"Well, that's him," Snape said grudgingly nodding towards the mob of first years who had just filed in after McGonagall.
"Ah, yes, M'boy, there he is indeed," Dumbledore said, squinting off in the wrong direction. Snape rolled his eyes and cursed his luck that he had to sit next to Dumbledore this year instead of McGonagall, who now had his previous job of introducing the first years to the castle. Honestly, you make one little threat to a room full of firsties and suddenly you can't be trusted...
To all the other first years, the ride across the lake to was a mesmerizing glimpse of their new home and school for the next seven years. To Harry it was an exercise in torture.
The boat was a light wisp in his sight, barely seeming substantial to hold himself, Ron, Hermione and Neville. He couldn't see the water of the lake at all, but he could see a large shape very far down, and little ways beyond that there were several smaller shapes, all glowing an ethereal blueish green. He clutched the sides of the boat, anxious for something real to hang on to. He had his eyes squeezed shut, but that didn't help at all. He could still see the shapes clearly, the entirety of the boat, and Ron's, Hermione's and Neville's magics.
Then they rounded the corner and Harry suddenly wished, for the first time in his life, that whatever mystic ability that let him see would just disappear. Light, in an intensity he had never felt before, was flooding through him, around him, surrounding him, drowning him, and he couldn't escape. Soon he was gasping from the intensity of it all, and then the heat, it felt as though it was noon in the Sahara. Something was blistering, burning, but it wasn't his skin, rather, something beneath it. He gasped from the pain, the burning light, and suddenly someone grabbed his shoulder.
He didn't have to turn his head to see Hermione right next to him, her face anxious, or Neville and Ron looking worried behind him. Hermione moved in front of him, and he could dimly hear her asking questions, but all he really noticed was that her magic was blocking some of the light, as though he were underwater. It was still intense, but not nearly as bad. And then, as though he knew he could do it all the time, and wondering why he had never done it before, he turned his 'sight' onhimself.
The first thing he 'saw' was his magic, which shifted from one thing to the next as soon as his mind tried to interpret what he saw. It was light, and floating, and the color of sunlight through new leaves, and smelled of feathers, but as soon as that description filled his mind, a new one settled in its place. Now his magic was ropes of dark blue with strings of silver, wound tightly around him. Then it was a fountain of gold, then a cloud of black mist. But every time he saw it change there was still that penetrating light, that he could see burning away at it, dragon's fire slowing melting a rock. He felt a sense of despair, knowing that this was wrong, in a way he could not describe, that there was something missing, something vital that he did not have that let the light in.
Please, I don't know what, just HELP! And suddenly, the light wasn't there anymore.
Reality came back with a snap, and with it blackness beyond anything he could imagine.
"-Harry! Are you alright? Please answer me-"
"I'm fine," Harry gasped. He couldn't 'see' her anymore, but he could tell that she was there, like a faint outline, smelling strongly of water. "I-just-don't-like-boats," he grunted, the first lie he could think of on the spot.
"Its alright mate, we're there," Ron's voice came from behind him, making him jump. Besides his voice and a strong smell of burnt wood, Harry could no more locate Ron than he could the moon on an overcast night. Cautiously he waited until all his friends got off the boat, and following the sent of fire and water, followed their steps exactly. It was difficult work, especially once they joined the other students and he was jostled and other scents joined the fire-and-water one, but it still remained the strongest. Plus he just walked with the flow of the crowd, but he soon fell behind Ron and Hermione and Neville. He accidently dumped into someone smelling of rosemary, making him sneeze.
"Hey, watch where you're going!" the person said angrily, but it was muffled as though the person's mouth was covered with cloth, making Harry feel sheepish.
"Sorry," he grumbled, taking pains not to bump into anyone else. However, the person who smelled like rosemary seemed to take it as a personal insult that Harry had accidently run into their magnanimous self.
"Hey, you," the person shouted, revealing a squeaky masculine voice that grated on Harry's nerves.
"What?" Harry asked, not stopping to confront the problem, as he was still trying to catch up with Ron and Hermione and though that it was all rather silly anyway, to make so much fuss over an accident.
"Hey you, apologize for bumping into me!"
"I'm not 'hey you', I have a name," Harry said, getting more and more irritated by the minute. "And I did apologize, and you are taking life way too seriously if you just chased me through this entire crowd of people just for an apology that I already gave."
Even though Harry couldn't see the boy he could certainly hear him gaping at him, oddly enough. Then the smell of rosemary was mixed in with the smell of burning wood, lake water, and Neville's odd earthy smell. These did not mix well together and he was caught in the middle of a massive sneezing fit. He wasn't quite sure what happened, but he definitely caught the words "Weasel", 'wanker" and "malfoy", whatever the hell a malfoy was.
The next thing he knew he was being dragged along rather roughly by a grumbling Ron, accompanied by a fuming Hermione and Neville. Not that he could complain, really, it was preferable to blindly making his way through a bunch of people he didn't know with only his sense of smell to guide him. They eventually stopped after stumbling over a couple stairs.
"Oh, I can't believe him!" Hermione said.
"He's just a pure-bloodied fanatic, the wanker," Ron added.
"Who is?" Harry asked, confused. "Can someone tell me what happened?"
"Just a dumb kid named Malfoy insulting Hermione. Why was he was so angry with you anyway?"
"Oh nothing," Harry said, waving it away, not willing to bring it up if he had been unpleasant to Hermione.
There were a few moments of awkward silence as they all thought their own thoughts.
"By the way Harry, you should really do something about those allergies," Neville said, drawing a chuckle from everyone.
This day was just not going well for Harry. He had finally made it to the Sorting Ceremony after some rather mis-informed remarks and missing the chance to actually see a real live-well, not live- ghost, and now he was expected to walk up to a stool that he couldn't see and sit down on it and let some moldy antique sort through his thoughts. Umm, no thank you.
However, long before his name was ever called a small man came up to him discretely and introduced himself as Professor Flitwick.
"We are aware of your, umm, special circumstances, and if could come with us, your sorting will take place privately after the rest of the students are sorted."
Normally Harry would have refused, but since his ability to see had somehow turned off, for better or worse, considering what circumstances you considered it under, but decided that this time it was better to take the opportunity. Plus he didn't fancy being the center of attention, for no matter how brief a period it took him to be sorted.
Professor Flitwick lead him into the same side room that all the other new students had been in just moments before. This time, however, it was sadly bereft of ghosts.
"Professor Snape informed us of your disability," Flitwick, obviously trying to make conversation. "We just want to let you know that all of the Hogwarts staff will do their utmost to make sure that you have the support you need. Although Professor Snape also told us that you seem to have the remarkable ability to get along quite well without your sight, so I doubt that you'll need the extra assistance."
Harry felt his heart sink. Not only did the entire staff seem to know all about him, but if they were expecting him to be perfectly fine without his "sight" then would they be angry enough to throw him out if he told them that it had suddenly turned off?
He wasn't worried that he couldn't get his 'sight' back, it seemed that he would be able to turn it back on again the same way he had turned it off, but he was worried about being able to "see" living in Hogwarts, the source of light which burned his magic. He was still mulling this over when Professor McGonagall came in, and by the strong smell of mold, was carrying the sorting hat.
"If you would come over here, Mr. Potter," she said, and Harry carefully followed the sound of her voice, and then felt the sorting hat settle on his head.
'Well well well, what do we have here?' said a voice that Harry could only assume was the hat.
'They said you were clever,' the hat said dryly. 'Though its not every day that you meet a wizard that can see magic, especially one that uses their ability in lieu of their actual sight.'
Harry was startled. He had no idea that what he did was odd or unusual, nor had he ever had an explanation for his ability to see with his eyes completely useless.
'Yes, what else did you think it was?' The hat added irritably. 'I've only known about three wizards who have ever had it, and even they didn't develop it until much later in life. You are quite a remarkable wizard, Mr. Potter.'
'Yeah, except for the fact that Hogwarts is too bright for me,' Harry grumbled, feeling awkward a having tat kind of admiration directed at him.
'Well, what do you really expect when you leave your magical sight unshielded like that? I suppose you did as well as you could, seeing as you discovered it for yourself. But you really need to learn how to adjust it.'
'That's very wonderful,' Harry said sarcastically. 'But, I'm afraid that its just low on my list of priorities. And, I mean, I kind've like not being able to see and all that.'
'Well, if you're going to be a baby about it, then I'll do it for you, but remember, you have to get control of it yourself.' And with that something shifted in Harry's head, and for a second Harry was afraid that it hadn't worked, before he noticed that instead of the absolute dark he had been in before, he was seeing the hat's magic, a muddy concoction of pure red, blue, green and yellow magics. He was so delighted that he barely even noticed the hat going through his memories and making little comments until he was jolted back to reality with a ringing cry of,