The Jaded Brothers: Trials of Magic
Summary: AU - Part I. Hayden Alexander Potter. Harry James Potter. Brothers; twins. Only one is slated to be the world's saviour. One lives a loved life; the other, hardship. The trials of their first year at Hogwarts will forever change the course of fate.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of J.K. Rowling. Any and all infringement is un-intended.
Lord Voldemort paused outside the Potters' residence, sneering scornfully at the wards erected around the modest, two-storey building.
'Fools…' Without breaking his stride or faltering in the least, he overpowered the wards. He knew that within minutes, the dratted Order of the Phoenix would arrive – but not if he could help it. As he swept up the stone pavings to the front doors, he raised his own wards; temporary, but strong enough for a few minutes, depending on the efficiency of the Order. For the time being, they wouldn't be able to apparate, portkey or floo into the Potters' house of Godric's Hollow.
The great oak doors were blasted apart forcefully; splinters and shards ricocheting off the hallway. He walked past the many portraits, ignoring the occupants' shouts.
At the end of the hall, a pale and trembling witch stood resolutely, her eyes wide with fear but wand held steady. At the sight of the cloaked, menacing form of the Dark Lord, she screamed and cast a pitifully weak stunner at him.
With a lazy flick of his wrist, a shield flared into existence and deflected the spell back. He watched as the witch ducked and raised her wand again – far too late.
The screams of the babysitter were delightful to his ears, and he intensified the power behind the Unforgivable Curse. He basked in the glorious screams of pain for another minute before releasing the sobbing witch.
Ariana raised her head weakly to stare up at the Dark Lord. Tears cascaded freely down her cheeks but a defiant glint remained in her eyes. Her wand had rolled away, resting at His feet. She watched numbly as he raised a foot and brought it down on her wand, snapping it cleanly. It gave off a feeble blue spark before dying out again.
He raised his wand; the tip pointed down at her, and spoke the two words dreaded by all.
She stared at him still, ignoring the illusionary pain from the Cruciatus, and it seemed to infuriate him, because his malicious smirk was replaced by a hateful sneer.
A green jet of light burst from the wand and closed in on her. She closed her eyes, and breathed her last breath.
'Forgive me, Lily, James… I tried…'
Voldemort smiled coldly as he stepped carefully over the crumpled corpse, and moved through the house leisurely. In the living room, a small coffee table lay upturned, pieces of china shattered on the red-and-gold rug. A book was discarded on the couch.
All of this he dismissed, wand in hand as he ascended the stairs slowly. He ran a pale hand along the wooden rail as his feet led him to the upstairs landing. He paused and then made his way to the open doorway on his left. A smirk developed slowly on his face, broadening as he stood in the doorway.
Inside, against the far wall, was a large, wooden crib decorated with prancing animals: a dog, a stag, a werewolf and a rat. His blood-red eyes sparked with amusement when they alighted upon the last: the Potters were so sickeningly trusting.
Then a soft whimper drew his attention back to the crib. He was momentarily surprised to see a one-year-old, messy-haired baby stare back at him evenly. The large, emerald eyes bore into his uncomfortably as the boy stood against the rail.
'But there should be two...'
Ah. There was the other twin, sitting upright in the crib behind his brother, staring at him with wide, hazel eyes. This one was distinctly red-headed, a messy mop of auburn hair. The boy whimpered again, softly, as his chubby arms wrapped around the dark-haired boy's leg.
He raised his wand again, and debated over which to kill first. He pointed his wand at the red-head, and was more amused than surprised when the black-haired babe moved to stand directly between Him and his brother.
'No matter,' he mused as he redirected the tip to aim at the green-eyed boy's forehead. 'They shall both die.'
Everyone in Godric's Hollow heard the agonized scream, muggles and wizards alike as Voldemort's body was enveloped in his own curse, having rebounded off of the dark-haired twin. However, no-one was around to see the body of the feared Dark Lord disintegrate.
No-one saw the twin with a lightning bolt-shaped scar fall back, alive, but exhausted.
No-one saw the ceiling cave in from the sheer intensity of the magical outburst, thousands of pieces of rubble showering the twins. The dark-haired brother saw the danger and instinctively raised a small shield to protect him and his brother. Several pieces managed to get past the shield, however, and cut an irregular 'X' on the left cheek of the red-haired baby before the danger ceased.
The wails of Hayden Alexander Potter floated down the stairs unheard by all except for Harry James Potter. The silent twin crawled over to his brother and stroked the cut on Hayden's cheek gently, causing the cut to glow a soft blue. Eventually, amazingly, the cut was healed, but left a raw-looking scar that would forever remain.
The wails died down to soft sniffles, but the dark-haired twin remained as silent as ever.
After a while, the frantic shouts of the Order of the Phoenix could be heard. The members fanned out, as a grizzled Auror barked out orders incessantly. Three other beings, however, raced inside the house, wands drawn and desperate.
"Ari!" Lily Potter shrieked as she darted forwards to collapse next to her friend's body. She choked on her sobs as her husband, James Potter and his friend Sirius Black stepped around her, bowing their heads in mourning as they passed.
James, now pale and shaking, paid no heed to his surroundings as he rushed up the stairs. Sirius scoured the lower floor rooms first before following Lily upstairs. They were barely half-way up when James' cry reached their ears.
Lily rushed to the crib, ignoring the rubble around her feet and gasped in relief as she saw James cradling Hayden and Harry in each arm, tears of relief escaping his eyes. She took Hayden from his arms carefully, holding the red-head tightly. Sirius scanned the room carefully before moving onto the remaining rooms, immensely relieved.
"James," Lily managed to choke out eventually. "James – look."
He did so, and what little colour that had returned to his face disappeared again at the sight of the X-shaped scar on Hayden's left cheek. He fingered it, eliciting a soft whimper from the red-haired twin. He withdrew his hand and gazed at Harry's face, seeing the lightning bolt-shaped scar.
"Dear Merlin," he breathed, "What are they?"
"Curse scars, no doubt," a familiar voice spoke up from behind them. They turned to see Albus Dumbledore, his blue eyes serious. He crossed the room carefully and held out his arms. Lily and James reluctantly placed the twins in his arms, hesitant to let go of them.
Albus scrutinized each twin carefully, and stretched out his magic to 'see' the scars. Harry's lightning bolt was pulsing softly, not with light magic, but with a dark aura. Hayden's, however, was definitely light, but fading. Harry blinked up at the old wizard sleepily, and yawned widely before nestling his face into his beard. Hayden was sniffling softly, and there were some dried tear-marks on his face.
"But how?" Lily asked, her eyes anguished, relieved, yet mostly curious now.
"No doubt Voldemort cast the Killing curse…" he trailed a finger over Hayden's scar, "on young Hayden here."
Both parents inhaled sharply.
"And – and he survived?" James whispered wondrously. "Merlin… this is…"
"Unbelievable," Lily finished for him, taking Hayden back.
Sirius burst into the room, and sighed with open relief as he strode over to James' side.
"What happened?" he murmured.
James opened his mouth to reply when Remus Lupin charged in, eyes sparking with anger as his gaze landed on Sirius. He roared, and charged forward.
Albus' sharp tone stopped him in his tracks. "Sirius was not the Secret Keeper. It seems that Mr. Pettigrew was."
"What? How?" he didn't realise that he was noticeably slack-jawed, but eventually closed it with a click.
"We switched, Remus," Lily took half a step towards him, still holding Hayden. "We thought it'd be less conspicuous if it was Peter. We didn't tell you because…" she hesitated, and glanced at James and Sirius, who were silent and abashed. James swallowed and met his amber eyes.
"W-we thought you were the traitor, Moony. We never suspected Peter."
"We're sorry," Sirius looked at him with pleading eyes.
Remus heaved a sigh. He wasn't angry; farm from it, in fact. The last few weeks had been horrible, and he had been rather snappish.
"It's alright," he smiled reassuringly, "Really." Inside, he and the wolf were howling bloody murder. 'I'll kill you, Wormtail! When I see you again, it'll be too soon, you traitorous rat!'
James and Sirius stared at him for a moment before enveloping him in a bone-crushing hug. He wheezed; eyes bulging as his two closest friends squeezed him to within an inch of his life. He patted their backs awkwardly as the anger subsided, dulling to smoldering coals of hate. He tried to pry himself gently from the four-armed embrace before giving up.
"Okay… you can let go now," he gasped.
James and Sirius immediately backed away, managing to look both mischievous and contrite simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Albus was staring intently at the dark-haired baby in his arms. The scar reeked of dark magic, yet he seemed so… innocent. He brushed the boy's hair back, and traced the scar slowly.
"Headmaster? What could have happened?"
Albus pondered thoughtfully, still staring at the lightning bolt. Little Harry was still asleep, clutching a fistful of his beard tightly. The wizened old wizard almost smiled. Almost. He handed the baby over to Remus after tugging his beard free. The werewolf held Harry securely, staring down at the baby lovingly.
"I believe that Voldemort has indeed come here," he paused to indicate the frayed, dusty edge of a black cloak hidden under the rubble as Lily gasped and the Marauders froze. "He attempted to kill Hayden, but the Curse rebounded back at him, therefore marking Hayden."
"So he's dead?" Remus' voice held a note of wonder, and restrained joy.
"Alas, I do not believe so," he watched as their faces turned crestfallen. "I do, however, believe that he will need some time to recuperate."
The four adults smiled widely, and James and Lily embraced each other tightly, mindful of Hayden.
"Wait!" the room fell silent once again as Sirius shouted. "What about Harry? He's got a scar as well. How do you know it was Hayden, anyway?"
Dumbledore sighed sadly. "Harry's scar is no doubt a magical backlash, or exposure to raw magic. I believe it was Hayden who stopped Voldemort because I can see that the aura around his scar is definitely light magic. Harry's, however, is dark. It is most likely the dark nature of the Killing Curse that caused it. Hayden used light magic to protect himself and Harry. Hayden is the prophesized child."
Albus Dumbledore may indeed be wise and powerful, but it never occured to him that young Harry had used his magic to heal his twin brother; that it had been in fact Harry whom had been marked - bound to a prhophesized fate that was believed to rest upon Hayden's shoulders.
Seven years later…
Potter Manor, large, majestic, and equipped with its own Quidditch pitch, was as silent as it was secluded.
The sun broke over the horizon and the first rays of daylight filtered through the partially-closed curtains of a room belonging to an eight-year-old boy.
The twin of the Boy-Who-Lived.
Harry groaned as the rays of sunlight hit his eyes and raised a hand in a half-hearted attempt to shield his face. After a fruitless minute of batting away the light, he gave up and rolled over, burying his face into the pillow.
After a few minutes, he reluctantly rolled out of bed, blinking blearily as he fumbled to put his glasses on. He yawned as he grabbed a few articles of clothing and stumbled down the hall into the bathroom. The door clicked shut behind him softly as he stripped and stepped into a hot shower.
Ten minutes later, the door opened and out burst a cloud of condensed steam, with Harry obscured in the midst still tugging on his favourite green shirt. He crept downstairs lightly, pulled on his trainers and grabbed an apple as he exited through the back door.
He made a beeline for the Quidditch pitch, munching the apple as he walked. By the time he reached the broom shed, he was wiping his hands on his faded jeans. The array of brooms they had was impressive, with at least one model from every year. He grabbed one of the newer Nimbus models, pocketed a Snitch and exited back ontp the enormous pitch.
"And here are the Lions!" he muttered, commentating his own game as usual just to amuse himself, grinning as he breathed in the cool, dawn air. "With star Seeker Harry Potter!"
He mounted the broom, and let the Snitch fly away. "The Snitch has been released," he tensed, then kicked off from the dewy grass. "And they're off!"
In the air, Harry felt himself relax automatically, subconsciously. He rose sharply, forty, forty-five, fifty feet before spiralling to a stop. He scanned for the Snitch before tearing down the length of the pitch, almost lying horizontal to the shaft. He swerved around imaginary players, and dodged the would-be Bludgers.
Once he reached the hoops, he dived down, spiralling around the pole of the middle hoop as he went. He let out an exuberant whoop as he pulled up barely three feet from the ground to speed across the pitch, letting his toes brush the grass.
With the wind whipping his messy hair back, he spread his arms out wide, controlling the broom with his legs. He laughed; the sound lost in the winds as he placed his hands on the broom again and pulled the shaft up ninety degrees to make a sharp, vertical climb.
Harry felt a sense of vertigo in the back of his mind as he climbed higher and higher. A golden blur sped just past his face suddenly, and he instinctively snatched it out of the air.
"He's caught the Snitch!" This was his time, when he could be alone and do whatever he wished. It had become a bit of a habit, mock-commentating, but he didn't care. He grinned as he let the winged golden ball dart away, before chasing after it again.
A few hours later, he returned to the manor, breathless and windswept, but grinning widely. Once inside, he kicked off his shoes and padded into the kitchen quietly for a glass of water. He crept through the living room and was just starting up the stairs when a quiet, amused voice startled him into choking on his own saliva.
"Do you often sneak out to fly?
He whirled around to see his favourite surrogate uncle.
Remus chuckled as he put down the book on the table and stood up. He returned the dark-haired boy's hug, and ruffled the messy mop of hair.
"It won't make a difference cub," Remus told him, smiling warmly, "It's a fact of life: your hair shall never lie flat."
The boy ducked under the next assault and grumbled half-heartedly even as he smiled widely. He poked the older wizard before settling back into the couch, curling up comfortably. "What are you doing here, Uncle Moony?"
Remus smiled; the child was so… bright! He could absorb things faster than a sponge, had quickly learnt how to read, and always begged for stories. He often brought a book on magic to Potter Manor whenever he visited, and a week or so later, the little child would be asking for another.
"Why, it's that day of the year again!"
Harry stared back at him, confused. "Huh?"
Remus laughed, "It's your birthday, cub!"
Understanding, joy, and embarrassment came over his features, and then Harry was bouncing around the room ecstatically. Remus chuckled as the eight-year-old practically leaped off the walls, crowing, "it's my birthday! It's my birthday!" over and over again.
"Oi, what's all this racket about?"
James Potter stumbled down the stairs, yawning as he shrugged on a robe and blinking repeatedly. "Uh, Moony? Why is Harry jumping around like a jack-rabbit?" The werewolf gave him a rueful grin. "You didn't charm him like a chocolate frog, did you?" James accused him, to which Remus replied with an affronted face:
"I beg your pardon? I am above such indignities!"
"Right, sure." James suddenly fell back with an undignified "oomph!" as a small, black-haired cannonball hurtled into his stomach. He could vaguely hear Remus roaring with laughter, but was mostly preoccupied with the bundle of hyperactivity squealing repetitively into his ear, "it's my birthday! It's my birthday!"
He laughed, suddenly realising the situation and jumped up, holding his eight-year-old son in the air as he spun around. Remus watched amusedly as the two bounced around the room, making enough noise to wake the dead.
Miraculously, the two ceased to move at all when Lily stormed in, looking dangerously scary. Remus coughed as he tried to slink away quietly while the two Potter males stood very still, heads down and arms behind their backs as James' wife advanced upon them.
"Oh, no you don't Remus! You stop right there, right now!"
The werewolf obeyed immediately, meeting Lily's glare meekly.
The three were unable to do anything at all as Lily glared at them with her patented "Version 2.0 I'll-show-you-my-twelve-uses-of-frying-pans-if-you-don't-sit-down-and-shut-up" glare (as Sirius had so eloquently dubbed it).
James immediately launched into his "flatter, apologize, and run" speech, Harry pulled off an irresistibly adorable "kicked-puppy" look while Remus carefully schooled his face into a pitiful "I-can't-help-it-what-was-I-supposed-to-do?" look.
Eventually, Lily's glare melted and she sighed exasperatedly, which James immediately took advantage of and switched to his "You are my Hero/Heroine!" monologue, while Harry grinned and hugged his mum. Remus sneaked out of the room tactfully, grabbing his abandoned book as he left.
Back upstairs, there was another child still asleep, snoring softly under the covers. The alarm clock on his bedside table read half-past eight, and the boy would have happily gone on sleeping if not for the sudden invasion of his room.
"Hayden!" The door burst open, followed by quick, light steps. The curtains were yanked open, and sunlight flooded in. There was a muffled moan from within the bedcovers, and a slight rustling as the bed's occupant shifted.
"Hayden! Up, up, up!"
Hayden, moaned again, hoping that if he ignored everything beyond his bed, the voice would give up and leave him to snatch a few more minutes of sleep.
"Haaaaay-den!" the voice was right above him now. "Hayden, wake up!"
"Mm, I dunwa'a," he groaned, attempting to shove off the weight sitting on his back. The Weight, as he had dubbed it, was persistent, and started messing up his already-messy red hair. He mumbled an inarticulate response, smacking the hands away.
Suddenly, the Weight disappeared and several minutes of blissful silence followed. He smiled contentedly and snuggled deeper under the covers, ignorant of what his twin was plotting at the moment.
Hayden was just slipping back into dreamland when…
The sudden ringing erupted right beside his ear, and he yelped in shock. Thrashing wildly, he somehow managed to thoroughly entangle himself in his covers before tumbling over the side of his bed.
After a good deal of flailing, he emerged from within the depths of the covers to find his twin sitting on his bed, the alarm clock beside him, attempting to stifle his giggles. Hayden glared at his twin, but Harry soon dissolved into a fit of giggles with him following soon after.
When he regained his composure (mostly), Hayden tossed his bedcovers over his twin and, yawning hugely, stumbled across his room to the lump of clothes tossed haphazardly onto his chair, absent-mindedly scratching the wonky, prominent 'X' on his left cheek.
"Haaaayden…" Harry teased him, managing to get out of the covers. "Do you know what todaaaaaaay is?" His twin wrapped the covers around his face, fluttering his lashes and adopting a puppy-dog look.
Hayden shook his head tiredly, yet amusedly. "Nope. Should I?" He ran a hand through his auburn hair absently. "Have you seen my socks?"
Harry, who was twirling an imaginary lock of hair around his finger, shook his head slowly and innocently. His brother caught on and sent a glare his way, although the image was ruined when he failed to stifle another yawn.
"Harry," he moaned, "Where did you put my socks? And what's so special about today?"
Harry paused and pretended to look thoughtful, putting a finger to his chin and screwing up his eyes. Then he brightened, grinned and pointed upwards.
Hayden looked up… and his jaw promptly fell down.
A few minutes later, James, Lily and Remus burst into Hayden's room, having heard the shouts resonating from upstairs. They took in the sight of Hayden, shouting incoherently at Harry, who was seemingly oblivious and, with a finger in each ear, singing to himself.
"- CEILING! MY CEILING!"
The three adults looked up at the ceiling at this, and three more jaws dropped.
James started laughing.
Remus smiled amusedly.
And Lily continued staring open-mouthed at the ceiling.
For there, stuck to the ceiling, was a colourful array of socks – Hayden's socks.
Then Lily began her tirade.
"HARRY! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? HOW DID YOU STICK ALL THOSE SOCKS UP THERE?"
"Lily, dear," James choked out, still grinning widely. "Look – the socks can spell." And he promptly fell apart again, and this time, Remus joined him.
Lily frowned, but looked up again, as did Hayden. For the socks did indeed spell out words:
'HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYDEN!'
Hayden stopped, blinking in disbelief. Then a smile broke out on his face. He took a deep breath, and then…
"IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!" he crowed ecstatically, then bounded onto his bed and threw his arms around his twin.
"IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY!"
Harry laughed and joined in, together making enough noise to level Potter Manor. Lily smiled and stepped back, next to the two grinning Marauders. Downstairs, the doorbell rang repeatedly, and, with his enhanced hearing, only Remus heard it. He muttered something to James and quietly left the room.
"IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY!"
Opening the door, still smiling and shaking his head, Remus' smile grew even wider when he saw who was standing on the front porch.
"Sirius! Good morning!"
Sirius Black, Marauder, Auror and Godfather grinned in return. "Only you would call every morning a good morning, Moony. Only you."
Remus simply laughed in return and ushered Sirius in quickly.
"IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY!"
Sirius and Remus shared a look.
"HAYDEN ALEXANDER! HARRY JAMES POTTER!"
Amazingly, quiet befell the house. But then…
"WE'RE EIGHT-YEARS-OLD! WE'RE EIGHT-YEARS-OLD! WE'RE EIGHT-YEARS-OLD!"
Lily sighed defeatedly.
Half-an-hour later, the Potter household was as quiet and as calm as could be. Harry was listening to another of Remus' stories of the Marauders' school days, enraptured, his waffles cold and forgotten on his plate. His fork was held loosely in one hand, mouth open and eyes wide.
At the other end of the table, James and Sirius had charmed their bacon rinds to do battle with one another, and were egging them on shamelessly.
Lily was still in the kitchen cooking up more breakfast, and Hayden was still in the bathroom.
"… and then James goes and ruins the prank by accidentally charming Professor Flitwick instead of Slughorn, and, well… things pretty much went downhill from there."
"Oi! That was Padfoot's fault, not mine!"
"I beg your pardon!" Sirius leaned back in his chair, looking affronted.
"Actually, James," Remus laughed, "The one that casts the spell and misses is the one that is at fault."
"Padfoot bumped into me!"
"No, you were busy ogling Lily and bumped into me!"
"James! Sirius! Are you really arguing about something that happened ten years ago?"
Sirius gasped melodramatically, and James placed a hand over his heart.
"'Something'! Prongs, my dear friend, Lady Lily is unappreciative of…" Sirius raised a hand to his forehead, "pranks!"
It was obviously well-rehearsed, for James and even Remus gasped dramatically and responded with aghast faces: "The end is nigh!"
Harry watched with a grin as his mother sighed (although she was smiling) and piled more pancakes onto a quickly-dwindling pile. She smacked Sirius' wrist as he reached for another helping.
She stared at him sternly. "No more! Hayden hasn't eaten yet!"
Sirius nodded meekly, cradling his hand with a look of mock-hurt on his face. When she returned to the kitchen, he quickly snatched a pancake off the plate and was ready to stuff it into his mouth when James burst out laughing.
"Y-your hand!" he managed to gasp out before disappearing under the table.
Sirius looked at his hand, and his eyes widened comically: for the hand that had pilfered from the forbidden pancake-plate had turned… blue. He stared at it in shock for a few minutes until Lily returned to the table, this time with a plate of eggs and bacon. Sirius leapt to his feet and pointed a blue finger dramatically Lily.
"You!" he accused. "You did this!"
Lily merely raised an eyebrow at this. "Come now, Sirius, don't be unappreciative of…" she repeated what Sirius had done earlier, raising a hand to her forehead, "pranks!"
Sirius gaped at her as Remus and James roared with laughter. Even Harry was snickering into his glass of pumpkin juice. Lily grinned at him triumphantly and disappeared into the kitchen again.
"Turn-about is fair play, Sirius," James snickered.
Just then, Hayden walked in, hair as messy as ever and barefeet. Harry snickered, before hiding behind his pile of pancakes. His twin glared at the top of his head before yawning widely.
"M-mornin' dad, mornin' Uncle Moony, morning –" Hayden blinked, openly staring at Sirius' blue hand "- what's with the hand?"
Sirius glared at the kitchen doorway, blatantly ignoring James and Remus. He grunted an inarticulate reply, before abruptly brightening. "Happy Birthday! What sort of devious and humiliating prank are you planning today?"
"Sirius! That's enough corrupting from you!" Lily stalked back in, scowling at the blue-handed Marauder. She placed the last plate of toast on the table before drawing up a chair. "Happy Birthday, Hayden, Harry! You're both growing so –"
"- I think we'd better tuck in before heading out," Remus cut in hastily, for which James, Sirius and both twins appreciated immensely. Once Lily ("All mothers do!") got into her favourite discussion of the twins' growth, there was no stopping her. Everyone dug into their own plate, bantering, bickering, lecturing and teasing floating back and forth between the six.
"Mum? Where are we going?" Harry asked around his mouthful of eggs. He received a reprimanding glare until he swallowed and offered a sheepish grin in apology.
"Diagon Alley," she replied. "You can choose a present then and there, but the rest will be opened later at the party," Hayden and Harry nodded quickly, smiles dominating their faces. "Do you have an idea of what you want? Where you want to go?"
The twins shared a glance before crying out simultaneously:
"Quality Quidditch Supplies!"
Lily groaned and glared accusingly at the three Marauders. "This is your fault," she declared. "We already have a dozen brooms! Why do we need more?"
"Mu-um!" The twins argued unanimously. "This is Quidditch!"
"They've got a point, Lils," James offered helpfully. He received a glare for his trouble. "Eep."
Remus rolled his eyes while Sirius laughed, blue hand forgotten. "Alright, if we're done, we should get ready."
No-one argued as they dispersed from the table; Sirius and Remus moved to the adjoining room to grab their robes, James moved upstairs followed by Hayden, and Harry moved to help his mother in the kitchen.
Forty minutes, three loud arguments over socks, multiple debates over various meaningless topics ("Who stole the last apple?"), and ten spatula-threats later, everyone was ready to leave, although Hayden was unwillingly sporting a pair of mismatched socks. He glowered at his twin as they stepped into the fireplace one-by-one, he glowered as they moved through the Leaky Cauldron, he glowered as his father tapped the brick wall that hid Diagon Alley.
When they stepped through the archway, however, his bad mood disappeared to be replaced by one of joy and enthusiasm. Lily kept a tight hold on Hayden's hand as they meandered through the crowd, keeping up a false pretence of politeness. Inside, she was muttering disapprovingly at the stares and whispers that replaced the usual shouts and carefree-laughter of Diagon Alley.
"Is that the Potters?"
"… Boy-Who-Lived, yes…"
"- defeated You-Know-Who!"
"It's his birthday today, isn't it dad?"
Soon, many people were coming up to Hayden to shake his hand; some with teary eyes while others with immensely pompous expressions, although the mere intimidating demeanours of James and Sirius were more than efficient for clearing a pathway through the throngs of witches and wizards. Remus and Harry brought up the rear, the eight-year-old staring at the shops with bright green eyes, asking his surrogate uncle multiple questions, leading to many patient, informative answers – basically giving the dark-haired boy a brief history of the entire Alley.
Lily and Hayden stopped at the joke shop – much to Lily's disapproval – while Remus and Harry browsed leisurely through the aisles of books in Flourish and Blotts, flipping through various books together. James and Sirius had gone to Gringotts to collect some more galleons, and then would meet up at Quality Quidditch Supplies.
After dragging a reluctant Hayden from the joke shop, they continued down the Alley to see James and Sirius ogling something through the window of the Quidditch shop. Immediately, Hayden and Harry dodged through the crowd to pile into the shop, closely followed by the star-struck Marauders (Remus discluded).
"Hayden! It's a new model!"
"Wow!" Hayden breathed, "The Nimbus 1995!"
The two twins spun around to face James and Sirius. "Dad, can we please, please, please have one?"
James, despite having openly admired the broom earlier, feigned thoughtfulness. "Well…" he glanced from one twin's puppy-eyed gazes and laughed, ruffling their hair affectionately. "Sure, sure. In fact –" James looked to the assistant behind the counter "- we'll take four." Behind him, Lily groaned despairingly.
The grins that were eerily identical remained on the twins' faces for a decidedly long time.
"Happy Birthday to you…"
Harry frowned as he tried to bury himself in his book on magical theory.
"Happy Birthday to you…"
He gritted his teeth irritably as the sounds of the public party outside in the backyard drifted upstairs.
"Happy Birthday dear Hayden…"
Yep. Every year. Every single bloody year, their neighbouring witches and wizards came over to celebrate the Boy-Who-Lived's birthday. Of course, that meant no-one wanted to see Harry Potter, bringing extravagant gifts only for the Wizarding World's savior.
"Happy Birthday to you!"
Cheers broke out, and Harry rolled his eyes. 'Gits.' Of course, Hayden appeared rather nervous and embarrassed under all the praise and attention, but Harry could clearly see it: his twin rather enjoyed it. He would never admit it, though, not wanting to hurt Harry's feelings, but he often got carried away with all the gifts the adoring public lavished upon him.
Harry, however, was the exact opposite.
He knew himself well enough to know that he would despise being in the centre of attention, always under scrutiny, given a public Title-That-Must-Be-Hyphenated-And-Capitalized and generally placed on a high pedestal, ready to be knocked off and ridiculed at a moment's notice.
It was three days after his and Hayden's birthday, and the party that day had been most enjoyable, with his father's fellow Auror Frank Longbottom and his wife, Alice, attending with their eight-year-old son Neville. Harry found the brown-haired, slightly pudgy boy extremely shy but friendly, and the two were soon engaged in a discussion of Hogwarts, flying, pranks, Herbology (Which Neville specialized in, even at eight years of age), Quidditch, and, somehow, Potions.
Now, however, was the day for the public party, in which (more often than not, sadly) pompous, egotistical and snobby witches and wizards, as well as the more friendly wizarding folk, were invited to join and basically worship the ground Hayden walked upon.
Harry snorted. Hayden was rather modest, although he had inherited their father's side of the genes that, as their mother had stated, was an "absolutely arrogant, cocky, and attention-basking" characteristic.
Downstairs, the noise from the party was becoming unbearable, and he flung the book across the room where it hit the wall and fell down, opened to a page on wandless magic. He hesitated before picking it up again and reading through the chapter, his interest growing with every sentence he read. He subconsciously tuned out the noise of the party, eyes flicking back and forth across the page.
'Wandless magic is a rare ability, considered vague and magically taxing by most. The reason many require the use of a wand to channel their magic is because it requires less magical prowess. Wandless magic is rarely attempted nowadays, and the last known witch, Devida Illinosa, to successfully cast several wandless and non-verbal variations of shield charms was severely drained both mentally, magically and physically and permanently depleted her magical reserves. Eventually, she died from the strains of her fluctuating magical core.'
Harry frowned contemplatively. He set the book down on his desk and weighed his chances.
Should he try this wandless magic? So far, he had only ever had accidental magic, but according to Uncle Remus, it had come rather early for him: at eleven months of age, actually. He had read through many magical books already, thanks to Uncle Moony and occasionally his mother, but he had never attempted to cast spells, wand or not.
'What are you?' A voice in him mocked. 'Are you a Gryffindor or what?'
After several minutes of debate, he made his decision.
Checking out the window, he made sure the party was still in full swing before turning and setting down a quill on his four-poster bed. He inhaled deeply, willing himself to relax, before focusing his mind on levitating the quill.
'Wingardium Leviosa!' The quill remained unruffled. 'Wingardium Leviosa!' Nothing. He took a deep breath and tried several more times, each as effective as the last.
'Right, I think that was too big a jump. Let's go slowly: wandless first, then include the non-verbal.'
Pointing a finger at the quill, he willed it to levitate, and intoned carefully, "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The quill quivered slightly, and the feathered end rose slightly, almost imperceptibly, but it was an improvement.
He forced himself to relax again, and focused his mind on levitating the quill; as he did so, there was a strange stirring inside him, making his chest tingle and blood flow quicker. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Finally, slowly, but most magnificently, the quill rose one inch, then stopped at two, floating on invisible winds, kept aloft by indescribable forces.
Harry's breath caught in his throat as he willed the quill to stay afloat, and it did so, an incomparable feeling of utmost joy, pride and awe warming him from the tip of his toes to the very ends of his messy black hair. After a while, a wave of exhaustion settled over him, making him lose focus. The quill fluttered back down to the bed, and by the time it settled onto the duvet, Harry was already fast asleep, still wearing his glasses.
Ten minutes later, Remus opened the door slowly to peek in; smiling at the sight of the eight-year-old sprawled across the bed. He crept in and stacked the book on the desk, tucking Harry in and placing his glasses on the bedside table. He cast a silencing charm on the windows to give the dark-haired boy some peace and backed out.
"Good evening James, Lily."
"Albus! Come right through!"
The face in the green flames disappeared, and Albus Dumbledore emerged from the fireplace moment's later. He accepted the cup of tea Lily offered and sat down on the couch.
James came through and closed the door behind him, moving to sit next to Lily. "Is something wrong, Albus?"
The old wizard took a sip from the cup before setting it down on the table between them. "Not so much as wrong, my dear boy," he answered, as jovial as ever. "Just a small matter concerning young Hayden: his magical training."
James and Lily immediately set their tea down, focusing their undivided attention on the Headmaster.
"In a year's time, we should begin teaching Hayden magic," his blue eyes were unusually grave and vacant of the reassuring twinkle. "I believe that it will not be long before Voldemort returns, and Hayden should be prepared."
James and Lily nodded, having expected the matter a few years previous. "Should we begin tutoring him ourselves?" The two parents shared a look. "Or should we hire a tutor?"
Dumbledore raised the cup to his lips. "You and James shall teach him some History, and some basic Charms and Transfiguration –" pause, sip, "- and after the first year, perhaps some Potions and Herbology. (Pause, sip.) This leads to our next matter: Harry."
"What of him?"
"With Hayden's tutoring, I fear young Harry may feel left out; envious, of the increased attention you shall have to give to his twin."
"But can't he learn with Hayden?" James' hazel eyes were worried, anyone could see.
"Alas, I do no think it wise." Dumbledore sighed sadly. "The reason not many children begin learning magic before they turn eleven is because of the strain it will have on their nurturing magical core."
"Then why Hayden?" Lily pressed, "Why are we risking something like this for him?"
"If we do not, the results may be dire. And I believe that Hayden is persistent enough to survive, and I do not wish to place another child into the midst of a preparation of war."
"You think it will lead to that?" Lily's grip on James' arm tightened. "Another war?"
"Undoubtedly. Which is why I propose a solution for Harry's situation: it is undesirable, but the best for Harry."
Lily and James shared a hesitant, doubtful look, conveying hidden messages to each other. Dumbledore waited patiently as they conversed with each other silently. Eventually, they turned back to him.
"What is it?"
October 3, 1988
The sun was just peeking over the horizon, creeping into the many windows of houses, buildings, offices.
And St. Catherine's Orphanage, London.
Throughout the worn but comfortable building, the volunteer helpers and a few teenage orphans rose, yawning as they went about their daily morning rituals, readying themselves for another trying day.
The desk receptionist, Janice Marthis, moved slowly across the lobby, pulling up the blinds and opening various windows as she did so. She blinked wearily; many tasks and problems already flitting through her mind. She settled down behind the desk and reluctantly pulled a stack of papers towards her.
Her long brown hair hung half-way down her back, occasionally falling into her eyes and she tutted impatiently as she reached up and twisted it into a messy knot. She tapped her pen on her lips, frowning thoughtfully, before the sound of a pen dancing across paper filled the room again.
Three hours later, the majority of the children had woken, running through the halls, laughing, giggling and shouting happily; but to the middle-aged woman, it was as sad as a crying, abandoned child.
'These children should have a home to go to!' she ranted angrily. 'They should have a family to love and be loved by; a life that won't be spent alone!'
Everyday, Janice filed paperwork after paper work; ranting inside as she smiled at each child passing to wish her a good morning, some of the older ones bantering with her friendly, children that she wished a happier lifestyle for, worked everyday for.
Finished with the files, she began mutilating her apple as she pondered what to do. Suddenly, a soft, tentative knock floated to her sharp ears. She pushed back from the desk and opened the door to reveal a trembling dark-haired child with the brightest, greenest eyes she had ever seen.
She was shocked into silence; staring uncomprehendingly at the boy, whose eyes were shining with unshed tears, but meeting her gaze evenly, bravely. He was clutching a stuffed toy like a lifeline, a stag. He was shivering madly, clad in a green t-shirt and jeans with a thin, black jacket zipped up to his neck.
She snapped into action, opening the door wider and stepping aside to let the boy step in uncertainly, smiling sadly yet reassuringly at the boy as he stared around the small lobby, despite the screaming voice inside her.
She closed the door and led him over to a chair. "What's your name, dear?"
He stared at, clearly scared and clueless in an unfamiliar situation. "H-Harry, ma'am. Harry Potter."
She nodded, smiling at him as she rubbed his back comfortingly. "Alright. Harry, I'm Janice, but you can call me Jane. Everyone else does." He was still staring around uncertainly, yet doing a good job of keeping a brave face on. "Harry? Do you know where you are?"
"Orphanage," he mumbled, eyes darting around wildly.
"Are…" she hesitated. "Are you an orphan, Harry?"
He flinched, eyes tearing up again. "N-no," he sniffled, and Janice instinctively wrapped her arms around the boy as the tears leaked out of his eyes. "M-mum and Dad s-s-said that they're sorry, and that they love me, but they didn't h-have a choice! They said they had to look after H-Hayden, but…" he buried his face in her shoulder, sniffling pitifully.
Janice felt her anger melt slightly, replaced by sorrow. She waited until the sobs ceased and his body relax, before speaking again. "Harry? Were your parents poor?"
He looked confused. He shook his head numbly, and mumbled an apology about her clothes. She smiled. "It's not a problem Harry. When were you born?
"July 31st, 1980," he mumbled.
"Right then," she looked at the clock, "Why don't you get settled in and then we'll have a talk later? Go down the hall and into the first door on your left. Ask for Vida and she'll help you from there." She shooed Harry into the hallway and watched him with a sad smile before returning to her desk.
Meanwhile, just down the street, there were two people sitting together on a weather-worn bench. The two couples, a woman with fiery red hair and a man with a mop of wildly messy black hair, were staring intently at the orphanage. They were holding each other tightly, unable to hold back tears as they watched the small boy shuffling inside the orphanage.
"James?" The woman's muffled voice was uncertain. "Do you think we did the right thing?"
The man sighed wearily. "I don't know, Lily. I just don't know. We'll just have to wait and see."
He stood, helping Lily to her feet. "Let's get home; Hayden'll almost be up, and we'll need to have a talk."
Lily let out a shaky breath. "Merlin, he hates us now, doesn't he?"
James hugged her tightly, caressing her red tresses. "Shh, don't think about it. Remember what Albus said: we'll come and get him one day, when he gets his Hogwarts letter."
Without another word, the two walked down the street slowly, unaware that they were being watched by another pair of pained green eyes. He watched as they reached the end of the street, watched as they looked around carefully. The woman looked back tearfully and blew a kiss to the boy watching them. The boy waved, crying silently, watching them as they twirled on the spot and vanished.
"Goodbye Mum," he whispered, "Goodbye Dad."
February 18, 1990
Many months later, in a small, sparsely furnished yet comfortable room, a small boy of nine tossed and turned in his bed restlessly, fighting an inner turmoil as he did so every night for the past year and a half. He moaned weakly as he clutched desperately at the sheets, his face dotted with perspiration.
"No… don't… not Hayden…" his voice trailed off into choked sobs, a single tear escaping his tightly shut eyes.
In his mind's eye, there was a veiled, cruel face, a green light and pain. He shuddered and awoke with a gasp, jerking upright before he was aware of the action. He gasped for breath, eyes wide with fright.
Eventually, he calmed down and closed his eyes. He sat there still, straining his brain over the nightmare he had experienced every night since… he came here.
He was not the youngest in St. Catherine's, although he initially had been, but as the months passed, more orphans were taken into the orphanage – far more than those leaving, either as legal adults or with families. The other kids in the orphanage ignored him (although they tended to laugh at him), which was significantly better than open hostility. He could even go as far as saying that all of them were ignorant of his existence – except one.
Antonio Emerson; a classic example of a cowardly bully.
Half a month into his stay, a girl that looked to be about fourteen sidled casually into his room just as he was levitating his few belongings around the room in boredom. The girl, Danielle, had seen his act of magic and screamed before taking off down the hall.
The next day, Emerson had shouldered him roughly to the ground, and continued to pound him into the dirt until he stopped resisting. The burly sixteen-year-old bully had openly called him a freak.
Anyone that had a talk (that didn't constitute shoving, spitting, punching and "freak") with him was beaten to a pulp the next day, except the adults.
He sighed as he pushed back the thin blanket and reached for the pile of clothes at the foot of the bed. Once dressed, he padded softly down the hallway into the bathroom, emerging ten minutes later with damp but still stubbornly messy hair.
The kitchens were as clean as always, and the clock above the shelf read half-past five. He snagged a piece of bread from the self-serve counter, which was usually pitifully meagre. Wolfing the slice of bread down, he exited through the back door and crept past the chicken coop. He wormed his way under the back fence that separated the orphanage from the city with little difficulty and dusted his clothes off before walking cautiously down the street.
Five blocks later, he stopped outside a bakery, inside of which a greying, old man was wiping the counter. He looked up at the scruffy but clean boy staring inside and waved at him cheerfully. He waved back in return and waited until the man unlocked the door to enter.
"Good morning Harry! How are you today?"
"Morning Mr. Reeds. I'm alright, I guess."
Gavin Reeds laughed jovially as he led Harry out back, into the store room. "Good, good. You're a persistent little guy, I'll give you that much."
"Thank you sir," Harry replied courteously. "How are the kids?"
"Fantastic; absolutely chipper, especially Michael and Molly. I swear those two have a telepathic link," Gavin pulled out a few plastic bags filled with leftover bread and an assortment of baked goodies. "You sure you want to work for these? I know you'll take them straight back to the orphanage without touching a crumb but it's a good cause. It's just leftovers after all."
Harry shook his head resolutely. "No thank you, sir. I'll clean the floor and windows and I've got some money. How is Mrs. Reeds coming along?"
"You're too damn noble for your own good, kid. If anything, I should be paying you. Ali's getting…well, big is the only word. I'll be buggered if she has another set of twins. Michael and Molly drive Mack around the bend enough already."
Harry grabbed the mop and waited for him to fill the bucket. "No thanks, sir. I've got ten pounds, although I can scrounge up another five later. Chores and all that. Mack is graduating, isn't he?"
"That's right." Gavin lugged the bucket into the store. "You should keep the money, though, Harry. You'll need it to survive out there. Get a job, a good education, a goal, and you'll go far."
"Thank you, sir." Harry plunged the mop into the bucket and lifted it out carefully. He slapped it onto the floor and started working away diligently at the grime.
An hour later, a dark-haired boy clad only in a shirt, jeans and a thread-bare jacket was walking back down the street laden down with bags of food from the bakery. He shuffled up the steps of St. Catherine's Orphanage and knocked on the door, knowing that Janice would already be up.
Sure enough, the door opened and ushered him in to take some of the load off the nine-year-old. She clucked her tongue disapprovingly; not because of him, but what he felt like he should do.
"Really, Harry, you don't have to go to all this trouble," her tone belied the fact that she was appreciative and relieved, though.
"But Ms. Marthis, we can't keep surviving on the government's funds; it decreases each month and we'll starve. Plus, the volunteers won't get paid for their troubles."
Janice shook her head sadly. "You are far too clever and mature for your age, Harry."
Harry piled the bags onto the kitchen table and quietly crept down the hallway to his room. The second he was inside, a brown lump of feathers and sharp talons suddenly assaulted his face, making him fall back outside with a startled yelp. He landed heavily on his backside as he struggled to pry the mass of brown off his face.
Doors opened to allow curious heads to peep out at the commotion, but by the time they saw Harry, the owl was already back in his room. All they saw was a slightly ruffled nine-year-old boy on the ground in front of his room.
"What's the matter, Freak? Scared of your own room?"
Harry scowled darkly and stalked into his private haven amidst gales of forced and not-so-forced laughter. He slammed the door behind him, and glared at the owl staring at him condescendingly, miffed at being thrown carelessly inside. It hooted indifferently as it stuck out a leg weighed down by an envelope. The black-haired boy untied it warily, and upon recognizing the messy scrawl, eagerly tore it open, vaguely aware of the owl flying back out through the window.
Harry, where are you? Mum and Dad won't tell me and you've been gone for a long time! They said you weren't coming back, but you will, won't you? I miss you Harry, please come back. Uncle Moony and Uncle Padfoot miss you too. They're sad and Mum was crying. Dad is always stuck in his room now, Harry.
Please, Harry, come back.
There were some tear-stains on the parchment, and not all were dry. Harry angrily wiped away his tears, and chucked the letter across the room. His tears soon escalated to gasping sobs, and his chest felt tight and there was a pain. He held his chest tightly, willing the pain to go away. His chest felt as if it were being constricted, and his shallow breathing quickened.
'They said you weren't coming back…'
He yelled and brought his small fists down upon the wall angrily.
'They said you weren't coming back…'
He beat the wall mercilessly, not noticing the cracks spreading along the plaster. There was a fire burning him, spreading through him, and it hurt, it hurt so badly. It wasn't a physical pain; it was the pain of abandonment.
'They said you weren't coming back…'
"WHY?" he bellowed. He flung his hand around, subconsciously flinging the lamp on his bedside table across the room. It shattered upon hitting the wall, but the destruction and magical release wasn't enough. He continued destroying his room, wandlessly and non-verbally shattering, breaking, tearing apart the furniture, cracking the plaster on the walls, burning the ceiling, ripping the floorboards apart.
Eventually, he collapsed in the corner, panting heavily and thoroughly drained. He wiped his face, feeling the tears, sweat, dust and plaster clinging to his skin. All throughout his fit of rage, the door had remained closed and no-one had attempted to enter. Confused, and looking to distract himself from the pain, he reached out with his magic and saw a glow of magic around the door.
He eventually discerned it as a silencing charm he had subconsciously cast. He lowered his head into his hands as he took in a deep, shuddering breath.
He stayed that way for a long time, before looking up again with a new resolve in his eyes. When he returned to the magical world, he'd be ready. When they called for him to return, he'd be prepared. He'd practise his wandless abilities and show them what he was capable of.
Setting about repairing the room, which was considerably harder as he had already thoroughly tired out his magic, he slowly and methodically set things right again. He left the burns and pushed all the furniture pieces into the corner, repaired the floorboards and the bed before collapsing and falling into a fitful sleep.
Months later, in late-December, the fire brigade rushed onto the scene of a burning building, smoke rising in dark, choking columns as the fire-fighters hasted to douse the building and rescue the inhabitants.
The fact that it was an orphanage filled with children spurred them on to desperate acts. Around the back, a window was shattered open, unheard in all the commotion. A boy around ten years of age clambered out, falling onto the ground in a heap.
His lungs were filled with ash and smoke, making him cough violently. His thin frame was wracked anew with heaving coughs and wheezes, green eyes shining with moisture from the smoke as he staggered to his feet clumsily.
He stumbled away from the burning orphanage, still in a fit of coughs. His bloodshot eyes roved the surrounding area for any flames, frightened. At the back fence, he crawled under and staggered to his feet. The fire-fighters shouted to each other as they barged through the doors and back out carrying a child or supporting a teenager. Harry stared at the scene in horror, from the bright flames licking the building, consuming it easily, to the children that came back out, burnt, blackened and crying.
He closed his eyes and willed the flames to go out desperately, feeling his magic well up like a fountain and burst in a shower through his body, reaching out to smother the flames. He ignored the exhaustion creeping up on him, thinking of the children that would die within the fiery inferno if he gave up.
The flames hissed angrily, rising higher as the smoke wafted through the air into the night sky. It soon became a stalemate between magic and fire, unseen by all but the small boy standing stiffly, tensely. Harry bit his lip as he poured more and more of his magic out, stretching it out over the flames like a blanket. His teeth gnashed together as he struggled to lower it over the building, fighting the flames and the weariness in his body.
After what felt like hours, the flames relented, and with a great shuddering sigh, died out suddenly. The green-eyed boy collapsed, panting, as the fire-fighters shook themselves out of their shock and hurried into the building to escort the inhabitants outside. Harry watched with relief as each child was rushed out of the building, noting that Janice the desk receptionist did not walk out. He screwed his eyes shut, feeling bitterness and loss choke his throat; knowing that despite being close to the exit, the impassioned middle-aged lady had gone deeper within the bowels of the flames to help the orphans.
He sighed sadly as he stood, swaying slightly, and turned away, to be hidden from searching eyes for months to come.
Author's Note: Thanks if you decided to give this story a go. Now, to clear a few things that might come up later: I am Australian, and therefore do not understand a whole lot about Britain. This is also my first Harry Potter fanfic, so please correct any mistakes you may see.
That's all for now.
Edited: 15th December, 2008