Summary: When your name itself damns you, where can you turn? Not even the gods...
Warnings: General warning for dark situations. Specific warnings will be included with the pertinent chapters.
Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to the domains of either Harry Potter or Stargate: SG-1.
The Auror was trembling as he rose to his feet, his wand clenched in bloodless fingers. His eyes never left the crumpled figure on the other side of the dark alley- it looked still, dead, but he'd seen it go down before, seemingly for good, only to rise again a moment later to destroy those who are dared to strike it down. The incantation to one of the most lethal spells he knew was there on the tip of his tongue, ready, as the Auror limped painfully closer.
He closed to within just a few feet, and still there was no movement save for the rise and fall of its breathing. He hadn't killed it, then… the thought provoked a wave inside him that was both relief and terror. A twitch of his wand bound the thing in thick steel chains- they had already learned, at the cost of the lives of half an Auror team, that mere ropes would never hold it.
After a moment's thought, another wave of his wand wrapped it in a second layer of chains. With this one, there was no such thing as being too careful. Too many people had already made the mistake of thinking otherwise.
His task done, the Auror stumbled back against the dingy wall, well out of even that thing's lunging reach, and sank to the ground. For a moment it was all he could do not to scream as the adrenaline that had kept him going began to wear off, leaving his various injuries free to ignite his nerves. He had been put under the Cruciatus once, though not for very long; that had been worse than this, but not by much, particularly his foot. A glance under the hem of his battle robes left him wishing he were still ignorant. He'd been walking on that? Running, even?
He was exhausted, and the pain was making it hard to think. There was something he was supposed to do now, wasn't there? Something more?
He needed… needed to think. He carried something that would help with that, didn't he? It was part of the standard Auror field kit. He dug through the compartmentalized pocket on the inside of his robes, hissing as he cut a finger on broken glass. At least one of the vials had shattered… Why didn't they put Unbreakable charms on the vials, he wondered, even as he withdrew the correct, thankfully whole vial, set it to his lips, and swallowed the potion within.
The pain didn't go away, but as the potion took effect he started to think through it, strangely unreal thoughts that were nonetheless clear. He needed to report in, that was it, and arrange for pick-up. Again the Auror rummaged through his robes, this time pulling out a small hand mirror. He breathed on its surface until it fogged over, trying not to think about its pink backing with its painted roses. It might have been a good idea when Trainee Black had suggested it, but the Auror was sure it had been the brat who arranged for him to have the most embarrassing mirror of the lot.
"Auror Moody reporting," he growled out. The growl neatly covered the tremor in his voice. "Target Beta is down and contained. Get the Unspeakables here, fast. They've got to get that damned thing extracted before it decides to wake up and run off again."
"Acknowledged, Auror Moody. A team is on the way. Do you or your team require medical attention?"
"Yeah… yeah, I think I do," Moody replied. The potion must have been defective, because his thoughts were already wandering again. That, or it wasn't mean to go up against that level of pain. Yeah, he needed medical attention all right. But his team… his team…
He turned his face towards his captive; a muggle streetlamp cast a wedge of light into the alley that fell scarcely short of their cozy little scene, and he could just make out the halo of crimson hair that tumbled across the concrete like a pool of blood. "You better still be in there when they pull it out, Potter," he muttered. "Your husband'll kill me if you aren't. If he's still there, too…"
It seemed no time at all before there was a series of pops like a string of firecrackers going off. He could hear raised voices and running footsteps; most went towards his captive, but one set came to a stop in front of him. "You've really done it to yourself this time, haven't you?" the mediwitch said, catching him by the chin and shining the light on the tip of her wand into his eyes. Moody flinched away and she tsked. "Mild concussion. Any other injuries?"
"Leg," he grunted, still trying to look away from the light.
"All right, then." Thankfully she doused the light in favor of lifting his robes away from his leg. Her gasp of shock did nothing to improve his disposition as she quickly cast a stasis charm over his foot and lower leg. "That's probably going to have to come off…" she murmured, perhaps to herself. Moody's attention had drifted over to the team of Unspeakables levitating the woman's chain-wrapped body, with one standing off to the side enchanting a Portkey.
"The team that went after Trainee Potter," Moody said, still watching them. "Did they get him?"
The mediwitch flinched, still running scans over what was left of his foot. "Yes, they did. But there were… there were casualties." She paused and then frowned at him. "Auror Moody… where's the rest of your team?"
"…Dead," Moody replied after a long minute, as he watched the Unspeakables vanish away, taking Lily Potter and the snake-like creature possessing her with them. "All dead…"
Nine months later.
The mediwitch mopped her forehead with a damp towel, and then rinsed it and did the same for the panting woman on the bed. Damn her eyes if it hadn't been hard going, one of the toughest births she'd ever presided over. At least Mrs. Potter and her little boy were all right, even if both were exhausted, the babe too tired to even cry.
Her assistant flicked her wand at the baby in her other arm, and the umbilical cord tied itself in a knot. "There's a love," she crooned to the babe when he didn't cry at the follow-up, low-power severing charm. "Now for the weighing… Look at that, isn't he gorgeous? I could swear he's already tryin' to look at me."
Mrs. Potter stirred out of her daze. "My baby…" she murmured, and the mediwitch was quick to replace the cooling towel on her forehead. "My baby," the woman said again, more strongly, opening those brilliantly green eyes of hers.
"Just a moment, dear," the mediwitch replied, straightening the woman's bedclothes as her assistant beckoned over the enchanted measuring tape.
"Five and a half pounds, eighteen and a third inches," the girl reported a moment later, moving back to the bed. "Here you go, Mrs. Potter."
The mediwitch smiled as the babe was handed over. "Now go fetch Mr. Potter, girl. He'll need to be present for the naming."
The girl nodded and dashed off; she was a good girl, really, but just out of Hogwarts and still a tad excitable. She'd steady down as she got older and got some more experience beneath her belt. Mind you, the mediwitch conceded as James Potter rushed into the room and nearly tripped over the supply cart, some people just never grew up, out of Hogwarts or not. Sighing, she reached for the quill and birth certificate, not noticing Mrs. Potter's sudden tension as she held her child. "What'll you be naming the wee one, now?"
Lily stared down into the luminous green eyes, so much like hers, in the scrunched-up little red face. She could feel it, an itch beneath her skin. Naquadah… she could feel naquadah within her child. Oh Merlin, but that meant… "Harcesis," she whispered, jerking her head up to stare at her husband. James looked just as horrified as she felt, his hand stilled in midair from where it had been reaching for them both. The child forbidden by the gods, feared by the gods…
But how could it be? Nephthys was gone, had been gone for months. They had taken her away…
"Harcesis," the mediwitch repeated, jotting it down on the certificate. "Well, that's one I've never heard before, but it's quite lovely."
The dismayed looks the Potters sent her would have been comical under any other circumstances. Things were hardly going to plan- following Potter tradition, the heir to the family was supposed to bear the name of a male relative; they'd chosen James's grandfather's name, a man he had never met, but whose exploits in Asia and the West Indies had greatly increased the Potter fortune. But the birth certificate couldn't be altered. That was something that purebloods had insisted on for years, as it was proof of their births and bloodlines, and she could see that the thought hadn't even crossed James's mind.
"Any middle names, sir, madam?" the mediwitch asked, glancing at the strangely quiet babe in the mother's arms and smiling. Lily envied her for her lack of knowledge- all she saw was a sweet child, not a being who could very well grow up to be a monster.
"James only," Lily replied rather faintly, feeling sick to her stomach.
James moved to her side and perched on the edge of the bed. The arm he put around her shoulders made her feel a little better, but not nearly so much as she'd have preferred. "He… he doesn't look… like I'd have thought he would," he said murmured into her ear, looking down at his newborn son.
Like a monster, he didn't say, but she heard it loud and clear all the same. "No, he doesn't," she agreed. He looked just like a normal little baby, all wrinkled and red and so very small…
But there was still the itch of naquadah beneath her skin, and she dreaded.
"Hey! Out of the way there, godfather coming through!" they heard a voice call out, and looked up just in time to see Sirius push his way into the room. A grin split his face as soon as he saw the tiny bundle in Lily's arms. "Well? Aren't you going to let little whatsisname meet his godfather?"
When no one immediately moved, the hyperactive Auror leaned over the mediwitch's shoulder to see the birth certificate. "Harcesis? Circe, James, what did you go and name him a mouthful like that for? As bad as the names my folks pick out, really. I expected better from you."
"It's… a very old name," James managed to say, looking as though he'd rather have been almost anywhere else in the world, than in that room at that moment.
Sirius snorted. "And since when have you cared about tradition?" James and Lily traded a wary glance, uncertain of what to say, and before they'd realized it Sirius had plucked the baby away from his mother and was peering at him closely. "Doesn't look much like a Harcesis… I think I'll call him Harry."
"Harry…" James repeated quietly, watching his best friend cuddle his godson. He was probably supposed to be rescuing one of them, but the Gods help him to know just which one was in more danger. "Yeah, Harry sounds like a good name. Strong. He probably doesn't ever even need to know about his real name, does he, honey?"
Lily nodded, holding out her arms for her son again. Sirius reluctantly gave up the newly-named Harry, and she studied the Harcesis closely. Maybe… maybe it was possible, to raise him to be… normal. As normal as any wizard could be. She was well on her way to a Charms mastery, after all. Surely she could find something, some spell, that would suppress the knowledge of the gods that had been born inside of him?
Ignoring Sirius's puzzled look as he finally noticed their lack of celebration, she glanced up at her husband. "We're going to have to be so careful with him."
He nodded in agreement, and the tight knot of worry that had tied itself in her gut began to loosen. They were in this together, and together, there was nothing she believed they couldn't accomplish. They would do just fine in raising their son, their Harry.
Even if he was the Bane of the Gods.
It was only a few weeks later that Albus Dumbledore requested to meet with the Potters, regarding their newborn son. They went to the meeting half-panicked, sure that the powerful wizard had discovered their circumstances, something only the Unspeakables were supposed to know of. But present at the meeting also were Alice and Frank Longbottom, and their own son, Neville; and Dumbledore said not a word about ancient Egyptian gods, or forbidden knowledge.
Instead, he spoke to them of a prophecy about a child born at the end of July, possessing an unknown power. Both Harry and Neville had been born in the correct time frame, and Dumbledore wanted them to go into hiding until the children were older. Lily and James were quick to agree. It would give them more time to find a way to control the knowledge in Harry, and to be blunt, how could the prophecy be about anyone but their little Harcesis?
A little more than a year of hiding later, Lily had had a certain measure of success combining a weak Bemusement Charm with a specially-created ink that had its beginnings in a permanent coloring potion. She'd enlisted James's help in shaving little Harry's hair from the nape of his neck, and then Charmed the ink into a relatively simple mandala designed around balance and longevity. The ink would hold the spell well enough, though it would eventually need to be renewed, probably in a couple of decades or so. If Lily hadn't found a better way to suppress Harry's heritage by then, she'd eat her husband's broomstick. And once the child's hair grew back, no one would ever even notice the mandala was there.
With that thought in mind, she added a second charm to the mandala to encourage hair growth. It would shorten the lifespan of the suppressant by a few years, but she considered that an acceptable price for discretion.
It wasn't an idyllic life by any means. They weren't trapped in their home, exactly, but they kept the times they left it to the minimum they could. It simply wasn't worth it; the thought of Harry growing up with the corrupt knowledge of the gods was enough to keep them up at night, but the thought of Voldemort gaining Harry and that same knowledge caused screaming night terrors. Their friends came to visit on occasion, Sirius most often of all so that he could visit his godson. He never seemed to notice anything odd about Harry, except to comment on how oddly calm a kid he was. It always took Lily hours to get the house back to normal after his visits and pranks. No, it wasn't a perfect life at all.
But nevertheless she mourned for it on All Hallow's Eve, when she heard the door crash open and the shouting begin downstairs. She yearned for it, for all the rest of her short life.
Growing up, Harry knew he was not like other boys. The differences were subtle, for the most part, excepting the odd things that happened around him on occasion. One could hardly call appearing on the roof of the school, when you had previously been on the ground, normal by any stretch of the imagination. Neither was spontaneous hair growth normal, though Harry was grateful for not having to deal with the completely horrible haircut his aunt had given him.
Sometimes he knew the things they taught in school, before ever going to the class. Mostly mathematics and science, though he sometimes got in trouble with the teacher because what he knew and what she said weren't always the same. And sometimes there were days when Harry was just so angry, at the world, at the people around him, that he just wanted them to hurt. On those days he'd hit Dudley back, and say hurtful things, like telling his aunt Petunia what he'd overheard about what the ladies next door really thought about her. On those days Uncle Vernon would throw Harry into the cupboard that was his bedroom, where Harry would have nightmares that night and then wake up the next morning as the sweet, if somewhat apathetic boy he normally was. Those days... a part of Harry hated and feared those days. And another part of him longed for them, soul-deep.
Harry wished he knew what was wrong with him, or if it was everyone else that was somehow not right. He had no friends to tell him which it was, even though he very rarely ever acted out at school. More than once he'd heard his teachers whisper the word "maladjusted" to each other, and then peer at him with pitying eyes. He hated those looks. His bad days often happened soon after he'd caught someone looking at him like that, perhaps because he'd almost rather people were mad at him or afraid of him, than pitying him. How dare they pity him? They were nothing! They were the insignificant supporting roles in the story of a life that didn't matter, that had no purpose! Harry drifted through his days, watching everyone around him scurry around like the world depended on them, and depending on what kind of day it was he wept for them, raged over them, or just waited for something, anything to change.
Finally, a week before Harry's eleventh birthday, something did.
The letter came.
Author's Note: Do NOT get on my case about posting another story. At this point, that would probably set me off and turn me off posting fanfiction completely. My nerves are... iffy right now. My aunt moved in a few months ago; that was fine with me. She's cool. Then, a couple months ago, her three children moved in as well. The oldest is eleven and the youngest is four. I'm fine with the oldest. She's cool too. But the other two... *strangles* On top of that I'm taking 17 credits this semester, working, and have had my laptop crap out on me twice. It's on that table right over there now, waiting to go visit HP again. I'll say it again, don't get on me about posting a new story. Just be happy for me that I'm posting.
28 January 2009