Author's notes: This is a follow-on fic from "Memoirs of a Broken Mother", a one-shot from Bellatrix's point of view.
Canon: AU, disregarding HBP/DH. Begins towards the end of PS.
Chapter One: Feeling Blue
A tall, pale wizard was striding up and down a dungeon in a rage. He was completely bald, wore long black robes and when he turned, Harry saw he had red eyes and a nose like a snake's.
"A failure. Failure!" he spat, sweeping a collection of potions off a table onto the floor where they smashed. "That was the last way. It is not possible."
"My Lord," a woman said nervously, "it was not a complete failure. The child can still be invaluable to us."
"You think I would risk him turning against me?" Voldemort hissed. "No, without him completely under my control, he is too dangerous. That boy will grow up to be more powerful than myself and Dumbledore put together. He must be destroyed."
The woman gasped, but Voldemort did not seem to notice. She was young and pretty, pale with long, dark hair. She remained where she was, seemingly in shock, as the dream changed.
Harry was back at the Dursleys'. He was sitting on the kitchen table while a small pig with blonde hair made faces at him. Oh, wait – it was Dudley.
"For the last time, Petunia, I am not having one of them in the house!"
"Goodness knows I'm not happy about it either Vernon, but I don't have much of a choice! The letter said we would be safe as long as he was with us. We'll be paid to look after him until he's eleven. And I know I hated her guts, but Lily was my sister. And besides, at the moment he's too young to do – anything. We should at least give it a try."
Uncle Vernon was purple in the face. Harry looked at the two people arguing. Perhaps they needed cheering up. When his Mama and Dada argued, he would make them laugh.
"Fine," Vernon grunted. "We'll give it a try. But no M-word." With that he stormed out of the room. Petunia sighed and looked round at Harry, only to let out a shriek as she saw he was grinning at her and covered in bright blue hair.
Petunia grabbed the frying pan and hit him so hard he tumbled off the table.
"Don't ever do that again!" she yelled, and little Harry decided he wouldn't. When the older Harry woke, hot and shivery, he only briefly pondered the meaning of the dream – memory? – before falling back asleep. By morning both were forgotten.
The castle was unnaturally quiet – the end-of-year exams were in progress. Harry's scar had been prickling ever since his detention in the Forest, and on top of that he had a sore throat, general headache and a sort of all-over ache. When trying to do last-minute revision, his head swam and his eyes itched and he couldn't take anything in.
"Harry, you're not well. I really think you ought to go to Madam Pomfrey."
"I'm fine," Harry muttered. He was determined to get through the exams, ill or not, and the last thing he felt like was the Matron fussing over him. His constant fear of Voldemort turning up in the castle didn't help matters.
"Just two more exams, Hermione. Okay? Then I'll go to the Hospital Wing if you insist. Just let me get into second year first."
His penultimate exam was Transfiguration theory. Professor McGonagall gave him a hard look as he sat down at the desk. He quickly dropped his gaze and avoided her eye, swallowing the urge to cough.
"You may begin."
Harry squeezed his eyes closed for a few moments before opening them and willed them and his mind to focus on the paper. All that he had revised seemed to be slipping away. All around him he could hear the scratching of quills on parchment – he hadn't even written his name.
At least he knew that. Harry dipped his quill into the ink and wrote his name at the top. The letters came out rather shaky, and to his intense annoyance he realised he'd misspelt his own surname. In his frustration he knocked over the ink bottle, spilling the contents all over his blank exam paper.
"Mr Potter, do you need another paper?"
"Yes please, Professor," Harry said in a low voice. He felt like throwing the empty ink bottle at the blackboard. Instead he rubbed his tired eyes, telling himself to get a grip.
Professor McGonagall gave him another paper and cleaned the mess with a flick of her wand before leaning in towards him and saying quietly, "Potter, are you not feeling well?"
There was no way he was going to let her send him to Madam Pomfrey. "I'm fine, Professor. Thanks." Harry took out a spare ink bottle and determinedly wrote his name – correctly this time – at the top of the new paper.
She returned to the front, and Harry forced his mind to concentrate. He started writing on the paper, not really knowing clearly what he was writing about. His scar gave a particularly painful twinge and he grimaced. To his horror, when he glanced up at the clock he saw thirty precious minutes had already passed. Half an hour! Of an hour-long exam!
His train of writing trailed off, and he re-read what he'd written so far, not understanding half of it. His head was beginning to pound, and his throat tickled. He put his head in his hands, eyes shut, trying to think of all the lessons he'd attended that year. It seemed too distant, even though the last one had only been a week ago. Harry was almost crying in frustration and jumped a mile when Professor McGonagall spoke again from beside him.
"Are you sure you're all right, Potter? You really don't look well."
Harry looked up at her. He looked down at his jumbled mess of an exam attempt. He looked at the clock. And he gave in.
"Actually Professor, I'm not feeling too good …"
He saw Ron and Hermione watching anxiously as Professor McGonagall led him out of the room, and hoped they wouldn't muck up their own exams out of worry. It was bad enough that he was going to fail.
Professor McGonagall accompanied him to the Hospital Wing, where Madam Pomfrey looked him over and took his temperature.
"Bed," she said firmly, throwing him a pair of pyjamas. Harry changed slowly, trying not to jar his aching head, and crawled gratefully into bed. The cool, soft bedclothes were a relief, and he sighed, feeling some of his tension slip away. Madam Pomfrey returned with two evil-smelling potions; one she said for the fever, the other a painkiller.
Professor McGonagall had stayed in the Hospital Wing until after he'd taken the potions. She left after a "Get well soon, Potter," and he lay listening to her retreating footsteps. Madam Pomfrey went to check on another patient, and he was left alone, in peace and quiet, the pain ebbing away and his mind starting to shut down. Before he knew it, he was asleep.
Poppy Pomfrey was woken suddenly by an alarm in her quarters. It was enchanted to alert her if a patient needed urgent attention. Hurrying into the ward in her dressing-gown, it was easy to tell which student needed help.
Harry Potter was fitfully turning and moaning softly in his sleep. Poppy took his temperature and saw it had heightened considerably.
An hour later, she sent an urgent Firecall. "Minerva, I need you in the ward. We've got an urgent case of Dissimilis Magus."
Her friend swore as she Flooed over. "D.M? That's not good. Who's the patient?"
"Minerva – I'm afraid it's Harry."
Minerva's face paled. "Oh, no."
"I need all hands on deck, and I've got to ask Severus to make a potion. Although I don't know where he's going to get the blood from …"
Finally. Minerva pulled James Potter's old medical file off of the shelf. It had taken her nearly half an hour to work her way through the Hospital Wing records to find it. Some of the files seemed to be organised by date and others by name. Making a mental note to get Poppy to re-organise her system, she opened it and started hunting for any mention of the D.M. gene, in either his own or his family's history. Frowning, she found none on either count.
Lily Evans' was the same. Minerva paused, confused. Dissimilus Magus was a genetic disorder, an imbalance of the different magic cells. It didn't just appear out of nowhere; Harry had to have inherited it from someone. And the only treatment was a potion containing blood of a relative with the gene, so Minerva was hoping wherever in his family tree it came from, there would be someone still living with the gene.
"All right, let's try a different approach," she said to herself before speaking clearly to the filing system. "All records featuring Dissimilis Magus, please."
She realised her mistake when she was bombarded with at least a hundred-odd files. After the first one hit her in the face, she directed them all back to the shelves with her wand.
"Okay, let's try again." She thought. "Cross-reference Dissimilis Magus with patient number 713569."
For a moment she wasn't sure anything would happen. She was just about to give up and think what else she could try when one lone file dropped at her feet.
Minerva stared at it. "That can't be right." Slowly she bent down and picked it up.
DISSIMILIS MAGUS was written clearly on the first page. Minerva snapped it shut. All the pureblood families were related, she knew that, but the Potters and the Blacks were something like third-cousins at the most – too distant for the potion to work.
On a whim, she tried, "Patient number 713569 and related files."
James and Lily's files, which she had replaced, stayed right where they were. The group of files thrown at her, besides Harry's own, were made up of several more Blacks, Remus Lupin, Severus Snape and even her own husband.
She laughed to herself. The system was obviously messed up. She paused, however, as she noticed another file on the floor, a file that had nearly vanished under a set of shelves.
"You took your time."
"How is he?" Minerva asked anxiously.
"A little quieter." Poppy gestured towards the bed. Harry looked more peaceful now; he had stopped tossing and moaning, at least. Severus was beside Poppy, a list in his hand which he was perusing.
"I trust you have a name?" he said bluntly.
"Who Potter inherited D.M. from, so we know who to chase with a syringe."
Severus, cracking a joke. A rare occurrence, and not at the best moment.
"I'm sorry, I don't know where it came from. Lily didn't have it, and nor did James or any of his family. Poppy, I think there might be something wrong with your filing – besides your organisation of it, I mean."
"What's wrong with my filing?" Poppy said indignantly.
"I tried asking it for files related to Harry, and it just threw these at me." She placed the files in the matron's hands. "I think you ought to try getting some answers from the system while I watch Harry."
"Minerva, there's nothing wrong with my system," Poppy insisted, passing the files to Severus without so much as glancing at them. "It knows the DNA of every student that's passed through the school and searches based on that."
"And that makes it foolproof, does it?"
"Minerva," Severus said slowly.
"Severus, why don't you focus on the other ingredients needed, and we'll … What's the matter?"
He was staring down at the files that Poppy had handed him with an expression of such shock on his face that both Minerva and the matron were lost for words. Finally, he broke the silence.
"It can't be."