Disclaimer: Don't lick frozen metal.
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. In any process, the total energy of the universe remains the same. That is science's First Law of Thermodynamics. And it's wrong.
By Stendec Hitarumonwa
Chapter One - Solstice
THE DAILY PROPHET
Tuesday. July 5, 1994.
BLACK ESCAPES AZKABAN
Sirius Black, possibly the most infamous prisoner ever to be held in the Azkaban fortress, escaped during the night, the Ministry of Magic confirmed today.
"We are doing all that we can do recapture Black," said the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, this morning, "and we ask the magical community to remain calm."
Fudge has been criticized by some members of the International Federation of Warlocks for informing the Muggle Prime Minister of the crisis.
"Well, really, I had to, don't you know," claimed an irritable Fudge. "Black is mad. He's a danger to anyone who crosses him, magic or Muggle. I have the Prime Minister's assurance that he won't breathe a word of Black's true nature to anyone. And let's face it—who'd believe him if he did?"
While Muggles have been told that Black is carrying a gun (a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other), the magical community lives in fear of a massacre like that of twelve years ago, when Black murdered thirteen people with a single curse. Continued on page 3.
Harry Potter stared at the portrait accompanying the article in a mild shock, almost wanting to shiver under the dead and empty gaze of the gaunt man. His skin looked a clammy white, and Harry decided that this Sirius Black could be mistaken for a vampire. Was that what happened to people who were put in Azkaban? If it was, maybe death would be more merciful. Flipping the Daily Prophet open, Harry quickly located the rest of the article, accompanied by the picture of a dank stone room with a few bones on the floor and, interestingly enough, a shabby old newspaper.
According to Ministry sources, the escape was first detected during a routine security check at breakfast, Azkaban's wards revealing that an individual was missing. Upon reaching the corridor with Black's cell they discovered a simple opened door with no signs of a struggle.
"It is the opinion of the Ministry that Black must've had help in his escape," said the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Amelia Bones, when questioned, "though we're still investigating just how this help was able to circumvent the security in place."
When asked, Gawain Robards (head guard of Azkaban) noted that Black seemed remarkably unaffected by the dementors throughout his imprisonment and that he had begun to act strangely obsessive over the past week, causing the guards to believe he was finally falling prey to the power of the dementors. Gawain refused comment on just what it was that Black was obsessing over, but unofficial sources inform us that he would frequently mutter in his cell, "He's at Hogwarts." and "It'll finally end." standing out as his seemingly favorite sayings.
This reporter believes that Black is intending to finish what his master started by murdering the Boy-Who-Lived, perhaps as an act of vengeance for the defeat of You-Know-Who. If Harry Potter is reading this, I plead with you – stay hidden, and keep yourself protected. Sirius Black cannot be allowed to succeed. See page 7 for additional information on Azkaban and dementors. For Ministry-suggested defense strategies, see page 9. More information on Black's crimes is available on page 13.
He blinked as he finished the article, put in a daze by the accusations. If the paper was to be believed, his life was now in grave danger thanks to an escaped Death Eater. Harry frowned and he flipped to page thirteen, ignoring the brightly flashing advertisement for Zonko's Giggle Cream as he scanned the list of crimes recorded for the fugitive. Murder of thirteen people? One of them was a friend of his parents, too, according to the article. Now he was after Harry—great. Just great. As if fighting Voldemort his first and second years of schooling wasn't enough, now it seemed that he'd have to take on one of the Dark Lord's greatest supporters in his fourth year.
Honestly, he'd gotten his hopes up that the trend would be broken when his third year at Hogwarts was relatively safe and uneventful. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that year, a werewolf by the name of Remus Lupin, was actually competent, and aside from Snape and the Slytherins making trouble, it was almost what he thought a normal school year should be. Learning, worrying about homework, and spending time with his friends. While the adventure with Buckbeak the hippogriff was a bit much, he had brought it upon himself to save the blasted thing, so he couldn't really complain.
Well, at least he now knew about Black and he'd be able to prepare himself thanks to his subscription to the Prophet (one of his better ideas, he thought in a bout of smugness). Of course, he still didn't know quite how he was going to prepare. If only Hermione was here she'd know what to do. Maybe he could write her a letter? Merlin knows Hedwig could use something to do with her time. Deciding it couldn't hurt, Harry grabbed a piece of paper, swiped from a drawer in the Dursley's study, and he sat as his desk. He clicked his ballpoint pen and wrote a quick greeting.
What should he write though? He couldn't very well ask "How should I fight off a murderer?" Something told him that a question so blunt probably wouldn't go over very well with the brainy witch. Really, he supposed what he needed was to try to find some magic he could practice at home without alerting the Ministry of Magic to what he was doing. Considering the trouble with Dobby two summers ago, he didn't expect there to be much at all, if anything. Though, he supposed that Dobby could have purposefully made the Ministry detect it, thinking that it was Harry that'd cast the levitation charm. In fact, that made quite a bit of sense, given the stubborn house elf's desire to keep him from returning to school that term.
What then—? The glass at the zoo! Of course! Or the time he'd accidentally burst all the light bulbs in the house. There was also that time he accidentally moved himself onto the roof of the school, and what about that time that his hair grew back overnight when his Aunt had given him a particularly nasty looking trim? The Ministry didn't detect any of it. In fact, the only thing they really had seemed to pick up was that odd house elf's spell. Of course, he hadn't attempted any spells with his wand. Given what he was told at school, they'd almost certainly be aware of that, and he'd rather not call down the wrath of the Improper Use of Magic office upon himself. Using what he knew then, Harry felt it rather safe to assume that the Ministry could only detect underage magic that was performed with a wand. A spell placed on wands, perhaps? If that was the case, then he'd have to learn magic that could be performed without his wand, especially given that he didn't know how to acquire a wand that couldn't be tracked. Build a wand? He didn't even have a clue where to start for that.
What kind of magic could he possibly use without a wand though? From what Hermione had mentioned of it, wandless magic was rare and only the oldest and most powerful used it with any degree of frequency. Even the teenaged Tom Riddle had to resort to stealing and using Harry's wand in the Chamber of Secrets. Thinking of that—why hadn't Tom used Ginny's wand, anyway, aside from the fact that Harry couldn't use his wand if he didn't possess it? Harry shrugged. It wasn't really important right now, and he was getting off topic.
He could fly on his broom without being accused of underage magic. That was out though, since there's no way he could fly about without being seen by any Muggles. Plus, it wasn't like he was going to fly Black to death or something. Of course, flying would be good for escape at the very least. He didn't know much about Black, but he was fairly certain he could out-fly someone if he needed to. He could also use his invisibility cloak to hide, assuming his enemies couldn't see through them like Professor Dumbledore? How could he do that, anyhow? That was out though, so what else could hide him? Polyjuice potion—of course! Looking like someone other than Harry Potter would be the best solution, wouldn't it? Though, he couldn't really go to classes like that once school resumed. It wouldn't really help over the summer either, considering he completely lacked any way to get his hands on the disgusting and thick liquid—not that it was much easier to get when he was at school.
From what he remembered of their research, the obscure potion was the only really reliable way for someone to alter their appearance, without a wand at least. Even with use of his wand though, he didn't trust himself to try any human transfiguration, and the glamour charms they'd read about were easy to detect. A simple Finite Incantatem would dispel one, anyhow. Not really very useful. Finally, there was a trait, rare and gifted to only a handful of witches and wizards, that was supposed to let a person alter their appearance with will alone—metamorphmagus, if he remembered correctly. Supposedly they could alter anything they wished, from the length of their hair to... Hell! They could probably change their gender if they really wanted. Weird idea, that. All by simply using their minds a bit they could change. Harry wished he had the ability for how simple it would make things, but it wasn't like he had ever shown any of the signs. He was rather certain he'd notice turning into a girl, or perhaps having his hair turn purp— his hair! Wait! His hair had grown back in a single night after that horrid cut, and, now that he thought of it, it hadn't been cut since yet it was still the same length. Not only that, he hadn't really grown any taller since he started Hogwarts. Ron had sprouted several inches, and while he supposed he could just be that short, Harry was hoping for a growth spurt sooner or later.
Chances were decent then, he thought, that he was a metamorphmagus, right? That was a great start to his planning. Unfortunately, even if he proved to be a shape shifter though it wasn't as if he was going to defeat Black and his accomplice by transforming. The most he could do is hide and escape, and he didn't think himself great enough to evade conflict forever. Merlin knows conflict's found him fine enough the past few years. Given that, he'd have to learn how to defend himself somehow, and without his wand at that. He might be able to use his wand in a true conflict, of course— self-defense and all that, but he couldn't exactly practice, and without practice there simply wasn't any way that he'd be able to stand up against the hardened criminal.
Still, he was left questioning what kind of defense he could possibly hope to form without a wand that would hold off another wizard. Harry sighed as he leaned back in his chair, starting to get a headache from all this thinking (he wasn't Hermione, after all). The odd teleportation he used at his Muggle school would come in handy if he could master it, but that was, like flying and hiding, only suitable for escaping from conflict. Breaking glass, the only other ability that came to mind, was utterly useless. Even if it came into play somehow, Black could thwart him with a simple Repairo.
Harry looked back down at the paper and he clicked his pen open again. He had a good question now, and he would bet his hat (not that he had a hat, much to his personal grief) that Hermione could track down a suitable answer.
How's your summer been so far? It's dull here. The Dursleys have been pretty quiet so far and they've kept to themselves. Same as last summer, actually. I think they're a bit scared of me after hearing the story of how I killed the basilisk with Gryffindor's sword, even if they don't quite know what a basilisk is. Though, I suppose a few comments about becoming good friends with the Weasley twins always help, given the fight a couple summers ago.
I know you've got a subscription to the Daily Prophet, so I won't bother telling you about Sirius Black here. Instead, I was wondering if you could do me a favor. Given that he's after me, I'd like to practice defending myself—but I can't do that with the whole underage magic bollocks. From what I've seen though, they only detect magic used with a wand. So, my question is, what kind of offensive or defensive spells could I use without a wand?
If possibly I'd really like to be able to just cast spells with my hand or something, though I suppose everyone would do that sort of thing if it were possible. Past that I'm not really sure what I'd do, though, I suppose I wouldn't be writing you about it if I knew, right?
Buy any books you think would help, please. I'll gladly pay you back as soon as I can get to my vault.
Looking over the letter, Harry nodded. Hermione would probably love the task, there were books involved after all—of course, he wasn't sure how successful she'd be. It made him think though—he actually was becoming good friends with the Weasley twins, and they were the two most creative and talented prank artists he had ever met. That they were the only prank artists he had ever met was beside the point. No one could deny that they were talented though, and that had Harry thinking. Maybe they could help as well? They might even know something already, given that they were raised around magic. Smiling now, Harry grabbed another sheet of paper and he twirled his pen in his hand before starting a new letter.
Dear Fred and George (or is that George and Fred?),
I've got a bit of a dilemma, and I thought that the two of you might be able to help. As you might've seen in the paper, Sirius Black escaped and I'm supposed to be his target. Unfortunately, I don't think I could fight him off very well with what I know, and I can't exactly practice casting over the summer.
That said, I was hoping that the two of you, geniuses of rule breaking that you are, would know either how I could get around the Ministry's detection with my wand, or wandlessly use magic that could be used to attack and defend myself. From what I've seen so far they can't detect wandless magic.
P.S. In case Ron still hasn't figured it out, tell him that you don't have to yell into a telephone for it to work. He's tried calling twice now, and he's yelled constantly both times. It'd probably be for the best if I simply don't get any more calls this summer.
After rereading both letters, Harry nodded and he scrounged around his desk for a few moments before managing to retrieve a couple of envelopes which he quickly titled and stuffed with their respective letters. He licked each and sealed them, the process reaffirming his hatred of the taste of glue, before carrying them over to Hedwig, the owl having started to look rather animated in anticipation of having something to actually do.
"Hey girl," said Harry, grinning down at his familiar as she gives an enthusiastic hoot. "I've finally got something for you to do. A letter to Hermione, and one to Fred and George if you can find them—I think they're still on that trip to Egypt. I told you about that, right? They'd won it last year, but they didn't take it that summer because they wanted to give Ginny a nice, quiet summer as she recovered. Anyhow, you'll need to wait for a reply from the Weasleys. Not Hermione though—I'm sure she has some way to get things to me."
Hedwig hooted again in response and she held out her leg, prompting Harry to smile and tie the letters into place. "Thanks, Hedwig. Fly safe. I'll be sure to keep my window open."
Once he finished seeing Hedwig off, Harry sat down on his rickety bed and he frowned, wondering what to do now that he was waiting on his friends. Obviously he could continue to think about possible ways to defend himself, but he probably wouldn't come up with anything that he could actually work on. No, he'd have to wait for the response from Hermione at least to practice his defensive skills. What to do until then? Flying while confined to his bedroom wasn't really an option, nor was hiding under his cloak like an idiot. He could study his school books, but he was really getting rather tired of looking at the things, and it wasn't like he could practice anything out of the books. Well—he could practice potions. There wasn't any way he'd spend his summer on that though. Really, he'd rather spend another summer gardening than devote his time to the 'exact art' and 'subtle science' of potion brewing. Besides that, his store of ingredients wasn't very impressive in any case.
Assuming he didn't suddenly gain the ability to light things on fire by staring at them, that only left one possibility and Harry smiled slightly at the thought of it. Learning how to use his metamorphmagus powers, assuming he actually had them, was not only useful, but it sounded fun. After all, who wouldn't want to be able to change their appearance at will? He could wander the neighborhood, free of his reputation of being a 'troublemaker' gained courtesy of the Dursleys' lies. If he could somehow get to London there was even the chance that he could browse Diagon Alley without being accosted for his fame—not to mention that Sirius Black hopefully wouldn't be able to track him down.
Racking his mind, Harry did his best to remember the text he read about metamorphmagi while he cursed his lack of interest in the subject at the time. The fact that stood out the most was how rare the ability was, apparently second only to being a parselmouth. Being a metamorphmagus was also somewhat related to being an animagus, he recalled, but that was pretty obvious, given that both were transformations. Metamorphmagi were supposed to have easier times learning to access their animagus forms thanks to a less refined self-image, or something. Harry didn't really remember the exact term, but that made enough sense to him. The change itself was, the book had stated, highly dependant on the will of the witch or wizard in question. Metamorphmagi were never really taught how to use their abilities simply because they learned how to transform through experimentation as they grew up. That made Harry wonder a bit, but he decided his lack of experience was probably just because of the treatment he received at the hands of the Dursleys and not due to any lack of power. He hoped, anyway. Shape shifting would be bloody awesome.
A mirror. He would need a mirror to watch himself to see if he was actually managing to do anything. Fortunately though, his wardrobe had a suitable, if a bit cracked up, mirror hanging on the inside of the door. He stood. Half a minute later found Harry sitting once more on his bed, the crooked chair he salvaged for his desk holding the door to his wardrobe open at just the right angle for him to see his reflection while he sat on the least lumpy part of the dull gray mattress.
"Right then, Harry," he muttered while absently rubbing a spot of dirt that had built up on the bridge of his nose, "let's do this—something simple like making your hair longer. You've done it before, so why not now?"
Facing the mirror, Harry started to focus. Shoulder-length hair was his goal. It was an incredibly girly style he had in mind, but he didn't care much considering his success would let him change his hair back just as easily. He stared at his reflection's hair, daring it to grow out. He pictured the target haircut appearing on his reflected self. The hair remained short and motionless. Frowning, Harry decided to try concentrating more on the task, his brow wrinkling as he stared forward. Several minutes later, still with no change, Harry sighed and he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, silently cursing that he'd managed to work up a sweat without actually doing anything.
This obviously wasn't working and Harry refused to believe that he didn't have the ability, so a new approach was needed. Looking back up at his reflected visage, he pictured an invisible hand pulling on his mirrored hair and causing it to extend. When that failed to work, Harry pictured a hair-lengthening potion getting mixed into the hair. There was no reaction, and Harry muttered a quiet curse. This was supposed to be incredibly easy—after all, it hadn't taken any effort at all to grow his hair out when he wasn't even trying. He sat quietly for several minutes, thinking. Just how was he supposed to get this to work? He pictured a hair-lengthening spell racing out and hitting his reflection, quickly following that with another muttered curse word. His hair remained defiantly short and still.
"BOY!" The thunderous voice of his uncle broke his concentration quite effectively, causing him to jump slightly on the bed. "GET DOWN HERE NOW!"
Harry winced as he stood—it seems that the Dursleys weren't going to leave him in peace this summer. After giving the room a visual once-over to ensure there weren't any obviously magical items lying about, he closed the door to his beaten wardrobe and he quietly left the room, hoping this wouldn't take too much time away from his studies. There wasn't much chance of that though—the Dursleys preferred not to talk to him if they could help it, and as consequence they rarely involved him unless to berate him or give him additional chores around the house.
It was past eleven in the evening when he finally returned to his room, completely exhausted and still slightly damp from the incredibly quick shower the Dursleys allowed him to take, refusing to let him sleep drenched in sweat because he'd have to wash his sheets more frequently. Harry was put through the metaphorical wringer today, his relatives seemingly trying to make up for the past couple weeks of leaving him almost completely alone. He hardly remembered to check his window for any owl post (frowning slightly at the lack of any, despite a lack of energy needed to read) before stumbling to his bed and quite unceremoniously collapsing onto it, sweet unconsciousness enveloping him the moment his head touched the wadded blanket that served as a pillow.
Two days of cleaning the entire house and yard passed like sludge before he was given any modicum of free time to continue his experimentation, a fact that Harry found incredibly annoying. When he had told the Dursleys of the situation with Sirius Black, they actually had the nerve to laugh and tell him that they hoped the killer hurried up so they wouldn't have to continue to feed him. The nerve of those people, honestly! It was times like this that he wondered why he kept returning to the miserable place. The Dursleys didn't seem to realize that Black would probably kill them along with him—he did murder thirteen people and work for the Dark Lord, after all.
The lack of a response from Hermione was a bit annoying, but he couldn't really find fault with it. After all, she had to research the subject, and it couldn't be that easy, otherwise all sorts of people would be doing it. Who wouldn't want wandless magic, after all? In any case, there wasn't much point in being annoyed, since it wasn't as if he didn't have something to do in the meanwhile, considering his lack of earlier success with bending his hair to his will.
Harry sighed and he stood. Upon propping his wardrobe door open again with the wobbly old desk chair, he once more started the frustratingly ineffective process of attempting to grow shoulder-length hair. Staring at his reflection, he willed the mirrored hair to grow out while wondering why nothing was happening. He believed it could work, so why didn't it? Magic was based on belief, after all. Harry had thought about it almost constantly over the past twin days of work, and he hadn't a single idea on how to get his hair to grow. Not only that, he thought that he was probably trying too hard anyhow. After all, how was someone supposed to accidentally stumble across the ability if they had to spend hours thinking about it before getting it to work? There must be something here that he was missing, something crucial. What could there possibly be though? It seemed so simple—apply your will to your appearance, so he was willing his hair to grow out. Maybe he was missing a step that actually called forth his magic? That didn't seem to make much sense though. He didn't have to do anything special to summon his magic when he cast spells with a wand—it just happened. The same thing happened with his broom, really. All it took was a short mental 'up' and his Nimbus 2000 (a good broom, though he almost lost it in a storm last year) flew straight to his hand. Assuming the broom wasn't constantly reading his mind in case he dared to command it, that was a perfect example of his magic responding to his will, so—why wasn't it working here?
Growing more frustrated as the minutes ticked past, Harry growled at the mirror quietly, mentally demanding all the while that his hair do something at least. Grow! Change color! Fall out! At least do something! He'd rather have anything than just that short, unruly black mess that perched atop his scalp, but no, his hair just had to be stubborn. Stupid hair. Stupid tingling sensation. Stupid metamorphmagi! ...wait, tingling sensation? It was oddly cool, and centered about his head. Harry refocused himself on the task at hand and he looked towards the mirror, the sight of his reflection almost knocking him over with shock, and not a small amount of joy. His hair was growing! Not only that, it was growing like a nasty group of incredibly hardy weeds (perhaps Devil's Snare?). His hair seemed to be changing color too. He suppressed a laugh as, within moments, his head was completely surrounded in thick hanging spikes of hair, forcing him to hold several large clumps aside so that he could actually see to look at himself in the mirror.
Grinning, Harry carefully examined his reflection. It seemed his magic interpreted 'something' quite freely, for he didn't think he would've ever imagined something quite so... impressive. Numerous foot long spike-like groups of hair fell from his head in all directions, and in all colors. Neon orange hair? Purple? Lime green? Quite literally all colors it seemed, not just those Harry thought hair could come in. Harry noted a particularly bright and garish hot pink cluster that fell directly between his eyes. Who would want pink hair? He shook his head, feeling rather odd with so much weight upon his head. Continuing his examination, he noted that his hair had also twisted itself into a tasteless Mohawk, blending all the worst colors he could think of. The Dursleys, Harry decided, would absolutely loath his appearance.
Finally, as the euphoria of success wore off, he focused his gaze on the mirror, willing the hair to return to normal. Nothing happened, and Harry swore. This was not good—not good at all. What had he just done to get it to work? He hadn't really done anything differently, had he? He had been frustrated and he willed his hair to react, not really focusing on much of anything. How was he supposed to control it if he couldn't focus on something? Even looking at himself in the mirror seemed to be too much.
Wait a second—the mirror! Harry had always been focusing on the mirror when he was trying to change his hair! It hadn't worked, but then when he wasn't even looking at the mirror his hair grew! Thinking about it, he had to resist an urge to smack himself over the head, perhaps with a stick of some kind. Of course it wasn't going to work! He'd been going about it all wrong—trying to change his reflection and not himself. It was so bloody obvious now! The only way what he was doing would possibly work is if he'd somehow enchanted the mirror to show him with odd hairstyles, and that didn't seem very likely.
Armed with his fresh idea, Harry watched himself in the mirror while he centered his attention on the gaudy hairstyle. Change! At first he thought it wasn't going to work, but after a moment, the tingling returned! The sensation was odd, and Harry thought it might feel like someone wrapping a cool washcloth around a leg that had fallen asleep. The tingling finally faded, drawing Harry's attention back, and he stared at himself in the mirror. His hair was long and black, but tied back in a ponytail at the base of his neck.
"Wicked," Harry summarized for the empty room, smiling brilliantly at his reflection while he tilted and twisted his head all about to better scrutinize his new style. "This is the point where things get fun."
The boy issued an additional mental order and, much to his delight, a wave of bleach seemed to pass over his head, leaving him with almost-white blonde locks. It actually turned out a bit more bluish than he'd hoped, but then—it'd be odd if he got it perfect the first time, right? The blonde reminded him too much of Malfoy though, and he couldn't have that. Another thought and his hair was a spiky bright blue. Was he getting quicker? No matter, Harry thought it safe to say he had gotten down this part of the transformation at least, pleased with how simple it had become as he figured out the right way to go about it. If the rest of his summer went this well, he'd be ecstatic. More importantly, he'd be alive—even if he had the misfortune to come across Black. Harry shook his head. He could worry later, for now he wanted to have fun. What should he try to change next? Eye color was probably just as easy as hair to change, right? If he could do that, he could probably change the shape of his pupils as well. Probably wasn't the best idea to mess with that though, not having a healer around. He didn't really want to accidentally leave himself blind. Not to mention the questions it'd raise, the healers wondering just how he managed to cripple himself like that. Thinking about that, Harry decided it would probably be a good idea to tell one of his close friends about his metamorphmagus status—Hermione, definitely. Ron wouldn't be much help. He'd probably get jealous, really. Hermione though—she could most likely learn and perform any spells needed to fix his screw-ups and, knowing the girl, she'd even be able to come up with odd uses for the ability he'd never think of. Maybe he should visit her this summer? He'd have to get a suitable disguise first, of course.
How big of a change could he make? Having never really studied the subject, Harry wasn't sure just where the boundaries were aside from the knowledge that he couldn't transform into an animal—no, that ability was solely under the animagus header. He should really try to find out if he was an animagus at some point, but for now he was satisfied with this. Limits though... could he grow a tail? How about fur or wings? Could he shrink down to being a foot tall, or perhaps, enlarge himself to the stature of a basketball player? Harry was almost giddy as he thought of the possibilities, but another thought brought him to sigh. It wouldn't do to try anything like that at the Dursleys. Not only would they hate it, he wouldn't be able to explain it to the Muggles. With his luck, the government would take him away for testing.
Harry supposed he'd just have to wait until he visited Hermione to try. She could get him to St. Mungo's if he needed it, after all. At least, he was rather certain she could. Were the Grangers on the Floo network? He'd never thought to ask, since it wasn't like he could Floo over from the Dursleys. Other than that, his only option would be to hide away somewhere and owl Madam Pomfrey for help. He snickered at the thought, wondering what the healer's reaction would be if she had to treat him over the summer as well. No doubt she wouldn't be pleased. Really, Harry wasn't very excited about the possibility himself, though he couldn't refute that he'd rather face her because he made a mistake than face Black because he couldn't hide himself.
That still, of course, left Harry wondering what he should transform into. He'd like to find a form that couldn't be mistaken for him at all if he could. If you're going to disguise yourself, do it well after all. Something that'd change his entire body would be nice, especially for the practice. How would he do that though, considering he had to stay 'normal' for fitting in with the Muggle world? What about the scar, anyhow? Focusing on his reflection, he narrowed his eyes. Moments later he smiled as the unmarked flesh of his forehead, almost unnaturally smooth and a bit pale compared to the rest of him, but otherwise fine. This would definitely help with things like Diagon Alley though, since people recognized him more for the scar than they did for his looks. Actually, he probably should visit the alley. He needed to withdraw some money from his vault and, perhaps, purchase some study materials? For that matter, he'd like to find somewhere else to stay until school started again come September, and he'd like to find it before next week when Aunt Marge was supposed to be visiting. Considering how rich the Potter family was supposed to be, he was sure he'd have somewhere at least. Perhaps Gringotts had a list? Did banks do that? He'd really rather avoid the Ministry if he could.
He needed a disguise though, and that brought him back to his thoughts about testing his limits. What was the opposite of Harry Potter? More importantly, could he even become something that was so far from himself? Harry narrowed his eyes slightly as he thought, several images whirling about in his mind. Harry Potter was short. He was thin, really thin—almost unhealthy about it, really. He had green eyes, a scar, and as he understood it, his face was shaped very similar to that of his father. The opposite of that then?
His scar—well, that was already taken care of, removing it as he did. No scar was the opposite of a scar after all. Only a faint tingle remained now, and that was easy enough to ignore. Logically, the opposite of his eyes would be red though. He didn't know that he wanted that color though. It seemed evil. Perhaps, hmm... blue? Right, so blue eyes. That only left—almost everything. Harry sighed. How was he going to shape his face or do something like that, anyhow? Suddenly he blinked. It was obvious! When he had thought 'something' earlier, his hair went crazy, and he didn't need to tell it anything else. What if he simply willed himself to be the opposite of Harry Potter? It was worth a shot, right? His magic should know what it needs to know, somehow, to make everything work out. Harry nodded and he closed his eyes, taking up an odd sitting position on his bed. He'd seen people sit like that before on an old martial arts movie, and it seemed interes—
Harry cursed, opening his eyes again. What could they possibly want now? Sighing, he stood and he walked to the door to his room, opening it a crack. "Yes, Uncle Vernon?"
"Get down here, now! Your Aunt has work for you, and if you want any dinner you had best do it quickly!"
It was almost midnight when he finally returned to his room once more, completely exhausted. How could they possibly come up with so much stuff for him to clean? It was as if Dudley spent all his time going around, purposefully making messes for Harry to tidy up. The whale of a boy, fortunately, didn't seem smart enough to think of that though, merely taunting Harry and gloating during his normal chores. Falling onto his bed, sleep claimed Harry.
The next morning saw the Dursleys to the Zoo, and Harry couldn't be more pleased. No interruptions today! Perhaps he could finally get some work done? He stretched and stared out the window, smiling faintly in anticipation of a good day. It was nice and cool, strangely cool actually, with a slight breeze. He was getting used to the temperatures though. The summer was oddly cold though, especially around Little Whinging he thought. Forecasters on the television didn't have any explanation, but then, it wasn't chilly enough to need one. Just a cold summer, after all. Harry's uncle complained frequently, of course—but he did that about everything it seemed. Checking the thermometer he had outside his window, centigrade of course (the Dursleys probably would've forced him to use an old Fahrenheit one if they'd had one), Harry blinked. Eleven degrees? It didn't seem that chilly, and he'd slept with his window open. No matter, he was probably just used to the cold because it had never gotten warm. Better not mention things to Hermione though. No doubt she'd be furious if she knew he was sleeping with his window open after the nasty bout of sickness he went through in March. He still didn't know what that was about, but he wasn't going to worry about it when there was a murderer on the loose. Past fevers were nothing to current mortal peril.
Sitting on his bed, wardrobe door propped open again, Harry closed his eyes and he began to clear his mind. That is to say, he tried to at least. He wasn't really sure how to do so, but he thought he had a good idea of what to do from the few movies he's watched and a book or two. Take deep, controlled breaths. Find your center (whatever that meant). Tune out all distractions. It was pleasant, not thinking of anything. His mind was calm, and he felt cool and collected. Of course, it was hard not to feel cool with his window open. Harry shook his head briefly, and he started to focus. He pictured his body, and he imagined himself filling it with magic... wrapping it—enveloping himself with his magic. It seemed to tingle around him, combining with the cold to feel like snowflakes landing delicately on his skin. Finally, he issued his command. I don't want to be Harry Potter. Make me something else. Make me the opposite.
If the feelings before were a tingle, this was as if his entire body was locked into a block of stone. He felt as if he'd plunged himself deep into freezing water, only to be hauled out later as a gigantic ice cube for the world's largest glass of soda. Was that what it felt like for all metamorphmagi? He didn't know if he liked the cold. Now it felt as if someone was chipping away at his block of ice, and it almost tickled. He felt as if he was being carved into a statue. Harry almost giggled at the sensation. He couldn't though. After all, statues couldn't giggle. They couldn't make any noise. Did he do something wrong though?
Suddenly, Harry could move again, and he opened his eyes, having to blink several times at the influx of light. He looks over at his wall clock. 9:49? Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose. It had taken him ten minutes for this? Well, a bit less—there was the time he had spent clearing his mind, after all. Just what had changed, anyhow? He knew he felt different. Harry stood, noting his balance seemed... off, and he turned towards his mirror. The boy almost fell over.
Who...? Harry couldn't believe the reflection was accurate. That wasn't him! It was someone else! There wasn't any trace of Harry Potter left. Sirius Black would've had to have been watching him change to connect the two of them. In retrospect, Harry was also glad he had put off getting dressed until he tried the change. His clothes might still fit, they used to be Dudley's in the distant past after all, but he didn't want to chance anything and be forced into wearing the boy's more recent, even larger clothes. The person in the mirror blinked, seemingly flaunting their long, black, and slightly curled eyelashes. Their eyes were red. A deep red that reminded Harry of fresh roses, and that brought a slight smile to the Boy-Who-Lived. It was nice to see that the color was possible without seeming evil. Long, straight, and silken black hair framed the person's face, and what a face it was—blemish free with skin that was only slightly pale... soft, without being too rounded... puffy lips with a hint of extra redness to them. Harry only wondered one thing as he stared into the mirror.
"Why the bloody hell am I a girl?"
A hand came to her throat and she rubbed it slightly. Her voice was... well, it certainly wasn't what she was expecting. Of course, Harry didn't really know what to expect. She certainly hadn't expected to become a girl, and that had happened. Luckily she could change back—probably. It was a nice voice though, she thought. Melodious? That word seemed to fit. It was a bit higher than her normal voice, and it'd take a lot of getting used to. Looking at her reflected face, Harry had to admit it at least fit her appearance well. Finally, the girl looked down at her body, only to blush almost immediately and turn her head away. There was a naked girl in her room. She was the naked girl in her room! Definitely a girl! Harry hadn't gotten a very long look, but it was enough to know that, without a doubt, there wasn't a spot of Harry Potter left. She almost laughed when she realized she was the first girl she'd seen naked.
Slowly, Harry turned her head back towards the mirror, blushing brightly and feeling oddly warm, particularly—no, she wasn't going to think about it. Trying to be detached about it, the neo-girl stares at her reflection (taking a lot longer than strictly necessary, detachment be damned). Though she wasn't an expert, Harry couldn't help but think she had a great body, with just the right proportions and a flawless complexion. If she were a boy at the moment, she knew her where her attention would be focused... not that it wasn't focused there regardless. She brought her hands to her breasts, cupping them gently. Was she a B cup or a C cup? Harry honestly didn't have a clue. After all—why on Earth would a boy have to know something like that? The only think she could really tell was that they looked too large to be an A, and they seemed sized just right to her body. At least, in her opinion they were perfect. Honestly, Harry found it a bit creepy just how good looking of a girl she'd become. She was like some sort of model now—probably not the best for avoiding attention. Though, at least no one would mistake her for Harry Potter! What now? The girl began to pace, absently noting that walking felt different now. She couldn't decide if she liked it, but it wasn't a bad feeling at least.
Would Fred and George have gotten the letter by now? Hermione would have already for sure—Hedwig was a grand owl. What would the Weasley twins make of this power, she wondered? No doubt they'd take horrible advantage of it, sneaking into the girls' dorms, pulling off pranks while looking like other people. Especially the second one—shape shifting must be great for pranking. It was probably, then, a good thing that the twins couldn't alter themselves like her (at least, to her knowledge they couldn't).
A flutter at the window drew her attention and Harry turned, blinking at the sight of a rather plain brown owl perched in her window and looking a tad bit confused. She walked over to her desk, leaning slightly to get a better look at it.
"Got a letter for me?"
The owl blinked at her, tilting its head. Harry blinked back, wondering what it was doing. Wait—maybe the owl was confused by her transformation? It might make sense, though to be honest, Harry didn't have a clue how it actually worked. She closed her eyes, focusing on her appearance. The cold feeling returned, surrounding her entire body with a vague sense of something before fading away. Harry's eyes open again and, looking down, he nodded. Changing back seems to work, though it didn't feel at all as intense as the first major change. He looked up at the owl.
"Sorry 'bout that. I'm practicing disguising myself. Got any letters for Harry Potter?"
This time the owl responded, holding out its leg. Smiling, Harry took the letter, and the bird flew off. Apparently, whoever had written him wasn't waiting on a response. He looked at the envelope—white with a coarse texture, his name written on it in dark blue ink in a flowing hand. It seemed okay, so Harry quickly ripped it open and he took out the letter, unfolding it. Ah! Hermione's handwriting was easily recognized.
My summer's been great! My parents bought a new family computer about a week ago, and we have an Internet connection at home too. There's a lot to read on the Internet, though, nothing about magic. I didn't expect that though, given how backwards wizards can be. Honestly, Ron didn't even know there's been a mission to the moon!
Enough about that though. This Sirius Black situation is serious. I've read about him, you know. He was actually friends with your parents before, well, you know. I hate traitors. I hope you're keeping yourself hidden away, Harry. I don't think he'd be able to find you too easily, but it isn't smart to risk it.
So, I've been researching all kinds of magic you can do without a wand, or things that the Ministry will allow, and I haven't had much luck. The references I can find all agree that it's incredibly difficult to use wandless magic of any sort. It takes an absurd amount of power and concentration, so only the oldest of wizards can use it. Aside from that though, it seems the most common form of wandless magic used to be elemental manipulation before it fell out of style. Apparently it was easier to do things like that than to use charms, transfiguration, and the like. I've got a book on it, though I can't get it to you yet. The owl I used is fast, but she's really weak. Don't tell her I wrote that though, or she might peck me.
I also found out that the Ministry can't detect internal magic... things like an animagus transformation, you know? But that's so hard I don't think it'd be useful at all. No one could learn to transform themselves as quickly as you'd need to, right?
Write again soon! Or call me, you have the number. Unlike Ron I actually know how to use a telephone. Maybe I can visit sometime?
"No one could learn to transform themselves this quickly, hmm?" Harry couldn't help it and he let out a short laugh at Hermione's expense. "I should be offended, being called a no one like that."
He sat the letter on his desk before walking to the edge of his bed and sitting. Harry leaned back, supporting himself with his arms. So—what now? Hermione had found something, but she couldn't get it to him. Maybe she'd read it to him over the phone? He snorted. She probably would, but Harry thought that listening to her voice for so long would put him to sleep. No, there must be a better solution. It's too bad Hedwig was still chasing after the Weasley twins, or else he could just send her after the book. The boy looked down towards his floor, eying a particularly loose board. He kept a supply of sterling tucked away, withdrawn as galleons and exchanged at Gringotts in case he ever needed to buy something in the Muggle world, or perhaps if he needed a bargaining chip for the Dursleys. Should he use it? A taxi could easily take him to Hermione's house, and it'd give him something to try his new disguise for.
Harry nodded and he jumped to his feet, focusing on changing himself and smiling faintly at the cool sensation that envelops his body, tingling in a way that almost tickles. Almost too quickly it faded and Harry blinked, turning to look in the mirror, only to immediately avert her gaze, blushing. Yes, the change had worked. It seems it was getting quicker and easier every time. Though, probably not easier—Harry thought she was simply getting better at it. Getting caught shouldn't be a problem now, she hoped.
There was one problem with the disguise though, and she frowned as she thought of it. Clothing! She barely had anything to wear when she was himself, let alone a girl whose body was a different size altogether. She was beyond certain that the Dursleys wouldn't be any help, as they only left her Dudley's old clothing. If it barely fit on her male form, it certainly wouldn't work now. Harry looked up at her ceiling, thinking about what to do.
She vaguely remembered reading a sentence or two about clothes in the old book's passage about metamorphmagi, but she'd be damned if she could recall whether it was positive or negative. There was an easy way to find out though, of course, and Harry idly wondered why she hadn't just tried it already. Deciding to get it out of the way, she closed her eyes and called forth a mental image of herself, that alone taking a bit of time given her unfamiliarity with her feminine body. Quite a bit easier was the process of picturing suitable clothes over herself and willing them into place, but then—she had gotten quite a bit of time to grow familiar with women's clothing (if not stylish clothes) thanks to her Aunt Petunia forcing her to do the Dursleys' laundry in the past. Happily, laundry had been stricken off of Harry's list of chores shortly after the start of her first summer home from Hogwarts, her aunt stating that she didn't want to 'give the ungrateful little freak any time to mess about with things'. Oddly, Harry was still forced to cook breakfast and lunch most days. Didn't her aunt know that there were plenty more potions that worked in foods rather than when added to clothes?
Harry was getting off topic again though. She opened her eyes, turning to peak at her reflection. Yes! She wasn't naked anymore! While a part of her was rather upset by the turn of events, she couldn't be happier. The girl tugged at her skirt with her hand, rubbing the fabric with her thumb. It was frosty to the touch (no doubt thanks to how chilly it was) but incredibly soft, almost like silk. Finally, Harry could have decent clothes! This would definitely make things easier, letting her get away with not buying anything to wear. She sighed in relief at not having to go shopping for girl's clothing.
The girl blinked. Why was she a girl for that matter? It wasn't as if she needed to be for a disguise to work, and it seems like it would've actually been a bit easier to stay a boy. Oh well, it'd work for now, and she could always change later. Harry smirked at a thought—Hermione would be incredibly confused if she showed up as she was. It'd be a perfect way to introduce her to the ability. She bent down, prying up the loose floorboard and grabbing out her stored loot. Really, all she did was grab her shrunken trunk. Everything of value was kept safely within, with her money in the second compartment. The deluxe model multi-compartment traveler's trunk she'd ordered during the past school year was definitely worth every galleon, sickle, and knut. Harry would have to thank Hermione again for introducing her to mail-order catalogs. She tapped the top of the trunk, expanding it to full size. She tapped the trunk again, causing the lid to click and pop open, revealing a mostly empty compartment (having, aside from a cobweb, a small bag of owl treats). Nodding, Harry took only a few moments to pack away Hedwig's cage. She closed the trunk, opening it again by poking it in a different way. This time it contained two books, a stack of papers, and two sacks of money. She put Hermione's latest letter inside, setting it neatly on top of the stack of papers, and the girl withdrew the smaller of the two bags before blinking.
She needed a pocket. Harry checked her reflection in the wardrobe mirror, frowning slightly. Her white blouse was pocket free, and her dark blue skirt? Definitely no pockets. If only she was wearing jea—duh! The girl smacked herself lightly on the head before focusing lightly, a cold feeling enveloping her legs, suspiciously lacking a tingle. Her reflection had jeans now and she nodded, stuffing the small bag of money into her left rear pocket. Her wand fit into her right rear pocket nicely, and Harry took a moment to admire her reflection. The tight denim fabric made her legs look good, if she did say so. She shook her head, turning back to the trunk, closing it, and shrinking it to look like a book with a touch.
Now packed and ready, after slipping the shrunken trunk into a pocket of her jeans, Harry slipped out of her room and downstairs to the kitchen, not having any trouble at all thanks to the absence of her relatives. It took her a few moments of looking through the directory to find an appropriate service, but soon she was on the telephone, waiting for someone to pick up at the other end.
"Rorschach's Lot Chauffer Service. Your wish is our destination. Can I help you?"
"Um, hello." Harry replied, feeling slightly nervous now. It was, now that she thought of it, the first time she'd ever tried ordering something over the phone. "I need transportation from Little Whinging to London..." She trailed off. How was she supposed to ask to be taken to the Leaky Cauldron? It wasn't as if this man would know about it. After a moment, the girl smacked herself upside the head. She could just say the name of the street it was on, of course. The worst that'd happen is she'd have to walk a block or two. "I'd like to get to Charing Cross Road, in Westminster I believe."
There was a slight pause. "How many people, and do you need a round trip?"
"Just me. Um... no round trip."
"Right. Well, we've got a V.I.P. car in the area if you'd like to pay for it, should be about a ten minute wait. Otherwise we can dispatch a standard-rate car, and it should take about half an hour to arrive."
Harry smiled. The Dursleys would probably be home in fifteen minutes or so she thought, so the ten minute car was brilliant. It wouldn't be much fun to wait at the park. "I'll take the V.I.P. car, if that's alright. How much will it cost?"
"V.I.P. from Little Whinging to Westminster? About sixty pounds I'd think. Is that alright?"
"It's fine." Sixty pounds? Harry probably had over six-hundred with her. "Have the car pick me up at Number Four, Privet Drive please."
"Yes, ma'am. Would that be all?"
Ma'am? That was just strange, hearing that used to talk to her. "Yes, thank you. Good day."
Finally done, Harry sat the phone back on the base and she looked around the kitchen. It was, of course, spotlessly clean in a way that seemed almost unnatural. A bowl of fruit sat directly upon the middle of the small dining table and she frowned at it. What was the point of that, anyway? Her aunt always insisted on fresh fruit, but Dudley and her uncle never touched it. She tried taking a banana once, two summers ago, but her aunt went barmy over it. Eying the fruit again, Harry took an apple and she bit into it. Her relatives would get mad, but she didn't care at the moment. After all, she was about to leave, and she didn't plan on returning anytime soon. She was leaving home for good.
Harry blinked, snorting at that before breaking out into a musical laughter, almost choking on her apple chunk. Home? As if! Living there was more like a stay in an internment camp than a home. Besides, home is where the heart is, and she didn't have any love for her relatives. Swallowing, she took another bite from her apple, enjoying the flavor. Fresh fruit was definitely an improvement over her usual summer diet. Harry looked up at the clock—a minute had passed. Why did time have to go so slowly when you were waiting for something?
The girl stepped outside through the kitchen door into the yard, frowning at it. The unnatural cleanliness was worse outside, though the chilly breeze was nice. Everything was much too neat though, if you asked her. She would know too, having been made to trim the grass to conformity with a pair of scissors before. This wasn't how nature should be, and it almost made her feel sad. What had happened to the wild in wildlife? Shaking her head, Harry walks around to the front of the house, ignoring the almost plastic-appearing bushes. She noted that it felt a bit cooler as she walked around the front—good. Maybe, if she was lucky, some of the plants would get too cold and die? It wasn't very nice to the plants, but at least it'd introduce some variation. Now out front, she sat on a garden bench.
Harry's thoughts wandered as time passed, waiting on the bench. Could she transport herself around magically? Teleportation, apparition as it was called, was a major element in a book she had read three or so years ago, and that'd certainly save time and money. She'd need to look into that later. Knowing the Ministry though, she'd probably have to wait until she was a certain age and pass some test to be allowed to do it or something silly like that. Governments, she decided, were annoying. Other than teleportation, she didn't expect anything from magic. After all, it wasn't as if there was a magical bus or something she could call. That idea was just silly. Flying was out simply because so many Muggles would see.
What about a name? She hadn't thought about it until now, but a girl could hardly go around calling herself Harry without being a bit odd and the last thing she needed was to draw attention to her disguise, especially when the attention would be in the form of the name Harry. No, that was right out. Absently, she focused, and a denim jacket appeared over her blouse, buttoned up half-way and matching her jeans. She looked around cautiously a moment later—good, no one saw that... stupid Harry, using magic in broad daylight. A name though—Harriet? Too similar. Lilith? No, that just didn't seem right. Plus, it was pretty close to her mom's name, and she didn't want any odd connections like that for a psychotic person to put together. Neva? ...wait, what? Neva? Where did that name come from? Certainly it wasn't a name she'd ever heard of before.
The sound of a gentle horn brought her out of her thoughts and the girl blinked. Looking up, she had to resist the urge to smack herself at the sight of a car in the driveway. How did she expect to stay alive if a bloody vehicle could sneak up on her?! Shaking her head, she stands, walking over to the car.
The driver rolls the window down. "You's tha one who's orderin' a vippie cab?"
"Vippie?" She blinked. The man's accent was certainly odd. Still, so long as he could drive, she didn't care. Nodding, she walked to the left rear door, opening it easily and sliding in. The interior was... nice. Deep burgundy leather, with a mini-fridge that doubled as an arm rest between the two sides.
"Ah, sorry, miss." The driver turns to face Harry, giving what he seemed to think was a charming smile. She smiled back hesitantly as he continued. "Jus' what I like'n ta call it. I meant ta say V.I.P. o' course. Ta London, yeah's?"
"Please. I'd like to get to—" Harry cut herself off, almost saying the Leaky Cauldron again. Honestly, she'd have to be more careful.
"Charin' Cross Road, yeah's? I'll be sure to get yah there good an' fast, don' be worryin' you's pretty head, none!" Still looking back, the driver shifts the car and it starts backing out of the driveway. It's very smooth, the girl notes. Looking in the small refrigerator, she withdraws a can of Coke. May as well enjoy herself. "Mah name's Oran Hutan, by the by. Everybody be callin' me Orangutan though. ...guess'n it isn't much o' a difference. Wha'chu called, miss?"
"Neva." She blinked, though the driver, having turned back to face the front by now, missed it. The newly rechristened Neva took a small gulp of Coke, swishing it around in her mouth briefly before swallowing it. For being in a car's mini-fridge, it was cold! Delicious, though. Living with the Dursleys, she'd never really gotten to drink things like that... and considering that pumpkin juice was the popular drink in wizarding culture, this was one of her first chances to try the beverage. "You can call me Neva."
"Ah'right! I'll let'chu know when we's almost ta Charin' Cross, s'okay?"
Nodding pointlessly, Harry closed her eyes and she relaxed back into her seat, smiling faintly. The trip was going smoothly. Actually, it was really smooth. She'd have to remember this car model if she ever bought one, because it felt even nicer than the rides she'd taken on her Nimbus 2000. Assuming there wasn't a wizard involved, secretly enchanting the cars, it was pretty amazing.
She was almost asleep, about seven minutes later, when it happened. A feeling of dread shook her and she sat bolt upright, straining against her seatbelt as she looked around in a panic. What? What was it?! There! The girl's eyes widened as she turned to look out the window to her right. Headlights! A car! It was coming too fast; they were going to be hit! She started to struggle with her seatbelt. Harry Potter, Neva, whoever! She couldn't die now! If a car crash couldn't kill her parents, it sure as bloody hell wasn't going to do her in! A horn sounded as she began to yell and the driver finally turned his head, eyes widening. It was too late though.
There was a sickening crunch of metal and the car started to lurch to the side, even as the passenger side crumpled inwards like a Styrofoam cup being squeezed by a tense sports fan. Oddly, Harry felt detached as she continued to struggle with her seatbelt. The metal was horribly cold, almost frozen feeling. It started to crack. Why was that? A spark! She heard a spark somehow. Suddenly, though she didn't know how, she felt an immense heat spring up from nowhere. The gas tank, she decided. Bloody hell.
The residents of Little Whinging found themselves with something to talk about that night indeed, much to the delight of the housewives who cared naught for anything but appearances and gossip. After all, it wasn't every day there was a car crash just outside the town—especially not when the crash leads to a massive explosion that manages to not only completely total the cars, but severely injure several bystanders and utterly wreck a used car lot with flying debris. And, as if that hadn't been enough... a chemical reaction froze the area for meters in all directions, leading police to believe that one of the vehicles was transporting an illegal substance of some kind.
Yes... it was a good night to be a gossip in Little Whinging.
"In other news, scientists are still baffled by the recent weather phenomenon that has been plaguing London. As many of you know, two days ago at approximately ten o'clock in the morning, a tremendous zone of freezing temperatures suddenly formed in the Surrey area, creating an area of high barometric pressure and bringing with it patches of ice and even snowfall, before streaking towards London at speeds never before observed in a weather front. At that point the storm's location seems to have stabilized, leaving most of London in a winter-like environment ever since. Here with me today is the head of the Westminster Transporta—"
With an almost negligent wave of his wand, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge dissipated the image, leaving the large surface hanging upon the wall of his office to revert back to a seemingly ordinary mirror. Sliding up into the ceiling, the mirror revealed a window behind it, the window offering a glimpse of a snow-laden street sign and a shivering pedestrian walking past. Fudge turned his gaze towards the two women sitting at the opposite side of his desk, sighing and rubbing his temples. "That," he said plainly, "is a horrific problem. The Prime Minister is bothering me constantly for updates, and I can't even tell him anything. The Obliviators can't very well handle the problem, and the Office for Muggle Affairs is working tirelessly to figure out some possible explanation that we could offer to preserve the Statute of Secrecy. Reports?"
The two women looked at each other for a moment before the one on the left, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Amelia Bones, began to speak. "Well—to begin, Samantha Rider from the Department of Magical Transportation has informed me that the initial event, among other things, seemed to be a teleportation event of some kind. We can't be sure who or what it was though. Honestly, the closest match we can find in our records is the elemental flame teleportation that Albus is able to use through his phoenix familiar—but I think it's obvious that a phoenix wasn't involved with this at all."
"Quite." Fudge's dry reply felt incredibly impatient, though in fairness he was under a lot of pressure to solve things. "Have you found them yet though?"
"Unfortunately, no." said Amelia with a shake of her head for emphasis. "According to Oswald Hopkirk, you know—Mafalda's husband? As I was saying, according to him, the current event is centered almost directly over Diagon Alley. I've dispatched every free Auror to look at least once though, most have spent several shifts, and we haven't found any possible suspects. Tammy?"
The other woman, an Italian named Tamara Wadshot (and, incidentally, the head of the Department of Magical Detection), nodded. "I'd like to give a summary of what we know of the event."
"Please do." agreed the Minister with a nod. "No one's bothered to yet, and everyone I talk to just seems to think I'd ought to know these things automatically."
"Of course." Tamara paused for a moment to clear her throat before starting. "Upon July eighth, at approximately 10:07 in the morning, the sensors in and around Surrey, most notably the one centered in Little Whinging, detected a class four magical event. Many of our more delicate detectors were destroyed by the flux, but we've still managed to collect quite a bit of data. The event, as it turns out, was a weather manipulation of insane power. As you know, weather magic can be some of the most difficult thanks to all the factors involved, not to mention the will of nature herself mucking things up, and the most anyone ever manages really is climate control for their homes."
She paused to clear her throat again while Minister Fudge tried to get his mind around the idea of a class four event. Definitely not the sort of thing an average wizard could pull off, that was for sure!
"As Amelia has noted, there was a transportation involved with the magic, and, though hard to detect as they are, we're quite certain it was an elemental teleportation. The art's been lost to wizards for over a thousand years, of course. I'm not entirely sure what kind of creature could possibly do something such as this though." The woman looked down at her notes for a moment. "There is a truly frightening piece of information though, and I can hardly believe it myself."
"And that is?"
"Our data indicates that the event, though registering as a class four on the power scale... was entirely accidental magic."
"What?!" Cornelius slams his hands down on the table, staring at the department head as if she was crazy. "There's no way that's possible! Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of modern times, cast the most powerful accidental magic currently known when he was a child, and even that was merely a class fourteen event—hardly noticeable as stronger than a normal wizard!"
"As I said, I can hardly believe it. The equipment doesn't lie though, Minister. Accidental magic always has a certain... unfocused quality to it, where most magic is filled with willful intent. Every sensor, and I mean every sensor, has reported the same thing. There is no will in this magic. Whoever, no... whatever has done this, it wasn't even trying. We can only hope that this accidental magic it's used is the extent of its full ability."
"This is..." Amelia, having remained mostly quiet, shakes her head in disbelief. She'd never been told that before. "Wow. You'll most likely be happy to know that I've recalled Alastor to active duty for finding the being behind this magic. The man actually seemed to enjoy the prospect—apparently having been bored with his retirement."
"Good, good. I think I can use this information. Is that all then, ladies?" Upon seeing two nods, the Minister nodded as well. "Excellent. You're dismissed then."
The two women stood and, within several seconds, Cornelius Fudge was alone in his office once more. "Well, I guess I'd better call over to the Prime Minister's office, and let him know. Merlin knows he's been paranoid about everything since I told him of Sirius Black. Ruddy Muggles."
There was a sterile tang wafting about that seemed quite at odds with the dank and musty feeling in the air, and the faintest hint of cinnamon could be detected off in the distance. To the side, a slow, regular tone was sounding. It was quiet and pleasant; although, it seemed the sort to grow annoying over time. And—was it sounding the pattern of a heartbeat? A hospital then, given that and the disinfectants in the air.
"Ah, you're awake."
Blinking her eyes open in response to the firm voice, she groaned quietly. It was deceptively bright—certainly brighter than she'd expected from what small quantity of light had managed to shine through her eyelids.
"Excellent. If you'll just lay still for a moment..."
She looked down and to her left. Was that a goblin? She blinked. It certainly looked like one, though it was odd to see one dressed as a healer. Amazingly odd. Worse than that, it was smiling. And not a smile like it was happy to be taking her money, but an actual pleasant smile. Honestly, watching that smile as it waved an odd metal device over her body was horribly disconcerting.
It was odd that she was still a girl. Not changing back though, despite falling unconscious (not to mention miraculously surviving an explosive car crash), was an excellent sign. It seemed she didn't have to remain conscious to remain transformed, so she wouldn't have to worry about her disguise failing in her sleep. She was fairly certain as well that the healers would've changed her back to her birth state if they knew about it. Maybe they simply couldn't? That'd make more sense—though, it was still odd. Her skin seemed a bit pale as well, but nothing too out of the ordinary.
"There. After three days, you seem to be back to perfect health, Miss Winters. We weren't certain of how well your energy would recover, but it's doing nicely now." He sounded quite cheerful (was it even a he?) as he set the device on a nearby table. "I was rather shocked at just how far off your temperature was when they brought you in... nearly forty degrees."
"Forty?" She feels her eyes widen slightly in reaction. That was well into fever range, and even starting to get potentially dangerous. Wait though—this was a magical healer, not just an ordinary doctor. Perhaps they used a different temperature scale than Muggles. It'd make enough sense, given how strange their money was. "Forty degrees Celsius?"
"Centigrade...? Ha!" Evidentially, her question had been quite hilarious. It takes the goblin several long pauses before his laughter stops completely. "My... my apologies. I wasn't expecting such an excellent joke. No, Miss Winters, your core body temperature was forty degrees Kelvin. Thankfully though we had the necessary supplies to cool you before it could become an issue. I trust you feel well?"
"Y-yes." Kelvin. Wasn't that the temperature scale that started at absolute zero and increased at the same rate as Celsius? No, that couldn't be. She'd be frozen solid at such a temperature as that, and further cooling? If anything, she'd need heating. It must be some magical-only scale. "I feel wonderful, thanks."
"Excellent, excellent." With a nod, he turned to face her again, holding a clipboard in his left hand and a quill in the other. "If I may, could you tell me your first name for our records? It doesn't seem to be in your file."
"Um... Neva." Actually, what was up with the name? He'd called her Miss Winters twice now. It seemed a bit odd that they'd identify her and get it wrong. That was a wonderful sign though. If healers with full access to her unconscious body for three days couldn't determine she was Harry Potter, there was very little chance of Sirius Black finding her out.
"Neva Winters. Excellent. That was your great grandmother's name as well, you know. An excellent name." The room was nearly silent for several seconds, only the scratching of a quill and the repetitive tones of the heart monitor disturbing the tranquility while she wondered just what that meant. Great grandmother? Just who exactly was he mistaking her for? Finally, he nodded and began to walk for towards the door. "Very well, I'm done here. You're free to go, Miss Winters."
She blinked. That was it? No bill? No extra stay just to make sure that she wasn't going to relapse or something? She nodded, a faint smile forming as she sat up the rest of the way on the oddly slanted bed and moved her feet to the right side. Definitely nicer than dealing with Madam Pomfrey.
"Oh, I almost forgot." The goblin pauses in the doorway. "You'll find your wand and shrunken trunk in the footlocker just there, as well as one of your family's traditional garments that was being held in storage in the Winters vault. Your previous clothes were rather weak, and that accident you were in left them in tatters you see. And, for security reasons of course, this door will lead you directly outside when you open it. Have a nice day, Miss Winters."
"Um..." She trailed off, watching as the door closed behind him. Neva slid to her feet. She'd have to get used to thinking of herself as that, for her disguise. It wouldn't do to slip up and introduce herself as Harry. "Well, that's certainly odd. Traditional garment?"
It only took a moment to slide out of the thin fabric of the hospital gown, then find and open the footlocker. She blinked repeatedly at the complex bunch of fabric inside. She was supposed to wear that? It appeared to be silk, and it was colored with shades of red and black. Past that, Neva found she didn't have a clue what it was. Removing the bundle from the footlocker and separating it out into its components over the bed didn't help.
"Definitely weird. Weird and expensive looking." Red eyes scanned over the five choices. Three of the pieces were recognizable enough. They were somewhat thin white silk. Thin enough to see her skin tones through. Undergarments then—nothing else would be that thin that she could think of. They weren't the kind she was used to though, consisting of a skirt that looked like it would reach to her ankles, as well as a top with rather short sleeves that folded down the front (with the left side overlapping the right) to form a v-neck. She' The last of the three was a pair of socks, rather simple and uninteresting aside from a small split in the fabric that would separate the big toe from the others.
Moving on, she was fairly certain that the largest and most colorful of the components was an overly glorified bathrobe. It had a design featuring blossoms of some kind, and it was huge. Large enough to wrap around her easily, and long. It looked like it was too long for her to wear actually, though it seemed that the size would fit her decently aside from that. The last of the items was, quite frankly, ridiculous. It was a long strip of fabric, nearly four meters by her estimate, and sixty centimeters across. It was lighter in color than the main outfit, featuring a bit of tan in an odd pattern featuring a few more blossoms and curved lines.
"Well, um..." Neva scratched her head, continuing to stare at the complicated garment. "I guess that the last thing is supposed to tie the robe shut. Why's it so huge though?" She looked around the room, spotting a mirror quickly, and she nodded. Well, it wouldn't hurt to at least try it.
The undergarments were soft, astonishingly so. Was this how silk truly was? She smiled as she took a moment to just feel it against her skin. Earlier she'd thought to compare those clothes she'd had to silk. Now though, she realized that they hadn't even come close. The cloth felt pleasantly cool and almost weightless upon her form, and it shined in a way that made her feel as if she was glowing. It was weird, honestly. She liked it though. The second layer, the robe itself, had a noticeable weight, but it proved just as soft and wasn't nearly as heavy as she'd expected. Neva pulled it closed before looking at her reflection, and she had to admit that it did look nice on her, if incomplete.
"Now... how to go about this?" The last part of the outfit confounded her. It was simply too massive to be useful without folding it somehow, and she wasn't sure how to fold it. Well, she had plenty of time, so she could afford to experiment. She reached out and picked up the cloth, only to drop it and jump back in shock (somehow managing not to trip on the lengthy robe) when it jerks and suddenly floats into the air. "What is—?"
It was over in seconds, and Neva stared down at it, her shock faded to mild surprise. Apparently the sash had been enchanted to put itself on—talk about useful. It had even gathered up the extra length of the robe and folded it neatly under the sash. She caught her reflection in the mirror once more and smiled for a moment before blinking and turning. The bow where the sash was tied was huge! It almost looked out of place.
"Well, I think I like it." She spun in place, checking her reflection from all angles, before nodding. "A bit formal, but knowing the wizarding world I'll fit right in. The color matches my eyes too." She blinked. It matched her eyes? Huh—maybe she was finally getting a fashion sense. Neva shook her head before walking back to the footlocker and discovering the first problem with the outfit. How the hell was she supposed to walk in it? It was so tight she could barely move at all and had to take tiny, measured steps. At least the skirt she'd tried at the Dursley house was loose enough to let her move normally.
It was then, once she'd reached the footlocker, that the second problem was revealed. She frowned, trying and failing to bend down far enough to reach her shrunken trunk. It was just too tight! The fabric was restricting, and that sash may as well have been glued with the strength of that knot. Why would anyone wear something that restrictive, even if it looked good? Maybe it was adjusted wrong. Still, even if it was, she had no idea how to properly adjust it. No, what she really needed was something simple. A shirt and jeans. If only she—
"Neva." The girl frowned before smacking herself upside the head lightly. "You are an idiot."
She closed her eyes and focused, sighing in relief a moment after as she feels the cloth change around her body. She blinked her eyes open again and looked into the mirror before nodding. Perfect. Now, in place of the odd formal wear, she wore a tight black blouse and a pair of black, low-cut jeans. It wasn't exactly the height of fashion, at least from what she'd noticed normal Muggle girls wear, and the outfit left a strip of exposed skin between her jeans and shirt, but she honestly didn't care. She liked the way it looked despite all that, and it felt strangely comfortable just now—almost as much as the silken robes had. It was trivial at that point to bend down and grab her things, storing her trunk in her rear pocket and tucking her wand behind her ear on a whim. She walked to the door and stepped outside.
"Welcome... to Dism Alley."
Neva blinked. Outside the hospital, the world was dark, damp, and cold, with stale air that smelled of mold and a black, starless sky above. No, not a sky—a ceiling. She was in a cavern, and had a feeling that it was deep underground. The flickering glow of torch-driven streetlamps illuminated a pitted, festering path of winding gravel, stone, and moss in both directions and neither way looked particularly inviting. Lovely. To the left, the road was barren and dark. Haunting, unforgiving storefronts twinkled malevolently as the firelight danced upon their dirty windows. To the right, a crowd had gathered. A circle of beasts and men alike, cheering together as someone fought. She couldn't see just what it was, and as she heard a sickening crunch, she didn't want to see.
It was the sign across the way that had captured her attention. Had it just spoken? A ratty sheet of parchment hung alone on a weathered bulletin board. With a nervous look to both sides, Neva quickly walked the path's width to examine the paper closer.
"Welcome, traveler, to Dism Alley!" The paper, oddly, perked up as Neva approached. In the dim light she saw that it was an old welcoming flyer with faded words in flickering colors. "Never will you find a more civilized corner of the Underdark, and so conveniently close to the European portal as well! We're proud to say that unprovoked murders are down nearly twelve percent this year."
"Um... right." She swallowed. Murders? Definitely not the kind of place she wanted to be. Why was she even there to begin with? Wouldn't St. Mungo's have been a better choice of hospital? It wasn't as if they knew she was Harry Potter, so they couldn't have taken her there to avoid the public eye. "I was wondering... how exactly would I find this European portal?"
"Find the portal? That's easy! It's just through that gate behind my sign and it leads directly to that odd magical center in London. You're not from around here, are you?"
Another loud noise distracted Neva, and she involuntarily looked to the right. The crowd had just started breaking up. "No, no I'm not. I've got to go now, sorry." She gazed quickly at the crowd once more before making a break for the gate. It was a simple gate, wooden doors suspended before a stone arch. Fortunately, the doors were open, revealing a magical haze and, beyond that, a normal street covered in snow. Well, perhaps not completely normal, judging by a storefront she recognized from Knockturn Alley, but better than this. She ran through without hesitation, barely hearing the sign behind her as it offers a weak "Come again!"
The trip through the portal was exceptionally short, and oddly pleasant. Neva blinked. The view of the sky at the end was nice as well.
Wait. Sky?! She was looking straight ahead, so why w—WHAM! The girl groaned, face pressed into the snow covering the road as she lay in an undignified heap. It was official, between her experience with Floo and now this portal. Magical transportation hated her. What was next—some kind of magical pull that rips you along through the air while you flail about helplessly?
"At least I'm back." Neva, after rolling onto her back, sat up. It was indeed Knockturn Alley, as far as she could tell. The unfortunately familiar storefront of Borgin & Burkes twinkled amongst the world's coat of snow with a false innocence across the way while a man selling rolls of some unidentified greenish-tan material that she was quite certain she didn't want to identify strolled past, wrapped in a thick brown cloak with pink cheeks. It was odd that he didn't seem to notice her. And why did he look cold? There was snow, but the alley still felt warm to her—no doubt some kind of charm to keep people from freezing.
Actually, everyone seemed cold. A poor woman (hunched over in front of the entrance to the inn at the end of the alley opposite its entrance from Diagon Alley) was visibly shivering and rubbing her hands together as she asked a passerby for a coin. That was definitely odd... why would a witch be cold? Magic to create fire was fairly easy.
Suddenly, Neva jerked and looked over her right shoulder. Someone had whispered the word 'Black'. "What did—?!"
There was no one there. What the hell? She found herself staring directly into a wall formed of large stone blocks. Reaching out, she touched it—it was solid. What had she heard then, if it wasn't a person talking? It—
"I swear, the Minister is getting more and more paranoid every day. Did you hear the latest?"
"The latest? I don't think..." Two old women, bundled up in a pair of burgundy cloaks, sat and talked in the small dining area just in front of Diagon Alley's ice cream parlour, both sipping hot cocoa. "What has he done now?"
"Oh, it's dreadful. I've heard that he's taking dementors from Azkaban to aid in the search. Dementors! Honestly. It has been cold though, so I think it might be true. Do you think they could—?"
"What... the hell...?" She stared blankly, unable to comprehend just what was happening. She was staring at a wall! There was no way she could be watching two old women talk—certainly not when they were so far away. Neva gasped. Spinning in place, she lunged, reaching out with her arms to grab ont—WHAM!
She groaned, once more lying amid the snow. That was a wall. Not a man about to step out into traffic. Certainly not a man stepping out just in front of an oncoming bus. Not that it mattered. He slipped on a patch of ice hidden just barely under a layer of white and fell back onto the curb, just in time to miss the vehicle. She was definitely seeing things though. Just what was going—?
A plane flew overhead, heading west from London Airport. Far below, all of London was dyed white with snow. An odd plow, here or there, kept certain roads dry, though most were ignored completely. The snow wasn't really accumulating, even though it fell constantly. A kilometer to the south, a portly woman with three children behind her (all young girls wearing bright blue mittens that matched their earmuffs perfectly) walked the short distance to a local grocer. The woman stiffened when a boy with a dirty nose in a passing car threw a ball of snow at her back. The car was forced to stop though, meeting up with the line of cars from a stopped up bridge a moment after, and it looked as if the woman was apt to give the boy a piece of her mind. At the bridge a constable was taking statements from witnesses of a crash as workers hastened to move a wrecked car. Further away, but in the opposite direction, a man with a sturdy look wearing a thick yellow coat walked along the street, doing his best to sell freshly baked biscuits to any who would listen. Interested, a teenaged girl with thick rectangular glasses dug through her purse for a spare bill to pay him with.
—going on? Neva winced as a series of images a thousand long flashed through her mind. "It h-hurts. What's happening?"
A moment later, it wasn't simply London. She could see it clearly now. Too clearly. The ground was white in all directions for kilometers around. At Little Whinging, Petunia Dursley stood before her house and frowned at the wilting hydrangea bushes. That far out, the snow was mere patches, but the cold had been enough. A boy sledded down a hill, directly south of London's center. A man nearby sat on a—car was speeding as it tried swerving around a sharp—corner of a storefront awning drooped under the weight of a thick deposit of snow, its support—legs pumped up and down as she tried to stay warm, hugging her—arms of the clock were—off the road as—sled—book under the cover of—Stop—scarf blew away in a gust of—exhaust from its large—pipe cracked as the freezing water inside finally—Stop!—about the properties of a magical—stone twinkled as the frost on its—surface of the road was slick, making—brown hair with thin gloves that gave off a feelings of warm—flames raged out of control as—Stop!
Neva tried to stand and failed, getting halfway to her feet before a spasm made her throw herself forward. Another impact with the ground—it hurt, but she couldn't care as she lay curled upon the ground, her hands clutching her head. So many images, so much to hear—so loud, so bright! A man, no, two, no—a hundred—a thousand! A woman slipped and fell, seven blocks away. What did she—a book. There it was again, and that girl. Was that—Hermione! She was reading. And—the woman broke her hip, there was no doubt. The man with a thick moustache didn't seem to care as he walked past, cursing as he stared at a newspaper article. It was about—magical stones and how to use them. Hermione was reading about Mithril ore. Where was she? More imp—a crash! It wasn't bad, mild as crashes went. And—
"Just..." Somehow, she made it to her feet and stumbled forward. Neva tilted her head back and screamed. "STOP!!!"
A wave of power. Precious seconds passed before she realized that people were staring at her. She was panting now, hunched over with her hands on her knees. It had finally stopped though—all the images, all the noises. Gone. Neva offers a weak glare at the various witches and wizards around the alley before hastily making her way into first Diagon Alley, and then through the Leaky Cauldron out onto the public street. She could do her business later—for now she just wanted to get away.
Alastor Moody glared down at the disturbed patch of snow his scrying spells had led him to, his magical right eye spinning about crazily as it struggled to watch everyone about the alley. A moment passed and he bended down. "Might still have something here at least. Some kind of trace." He used an odd metallic device to scoop a sample of snow and stood again.
"Least this should be fun. A good challenge—it's been too long. Still want to know how the damn thing knew I was coming." He started walking, a repetitive dull thud sounding as his wooden leg struck the path below. "Guess I'll just have to ask once she's caught."
Five minutes and nearly four-hundred meters found Neva Winters sitting on an uneven swing in a forgotten little park between two large buildings. It wasn't in very good condition, but even a shabby place like that looked wonderful in a wintry coat of snow. Aside from a pair of matching swings, the park had an exceedingly rusty seesaw and a wooden bench that, supposedly, was painted a deep red at some point in the past if the sole remaining splotch of color that hadn't chipped off was to be believed.
"Stupid goblins messed something up." She frowned, staring uninterestedly down at the ground just before the swing. "Just what was that?! It's not normal, not even for a witc—wizard. This body's getting weird too. Everyone else is cold, but I feel fine."
More than fine, to be honest. She felt wonderful. A bit tired after going through whatever was making her see and hear so much, but not enough to impede her at all. The chilled air, since it apparently was really quite cold outside, didn't bother her—not only that, but she hadn't even noticed that it was cold! Did something happen to her in the crash? Accidental magic protected people all the time, so maybe she'd done something to make herself impervious to temperature when the vehicle exploded?
She. Her. That was another thing—shouldn't it be a bit harder to start thinking about herself like that? Honestly, all she'd done is decide to call herself Neva and it simply stuck! She might as well have been born with the name for all the effort it took to think of herself that way... hell, she was still thinking of herself that way! It was more than a slight bit eerie. "Right." Neva, no—Harry stood. She looked down at herself, nodded, and closed her eyes. "I've got to change back. This body is... well, something weird is going on!"
The change went quickly. She called the image to her mind, focused, and felt that decidedly cool tingle almost straight away. Just as quickly, the feeling left. Eyes opened and Harry looked down. He blinked. "Bloody hell, my clothes!" Apparently, a diminutive black blouse and tight jeans with a feminine cut didn't work for him at all.
Harry Potter smiled as he walked along Charing Cross Road, much more comfortable now in a pair of loose black jeans that were styled quite a bit better for someone of his gender, as well as a thick, dark green winter jacket that not only helped him to blend in, but had a hood to hide his face. Hopefully, on the off chance that he did run across Sirius Black, the madman wouldn't recognize him. He'd changed his hair to brown and his eyes to blue as well.
"Well then, to the Leaky Cauldron so I can... actually, why was I going there again?" He paused and looked up at a streetlamp. Huh. The snow was stopping, that's odd—or maybe it wasn't, since it was supposedly the summer. Maybe it'd finally start to warm up. It'd be nice to have a chance to do some normal summer activities, considering he wasn't locked away with the Dursleys any longer. He was getting sidetracked though. Visit the Leaky Cauldron? Why? The whole point of his trip was to contact Hermione, so what point was there in visiting Diagon Alley? It'd simply waste time.
So, where did Hermione live again? It was... no. He didn't have a clue. Actually, he didn't even know the names of the girl's parents. He was fairly certain that they were dentists, but that was it. Kind of odd, now that he thought about it. He knew quite a bit about the Weasleys. He even knew that Neville Longbottom lived with his grandmother Augusta. Why didn't he know anything about the family of one of his closest friends?
That was a mystery for another time though. Thinking about it, he was fairly certain he could remember where she was when he'd seen her earlier in that daze of information. It was... north? Well, he could always call for a taxicab if he got lost. Harry nodded and began to walk.
Author's Notes: As you've noticed, this is slightly AU at the start. The Weasleys decided to spend the summer after Harry's second year of Hogwarts at home so Ginny could recover from the possession in peace. Thanks to that, Sirius Black didn't see the picture of their vacation in the paper and didn't escape that summer. Harry had a relaxing year without any problems at Hogwarts, and came out better for it. The next summer though, the Weasleys finally took their trip, Black saw a picture, and things escalate from there.
That said, comments and suggestions are welcome. And with any luck it won't take me over a year to write chapter two.
Credit to Random832 from CaerAzkaban for giving me the idea.
Harry Potter frowned up at the cold, frosted surface of the famous Big Ben clock tower. Eight o'clock—it would be night soon. The sky was already starting to darken and the pervasive chill tightened its grip on the unlucky citizens of London, not that Harry noticed the frigid air. Hermione would be along shortly in her parents' automobile to collect him, but until then he would think.
What was he to do about his identity? He was Harry James Potter. He had known that name his whole life, and he would never relinquish it. There was only one slight problem. Sirius Black. As much as he enjoyed his name and found pride in it, Harry had to admit that he enjoyed his life quite a bit more. Losing his life—no, using a different name would be quite acceptable.
And that led him to his second identity. Neva Winters. Supposedly, if he was to believe a goblin, it was his great grandmother's name. Not that that could possibly be the case. He'd never heard of a Winters family before and he knew that he wasn't a member. It was a nice name though, and he didn't expect any trouble out of using it. There was a slight issue with that identity though, and the Boy-Who-Lived was hesitant to use it. After all, he was the Boy-Who-Lived—and Neva was a girl. Transforming into a girl was odd, and that was putting it mildly. After what had happened earlier, he wasn't sure that he wanted to try again.
No. He would use both. By switching between the two identities, he could move around the country with ease, seemingly at random. Anyone tracking him would be completely confused. Harry jumped. With a hiss, a nearby streetlamp flickered on. It was night.
Night. Harry closed his fist and nodded, his resolve made. Slowly, his form rippled and shrunk, melting in upon itself until Neva Winters was left standing. She knew what she'd do.
Harry Potter legally existed. He could go places, do things, and not worry about getting caught. And at night, when the world shivered in cold and light deserted the land, Neva Winters would roam in secret.
Within the light, he would live Harry Potter's days. And when darkness fell, she'd have Neva Winters' Nights.