Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine and will continue to remain so well after the conclusion of this story. This chapter and subsequent chapters are not intended to infringe on any applicable copyright.
Warnings: Post 2nd year, relatively unoriginal plot, some violence, slash, minor character bashing, graphically bloody scenes, explicit sex scenes, swear words, sexual innuendos, etc. But generally rated for safety.
A/N: The writing style may be a little odd for the first chapter or three, but this is mostly because I am setting up the story and trying not to bog any of you down with too much unnecessary literary rambles. But if something is unclear, let me know and I will rectify it to the best of my abilities. There is also the danger that some parts will not cohere with even the first two books, so I am calling for a suspension of belief. Other than that, I hope you enjoy the story.
Of Learning and Survival
Part I: You're not a Wizard, Harry.
Breathing hurt, and it came in short, sharp gasps that set his throat aflame as he ran blindly down the near-empty street. Turbulent emotions and incoherent thoughts swamped his mind, making his head reel and his heart ache.
He kept moving, though he could not see, tears obscuring his vision and reducing the world to a blur of dark shadows and random shapes. There was nowhere – and no one – for him to run right now. He was directionless, and that realisation made his heart stop and yet caused it to pound a thousand times faster in the same moment. The sheer weight of being alone in the vast and cruel world stole the last ounces of strength he had left, and the young wizard, not even a teenager, collapsed onto the cemented pavement.
What a sight he must have made; a broken figure in black wizarding robes lying in a heap on a muggle street. But he could not bring himself to care as he curled into a tight ball and sobbed his shattered heart out.
"You're not a Wizard, Harry," Dumbledore had told him gravely, his eyes troubled even as he held a broken holly and phoenix feather wand in his wrinkled hands. There lay Harry's heart, snapped in two with a simple flick of the wrist. Could they blame him for his pained screams?
Non-wizards, the Minister of Magic had said, did not have the privilege of wielding wands.
And non-wizards did not attend Hogwarts.
That night, Harry Potter cried for a broken heart and a lost home. For a broken trust and a betrayal that sliced through every dream and hope he had ever possessed. For the sense of loss that brought such acute pain, he felt as though he would pass out from the sheer hurt.
But when he had shed more tears than he thought he had in him, pale cheeks still wet and eyes as red as the Gryffindor tie he wore just hours ago, he brought himself unsteadily to his feet and began to make his way down the street like a drunk stumbling home in the dark.
How he had apparated from Hogwarts to London, he did not know – and did not care.
"You're not a Wizard, Harry."
His young heart cried out in denial for how could it be true? He had performed magic with that wand, stopped a possessed professor from obtaining the philosopher's stone and slain a fully-grown basilisk with a founder's sword. Even his apparation that defied Hogwarts: A History was testament to the magic that ran in his very veins.
He had magic and there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever about that. He was the Boy-Who-Lived. A thrice-damned wizard if there ever was one.
A scream bubbled in his throat, threatening to burst free with the desire to lash out at the cold, unfeeling world. How dare he? How dare Albus Dumbledore present an entire life, an entire world, to him on a gilded platter, only to snatch it away like a jealous child?
Tears came, fresh and warm, to replace those he had furiously brushed away. He had thought there were no tears left in him.
"You're not a Wizard, Harry."
He was only 12, going on 13. Yet the Minister of Magic had wanted to have him arrested. Under what charges he did not know; he had not stuck around long enough to find out. The moment several stern-looking wizards in red garb entered the headmaster's office through the Floo, Harry only knew that he had to get the hell out of there.
Choking back a sob, Harry recalled the pain that he had experienced the night before his world came crashing down at his feet. It was a different pain to the kind he was experiencing now – the tangible kind, and one that he would choose at the drop of a hat over the hurt inflicted by one whom he had respected greatly.
It was his initial magical inheritance, Dumbledore had explained, before he had broken the news and his wand. It had come several years before an average wizard's would have and was several thousands of times more painful than it usually was. The strange markings that had appeared on his skin in brilliant colours were almost unheard of too, though the bespectacled wizard had not elaborated.
Merlin had it hurt. It had felt like a dozen cruciatuses, a million stabbing knives and several shock waves of electricity running through his thin frame. Pain like no other, Harry had thought. Incomparable. Nothing else could possibly overshadow the sheer pain he had experienced. But Harry now knew better.
"You're not a Wizard, Harry."
He kept on walking.
Part II: When hunger becomes too much to bear
It had only been four days.
Harry had slept in a park, on a pavement outside MacDonald's and in the subway station. Food was almost non-existent, although the manager at the fast food joint was kind enough to offer him a box of leftover chicken nuggets on the second night after his expulsion. Adults and the authorities had eyed him with suspicion but left him alone for the most part.
Ultimately, however, he was high, dry and desperate to lay his grubby fingers on some food. Or some money that would get him food.
So he flipped his Hogwarts robe inside out and sneaked into the pub when Tom the Bartender's back was turned. Quietly positioning himself behind a wizarding family who conveniently tapped out the correct sequence of bricks, Harry silently slipped into the heart of wizarding Britain. It was a daring move, that much he knew. He was simply beyond caring.
That did not stop nervousness from hammering at his heart, though, as verdant orbs darted around behind grimy lenses. Muscles tensed and coiled in preparation to flee as he half-expected a squadron of wizards to pounce on him as soon as he lifted his head. When no angered yelling or victorious shouts were to be heard, the boy clutched his robe close to his thin frame and darted towards his immediate destination – Gringotts.
It was early enough on a Sunday morning that the bank was still empty. The few people that were in the establishment paid the dishevelled boy no mind as he approached a counter with a vast amount of trepidation.
"I would like to make a withdrawal," the dark-haired pre-teen informed the goblin on duty, meeting the stern gaze with a small flinch. The creature sat on a raised marble dais, making him appear several heads taller than the nerve-wrecked boy. But while the past few days had robbed Harry of his trust and replaced it with a wounded heart and a belly full of anger, it would take more than the wizarding world to deprive him of his Gryffindor bravery.
"Lost it," the boy fibbed, scuffing his shoe against the marbled floor.
"Name," the goblin demanded, raising two oddly-shaped eyebrows in a picture of scepticism.
"... Harry Potter." Reluctant, it was a quiet admission, and once again the boy felt acutely self-conscious as he glanced about for anyone looking his way.
Startled, Harry looked back at the goblin to find him stepping off the dais with little grace and no embarrassment as he began to lead the Boy-Who-Lived towards the back of the building, not looking back to see if he was being followed.
"Where are you taking me to?" Harry demanded, still rooted to the spot. Was the goblin going to lock him away somewhere while they called Dumbledore? He was well and truly screwed if that were the case. But the shorter creature merely spared a glance over his shoulder to provide him with a curt answer.
"Make new key."
Seeing that he had little other choice, Harry scrambled to follow after the green-skinned creature who marched along a labyrinth of marbled corridors that twisted and turned until the child had no clue as to which direction they had originally come from.
The option of running back no longer feasible, Harry swallowed and wiped beads of perspiration from his brow. The longer they walked, the less light there seemed to be and his nervousness multiplied with each step they took.
It had to be several long minutes before they finally came to an abrupt halt, causing Harry to collide heavily into the solemn goblin.
"S-sorry," Harry apologised hastily, though his apology went unacknowledged as the unidentified goblin knocked sharply on the door they had come to a stop in front of. Without waiting for admission, he turned the knob and swung the door open.
"Manager Gnarl will see you."
With that, the goblin was off, headed back towards the unknown direction that they had come from and leaving the young boy, stunned, in the dark corridor.
"Come in please, Harry Potter."
Part III: Relocation
Not enough sunlight was allowed to filter through grimy windows and the air was filled with the unmistakable smell of old and musty books that lined bookshelf after bookshelf. There were tomes, booklets, textbooks, pamphlets and all sorts of reading material that probably ran into the millions in quantity, all crammed into every nook and cranny there was available in the small store. Each piece was a treasure guarded fiercely by the shop owner, akin to the treasure trove of a goblin.
But Harry Potter was not cowed by the fierce glare of the old man, who was partially blind as it were – reading for hours on end in the dark could do that to someone. Instead, the dark-haired boy took his time to peruse the contents of each shelf, pausing occasionally to add to the growing stack of books by the counter. There was nothing new in the entire shop; the books were either well-preserved or falling apart. There seemed, however, to be no end to the kind of books one could find in there.
He took well over an hour to scour the shop and when he was done, he had several dozen books waiting to be rung up.
The shopkeeper scowled as he tallied up the amount he was to be paid, almost as if he were peeved he had a customer. The boy took no notice of it, already used to the old man's cranky behaviour although he had only begun visiting the place three weeks ago.
"Have these back here within the month," the hunched old man rasped out, a warning glint in hazy eyes. "One sickle for each book per day after that."
Verdant met milky-blue and Harry simply nodded, carefully grabbing the feather-light bag of books before exiting Reedington's Reads for Rent.
Knockturn Alley was a quiet place to be in the early morning, its usual occupants either still out cold or nursing too large a hangover to come out. Nimbly side-stepping several prone bodies by the street, the former Hogwarts student slipped into a small back alley and up a flight of creaky stairs. The door at the top swung open with a whine even before he reached it and shut itself without even a glance from him.
To be sure, the place he was staying in was no palace. In fact, it was not even a basic apartment. Rather, he had the upper floor of a small shop, and it had no rooms whatsoever. It was just an expanse of bare space when he first saw it, a small dirty toilet and a shower tucked away at the corner, with wooden beams holding up the roof.
Now, the toilet was still dirty but there were random belongings strewn over the place. A large mattress occupied the centre stage of the floor with a short table by its side. In a corner of the room, where there was a tiny window overlooking the streets, stood a half-filled bookcase that contained several manually-bound parchments that resembled manuscripts.
The landlord, for a small fee, had magically restored rotting floor planks and another galleon ensured that the magical plumbing of the toilet and shower actually functioned.
A faint odour permeated the room, but it was the same rank that filled the entire alley so it was hardly worth bothering about. After wandering the streets for days after his exile and having far too many near-misses with the authorities and street gangs, having a place, no matter how run down, to return to at the end of the day was a relief in itself.
Harry's move into the darker side of the wizarding area was an accidental one. To be sure, he could not spend much time in Diagon Alley – there were posters of him put up alongside that of a prison escapee, declaring him a wanted persona non grata. The boy was avoiding the wizarding police – aurors, he recalled with distaste – when he ducked into the seedy alley and promptly tripped over a hag selling werewolf bones. He had shuddered and backed away, anxiously flattening stringy hair over his forehead even as she tried to shove her wares in his face.
Then something amazing happened. Brief, but wonderful to him all the same.
The skinny youth had thrust his hands out to keep her away from him, more than slightly scared by her crooning tone and repulsive appearance. He felt warmth travelling up his arms and before the Boy-Who-Lived could blink or utter another protest, a short burst of energy sent her careening into a wall. Several of her 'wares' shattered on the impact and the terrified boy turned tail and fled the scene.
But nothing else went well that day for the frightened child, who proceeded to get ambushed by every other questionable character in the alley. He had tried calling up another bout of wandless magic but to no avail. As the night descended upon the alley, Harry was beginning to sink into the depths of despair.
'Room for Rent', read a faded sign in the grubby window of a clothing store. Green eyes gazed at it in brief contemplation before the scrawny figure stumbled into the shop, almost dead on his feet. Half an hour later, he was fast asleep on the cold floor of the bare room he now occupied.
Things had definitely looked up since that day, some month ago in May, though most would not see such bare living as much of an improvement.
His landlord had been an excellent source of wisdom in street wisdom, having provided the lost boy with directions around the Alley and advice on how to keep his life and purse intact. He had clothed the boy, personally showed him the way to Reedington's Reads for Rents and watched as the young boy relaxed from a skittish runaway to a quiet but more grounded youth whom he enjoyed sharing a pint of butterbeer with on occasion. Naturally, however, each of his services came attached with an unwritten invoice.
Still, the boy did not seem overly concerned about doling out several knuts and sickles, even the occasional galleon, and it didn't take long for the man – Mr Guy Goulding – to realise that the boy had deeper pockets than his initial appearance led on. He still did not know what the lad's name was or how old he was, nor was he aware of what he did when he was holed up in the second floor, or disappeared for extended periods of times. It was none of his business; the lad had made that much clear.
On his first day at Knockturn, Harry had ventured from his room after a night of restless sleep, at a bit of a loss as to what he could do with himself. His only possession was the pouch of gold he had obtained from the bank. Goulding, had taken one look at his new tenant and began calling into question the lad's ability to fork out the rent on time.
"You look like an urchin off the streets," he sniffed, despite having already received three months' worth of lease.
"Threadbare robes, scruffy appearance and no job to get you by I would assume. You've gone and run away from your home, I'll bet. What'll you do once the money in your fancy pouch runs out, eh? I'll not have you paying me late, even by a single day, you hear me?"
But Harry had merely stared blankly at the tailor, who would have taken it for a lack of comprehension if it were not for the short reply that came after a pregnant pause.
"You'll be paid on time."
"See that I do, young'in," Goulding warned in a half-grumble, his interest having waned by then as he shuffled over to the door and flipped the sign to indicate that the shop was opened. "And next time take the stairs that bring you straight to the street. Don't want you messing around here when I've got customers."
Not that he had many in the day. But the boy was unnerving him with his piercing green eyes that seemed to stare at him and through him in the same instance.
"I need clothes," Harry said abruptly, and returned Goulding's curious gaze with a steady one although his tone indicated that it was more of a voiced thought than anything else.
Here, the boy hesitated and shifted slightly on his feet as though unsure, his fists curling into the folds of his inside-out robe.
The older man snorted, rolled his eyes heavenwards and asked for patience when dealing with the ignorant.
"You have nothing with you, unless there was a shrunken trunk or bag hidden amidst your rags, am I right?"
Harry nodded mutely, and Goulding flipped the sign back around with an unhealthy amount of glee that was disguised as exasperation. It was time to relieve the boy of some more of his gold.
Part IV: Goblin Business and Bloody Rites
Ironheart Gnarl eyed the boy seated in front of him with an unreadable expression on his green face, yet unsure as to how he should regard the wizarding outcast. Every time he thought he had an inkling of the boy's character, the brunette went and did something to the contrary. In time, he would come to accept this as part of the youngling's charm but for now he had the boy's request to consider.
Just over two months ago, Harry Potter had been escorted to his office looking like the fresh runaway child that he was – dirty, unkempt and frightened. All he had requested for was some money from his vault to buy enough food in order to survive the following day. But he had left with more than he had bargained for because prior to his unannounced arrival, Gnarl had been trying to sink his crooked fingers into the Boy-Who-Lived to no avail – thanks to the tall wizard Dumbledore, whose skinny arse Gnarl would gladly kick if he thought he could get away with it.
There were two wills that needed young Potter's presence to execute, a magical inheritance that the ignorant child had gone through and a hefty amount of paperwork that required his approval once he had accepted his rights as head of the Potter house. The goblin had almost resigned himself to waiting until after the boy had graduated from school to get all this done.
It was thus with no little amount of smugness that he had read James Potter's will aloud, twelve years after the wizard's untimely demise. With it, he bequeathed all Potter estates and monies to Harry, handed over the family signet ring.
Lily Evans nee Potter's will was a lot less complicated, but Harry's eyes, which had rounded with each word that was uttered from Gnarl's mouth, filled with unshed tears that made the goblin decidedly uncomfortable. Every magical thing his mother had owned, she left to her precious son, including her diary which she highlighted he was to read very carefully.
That done, Gnarl had summoned a younger goblin to take the Potter to his vault for the money he had requested. The child, he could see, was stunned and clearly dead on his feet. Indubitably, his parents' wills were not something the orphan could process in the space of an hour so with as kind a word as he could muster, Gnarl gave the child a pouch that would prevent the thievery of his money and sent him on his way.
He did not particularly care where the child went or what he did and it was for his own benefit that he provided the boy with a portkey that would take him back to his office in a weeks' time. A week, Gnarl decided, was more than enough time for Harry Potter to think about his abrupt change in circumstances, a frail boy though he was. And then he could conclude their business as far as posthumous instructions went.
But the second meeting turned into the third and the third developed into a chain of regular meetings, in which the young Potter – looking a lot more presentable – politely requested that Gnarl teach him about the magical world. This was done amidst their discussions on how to handle the Potter estates, which were not very large but had the potential to grow if given adequate attention. And Harry Potter was giving it more attention than any other Potter had before.
That alone was enough for Gnarl to justify the amount of time he was spending with the boy that was not quite a man and not quite a wizard, bringing him to the present where he was faced with yet another request from the seemingly placid teen.
"Why do you want to perform an inheritance test?" It was a simple question – the most obvious one to ask, in fact. The Potter family was not that old and its family tree hardly complicated. Gnarl would bet a prized weapon that there was no inheritance waiting in the wings to be discovered.
But the boy merely shrugged and tilted his head at the goblin who had been more of a mentor to him in two months than Albus Dumbledore had in two years, though he was certainly less affectionate.
"I need to be certain of something."
Skinny fingers slid an open book across the desk and Gnarl glanced at the page it was opened at. The contents of Lily Evans' diary – retrieved from her vault after their second meeting – had been the cause of many a discussion in the past couple of weeks, although Harry was careful with how much he showed his bank manager.
As he read, the bristly hair that formed Gnarl's brow arched upwards and not for the first time, he wondered about the secrets that shrouded the teenager in front of him. Hailed a saviour at age one, but a wanted man at 13 for reasons yet unknown to the public.
Gnarl chuckled, a throaty sound that rumbled low and reverberated in the cosy office room as he raised his gaze to meet the gaze of guarded verdant eyes.
Part V: Not Even Human – Extracts from the diary of Lily Evans
26 July 1973, Summer Holidays:
Something odd happened yesterday afternoon. Mum said that I collapsed in the kitchen while I was baking with Petunia and that I started screaming like a banshee. Then I started to glow in all sorts of colours and Pet said that there were weird "squiggles" on my skin.
I don't remember all that, though, and I can't see the marks on my skin now. I just know it really, really hurt. I thought someone had cast a blood boiling hex on me or something and even that would be an understatement. Come to think of it, my throat's a little raw. But I'm fine now. Pet's refusing to talk to me. Mum said I really gave her the fright of her life. I haven't a clue as to what to do... She's never liked magic very much and now she thinks her little sister is more insane than she thought before.
I should probably ask McGonagall about the pain when I get back to school, although mum and dad are so worried I think they'll be sending her an owl before the week is up. I hope the holidays pass quickly. Fourth year at Hogwarts already promises to be so much fun...
8 November 1973, Hogwarts:
Hufflepuff 7th year Jeremiah Hurst fell off his broom during Quidditch practice today – something about momentarily losing control of his body for a couple of seconds. Thankfully the episode lasted all of five seconds and he's back on his feet again.
I overheard Sirius Black referring to it as his initial iagical inheritance and faithful sidekick James Potter added that Hurst is awfully young to be having it. The other purebloods all looked rather awed. Nancy knew nothing about it either and I wasn't about to ask Potter after he so rudely stole my Transfig essay to copy last week. Merlin, that boy can be so bloody rude! But I digress.
Madam Pince and the library are truly the answer to all things academic.
"The Initial Magical Inheritance (IMI) is typically the first sign of the maturation of a magical core. It may occur at any time and without prior warning. The average age at which witches and wizards experience their IMI is 25 and 28 respectively." (Magical Cores and the Theory of Evolution, Page 14, Mabel Hubbard, 1934.)
"After undergoing IMI, the person may feel more energetic or may display more power than before. More importantly, the maturation of a magical core necessarily means that the witch or wizard's magic will be more stable." (Hubbard, 1934, page 17.)
"Depending on the magical potential of the person, the IMI may happen without the person noticing or sometimes with episodes of extreme pain. Theories have suggested that the earlier the IMI occurs in life and the more painful the experience is, the more powerful the witch or wizard is likely to be. None of these hypotheses have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, although it is often assumed as the truth by the general public." (Hubbard, 1934, Page 43.)
For several minutes, I thought I had an explanation for my little 'episode' over the holidays. Then Nancy found this:
"The Initial Magical Inheritance for aethers occurs before they reach the age of 15. During this, birth runes will be re-opened to allow for the expansion of their magical core. Unlike the Initial Magical Inheritance experienced by wizards, the experience is exceedingly painful for aethers and they often pass out once the inheritance has been concluded. This is the ideal time for any witnesses to report these individuals to the relevant authorities as they will not be in the position to fight back for several hours.
Aethers, once having undergone their Initial Magical Inheritance, are extremely dangerous creatures, second only to Dragons. Their magic becomes highly unstable and they are likely to attack with little provocation. Though they have the appearance of humans, and are likely to be very young, the public is urged not to take pity on them for the consequences may prove dire..." (Ministry Guidebook to Magical Inheritances, British Ministry of Magic, 1970.)
I think I ought to go to bed. Am feeling decidedly unwell.
10 November, 1973, Hogwarts:
Aethers are not wizards. They are not humans. Their genetic make-up is vastly different from a human's and their magic to blood ratio is several times that of a wizard's. Classified as one of the most dangerous creatures to roam the Earth, there have been reports that these beings are among the most savage. What makes them highly dangerous, aside from their sheer power, is their capability of thought and calculated action. It is believed that there still exist aethers that hide themselves among wizards, although many also believe that they were hunted into extinction in the 14th Century. To harbour or knowingly withhold information of an aether is considered High Treason in the international community.
18 February, 1974, Hogwarts:
... Every time a Professor praises me on my "excellent spell work" and "precise wand work", I cannot help but feel a surge of guilt and – oddly enough – anger.
I am an aether.
There. I have admitted it.
I have vividly-coloured eyes, several times the magic of an average wizard, and the tendency to work better and feel more comfortable among nature. I do not menstruate, I do not bleed normal blood when I get cut and Nancy says I sometimes glow in my sleep or when I get overly emotional about something. I have runes on my body that light up like bloody beacons when I over exert myself. I have not fallen ill since my IMI last year even though I've been traipsing around with less clothing than the others and not feeling the least bit cold in winter.
I am an aether. A being of magic. Magic's being. Whatever! I'm not a human anymore. I mean, I don't suppose I was a human to begin with but that is hardly the point.
The point is that it isn't fair. It isn't fair that they have condemned aethers as dangerous creatures when I bloody well know that I have hurt neither hide nor hair of anyone since my IMI. I've not turned into a senseless killer that is about the wreck death and carnage on the poor, helpless wizards.
Yet I cannot admit that I am an aether beyond the pages of this diary. Because if I do there will be no more Lily Evans. Her soul would be devoured by dementors and that would be it. Even if I haven't done a single thing against the law in my entire bloody life.
It just isn't fair. I bet there are other aethers out there but I can't seek their help because I don't know where to even start looking for them. Oh, Merlin. What on earth am I supposed to be doing with myself? I can't tell anyone and this is driving me up the blasted wall...
21 May, 1974, Hogwarts
I asked Professor Slughorn if it were possible for an aether to be mistaken for a wizard or witch.
He said: "There is no recorded history of a muggleborn or wizard-born aether. Seeing that it has been proven that aethers are not of the human race, this is hardly surprising. Aethers are not about to spring forth from wizarding or muggle lines. That we can be assured of."
Not feeling very 'assured' right now.
3 June, 1974, Home
It's been an emotional day. Pet's not speaking to me again but I'm far too dazed to care. In any case, I'm not up to speaking with mum or dad now either.
Is this a nightmare that I will wake up from in a few hours? Has my entire life been a farce?
Adopted. Of all things... I thought this sort of drama only occurs in novels and stupid television series...
Part VI: A Different Person
With the new school term starting in a month, the streets of Diagon Alley was filled to the brims with children and adults alike, most there to purchase school supplies. They appeared hurried – or perhaps harried would be a better description – as they bustled their way through the crowd that seemed to thicken with every passing hour leading up to lunch.
One such person, however, was unfazed by the comings and goings of the people around him. He sat rather serenely at the ice cream parlour with a bowl of mint-flavoured confectionary going ignored where it sat beside the book he was engrossed in. Clad comfortably in grey slacks and a short green robe that brushed the tops of his dragon hide boots and ended at his knees, he was decidedly out of place amidst the chatters of excited children and the grumbles of tired parents.
"I do apologies for interrupting you reading, but would you mind if we shared a table?" Someone inquired politely, although he did not sound the least bit apologetic. "There are none available."
The stranger did not react immediately, choosing to complete the passage he was reading before glancing up. Vivid verdant met glacial grey as the former regarded the latter with a hint of startled contemplation in his gaze.
"Certainly," he finally acquiesced before returning to his book without a fuss, strands of auburn silk falling into his eyes as he did so.
Draco Malfoy raised a brow at how quickly his presence was disregarded but he took the seat nevertheless and settled in to savour his pecan pie and ice cream. For a lack of better things to do, the Malfoy heir began to study the stranger whose space he had imposed his presence upon.
He had a slender built, somewhat lean and graceful for a male and with none of the baby fat that one usually saw on children his age, and a head of dark red hair that lit up in the sunlight. With those impossibly green eyes and unblemished fair skin, had Draco been slightly older he would, without a doubt, have felt a degree of physical attraction to him. As it were, the young wizard was more than satisfied to note that the stranger's robes were tailor-made out of an expensive material, with a low collar and a clasp that he was sure was made from silver or platinum. His nails were carefully manicured and buffed and the book he was reading was leather-bound by hand, although the blonde could not make out a title. On his wrist was an old silver watch that bespoke good preservation against the wear and tear of time and if one squinted impolitely enough, they would see a gold ring about his index finger where family rings were to be worn.
By the time he had concluded his study of his table-partner, Draco was convinced that he was looking at a social peer. Of his age, no less, begging the question of why he was not a student at Hogwarts. Not that he knew of, at least.
But striking up conversation with him would be plain rude seeing that his attention had been occupied elsewhere since before he decided to impinge himself on the other boy. Family image came first and the blonde pouted discretely into his pie as he waited for his father to be done with his business in Knockturn Alley.
The next 15 minutes passed by in silence, although one could hardly describe the atmosphere as such. With the general noise coming from all directions of the shopping district, even the sound of cutlery against glass and turning of parchment paper was almost lost to Draco's inattentive ears as his mind wandered.
Finally, the familiar Malfoy hair came into sight and Draco pushed away his plate, sitting straighter in his chair as his father entered the ice cream parlour. The Head of House Malfoy paused, however, as he caught sight of the young boy seated across from his son, lost to the world with his head buried in his book.
"He was kind to let me share his table, Father," Draco informed his patriarch, a little unsure if he did the right thing, although he did not allow himself or his speech to waver. "The crowd is impossible today."
"I see," Lucius Malfoy responded without inflection. "Thank you, young man."
"It's of no issue," came the immediate reply as the startlingly green gaze was lifted from his book once again.
What information Draco took minutes to garner from the appearance of the other boy, Lucius took only seconds to take in. A thin brow arched upwards as the older Malfoy tilted his head slightly to the side without breaking his gaze from the lad.
"I'm Lucius Malfoy," he said bluntly, his age making it socially acceptable to interrupt the boy's activities the way Draco could not. "And this is my son, Draco Malfoy."
"A pleasure to meet the both of you, sir," replied the redhead as he stood, shutting the book and placing it to the side of the table as he sketched a quick and informal bow. There was no visible emotion on his face as he did so. "I am Aindreas Wyatt-Ildefonso."
"I wasn't aware that there were any left of the Ildefonso in Europe," Lucius frowned as he took a seat at the table without invitation.
If Aindreas found the older man's behaviour rude, he made no show of it as he reclaimed his seat with a shuffle of his robes. Draco thought he saw a hint of a frown creasing the boy's forehead but it was gone in an instance.
"My clan has relocated," the redhead agreed calmly. "I am merely here for a holiday and will be gone before the month is up."
"I trust you're enjoying yourself in England then?" Lucius inquired, tone finally reaching something that could be mistaken for detached politeness.
"It has been... educational." Here, Aindreas offered the Malfoy patriarch a quick smile before reaching for his bowl of ice cream that had yet to melt due to a standard freezing charm. But the youth took a bite and replaced the bowl with a slight blanch. Draco smirked. The well-bred could always tell when food was not fresh.
Part VII: Legacies and Inheritances
"They didn't recognise me. I mean, Malfoy Senior was still rude but they were civil and quite pleasant in odd Malfoy fashion. Malfoy, the younger one I mean, hardly said a word with his father around. Bloody blonde ponce kept asking me about my parentage and all that tripe, though. I didn't slip up or make any social faux pas, and I think they bought whatever I spouted off the top of my head. Honestly, I thought they were going to call the aurors – or Death Eaters! – on me and were just stalling for time."
Gnarl studied the papers on his desk, content to let the young aether in front of him ramble to his heart's content about his first day in the alley under his new persona. It did not happen often with the lad and the goblin was not above indulging him on the occasions that he lost his composure.
When Harry Potter had requested for an inheritance test to be performed at the bank a month ago, Gnarl had been sceptical, to say the least. But when he held the parchment that charted his family tree and proclaimed the boy the heir to one of the largest aether family known to them, he had been beyond pleased with his own luck. Since then, it had not taken much effort on the boy's part for him to become a favourite with the traditionally grumpy creature who detested humans in all forms.
Though, technically, Harry was no longer a human.
He was an aether and aethers did not do things by halves. Gnarl had a theory that the aether blood from Lily's side had overtaken whatever human blood he was to get from his father. Especially since it was the aether that had carried him in her body and shared her life force with him. Fortunately, the Potter clan did not have a clause against a non-human inheriting the family's various legacies.
The inheritance test had also removed several blood charms Lily Evans had woven on her son at his birth, rendering him the splitting image of his mother.
It was all rather convenient.
The lad was now able to walk about in broad daylight without fear of being recognised, although he insisted on remaining in Knockturn Alley as a precaution. Staying close the bookstore he frequented so often was, of course, something he was not willing to give up just yet. He had been devouring several books a day now, each one pertaining to magic or aethers in some way as the brunette-turned-redhead determinedly set about learning more about his race, himself and his abilities.
Some of the books he read were, of course, utterly incorrect because they were written by wizards and based upon conjectures. Still, it was better than having to muddle his way along like his mother was forced to do.
"Yes, Lord Wyatt?"
It seemed like the lad had finished with his verbal spluttering and was now eyeing him with an intensity that made him feel several decades younger than he actually was.
"It's been close to five months now since I left Hogwarts."
"I have no direction in life."
The statement was delivered so plainly and so simply but at the same time managed to convey a sense of helplessness that made Gnarl want to roll his eyes.
"You're on the right path," the goblin replied, nonplussed, continuing when the boy merely arched an eyebrow at him in disbelief. "You're learning more about yourself, you're handling and multiplying your estates for both the Potter family and Wyatt-Ildefonso clan. Furthermore, while the goblins have lost touch with aethers for several decades now, I have been working on regaining contact with my last acquaintance from that part of the world so that we may inform them of your presence in the wizarding world. I do not know when, but I have little doubt that we will be hearing from them soon. If my memory serves me well, they will care for their own kind in their own odd way."
Harry Potter, or Aindreas Wyatt-Ildefonso as he was now called, did not know what to say in his surprise. Nevertheless, his bank manager was right, and the aether was beginning to understand that Ironheart Gnarl was almost never wrong.
Part IIX: Letter from a Lost Land
Dear Lord Aindreas Wyatt of Ildefonso,
Enclosed is a key to Avalon District – the heartland of the Magical Realm. Once activated by three drops of your magic, it will serve only you and will continue to do so till you lose your limb or life. As an aether, this is your birthright. But you are bound by magic to keep whatever knowledge you have about the Magical Realm from the Unknowing or Non-Celestials. To add different destinations to the key, you may consult the key constructors at Avalon. While these destinations may include the British wizarding bank of Gringotts where you are at, I urge you to be discreet in whatever the business you have in the Wizarding World.
Please note that Avalon District – an island in its own right – is under the protection of magic that disallows all forms of physical or magical fighting. To do so without very good reason would strip you of your right to entry.
On a more personal note, you are to take this key to Avalon as soon as you are able to. Orientate yourself, learn all you can about your heritage and I will be expecting your application to school on the year prior to your 15th birthday. Unusual circumstances taken fully into account, no one will be giving you any leeway.
Till then, I remain
Amadis Cadence of Desiderius
Headmistress of Mistral Academy of Higher Learning and Survival
August 15th, 1993
Part IX: Ten things I've learnt about being an Aether by Aindreas Wyatt
Aethers have no blood. Only magic. But somehow we still need to eat to survive and therefore still require the use of bathrooms and toilets. Through experiments carried out on my personal self, aethers are also capable of ejaculation and the secretion of bodily oils but not of perspiration. Have looked into biological breakdowns but it is far too complicated – and my knowledge far too limited – to fully comprehend as of yet. Needless to say, aethers are exceedingly sensitive to magic.
I have cut myself with a knife and it hurt, so pain and touch receptors are still there. As mum wrote, aethers do not bleed blood. Rather, this sort of shimmering, colourless but thick and viscous liquid will seep through until the wound is closed. Further researched in Avalon has shown that this secretion performs most functions that human blood would and therefore giving anyone my magic or 'blood' or essence or life sustenance, as it is referred to in various sources, is not a good idea as it can be used in charms and potions to do with mind control and whatnot.
Matured aethers do not require the use of wands, staffs or any sort of foci to perform most of their magic. However, when it comes to the more detailed and focus-oriented magics such as rituals or healing, instruments that limit the amount of power being channelled are usually used to prevent an overload of magic.
Control, rather than the lack of power, is often a problem young aethers have to contend with. Obtaining the amount of control to do small tasks like repairing a broken vase or cleaning a desk comes either with natural talent or with copious amounts of training. Once the Initial Magical Inheritance has been undergone, young aethers should have more power under their wings as well as a degree of control that should only grow as they age. Until then, they should probably learn how to do things the manual way or rely on foci.
3. Spirit Weapons
Aethers that are more in tune with their magic have the potential to form spirit weapons. These weapons, as suggested by its name, are often formed by will and spirit into a physical manifestation. They can only be wielded by their owners for obvious reasons and may be used to channel magic or as physical combat weapons. As the aether matures, his or her spirit weapon should evolve, although each weapon is a unique representation of its owner. Potential is one thing, capabilities are another. Not every aether will be able to master the use of his or her spirit weapon.
Aether customs are just as complicated as pureblood wizarding ones.
5. Social Hierarchy
There is a rather large royal family, although it functions more or less as a rather powerful guild. A guild, or House, is an alliance of families brought together under the same banner. Each guild usually has a certain trait or guild secret that has them specialising in certain areas of magic or skills. As a personal example, I have found out that the Ildefonso was known for its brilliance in war magics – spellwork, combat, defence, spirit magics, blood magics, etc. It is common for families to send their offspring to a separate guild to learn from once they have shown particular aptitude in a branch of magic another guild specialises in before they return to their families when they are of age.
Below the royal family are a series of noble families. The heads of these noble families, together with the guild masters, form the Council who serve as a government of sorts to the royal family, who in turn serve the function of discouraging corruptness among the aether leaders.
Naturally, how high a person is up on the social hierarchy would correspond more or less with how high his family or his guild is on the power ladder. On the bright side, the aether community is rather small – even smaller than the wizarding world, at least, with each guild consisting of an average of three families and each family consisting of about 15 people or so. There are 10 aether guilds in total, although one guild is currently defunct and there are several aethers that prefer to remain guildless.
On the downside, that defunct guild is Ildefonso. It was wiped out during the uprising of a certain dark lord Grindelwald when he foiled a powerful summoning. I mean, it probably figures that I really don't have living relations regardless of what I am. The Dursleys do not count.
6. Inter-species relations
The Magical Realm is made up not only of aethers but of several other species termed the 'celestial races' due to their long or indefinite life spans. In the most abundance are the elves (eldars) and aethers. Dragons, phoenixes and magical beasts in human form (referred to as Daemins or Shapeshifters) are not a rare sight and neither are the fae of the Seelie and Unseelie courts. Several smaller creatures accompanied the celestials during their move though obviously not all creatures have left Earth. Wizards are rare, with the only ones around being those who have mated with a member of the realm prior to their complete withdrawal from Earth in the late 1960s.
Education of aethers are usually done within the family, the guild or in another guild suited to the individual's talent. Several schools are available for them to attend, where they can get a more holistic but less specialised education. Of notable exception is Mistral Academy of Learning and Survival, which accepts students only upon their passing of strict tests.
In my several months of exploring the Avalon District, I have come to realise that the wizarding world is rather backwards and that the answer to all things in the Magical Realm is magic. There are devices powered by magic that allow for transportation from one location to another in a blink of an eye, for communication across distances that do not call for crouching down in front of a fire with your arse thrust in the air. There is even a function not unlike that of the muggle internet, although it has been up and running for several decades now.
Yet despite these advancements in technology or rather the use of magic in innovative manners, the magical realm has not lost its magic nor its customs and heritage. People still walk around in robes, although of a very much different style than that of the wizarding garb as I know it, and adhere to their traditions which would still take me an eon to learn. I must admit, however, there are similarities between the wizarding and magical worlds.
9. Location and transport
I have not been able to pin-point where exactly the magical realm is and I am not about to go asking for it. Somehow, it seems like a completely different world, although I have come to understand that it is intrinsically linked to Earth anyway. The key to the Avalon district is my only way in. The first time I used it, I had to use three drops of my 'blood', after which it practically infused itself into the back of my hand in the shape of a Jerusalem cross and a rune of wisdom on a shield – the Ildefonso shield, apparently. Since then, the key constructors on Administration Lane have helped me key in the locations to several points in the realm as well as to the portkey room in Gringotts. I do not know how it works beyond the fact that it involves metal magics, but it does so I'm not complaining especially since it is far better than the Floo.
Is fascinating. I have learned and read so much, experimented far more than I probably should have and trained far harder than I have in my two years in Hogwarts. Truth be told, I have never felt better, magically speaking. Inexplicably, magic has become my world and the only thing I can rely on – almost like a constant companion whom I know will never leave me...
Aindreas Wyatt leaned back against his pillow, quill hanging loosely from his fingers as he stared at the ceiling in silent contemplation. Below him, Goulding was throwing some sort of seedy party in celebration of his mistress' birthday. In front of him was his mother's journal, as well as his own, the ink still fresh on its pages.
To Be Continued…