DISCLAIMER: H o l o - G r a m m a t i c is sad to inform you that they own neither Harry Potter or the X-men franchise. They belong to their respective creators, producers, and publishers, none of which have any relation to H o l o – G r a m m a t i c.
Warning: This story contains shonen-ai - slash - m/m; whatever you want to call it. The probability of Lemons is minimal, however: if relationships involving two males bother you, H o l o – G r a m m a t i c asks that you kindly vacate the premises.
Title: Hobo's Lullaby
Rating: PG-13 / R
Summary: When an embittered Harry Potter and a pre-X-Men Logan Howlett meet by chance on a train, it marks the start of one of the oddest partnerships this world has ever seen.
Chapter Seven: In Which the Truth Comes Out (but Logan, Regrettably, Remains in the Closet)
Logan blinked. And blinked again. and rubbed his palm over his face, a groan escaping his lips.
"Okay," he said, "Time out. Lemme see if I've got this straight. You're a wizard."
"With… with wands and broomsticks and stuff?"
"Yep. Well, I don't have a broomstick or a wand right now, kinda left 'em behind, but yeah, most of us have them."
"Right. And this…Voldy-whatsis guy-"
"Right. He's evil?"
"Okay. He tried to kill you- do you happen to know why, by any chance?"
Harry shrugged and made a face. "Dumbledore was never very forthcoming on that. Something about my being the only one who could ever defeat him. He kept saying he'd tell me when I was older, but, well… you know how that turned out."
Logan considered that. "That kinda sucks, kiddo.
"Yep," Harry chirped, popping the 'p' at the end, "story of my life. Literally, actually… huh."
Logan nodded, absorbing the information he'd been given so far. It didn't make a lick of sense, of course, but somehow- well, he believed it. The look in Harry's eyes when he was speaking about this Voldemort- that kind of hate couldn't be faked.
"So, this Dumbledore person- he was your headmaster. And he- what, tried to kill you?"
Harry winced. "Something like that."
The brunette bowed his head, wincing as painful memories made themselves known. He tried not to think about that day; tried not to think about anything involving the Wizarding world, quite honestly, but this whole thing- first the Aurors, and then Logan somehow invoking the life-debt- well. It dredged up things that he'd rather not be remembered.
When Harry came to, it was to bright lights and soft sheets, and the cold kiss of steel against his skin. He moaned, for a moment unmindful of the events of last night. And then he tried to roll over, and his wrists gave against the hard cylinders of metal closed around them, and everything came rushing back.
Blood. Pain. His uncle's bulging eyes glazing over as the life left his mangled body.
Harry gagged, and threw up.
He'd killed them; maybe all of them, he didn't remember. He did, however, remember, quite clearly, the feeling of his uncle's fat cheeks rending under his nails, and the salty metallic taste as his hot blood flooded Harry's throat. He remembered that now, in vivid, techni-color detail. He immediately wished that he hadn't. His stomach rebelled violently, expelling its contents and then continuing to dry-retch once there was no more to come up. There wasn't really that much in there- it was well into the home-stretch of summer break, and it had been weeks since his stomach had had anything substantial in it.
"I see you're up, Harry," a soft voice said, and a pair of blue, piercing eyes swam into view, followed closely by the remainder of the headmaster.
"Headmaster Dumbledore," Harry gasped, sitting up. The cuffs on his wrists chaffed, and he winced. "I- why am I chained? Am I a prisoner?"
He wasn't sure what exactly the headmaster knew and what was still a mystery, and so long as he had a chance of getting out of this, he was playing the innocent card. He did feel sort of bad for lying, of course, but… well. Harry had no intention of going to Azkaban, especially not on his Uncle's account.
The headmaster sighed sadly. "I'm afraid so, m'dear. There are… questions… about the deaths of your relatives, Harry. The minister insisted upon keeping you contained, especially in light of your… well…" he trailed off, a strange look replacing his usual twinkle.
"In light of my what?" Harry demanded sharply. What was Dumbledore talking about? "Headmaster, if this is about all the blood, I can explain! It was- it was everywhere, Professor, and I slipped and fell in it, you see-"
Dumbledore held up a hand, cutting off the flow of words (lies, all of them) that spewed from the fourteen year-old's lips. "I'm afraid that is not the case, though it was somewhat troubling. No, Harry, perhaps it is best if you see for yourself."
Harry didn't understand. The old man conjured a small hand mirror (Rose patterned, he noted inanely. Dumbledore had odd tastes.) and held it out to him.
"Look in the glass, Harry. See what you have become."
Slowly, stomach feeling like someone had inserted a cannonball through his navel and let it fall, Harry turned his gaze to the silvered, reflective surface of the looking-glass.
A face looked back at him, but it certainly wasn't his own. For sure, his face did not hold this strange, feral cast. His cheekbones were not so sharp, nor so high. His lips were fuller than this strange person's thin, razor blade mouth, his eyes wider, brighter- less slanted and angular. But the most marked difference between his own face and the stranger in the mirror was the small, black triangles situated on the top of his skull; two twitching, furred appendages that swiveled and flicked independently of any thought of his own.
"Professor," he said slowly, the sensation of dread building, "I don't understand."
But he did. He recalled the terrible pain that had ruled his last moments, the bloodlust that had overtaken him.
Harry understood all to well what had happened.
Dumbledore sighed, and slipped his spectacles from his nose, polishing them on the corner of his sleeve. "You are no longer human, Harry."
"Gee, thanks Professor, I never would have guessed that!" Harry snarled. Dumbledore looked taken aback. "As a non-human, suspicion for the Dursleys' murder automatically falls on you," he said seriously.
"What?" Harry gasped, outraged. True, he did kill them, but it seemed a bit biased that just because he was some sort of cat-boy… thing…
"What are you guys, species-ist or something? Oh sure, let's blame the cat-person. Why the hell am I a cat person?"
Why the hell was he talking this way? Sure, he was used to having thoughts like these, despite his best efforts to stop them, but Harry had gotten very adept over the years at quashing his more rebellious thought. So why now couldn't he seen to hold his tongue?
Dumbledore frowned at him. "This is a very serious matter, Harry. Even if you are not convicted, your new… ah, look-"
"You mean my new pointy ears and silky tail and fine sharp teeth? Yeah, that's a new look, alright. Practically a makeover."
"It poses some serious complications for us, m'boy," Dumbledore continued, shooting Harry a wounded look. Harry resisted the urge to gag. "We will, of course, do our best to salvage the situation, but if transfiguration cannot be removed, it might become necessary to… well."
Harry didn't like the sound of that. Not one bit.
"Have you any idea how it was done, Harry?" Dumbledore inquired urgently. "Did someone do this to you, or was it of a more spontaneous nature?"
Harry shrugged. He was screwed either way, so why not drop the old man a line. "No one did anything to me," he said, "No one's even talked to me since the beginning of the summer, aside from a couple of letters. It just… happened."
The headmaster sighed. "Then there's nothing for it. I had hoped that it was simply a tranfiguration gone wrong- much like young Hermione's Polyjuice mishap two years ago- but it seem that even in death, the Potters shall have the last laugh. Very well, Harry," he said, climbing wearily to his feet and blinking down at the boy. "Poppy?"
A grey haired head peeked around the corner of the infirmary office door. "Yes, Albus?" "Fetch Severus, will you, my dear?"
"Poppy. I really must insist."
Madame Pomfrey squeaked a reluctant, "Very well," and fled the scene very fast. Her tiny, no-nonsense heels clicked a rapid tattoo on the stone floor. Harry turned his head to follow her out, his ears swiveling of their own accord to focus in on her. She was breathing too fast to be normal, Harry noted. The quick little in-out-in-out whooshing of the air in her lungs was too shallow, too panicked. Something was up.
Minutes dragged by, Harry lying silent and confused, Dumbledore looking anywhere but at him. And then the Infirmary Keeper was back, an exceptionally cranky looking Snape slinking along behind her.
"Headmaster," he murmured silkily, "I believe I have told you how sensitive the potion I am working on is, am I correct?"
He flicked a brief contemptuous glance at Harry, but seemed content to ignore him for now.
"Ah, yes, Severus. Something about the interaction of the Nightjar blood and the willow bark, I remember. But no matter, my boy," –Snape looked like he hated that nickname just as much as Harry did- "You shall soon be released.
Snape scowled darkly. "What do you want, Albus?"
Dumbledore steepled his hands. "You remember Antonin Dolohov, correct?"
"I do," Snape demurred, black eyes glinting, "He's still in Azkaban as far as I know. Has something… happened?"
"No no, my dear," Dumbledore assured him, "You misunderstand me. You were comrades with him- I presume you were familiar with his methods?"
Snape's face darkened in remembrance. "I was, Headmaster," he said softly, "Far too familiar."
The old man smiled. "Wonderful," he proclaimed, "I trust you will be able to recreate them, then-"
"What?" A flicker of shock flitted through Snape's shadowed eyes.
"-On Mr. Potter," Dumbledore finished.
Snape, too, looked floored at this second pronouncement, but he still managed to sneer viciously at Harry's outburst. The boy slammed his mouth shut.
"It's not ideal," Dumbledore continued, oblivious to the outbursts, "but I see no other course of action. This… thing… cannot be known to be Harry. He must be removed from the picture. And the fire Dolohov is so fond of should take care of any suspicious abnormalities on the corpse. I'm so sorry, my dear," Dumbledore told Harry, looking distraught, "but don't you see? This is the only way! It's for the Greater Good. Alive, you're nothing but a monster, a broken chess piece. You can't carry out your purpose looking like this! But with you dead, murdered by Death Eater scum, England will rally behind your memory!"
It felt like he'd just been punched in the gut. He couldn't breathe. Dumbledore, good old, slightly batty but generally brilliant Dumbledore, was signing off on his death! And not just signing off on it, he was actually planning it! Planning what to do, how best to manipulate the situation! "You're crazy," Harry breathed, "completely nutters!"
Dumbledore shrugged. "Some think so. It's hard to accept, Harry, I know, but sometimes things are bigger than you. Severus?"
The dour Potion's Master nodded slowly, face and eyes tight. "I understand, Headmaster."
"Good. Do it somewhere outside, if you will, and far away from the castle. I don't want him found to soon. Animals should take care of any irregularities the fire does not."
With that, Dumbledore swept from the room, leaving Harry alone with the tool of his destruction.
A moment passed, and then another. Snape stood with his back to Harry; the boy could hear the man's heart thudding, a steady, unchanging rhythm in his chest. Snape's stillness was terrifying.
Did he feel nothing for it, then? No hesitance, no guilt? No pleasure, even?
And then, at last, the tall, lanky figure turned to face Harry, and the fire in his eyes stole his breath away.
"Fuck it," he breathed, "I am so screwed."
"Why did you stop?" Logan demanded. "What happened?"
Harry stared at him, eyes distant. "I really though he was going to kill me, you know? Him and my dad- they had this thing in school, and Snape- well, he never really got over it. He hated me more than anything. So I always kinda figured that he'd jump at the chance to kill me."
"But did he?"
Harry blinked slowly.
Snape didn't say anything to Harry. He just grabbed him by the back of the neck, ripped the manacles roughly from his arms, and proceeded to drag him bodily through the school. No one stopped them. The hallways were empty, deserted for the summer. It seemed that only a few teachers remained there; the rest were gone, home or on vacation somewhere.
He didn't say anything as he led Harry to his doom. Harry rather thought that was a bad sign.
When they were several miles into the forest and Harry was about ready to let Snape kill him just so he wouldn't have to trek through any more dripping, miserable forest, Snape came to a halt.
"Mr. Potter," he sneered, "I had so hoped to avoid such a situation as this. However, it seems things have become rather more drastic than I had thought. Therefore…"
He pointed his wand at Harry and, very deliberately—dropped it.
Harry blinked. "What?"
Snape sneered and shook his head. "Really, Potter, are you deliberately being obtuse? Let me clarify: 'oh dear, I seem to have dropped my wand. I do hope that this terribly dangerous prisoner doesn't take it!" he said, in a patently false tone.
Harry jerked in surprise. "You're helping me?"
Snape sneered. "No, you idiot boy, I've just suddenly become quite clumsy. In a few moments, I expect I shall develop problems with my vision as well."
Snape closed his eyes. "Get on with it, you dunce!"
Snape turned his back on Harry. "Dumbledore will be expecting me back within the hour. Take the wand. Go through the forest. As soon as you get outside the ward, use it to make a portkey. Incantation is 'Portus'. You'll need to have a very clear destination in mind, but it's not exactly difficult. May I suggest somewhere out of the country? Dumbledore will have people looking for you the moment I tell him you aren't dead, so don't stay anywhere he'll expect you. Do you understand?"
"Why are you doing this?" Harry whispered. He had been prepared to die, but this? "You hate me…"
Snape looked tired. "I owed your father my life. In repayment for that debt, he asked me to… look after you. Consider this fulfillment of that oath. Now go."
Harry went, shooting one last bewildered look over his shoulder as Snape's small form disappeared among the shadows of the trees.
Harry faltered. "And that was it," he said simply. "I left."
Logan didn't look convinced. "Just like that?"
Harry shrugged. "What were you expecting, a novel? That's it. The end. There is no more."
"You do realize this sounds nuts, right?"
Harry rolled his head on his neck. After talking for so long, his jaw was aching and his mouth closely resembled the sands of the Mohave desert. "Oh yeah," he assured Logan sarcastically, "I know. You asked."
Logan pinched the bridge of his nose. "I have a headache," he told Harry. "You think your 'magic' can do a little something about that?" He snorted mockingly. "God, this is so goddamn weird."
Harry grinned. "Don't I know it." He swiftly reached out a hand and poked Logan in the forehead, releasing a cool stream of his power into the man. Logan jerked and fell over.
"What the hell?" the mutant growled, "What was that!"
Harry blinked at the violent reaction. "That was me doing a 'little something' about your headache. It's gone, right?"
Logan paused, carefully feeling his head. "Well, uh… huh. Whaddaya know? That's some nifty trick you got there, kid."
The cat-boy grinned and shrugged easily. "The joys of magic," he proclaimed, "Tremble at my Advil-like powers."
there can be no excuses for why exactly we disappeared of the face of the earth for so long. suffice to say that we do apologise most sincerely, and...
actually, we offer no promises that this won't happen again. it most likely will. (why do you think we're called HOLOGRAMmatical, huh? it sure ain't for our tech skills) But hopefully this stub of a chapter will tide you over until we can get out a more developed chapter. Remember, we love each and every one of our reviewers, even if we dont reply (and we're telling you right now, we probably wont. we're forgetful/lazy like that.)
Until next time: Hologrammatical, over and out.