AN: Okay, why? Because I can. Because it was stuck in my head and because there are no fics with these two characters. I am the first. Just try and beat that. So yeah...enjoy? Because I wanted a one-shot that no one would be able to ask for more of. Review, please.
AN: Okay, why? Because I can. Because it was stuck in my head and because there are no fics with these two characters. I am the first. Just try and beat that.
So yeah...enjoy? Because I wanted a one-shot that no one would be able to ask for more of. Review, please.
Light, Love, Magic
Sirius was gone. Harry had evaded his friends, his peers and all the professors in his attempt to get away. It seemed that it didn't matter where he went inside the castle; they were everywhere he was. He'd even hidden in the kitchens where he'd extracted promises from the House elves to keep his location a secret but Dobby was a free elf and he was of the belief that Harry needed company. He'd waited until someone asked and then volunteered the information.
So, Harry had gone outside. Hagrid hadn't minded allowing Harry into his hut but even the half-giant hadn't been willing to allow him time to sit by himself. He'd let Harry's friends in the moment they came knocking. He'd jumped out a window before they got in.
Childish? Maybe. But Harry was beyond caring.
The last place he could think to go was the Forbidden Forest. It was a place he had an ambiguous relationship with. Its inhabitants had tried to kill him nearly as many times as they'd saved him. Recently, he'd been saved (however unwillingly) by the centaurs and Hagrid's half-brother Grawp. While the help from the centaurs was rather woolly at best, he'd still count it as help.
His magic was lashing angrily under his skin. He hadn't had the time to calm it and he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to. It had developed something of a mind of its own over the years of living with the Dursleys. It responded to his needs and protected him even when he was a child and desperately pleading to be 'normal' and for his strange power to just leave him alone and let him suffer.
He'd grown used to calming it and letting it settle under his control during the school year and prodding it awake during the summer to deal with any number of the hazards associated with the Dursleys. The scraps of food sustained him far longer than physically possible and any injuries healed swiftly. He'd screamed for it when Voldemort had possessed him at the Ministry.
It had come howling through him, searing the invading spirit and chasing it from his body in a furious wave of foreign emotion. Since then, it had returned to living beneath his flesh and his control but almost unwillingly. It seemed agitated and defensive; ready to leap to his defence at the slightest provocation.
That was why Harry wasn't afraid of being in the Forbidden Forest. He knew his magic was angry enough right now to protect him from anything that could possibly harm him.
"Human," the curt voice drew his attention. He froze and his magic swelled, enveloping him and lashing out briefly at the speaker. The snort and shifting of hooves on the forest floor made him peer up from beneath his fringe even as he curled deeper into the groove of massive roots he'd hidden in.
Dark hair hung wild and limp and wet about a frowning face. The centaur had a broken bow slung across his back alongside an empty quiver. His tail was flicking slowly in repressed agitation as he frowned deeply at the human teenager nestled at the base of the tree.
The magic in the air was thick and clung to his skin like a fog. He stared at the brilliant green eyes and shifted uneasily. There was a magic behind those eyes and it was snarling a warning at him. "Human," he repeated. "What are you doing out here?"
"Hiding," Harry said softly. It came out as barely a whisper but the centaur tilted his head and seemed to have heard him. He chanced a look at the hooves and paled at the size. Those could cause serious damage if he wasn't careful. His magic whirled and shifted beneath his skin and he curled up tightly into a ball – hoping his magic would follow suit but really just glad for the marginal comfort offered by the new position.
"Why?" The centaur seemed annoyed and shifted again. Harry knew his magic was stifling the other and felt remorse but he wasn't sure he wanted to stop it. The centaurs had only recently thought it would have been best to kill him.
"My godfather is dead," he said instead. The centaur stilled and stared at him, luminous eyes staring at the dark-haired human curled into a ball before him. There was so much pain in that voice.
"You shouldn't be in our forest, human."
"I just wanted to be alone...it was the only place."
Bane snorted. The human was far from alone. There were small acromantulas drawn by the magic and lingering high above in the trees, a phoenix whirling above in the sky in slow wide circles, an owl sitting high above them, and numerous other small creatures. There was also a wood-nymph hiding in the tree he had chosen and it was staring unblinkingly at the human. He was actually rather surprised the little one had remained so close to a human. The small fae shifted minutely and the tree seemed less terrifying and more comforting, roots shifting so smoothly that the human likely didn't notice as they created a more comfortable and defensible hollow to rest in.
That made him rethink his initial hatred for the human invading his forest as he had done only the night before. That human had been brought along on a scheme of the young female's concoction. That human had wanted nothing more to do with the centaurs and was clearly opposed to the entire situation. He'd been grateful for the giant's help – despite the injuries it caused the centaurs – but Bane supposed he could understand that. At least the giant had been familiar and somewhat welcome, as opposed to himself and Magorian who had only ever been cruel to the boy.
He heard the soft shuffle of hooves that the human didn't, as curled and lonely as he was. Ronan stood off to the side, staring at the boy and feeling the magic in the air. Ronan had always had a weakness for younglings – never mind their race. He fixed a dark look on Bane and motioned to the human. Bane scowled magnificently at his herd-mate. Ronan was immovable, shaking his head, red hair whipping about, and pointing firmly at the boy.
The soft, smug little bastard wanted him to comfort a human?!
The magic in the air seemed to retreat suddenly and he whirled to face what was sure to be a threat.
The boy was crying. He couldn't reconcile that fact with anything he knew. The magic had retreated because the boy was crying? He bent to peer closer at the human and pulled away sharply when the magic reached out softly to brush against him, letting him feel the alien sorrow that belonged both to the boy and the magic itself.
It was mind-boggling. The last true sorcerer had been a centaur. Magic very rarely responded as a sentient being to any magic-users. Humans had forgotten that magic was sentient at all and there hadn't been a sorcerer that had been gifted with a sentient magical core since the founders of the very school this human went to. Magic had since reliably chosen a magical being, not a human magic-user, to gift with its power but it was certainly never in the sheer colossal amount that this mere slip of a human boy possessed.
Ronan had vanished, leaving him with the boy and the knowledge that the other would be hell to live with if he didn't do something. Ronan was friend to every female in their herd and if he was displeased, they would be equally displeased and make it abundantly clear to everyone. Then he, Bane, would be blamed for their upset and he'd have no way of correcting the problem.
As it was, he could pretend the boy wasn't human simply due to the utterly terrifying presence of sentient magic inside his slight body.
"Human," he began again but was interrupted by a mumbled word from the human that even his superior hearing couldn't pick up. "What?"
"Harry," the boy said. The human, Harry, looked up and swiped angrily at the tears on his face. The bright green eyes still glistened. "My name is Harry. You're Bane." There was a dark, frightened knowledge in those eyes.
Bane snorted and shifted uneasily. The boy's eyes were far too similar to a foal's for his comfort. It was unnerving to see a foal's eyes filled with fear while in his presence. He protected the foals in his herd. They should never have reason to fear him. The magic in the air was pleading for someone to comfort its child and he sighed internally. Like it or not, this human was a child of magic and he had no right to leave him so defenceless and upset when magic had chosen him.
The boy squeaked (squeaked!) when he lowered himself to the ground, curling his legs beneath the bulk of his body. He frowned at the boy and the emerald eyes shuttered all emotion. He sighed, externally this time, and crossed his arms carefully. "I'm not going to hurt you, little sorcerer."
"Forgive me if I remain wary."
A small smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth. The boy was quick even in his sorrow. "Fair enough." He inclined his head and the boy uncurled fractionally at the whisper of amusement. "I am not lying. I would no sooner hurt my own foal than I would one of magic's sorcerers."
"You have a child?" The boy seemed bewildered and Bane found himself scowling again but this time the boy didn't cower. "Really?"
"No," Bane said. His voice was grouchy, he knew, and he was alarmed at the care he was giving the human. "But the sentiment remains the same. I shall not harm you."
"You hate humans," the boy – Harry, he reminded himself – said in confusion. "Why wouldn't you hurt me?"
"You are a sorcerer and no longer a mere human," he explained. He didn't move when Harry uncurled enough to cross his legs and stare at him curiously for an explanation. "Your magic is sentient."
"Oh." The boy seemed to withdraw. "Great. Another thing to add to the list."
Harry seemed both amused and bitter at the same time. "Parselmouth, boy-who-lived, slayer of the basilisk, surviving Tri-Wizard champion, faced Voldemort five times and still alive, possessed by Voldemort and still alive, youngest seeker in a century, and now sentient magic."
Bane blinked then focussed on the most pressing matter. "You killed a basilisk?"
"In my second year."
"Well," Harry seemed startled at the sudden fury in his voice and leaned away, "Fawkes helped."
"You fought a basilisk with just a phoenix for help?"
The boy was alarmed. "Yes?"
Bane heaved a sharp breath. Humans. How could they let their own children get into such situations? Second year would put the boy at...twelve? Twelve! He took another deep breath. At twelve he'd been given his first bow, yes, but he hadn't been expected to go patrolling until he'd left foal-hood behind! Another breath. A phoenix was a very powerful creature, yes, but even the ancient Fawkes would not face a basilisk alone. To let a child do such a thing...
"Why were you facing a basilisk alone?"
"Ron had to go get help and the tunnel had collapsed when the Professor tried to erase our memory and leave us there but Ron's wand was broken and backfired. Ginny was in trouble and I had to help her and couldn't wait for them to clear the tunnel or get help so I went on ahead and faced the spirit of a young Voldemort and he called the basilisk. Fawkes brought me the Sorting Hat and I pulled Gryffindor's sword out and used it to kill the basilisk after Fawkes blinded it." The words spilled forth in a rush and then stopped abruptly.
"You killed a basilisk, at twelve, with a sword?" He was furious. "To even hit anything vital you would need to be..."
Harry was a ball again, frightened and uncertain. "Well I did get bit. Stabbed, really, by one of its fangs. I was healed with phoenix tears."
"Phoenix tears can't heal basilisk venom," he snapped. "At most it balances the venom for a short while."
"But," Harry blinked, eyes bright, "Fawkes must've healed me. He cried on my arm and the wound went away and I'm not dead."
"Fawkes healed you?" That made sense. More sense than thinking that the humans at the school had used phoenix tears on the boy. If the phoenix had cried directly onto the wound then the tears would still be rich and potent and they could have certainly neutralized the venom.
"Yeah." There was a fondness in the boy's face that gave Bane pause. He looked at the boy and saw him.
Harry loved the phoenix just the same as he loved his human friends. He respected the magical bird just as he respected his Professors. Harry didn't see the centaurs as beasts – he saw them as beings just the same as he saw everyone. The magic had chosen this boy because he was so lonely that he simply loved everyone and everything. He had an innocence that Bane hadn't thought possible of any humans raised by wizard-kind.
"Why did you come out here today?"
Harry blinked at him and the magic behind his eyes was blinding in its brilliance. "I wanted to be alone. Sirius died and it's all my fault."
Bane scowled at him and reached out to hold the boy by his shoulders. Harry was frozen and stared at the furious, dark-haired centaur. "You are a child. If anyone is to blame, it is the inadequate protection your guardians have for you."
"My guardians are muggles."
"That school is designed to protect its inhabitants. You cannot seriously begin to tell me that there isn't a single adult in the school capable of protecting you?"
"Well, Snape was there but Umbridge...."
"Children should not have to shoulder the burdens of the adults. That is why the adults are there; to protect the children. Especially, a child who is also a sorcerer."
"But Dumbledore said that it was my job to kill Voldemort!" The boy was blinking back tears. "I guess I always knew it but now it's real and he had Sirius and now Sirius is dead and I don't have anyone anymore!"
It was foolish. Illogical and had nothing to do with anything he'd ever read in the stars. But this boy was magic and he wasn't going to leave him to be swallowed by a burden not meant for shoulders so small. "You will have me."
"I – what?"
Bane still had a hold on the boy's shoulders and he made him look directly at his eyes. There was fear in them, and hope, love, respect, magic, in them. "I will protect you now, little sorcerer. To the very best of my abilities. You are a child and I am an adult. If your own kind will not protect you properly, then I shall."
"You can't come with me everywhere." The voice was so lost, so full of longing, and it was breaking his previously immovable heart to hear it. "You can't."
"No, I cannot." He wouldn't lie to this boy. He practically smell the sourness of lies around the boy. "But you may come to me whenever you need to. When you want to be alone, or when you need help, or when everything is just too much. Even," he made sure to emphasize this last because he knew the boy needed an adult just as much as he needed to protect his people, "if you don't need me, you may still come. Anytime."
Harry was slumped under the force of emotion. He felt the tremors in the small frame and remained silent. His arms went round the boy when he pitched forward against the centaur's chest and sobbed silently. The magic beneath his skin swelled and there was still sorrow but now it was lighter and the magic curled protectively about Bane, marking him invisibly and remembering him in case the boy ever needed him and didn't know it.
Harry eventually calmed and was flushing brilliantly, looking far younger than he actually was, when he pulled back to peer up at Bane. The centaur stared at him, willed the boy to feel the sincerity. "Anytime."
Harry would return to his relatives that summer. He would be endangered many times more over the next few years and would face those challenges the same way he faced every challenge previous.
He wouldn't forget the promise between himself and the human-hating centaur Bane but neither would he acknowledge it. He still carried the burdens of the adults and avoided going to Bane, even when his magic thrashed and wailed for him to return to the safety of the forest and Bane's protection.
Dumbledore would die at the hands of Severus Snape. Harry was shattered – a friend, however unorthodox, an ally, a mentor betrayed. He would mourn his Headmaster's death and weep at the loss of Fawkes as the phoenix fled the death of his once-and-forever beloved companion.
But Harry would not acknowledge Bane even as the centaur watched him carefully from the tree-line.
He would run with his friends and, piece by piece, eradicate the blackened soul that was Voldemort from existence. He would be abandoned by them, abandon them, and watch his remaining friends and comrades and family be killed in the aftermath. His magic would swell and surge and protect him to the best of its abilities but always, always, was the echoing call to go home. Home to Hogwarts, and the forest, and Bane who had promised to be there when all others failed.
He would kill Voldemort, be killed by Voldemort, but emerge victorious and alive. He would fall in love with Ginny Weasley and eventually forgive the Headmaster his manipulations. He became an Auror and threw his weight behind radically changing laws regarding his friends – werewolves, vampires, goblins, centaurs, house-elves and any number of beings and creatures he could manage.
Ginny Weasley stood with him through it all and she became Ginny Potter. She gave him children and he lost himself in them – protecting them, teaching them, loving them. But Ginny Potter could not heal his scars, nor could his beloved younglings. The call in his magic was ever-present and eventually, many years later, Harry would return to Hogwarts.
He would walk the halls and peer fondly into hidden nooks and crannies that were not so hidden anymore. He would laugh and have fun on the playfully changing staircases. He would smile at the portraits and visit the Headmistress`s office where Fawkes` perch remained ever present.
Gryffindor tower would be the bright warm place he remembered fondly and he`d let his children eagerly `show him around` although they knew their father didn`t need it.
They would inevitably end up outside at the forest and his magic would rise and swell and sing.
And Bane would be there.
"Bane." The voice was deeper, the eyes had more shadows, but the magic was wild and overwhelming and ever-present as it had been so many years ago. The innocence was there still and the love, hope, despair, myriad emotions that the man hadn't left behind. The hair was wild as ever and maybe there were a few more lines on this face than the centaur remembered.
Maybe Bane couldn't fire an arrow as rapidly but his aim was just as true. His hair was still dark but he stubbornly ignored the silver strands making their presence known in his tail and along his legs. So what if he was stiffer than he remembered? He didn't need to kneel for the man before him.
"I meant to come, you know?" the voice cracked and the younglings at his side stared with wide-eyes at their father and the centaur their father knew by name but wasn't Firenze. "But I couldn't have done it without those burdens."
"I knew it; it was in the stars." Bane had waxed poetic in his older age – going on fewer patrols and focussing more on his peoples' gift. "I still meant every word, little sorcerer."
The smile was hesitant, full of affection and love, and the boy – no, man – stepped forward. "I don't need an adult anymore," he began softly. "But I could use a friend."
Bane still despised humans. He hated them for what they had done to the sorcerer child, hated them for what they did to his people and his foals (and yes, wouldn't the boy laugh at the idea of Bane having foals of his own now), and he would never stop hating them. It wasn't in his nature.
But the man before him wasn't a human – not anymore. He had gone through death and returned, immersed in magic like a second skin and filled to the brim. He had human offspring and a human wife but he wasn't human. He was magic. Bane couldn't hate magic.
"I would be honoured," he murmured and his arms were full of shaking sorcerer and the magic was swelling and clinging like a fog, remembering him and their meeting and lightening the burden the man (who was still partially a child) had carried for far too long. The younglings slipped away unnoticed. They knew their father needed this just as they knew their father wasn't like them. Not fully.
Harry Potter – full of love, light, and magic – once more befriended Bane the Centaur – full of hate, devotion, and fierce protectiveness - and theirs was a friendship that would last through death and beyond, much as it already had.