~~▫ộ» I solemnly swear I am up to no good «ộ▫~~
Disclaimer: JKR owns the rights to all characters you've seen before. I'm just having some fun. The quotes used as chapter titles and tones for the chapters themselves are from Kahlil Gibran, who was one of the most brilliant minds the modern world has seen.
PAIRING: Harry Potter / Tom Riddle
SUMMARY: First year Faustus Harleigh Potter hates anyone referring to him by his first name, snobbish gits, and being talked down to. So, obviously, he despises his roommate Tom Riddle. But what Harry hates most of all is having no memory of his life before his eleventh birthday. [Not your usual AU!]
WARNINGS: Canon compliant through HBP. Themes of canon child abuse/neglect, hundreds of "OC's" (though not really, as only a small amount of them aren't canon families), abuse of amnesia (magic, damnit!), darkish!Harry, heterosexual relationship(s) before the slash (nothing graphic, but we're being realistic here!), language, sex (long way off, sorry to say), violence, and twist-twist-twisting. :D
Clichés: Time travel, amnesia, horrible pureblood name, Slytherin!Harry, inevitability, manipulative Dumbledore, dark!Harry... more to be added later.
"The timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness and knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream."
It was a high price to pay, but it would have to be worth it. He'd know, though. He had no doubt in his mind that he'd know. He didn't need memory to read the feelings imprinted on his soul, in the very fabric of his being. The animosity, the hatred between them, that would never end. It was ingrained in his very being. He didn't need to remember to know who his enemy was. It was enough to have the chance. It had to be enough.
Harry Potter closed his eyes.
Harry heaved a great breath over his upper lip, displacing his messy hair. The rapping of his quill as it tapped against the corner of the parchment did little to distract him.
He flipped a few pages back in his book, trying to focus on the magical theory behind the Stunning Spell. Created as an aid to hospital matrons in the late 1200s, only in the last three hundred years being used widely as an offensive spell…
Harry's quill snapped. "Shut your gob, Riddle!"
Harry glared over his shoulder, narrowing bright green eyes as the other boy blinked, dark blue eyes wide in surprise. "Faustus, what is your problem?"
A hiss. "Stop calling me that!"
"It is your name, Faustus. Proper and wizardly, you should be proud. I'd love to have a name like yours; I don't know why you insist on this 'Harry' nonsense. Anyway, I'm just trying to get the pronunciation correct for the Disarming Spell, I'm not bothering you. Get the stick out of your arse."
"Not bothering me?! Everything you do bothers me!"
The silence after Harry's screeching outburst was resounding. He kept his glare on the boy behind him, sitting cross-legged on the bed with their thick Defense Against the Dark Arts tome on his lap. Dark hair laid in perfectly in place, fringe falling to frame dark blue eyes. Harry wanted to punch his runty little nose in, and he ignored the voice that sniggered at him for daring to call anyone else runty.
Tom's eyes narrowed, lips tightening to a thin white line. "I don't know what has you in a tiff, Faustus, but you're being incorrigible."
Harry stood and kicked the leg of his chair, shoulders scrunched up close to his head. "Shut up, Riddle!"
"No, Potter, I won't. This is my room too, in case you forgot."
How could he forget? He'd been living with the giant annoyance what was Tom Riddle for five months already. Riddle, who slept with his wand lit, read more books in a week than Harry managed in a month, knew every lesson before they were ever taught the material, and who made a sport of infuriating Harry at every possible turn. Even now Harry could see the glint of amusement in the twelve year old's eyes -- how wrong was it that the prat got to be older than him?! -- as he watched Harry's irritated pacing.
"I'm going back to my studies now and you should go back to yours. I won't have your grades dropping and disgracing me, Faustus."
"How in Merlin's name would my grades disgrace you, Riddle?"
Tom's eyes were back on his book, a finger tapping his lower lip. "Expelli-AR-mus!
Harry promptly picked up his book and threw it at the prat's head.
//Loathsome imbeciles,// came a hiss from beside him, and Harry snuck a glance to his left where Tom was stabbing at his food. Some of the older Slytherins were laughing further down the table. //Dirty irritants. You'll see someday.//
He saw a few of those around Tom look at him with fear-tinged awe, and Harry tried not to snort. //You know I can hear you, Riddle.//
Dark blue eyes cut to him, narrowing minutely. A smirk lifted the corner of his lips. //I know.//
Harry didn't understand Riddle's attitude towards him. It was infuriating. He turned back to his plate and lifted his goblet, sipping from it and trying to ignore the hot burn of eyes on the side of his head.
//You and I, Faustus… we will be amazing.//
//Stop talking as if there will ever be an 'us'. The day I'm your friend is the day I scrape out my eyes with a spoon.//
"I'll keep a spoon handy for you, then," Tom said in English, standing and stretching his arms over his head. A short glare toward the older years and he was shouldering his bag. "Come on, now. We have Herbology in less than ten minutes."
As Harry stood, he tried to shake off the chill that ran down his spine at the confident spark in Riddle's eyes.
Harry's head dropped onto the desk when he sat down in Transfiguration, a groan leaving him. He was so tired. Tom had been up half the night practicing Blasting curses on a mannequin, not even being courteous enough to put a Silencing ward on Harry's bed. That git knew Harry didn't know them yet! And their third and only other roommate, a seventh year named Ernst Stevenson, had been sealed up in tightly-shut curtains all evening as usual. Harry continued staring helplessly at the fine wood grain of his desk, trying to convince himself not to fall asleep in class. Professor Dumbledore, while a really neat teacher, didn't much like his students dozing.
"Ngh?" Harry picked up his head, blinking rapidly to clear his vision. "What do you want, Montague?"
Sandy hair fluttered as the boy sat, perching his chin on his hand. "C'mon, Harleigh. Can't be that bad, can it?"
"Riddle kept me up all night. Did you know the wanker is on third year spells already?!"
Fionn Montague laughed, a shrug lifting his shoulder. "I'm a Ravenclaw. I've been studying ahead too."
"You're all insane, Fionn. He should have been stuck with you lepers."
He laughed again, reaching out and shoving Harry out of his seat. "You just wish you had half the brain I do. I remember what you said on the Express," Fionn pitched his voice up an octave, puckering his lips at Harry. "'Oh, I'll never be a Ravenclaw… you're so smart Fionn, I wish you could teach me to be as wonder--' ack!"
Harry stood, brushing his hands off on his robes and smirking down at Montague. Then his companion was a tangle of gangly limbs and robes, his indignant shouts punctuated by his attempts to stand. "I didn't say a thing about that, git, and you know it. I just said I didn't like studying enough to be a Ravenclaw. Besides, the Potters told me…" Harry trailed off, taking his seat.
Fionn unfolded himself, patting his robes and sliding back into his seat. "Were they very upset? I mean, my family's been between Slytherin and Ravenclaw for generations, so it's nothing to me. But the Potters are a real Gryffindor type of family, aren't they?"
"It isn't like I'm a part of the family, Montague. I don't think they care much; they didn't say anything at Christmas. I'm lucky they took me in at all."
Fionn moved his head until it was in Harry's line of vision. "That's rot and you know it. The Heritage spell doesn't lie… you're a Potter. Somehow. You matter to them because of there's blood between you, Harleigh."
Harry looked away, "Stop calling me that. Harry, Fionn. Harry." Fionn stopped pushing the subject and sighed, his shoulder nudging him lightly. Most of Harry's year mates had learned within the first few weeks of classes just how short his patience was for any questioning of his past -- if you could call what he knew a 'past'. Living eleven and a half years and only remembering six months of it wasn't saying much.
"Good morning, students. I trust you all slept well?"
Harry shook away the maudlin thoughts, sitting up in his chair. Fionn had moved over to the Ravenclaw side of the room, inching steadily away from a fawning Olive Hornby. Harry tried not to laugh; Olive was an annoying little leech. Harry looked back to Professor Dumbledore, wrapped in resplendent robes of deep red and glittering gold. It was an overdone show of house pride, Harry thought, but it was to be expected by now of the Professor.
"Pair up, now, and I'll give you your assignment!"
How Harry hated this. He immediately looked to Fionn, gritting his teeth as he saw Olive attached to his friend's arm. Fionn wasn't likely to get away from that choke hold. Harry expelled an exasperated sigh and let his head fall to the table, waiting for the inevitable voice.
"Come on, Faustus. The others are too dim to pair with us, so we're all we've got."
"Riddle, if you won't call me Harry, go with Potter."
"Mm, I suppose I could… but then where would the fun be?"
//You're an insufferable asshole.//
Tom smirked and hissed in reply, //And you have to put up with me for six and a half more years.//
Harry turned his head and glared at the smirk on Tom's face. He was always so high and mighty, totally self-assured. He was a first year wizard with a muggle's last name, who was shunned by his house and shunned them in turn. What gave him the idea that he was something to be envied, lauded? Harry didn't understand the boy at all… all he knew is that from the moment he'd seen Tom on the train, he'd despised him.
"I see you all have your partners! Splendid! Turn to page three hundred and two for a lesson on changing one of these dear little mice into a candy dish and we'll begin. Remember, the change from animate to inanimate should be smooth, or we'll never be able to get the little dears back. If you will, Miss Pucey?"
As Amorita Pucey shyly made her way to the front, Tom pushed his book away. "This is horrifically simply, Faustus. We should have no problem at all."
"Says you! You're so far ahead in the curriculum that I'm surprised you remember how to do these spells at all."
"You flatter me." Tom smirked, flashing perfectly white teeth.
"Wasn't meant to be flattering, you sod." Harry turned his head away, gritting his teeth. Tom always acted so flippant towards him, disregarding everything he said. He'd seen the dark looks the boy got in the face of the other Slytherins' mocking, so why did he constantly blow off anything Harry said? It was infuriating!
When Harry turned back, Tom had already Transfigured the mouse into a perfect ornament, flawless glass accented with stained serpents around the edges. The handle on the lid was an elaborate 'S', obviously a tribute to their house.
"Oh, that is marvelous, boys! Ten points to Slytherin!"
Harry managed a weak smile to Professor Dumbledore, trying to ignore the way his housemates couldn't decide whether to glare or be glad for the points. They were completely ostracized for their lackluster heritage, and it wasn't something that was likely to change.
"You boys can go early since you managed so quickly. Perhaps you have studying you can do?"
"Yes, sir. Professor Slughorn is giving a quiz on the uses of puffer-fish eyes, and I'm sure Faustus and I could use a review."
Harry didn't get a chance to argue as Riddle gripped him by the bicep and swept them from the room, the straps of Harry's bag wrapped with Tom's own in long fingers. "Oi! What's the rush, Riddle?"
He caught the furious cast to Riddle features and nearly tripped over himself, fear lancing up his spine without his permission. Usually blank eyes were darkened in anger, nostrils flared. He looked older than any twelve year old had any right to, and Harry slowed his steps to make him stop.
"Seriously, Riddle, what is your problem?"
The loud crack of his head connecting with the wall echoed in the corridor, but Harry was more focused on the sharp pain of it. He hissed out a breath through his teeth, and as his vision cleared he was met with the ferocious scowl of his roommate. "My problem, Faustus? Those ingrates have the nerve to mock me behind my back! Surely you can feel the looks they give us. They think we are beneath them. They think I am beneath them, even though I outperform them constantly! How dare they mock me, the last living descendant of Salazar Slytherin?!"
Harry wheezed as one of Riddle's thumbs pressed into the hollow of his throat, struggling to take in a breath. "Slytherin?! Merlin, Riddle, have you lost your mind?"
The fingers released him then, and Harry slid down the wall. Tom stayed perfectly motionless where he stood, fingers clenched in tight balls at his sides. "You'll see, Faustus, and so will they. I'll find a way to show everyone who I am, and they'll be falling at my feet."
"Why me, Riddle? I probably hate you more than they do, so why do you bother toting me around like you do?"
Harry peered up through his untamable fringe, breath still coming in gasps. Riddle's smile was frightening, though he'd never admit it. "Because we are one in the same, Faustus. It is a… feeling I have. You're a Parseltongue like me, you have a blurred background like I do. We are connected, somehow."
"Yeah, right." Harry pushed himself up, running his fingers through his hair. "You're unhinged. You should get professional help."
The mask was back and a perfect smirk was sent at him. "I didn't know you cared, Faustus."
"Call me Potter, damnit Riddle!"
Harry hated sitting in the common room, but he didn't have much of a choice. Tom was brewing something ghastly in their room. It was either stay and risk passing out from the fumes, or come out into the common area to study. It was past curfew, so he couldn't go to the library.
"Look here, girls, it is the bastard Potter."
Harry gritted his teeth. "Rosier."
Ardent Rosier smirked, darkly tanned skin shadowed in the candlelight. Behind him were Brietta MacDougal and Araminta Meliflua, two other Slytherins in their year. Ardent walked towards Harry's table. "What drew you out of the Mudblood Hole, then? Finally decide to stop dirtying yourself further with that mudblood Riddle?"
Harry snorted and glanced up at him. He was quite striking, with light brown eyes contrasting with his otherwise dark coloring, but the sneer on his face twisted his features in a decidedly unattractive way. "Jealous that he's got more of a brain than you?"
He didn't know why he'd automatically defended Riddle, but it felt like the right thing to do. Tom had a point when he said they were alike, after all. People like Ardent thought the same of him as well, so why not stick together at least in principle?
"Is being a lapdog fun, Potter? Or is that how your parents taught you?" he smirked as the girls behind him giggled. "I suppose if I had a bastard disgrace to the family, turning it into a servant would be a good way to get use from them."
A new voice cut in, "Ah, you are so crude, cher ami. Have you suddenly become so advanced in your studies that you may afford to waste your time being vulgar?"
Rosier straightened and the two girls looked sheepish. Harry turned to look at the speaker and was unsurprised to see Argus Pyrites standing with a hand on his hip, hair laying in perfect waves over his shoulder. He was the son of the French Minister of Magic, the first male to be born to the matriarchal family in generations, and Abraxas Malfoy's cousin. The pair had made themselves comfortable at the top of the hierarchy within a week of classes.
"You're not sticking up for the bastard kid, are you Argus? He's--" Brietta said, moving to lay a hand on his arm.
He smiled at her dashingly. "He is presumably a pureblood, just like you and I. Even the Potters are not so foolish as to bed muggles, even if they are rather uncouth."
The girl nodded, though the other two looked unconvinced. However, it seemed that Argus's sway was enough to make them move away, back to the couches where most of the older Slytherins congregated. Argus stayed.
"Do not mind him. C'est un 'dur à cuire'. He will grow out of it, I am sure."
Harry nodded and made to turn back to his work, not wanting to push his luck right now. He wasn't much for confrontation. But the other boy didn't seem to care, sliding into the seat adjacent to him and propping his chin on laced fingers.
"May I help you?" Harry tried to sound congenial and not snappish, but he wasn't sure he succeeded.
"Perhaps not, cher ami. But I bring you advice nonetheless. You should stop consorting with that mudblood fellow Riddle. The others may be in question, but I believe you to be pure like the best of us, non? We could get you out of the Mudblood Hole if we spoke with Professor Slughorn, and you can room with the rest of us. That Riddle will only bring you down, bring scorn upon you."
Harry glared now, decorum forgotten. "I don't consort with him. I don't even like the arse! Why does everyone think we are great friends or something?" It wasn't his fault that, as a supposed "safety precaution" for Slytherins of unknown blood purity, they were thrown into a separated dorm from the rest of their housemates. It was warded from uninvited entry and quieter than a dorm of five or six might have been, but all three of them were scorned even moreso for their segregation. Harry peered back up at Argus through his fringe.
"Did you not just defend him?"
Harry paused, lips pursed. "It was only an observation. Riddle is at the top of our year."
"Perhaps…" Argus stood, waving his hand in an arc. "Try to remember my advice, friend. The friends you make now will be very important for the rest of our years in Hogwarts. Being in that wing of the dorms casts ill light on you."
Harry scowled and looked down at his hands, twisting them into the sleeves of his robes as Argus sauntered away. He didn't care about being liked, making connections. He didn't even know why he was in Slytherin to begin with. Pyrites, Malfoy, and all the other purebloods could shove it so far as he cared.
"Faustus Harleigh Potter, I am going to kill you!"
Another thing that was utterly unfair… how did Riddle get his voice so deep? It only ever happened when he was angry, but it was damn annoying that he could get such a commanding tone out of his preteen voice. Harry pushed the thought away as he dodged down a dusty corridor, trying to hold in his triumphant laughter. He hadn't thought it would be so easy.
"When I catch you, Potter, I am going to rip out your entrails with my bare hands and strangle you with them!"
Harry couldn't hold back the giggle this time. Not only had he finally got Riddle calling him by his last name instead of the utterly repugnant Faustus -- really, he understood family tradition being important to the old pureblood families like the Potters, but it was awful! -- but he was also leading Riddle on a rampage through the school with pink hair and skin.
He wished he had a camera.
It was a juvenile thing of him to do, laying the hex on Tom's pillow like that, and it was probably exceedingly brash… but it was so worth it to hear the boy huffing as he ran, chasing him down hardly-used hallways and tripping over his own feet like any regular boy. None of that high-and-mighty act here!
When Harry hit the dead-end, it took three precious seconds for the thought of 'I'm screwed' to filter through his mind. When he was forcibly plowed into by his fluorescent roommate, the hilarity of the situation caught up to him and he burst into unrestrained laughter, ignoring Tom's ineffectual gripping of the front of his robes.
"Oh, lighten up Riddle. This is my payback for being kept up all night last night."
"You are the most juvenile little brat I have ever come across--"
"And you are the most stuffy, insufferable prat I've ever had the misfortune of meeting. We're even."
Tom sneered down at him, teeth bared. "You've only met a handful of people, so that isn't saying much, Faustus. Or did you already forget everything you… forgot?"
The barb was sharp, whittled to do the exact amount of damage it did. Harry snarled and shoved himself forward, trying to topple Tom back with the force of his movement. He was smaller than Tom -- smaller than all his year mates, really -- but damn if he was going to let that stop him. He balled his fist and let it fly, grinning ferally as it connected with Tom's stupid angular jaw. The boy made a noise that was something like a screech of outrage, hand flying up to the place Harry had hit.
"You just hit me!"
"The genius Tom Riddle, folks. Give him a hand."
A hand threaded through his hair at the base of his skull, hard pressure making the top of his head connect with the stone floor. He was arched back enough to see the wall behind him upside-down, and he could do nothing to avoid the palm that rammed into his chin. He tasted blood and realized he must have bitten his tongue.
Harry kicked up with his legs, connecting with any part of Tom he could. The hand in his hair tightened even more, and he screamed in pain as he felt chunks of hair separating from his scalp. He kicked out harder. He heard Tom groan and the hand was released, leaving Harry to skitter back on his rear. Tom was breathing hard on the dusty floor, dirt streaking that stupid face of his and dust coating his annoying perfect hair, holding his stomach with both arms.
Harry stood up on shakily, a hand patting at his tender head. It seemed undamaged, but he wouldn't know until he used a mirror. He sneered down at Tom and delivered a kick to the boy's arms. "I hate you. I hate everything about you Riddle, do you hear me? I can't stand looking at you. You're a pompous, arrogant bastard and I can't stand you!" Harry was made aware that he was screaming only as he stopped, drawing in a deep breath and running down the hall. He'd never felt such dark emotions, never hated anything as much as he hated his roommate.
It was like some great leviathan, clawing at his chest from the inside out. It was hatred in its purest form, the need to go back and kick Tom again and again, make him feel the pain Harry had gone through.
Green light, so green, fiery hair swaying through the haze, 'Not Harry, please, I'll do anything!' and green, so much green.
Harry found himself in a hallway he'd never been to before, no real idea of how to get back. But it didn't matter. He slid down the rough stone of the wall, eyes burning. Why couldn't he remember anything? What had happened? Were there people out there looking for him? If there were, why hadn't they found him yet?
And for the first time since waking up without an idea of who he was, Faustus Harleigh Potter let his head fall against his knees and he cried.
The summer before
"I think he's waking up, Headmaster. Come on now, Poppet. There you go boy, open those pretty eyes of yours; I'd like to see them good and aware."
He groaned as consciousness ground on his senses, smells too sharp and noise too loud. His eyes fluttered open just to clamp shut again, the blinding white burning his eyes. "Ngh…"
"Is he quite alright, Miss Toke?"
The woman's voice was weary. "So well as he can be, Headmaster. He's been through a lot in just a few hours, obviously, and more before that. He's hardly coming conscious, so have some patience!"
The man must have been quite chastised, because he didn't answer again.
Slowly he acclimated to the sensations of awareness, and his eyes cracked open enough to get a look at his surroundings. White. White ceiling, white walls, white cabinets. White clothing on the pale-haired woman leaning over him. She was quite young, her genial smile making up for the plainness of her face. "With us now, Poppet?"
"Good, good. Just hold tight and let me have a look at you. These spells just don't work right unless you're awake."
Her wand was the pale honey of her hair, and he tracked it as it made a wide arc over his body. She made a humming sound in the back of her throat and the smile faltered a little. "This is so strange… Poppet, can you tell me your name?"
"My name is…" he stopped, lips slightly parted. His breath quickened. What was his name? It was right there on the tip of his tongue. Who was he? Where was he? What was going on?
"Shush, shush now dear, don't work yourself into a fit. There now, it's alright. Rest, Poppet. We'll figure this out."
He felt unnatural calm and contentment running over him and didn't fight the feeling. He sunk back into the pillow on the bed.
"Headmaster, this is very strange. His readings are so… discombobulated. I can't get anything clear from him other than he is eleven years and seven hours old. It seems like it is his birthday."
"He's a wizard, isn't he? A muggleborn, perhaps? Maybe he got his Hogwarts letter and his family didn't take it well."
"No, I don't think so. He had no reaction to the use of magic on him, he wasn't confused or frightened. But he doesn't even remember his own name; it is strange. I would have to run more tests, but this seems to be an amalgamation of disorders. I worry for him, Headmaster."
"Thank you, Miss Toke. Do you have any recommendations?"
"I think it would be pertinent to prepare the Heritage spell for him. It isn't very accurate, but at least it will give the poor boy an identity… and who knows? Maybe it will help us find his family."
"Right, umm, I'll speak to Professors Dumbledore, Imago, and Vector and see what can be done."
Harry heard the man's footsteps fading away, lolling his head to the side in time to see the gleam of a balding head and somber robes before they disappeared around the corner. A sigh from his left had his eyes moving slowly back to the matron. "My my, this is quite the hairy situation, isn't it dear? No matter, we'll fix you up right. I promise you, Poppet."
The slow enunciation stopped her from where she was gathering empty potion vials, eyes wide. "Dear me, you're still awake? That spell should have knocked out a Hippogriff! You…" she paused, and his vision was filled with stormy grey eyes. "You're an exceptional little thing, aren't you? We're going to see amazing things from you, I bet."
His eyes were so heavy. "Harry."
"Hairy? I don't understand dear."
It was too much effort to keep his eyes open any more. They slid shut, and darkness quickly encroached on his mind. "My name. My name is Harry."
"Poppet? Wake up now. We've got a spell to cast, and you've got to be sensible. Come on, there you are, dear."
Harry felt an overwhelming sense of déjà vu as his eyes opened, white on every side. But the words were different, and with a moment's more scrutiny, the audience was, too. The matron was there, leaning over him, and so was the man she'd called 'Headmaster', a different set of drab robes swathing him. But to his left were three new people, a man and two women. Harry tried to sit up.
"No, no, no, don't you try to move, now. I just need you awake, not working yourself up."
The new man stepped forward, peering at his curiously. He had kind eyes, Harry thought, though most of his attention was straying to his exceptionally long auburn beard. Just how long would it take to grow something like that?
"Hello there, my boy. My name is Professor Dumbledore."
Harry attempted to smile, lips twitching feebly. "H-Hello, Professor. My name… is Harry."
The man smiled, and Harry felt something deep inside of him crack just a bit, breaking apart bit by bit. Why did this man make a lump rise in his throat like he should cry? "Well, then, Professors Vector and Imago will be assisting me in a short cooperative spell. You need not fear anything, it will be over in just a few moments, alright Harry?"
He nodded, trusting the man in front of him implicitly. Was it the kind eyes, or the smile that made him think so? Harry wasn't sure, but he swallowed the overwhelming choked feeling and settled back into the bed without any fear of pain.
"Septima, to the lower position? Yes, there is fine. Headmaster, if you and Tilly would move back three paces then Inigo can stand right there and… ah! Perfect. Give us a count, Armando?"
"Ah, right," the Headmaster stuttered, drawing himself up and giving a nod. "One, two, and cast!"
Harry felt warmth surround him, the continuous jets of pale blue light emanating from the three wands making his vision hazy. It only lasted a few moments and then the warmth left abruptly, leaving Harry rather lacking. He looked up at the faces of the three Professors around his bed, feeling uneasy with the surprise they showed. The woman on his right, 'Inigo' Professor Dumbledore called her, was looking at him intensely, dark eyes roving his face.
"My, this is a surprise, isn't it?"
"I must say, Albus, this result is more vague than I've ever seen this spell produce. It is not known for being very accurate, but it generally gives us a bit more to go on!" The witch was quite young, the one called 'Septima', but the furrow of her brows created lines around her eyes.
"He is much more than he appears, I think." Inigo again, presumably Professor Imago. Her eyes had yet to leave his face, and it was more than a little unnerving. "The fates slip around him, coalesce near his aura."
Dumbledore gave a sharp look, but the Headmaster interrupted. "Would you mind sharing your findings, Albus?"
"He is a Potter. That is the only information the spell was able to give us."
The matron had returned to his side now, a cool rag slipping to press against his forehead. "Do you think it has to do with him not knowing himself? Or perhaps some Dark spell was done on him--"
"No use speculating, Tilly, especially not with the boy right here. Once he's fed and resting, why don't we meet up?" Professor Vector said, warm eyes cutting to Harry. "Shall we go?"
The others nodded, though Professor Dumbledore's look was regretful. "I suppose so. We'll see you again soon, I'm sure Harry."
He was able to smile more easily this time. "Yes. Thank you, P-Professor."
Addison and Eva Potter were really nice people, honestly. From the moment they'd been contacted a week before about his mysterious appearance to the present moment, they'd taken him in without a word of doubt. They fed him, bought him robes and school supplies he would need for the coming school year, and had even expanded their home in the quaint little village of Godric's Hollow to house another room alongside their son's.
But this was too much.
"Must I really?"
"Tradition, you know. Harry must have been short for something."
Harry stared balefully up at the beaming couple, trying not to give in. "Mr. and Mrs. Potter, I appreciate all you've done for me, really, but a naming ceremony…?"
"Then you'll really be a part of the family, dear. I'm not sure where you came from, but you're a Potter nonetheless. You've got the hair and everything!" Eva crouched down to where he was sitting on the floor, reaching up and ruffling aforementioned hair. "And we want you to be a part of our family. Our Charlus is off getting ready to marry Dorea Black, and it has left us with such an empty house. You may have already gone through your younger years, but we would like very much to see you through the rest."
Harry felt tears burning against the back of his eyes, but he refused to shed them. He gave the Potters a tumultuous smile. "Thank you."
Eva made a sad squeak, leaning forward to hold him tightly. "So lucky, we're so lucky…"
"You should learn not to mess with your betters, Potter."
Tom had said that on the same night of their fight, eyes dark and voice venomous. Since then he'd all but ignored Harry's existence, leaving before Harry woke in the mornings, sitting as far away as he could in classes and at meals, and coming back to the room sometime after Harry had gone to bed. He would think Tom hadn't even been back to their room, but he'd stayed up late just to see.
The end of the year was closing in fast. Term exams were mostly taking place in the coming week, though a few were sprinkled through the week after. And then the Leaving Feast and the train back to London… where he would meet the Potters. Their letters said they had a trip planned for just the three of them, and he looked forward to it very much. It would be nice to see more of the world.
Had he gone on holiday with his real family?
Harry sneered to banish the thought, refusing to give in to his angst now. He had Charms practicals on Tuesday, and he needed to show Professor Flitwick that he'd been paying attention in class. His Potions practical was that afternoon, and he wasn't sure he'd even scrape by in it. Not without Tom as his partner.
Not that he wasn't glad that the git was leaving him alone, of course. The boy had been a thorn in his side since their first night at Hogwarts… and he was glad for the privacy. He surely didn't miss the snarky jerk making snide remarks about his intelligence and using his first name even after being asked not to. Harry was quite sure he didn't need anyone, let alone someone an arrogant peacock like Tom.
He dodged a group of fourth year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, trying to remain unnoticed. Slytherins were less accepted than the other houses, and he didn't need a bunch of horomone-ridden teens deciding to pick up where his own house left off. His pride couldn't stand by it.
"A forty degree slice is needed for the stem of the seedpod…"
"I didna think it mattered overmuch what degree the cut was, Marlene. S'only a wee pod…"
"Have you even been paying attention in Herbology?! If you don't cut it precisely, the shrivelfig releases a toxin that ruins the sap. You're not going to do very well on your exams if you can't even remember that, Minerva. We've been covering it all year."
"Well excuse me fer not givin' a rot about growing silly plants. I'm much more interested in Transfiguration and Charms. I couldna care much less than I do about plants that cause all manner of problems."
Harry turned the corner to see a girl on her feet fuming, hands on her hips and her face set mutinously at the girl seated at the table. "You're hopeless! However will I do well enough to be invited to the Slug Club when you're so intent on holding me back, Minerva?"
The other girl scoffed, cheek propped in her hand. "Potions and Herbology are both useless, and I can't fathom why yer so intent on impressing Slughorn. He's a leech."
Harry meant to creep past without notice, slip into the Charms section and get the books he needed. It seemed the girl, Marlene, had other ideas. "Here we go, here's a first year. Dearie, what subjects do you like?"
Harry blinked at them, the ferocious glint in the eyes of the two elder Gryffindors was nearly frightening. "Erm, well…. "
"You shouldn't pick on the first years, you know."
He turned at the voice, and Harry felt something in his stomach flutter when he saw the girl. Another second year, he thought, in Ravenclaw's robes. She had flaming red hair pulled back into a bun, freckles smattered across her cheeks and nose. "He's just a kid."
"You're not much older, Cordelia."
Cordelia's eyes rolled. "Doesn't matter. Are we going to continue studying or not?"
"I want an answer! You'd have a fit too, Cordelia. Did you hear what Minerva said? She said that Herbology and Potions were useless. Can you believe that?"
The girl slid into a seat adjacent to the others, and Harry shifted his weight awkwardly. He wasn't a part of this conversation, really, so he should slip off into the shadows.
"Hey, where do you think you're going, kid?"
Harry froze with a curse. "Umm…"
"C'mon, first year! We don't bite. Why don't you sit down?"
The girl -- Marlene -- had a vicious look, and he felt himself complying without really thinking about it. Harry slid into the seat, lower lip caught between his teeth. He wasn't sure this was the best move, but the girls seemed friendly enough… and one thing Harry was sorely bereft of was friends. He nodded shyly to Cordelia, who gave him a flippant smile. "Right, what are you studying for, kid?"
"Fine, Harry. What are you not sure of?"
"Charms mostly. I really like the subject, but I just don't know what Flitwick wants from me."
"Not a problem. We'll give you enough while we revise to get you a fine grade, and you'll get ahead in the process!" Marlene nodded emphatically, stretching her arms over her head.
Harry thought of Tom, always so far ahead of the others. It would be nice to be somewhere up there, knowing with confidence that he could perform any task he was given. "Right then, that sounds good."
"Charms's simple once ye get a grasp on the basis. It's all about wantin' and less about how ye do it." Minerva was a girl with a perpetual moue of boredom on her face and a slump to her posture, and she seemed unable to lift her head from her hand. Her brogue was soothing, though, and Harry listened intently. "If ye concentrate on what ye want to happen and know the words, it happens."
Harry pulled out his book and squinted at the words, scrunching his nose listening to the soothing hum of Cordelia as she muttered incantations over and over. And for the first time since the year had begun... Harry felt like he belonged.
"Harry! In here!"
Tom was glaring at his back as he slid towards the three second year girls. He didn't care. He smiled as widely as he could as they boarded the train in Hogsmeade, ready for his summer holiday. Marlene was waving at him fervently, a sullen Minerva and a more proper Cordelia at her sides. There were a few others he didn't know with them, and he smiled as Marlene waved a hand. "Hey Harry. This is Ursla Ubbley from Hufflepuff and Lucrecia Black, one of Cordelia's roommates. Want to sit with us?"
Harry didn't bother looking back at his housemates, probably glaring at him like he was a traitor. And Tom… Harry didn't want to think about what that git's expression would be.
He grinned. "Sure, sounds great!"
As the train pulled out of the station, his mind wandered to the year ahead. He'd be coming back a year older, with more experience. Just let Tom keep him down then.
A/N: This posting is a placeholder. It is a way to gauge interest and for people to put it on Alert so they know when I continue, since my main fic is over and readers were interested in this and others.
I'm excited for this, though. This will be gradual, somewhat believable, and above all... something I've never seen yet. :) So hey, new with cliché? Chya, this is where my fun is.