approaching fey, so Harry had to act fast, or else the girl would be slain by the bloodthirsty creatures. He started to walk, and sure enough, his movement had captured girl's attention.

The teenager quickly jumped from the rock, ignoring the pain it surely must have caused her, and started to run, still not aware of the dreadful presence of the Erlkonigs. The magical creatures, not expecting that turn of events, stood there for a moment in shock, before running after their prey. Harry, on impulse started running after them, in hopes of rescuing the girl, who quite seriously thought that it was her he was after. So while his legs carried him after the five fairies, his mind was whirling with activity. The right button was pushed, and one of the fairies fell on the ground, as his mind was assaulted with a high pitched voice, placed right into his brain. Small streams of blood could be seen coming out of the creature's pointed ears as Harry passed by it. The remaining four of the fairies divided, with two of them still chasing the girl, and the other two returning to fight the cause of their failure.

One of the fairies aimed for Harry's wounded shoulder, while the other was trying to hit the artery at the back of his leg. Harry, again had to resort to splitting his probe, to handle this situation. The screech in his mind was somewhat dulled this time, as he was getting used to hearing it on a day to day basis. One of his probes, Harry directed into the long forgotten corridor in his mind. Very curvy and tight passages required perfect maneuvering, and as the situation called for the quick response, Harry had to somehow accommodate both of these facts. He almost was too late in pressing the button, but he somehow managed to do just that, sending an information through his own body, to the targeted areas' skin cells, causing them to harden their structure, using body's carbon supply, allowing them to deflect both hits. He only had to clench his teeth, at this rather non pleasant feeling of metal scraping his hardened skin.

The second probe went into wider, and much more explored route. Harry closed his eyes, as he let his heartbeat reverberate in hi inner ear as if it was the single, most powerful source of power, allowing it to become a powerful pulse that had shaken the surrounding area with a forceful shocking waves, battering badly the bodies of the two creatures. Harry's heart was in no good shape after that feat, and it fluttered wildly, and irregularly, but young Potter forced this organ to behave in more normal way, using his will to command his muscles to relax. And while that made him feel only a bit better, it was enough for him to continue his chase, after the remaining two fey, ignoring the fact, that at the back of his neck, another mark had appeared, looking as if his skin had aged, independent on the rest of his body.

Commanding his legs to move faster, as the two Erlkonigs were closing the distance between them and running girl, Harry had to dismiss the effects of his helpful second set of eyes, allowing them to close, and to merge slowly with his skull, causing the weave of nausea to come over him.

"But the concentration required to keep them in place, would be needed for something else." he reasoned, while trying to keep his strides steady and fast at the same moment, distracting the pain and tiredness with that thought.

One of the two Erlkonigs was about to catch the girl, when he felt horrid cramp in the muscles of his lower limbs. He tried to continue running, but it was simply impossible, as the pain in his legs had caused him to tumble and fall on the ground, at the feet of his still running companion. The second fey would in fact be able to jump over his fallen comrade and continue his chase, if a sudden force that had suddenly twisted a portion of the turf under his foot, hadn't appeared, causing him to run into his companion, and fall on him.

Harry, leaving behind the angered and battered motley of Erlkonigs continued his chase, despite being mentally exhausted, still smiling inwardly. He wasn't afraid that the fey would come again – all faeries were bound to certain rules, and one of this rules was the rule of the fist, so whoever won the prize kept it. And Harry's "prize" was not that far away. Soon enough he reached the girl, who, rather not used to such a long races, slowed down and panted fearfully, covering her face, from what she thought was a certain death. It was only a matter of time, before exhausted and scared she would stop running. And sure enough, after five more minutes of this strange charade the girl had finally halted her run, and sobbing heavily fell on the ground. Harry just let her cry, amazed by the amount of tears the girls body could contain. However after ten minutes of weeping, and the girl showing no sign of stopping, Harry resolved to try a different approach. He crouched near the girl, ignoring the protest in his muscles, and using the method that once before had proved fruitful, used his lips to slowly ask the question:

"Are you done yet?"

The voice had yet again sounded in her mind, this time asking a question that she had feared the most.It could mean only one thing - he grew bored with this game and was about to kill her, and she wouldn't be able to talk with her mom and dad ever again. Mere thought, of that happening, caused her to spill even more tears. The voice, this time with a tint of anger in it, said:

"Ow ... stop crying you ... or else I will really kill you."

That caused her to suppress another sob that was coming. If she could live for some more, she would comply. Slowly raising her head, she dared a look at the subject of her terror. The hard look on his face hadn't actually improved her mood, but seeing as he was not doing anything to cause her any harm, she calmed a little, or at least as much as one could calm in the presence of the Dark Lord. She dared a look into his eyes, and became enchanted with those two electric blue orbs. Meeting his gaze proved to be rather easy, quite contrary to what her father had told her, of the old days. His tales were telling a story of anger-fueled warlock who rose to power, allowing no one to get close to him, but looking into those eyes, she though she had seen something... calling. Something that desperately wanted to be found, something...

She drowned in this eyes, as something had pulled her beneath the surface.

She found herself standing above the body of some young girl. It was a sunny, beautiful day, albeit devoid of calmness as the screams of some woman pierced the air. She willed herself to look at the small body at her feet, and gasped in surprise. For it was herself, six years old, lying in the pool of her own blood, slowly dying. She remembered that event. It was that day, when she received that scar on the back of her head, while her fall cracked her skull open. Both her parents and her aunt had no idea, how it was possible for her to survive, and she thanked whatever power that did this. The reality around her began to get flooded by a weave of the red color, as the blood filled the eyes of her younger self. She began to wonder why Voldemort forced her to relieve that awful memory, when something that she could not possibly remember happened. A hole suddenly opened in the ground, and after a moment, while her aunt was still running to her, a small head poked out of the hole. Romilda gasped – it was the miniature of Voldemort that was peeking at her dying self, from the hole in the ground. She could clearly see the fright in the small creatures eyes, and then the small monster lifted his arm, as if trying to reach her. Slowly, the flow of the blood from her wounds, could be seen diminishing,and the eyes of the older Romilda widened considerably. And when her aunt had finally reached her, the small Voldemort disappeared under the ground, sealing the hole from inside. She watched as her aunt screamed even more when she saw the extent of damage done to her niece. A warm tear slided down her cheek, at the thought of her aunt caring personality, and not being able to meet her ever again. She was about to start crying anew, when a voice sounded behind her back.

"I wouldn't advise doing that"

She jumped around, to see the grown up Voldemort, this time devoid of any of his injuries, standing in the broad light, next to her aunt who was currently buzzing around her younger self. It had to be a memory, because her aunt wasn't even aware of anyone's presence around the scene of the accident. Romilda braved herself, and asked, completely disregarding the horrid numbness that threatened to overcome her:

"Why are you showing me this? Do you want me to believe that it was you who saved me? Do you want to manipulate me in some wicked way?"

He just stared at her. But moment later, as if an idea came to his mind, he responded, this time speaking normally, in his rather weird, cold and devoid of any emotions voice:

"Is that what you think ? Why do you think, that I could be interested in doing such thing? I, my dear, have just shown you the truth, and you know it, deep in you heart. For all your effort, that you have put into discerning what happened here, you couldn't find one thing that was out of place haven't you? Both you and I know that these events are true and that they really had happened. The question is, what you will do about it?"

Romilda froze. He was right, and for some reason she felt scared, that someone could know her thoughts that well. But on the other hand, the implication of his last question were not to her liking.

"Are you really suggesting that I have some kind of debt for you, to repay? Or maybe you want to use me, to serve you? Because it is best if you know it, at this moment, Mr. Voldemort" – she spat his name – "that I am not going to do it!"

Her stubborn streak coul be now fully seen, as she looked her tormentor in the eye. Unexpectedly, the serpentine figure beside her sighed, and spoke in a silent voice:

"I suppose there is no way of convincing you, that I am not Voldemort?"

The audacity of that question has shaken her.

"Do you really think that I am that stupid?"

"Well, would Voldemort be having that kind of discussion with you at all?"

She wanted to retort with some blasphemous word directed at the snake man, when it really came to her. She thought for a while, taking her time to muse over that question, watching as medi-wizards were apparating all around, taking her fallen form with her, as well as the exhausted form of her aunt. After some time she turned back to her interlocutor, eyeing him up and down, before saying:

"That could be a trap, or a new way of tricking people, devised by Voldemort to allure more followers!"

The snake man shook his head with a look of pity on his face, before saying:

"And would you care, to once again rethink that theory, before it occurs to you that it is utterly stupid?"

She almost smiled. She almost smiled at something - Voldemort! - the bane of the numerous wizards, have just said! Either that meant that she was utterly and completely insane, or that it was not Voldemort she was talking with. She decided that for the time being, she would accept the second theory as a fact. Still being curious she asked:

"Then what are you?" She was too interested in the answer, to notice, that his face showed signs of not agreeing with being referred to as a thing. He only answered vaguely:

"I am some..thing different"