Disclaimer: If I owned this, oh man…
Long Ago. . .
Beneath a lifeless crescent moon, the desert stretched on. Its barren, ice-white dunes glittered frostily in the moonlight, untouched by sun or rain or wind. Trees long dead and turned to stone, petrified by time and solitude, marred the otherwise plain horizon.
On one such tree, a bat hung, its ears flicking back and forth. Like the rest of its world, it was white as bone, except for twin green streaks that seemed to fall from the empty eyes of its skeletal mask.
Suddenly, it twisted into the air, barely avoiding the stinger of a monstrous, eight-legged, scorpion-creature. The scorpion scuttled to and fro on the sand as the bat fluttered overhead, hissing at its escaped prey. The bat bared its teeth. A sphere of bloody light formed before its fangs.
The sphere hurtled toward the scorpion, killing it in one clean strike. The bat lit upon the its smoking body, sinking in its fangs. It gorged itself upon its kill, then lifted its head from the bloodless flesh and flew away, vanishing into the perpetual night.
Nearly two years after the end of the Winter War. . .
The child stared blankly at the bars of his crib, his acid-green eyes apathetic. He ignored the countless toys meant to entice him to laughter and the bright atmosphere of the cheerily painted nursery. He neither moved nor spoke, but simply sat, silent and void.
"I worry about him, James," he heard the mother whisper. "It's as if he knows his very life is in danger..."
"Nonsense, Lily," the father replied. "He's a little quiet, to be sure, but—"
"He's more than just 'a little quiet'! He barely moves, barely eats or even says a word! He doesn't smile like. . ." she looked down. "Like normal children."
James embraced his wife, stroking her hair. She closed her eyes and leaned into him, a tear dripping down one cheek.
"I'm sure it's just a stage, Lily-flower," he said softly. He was glad she could not see the uncertainty in his eyes.
"I hope you're right," she murmured into his shoulder.
"Lily! Grab Harry and go!" James shouted. He cursed himself for lowering his guard. Damn Pettigrew!
Lily raced to the nursery, where Harry sat in his crib, emotionless as ever. She heard the sounds of a struggle, breaking china and spellfire. There was a thump, and silence.
Pain in her heart, she tried to scoop Harry up, but he slipped from her grasp, as always unresponsive. The door slammed open.
The child didn't understand what was happening, but the mother felt of fear that filled the air around her, and the other felt of death that tore the very air apart with its strength. He couldn't yet understand the mother's pleads and screams, but when she fell and was silent and felt of nothing, he knew she was dead. Then the other turned toward him, and the reek of death intensified, drawing a noose tight around his throat.
The other was going to kill him.
As though a floodgate burst, he felt a power rush within him. Pure instinct guided his actions. He pointed at the other, and the other pointed something that dripped with dark power at him. Green light glowed from both tips.
"AVADA KEDAVRA!" the other screamed, his eyes filled with savage triumph.
"Cero," the child said, the sharp word tearing from his infant lips like a sword.
The destructive energies collided in a blazing explosion of emerald fire. The other's body vaporized at once, his spirit shrieking with rage as it fled. A tiny sliver of his curse made its way through the cero, slicing into the child's forehead, leaving a gash that burned both soul and flesh. The child slumped over, unconscious, as the house around him went up in flames.
The Dursleys feared their nephew.
Perhaps it was his cold, green eyes that unnerved them. They knew to much, judging the Dursleys and finding them… lacking. Or maybe it was his unnatural silence. He spoke only when necessity forced him to, and even then, his words were short, not a word wasted. Or maybe it was something else, some untouchable air around him that spoke of danger and death.
They stayed away from him and his hollow eyes and unbearable silence, allowing him to do anything so long as they weren't around to see. He wandered as he wished, finding solace in loneliness and respite in darkness. He educated himself, analyzing the actions of those around him and absorbing knowledge from the books at the library. School mattered little to him, and the teachers learned to never call on him, lest he fix his stony gaze upon them. The students shivered when he passed, fearing him more than any bully or figure of authority.
No one spoke of the strange things that happened around him, the strong winds and broken glass and the way his eyes glowed when he was disturbed. They knew that, no matter what the science books claimed did not exist, Harry Potter was a demon.
"Dudley, go get the mail."
The fat boy opened his mouth to protest, but Vernon shot him a look. Sulking, Dudley scooted out of his chair and waddled to the front door. With a grunt, he bent over to pick up the letters beneath the mail slot and waddled back to the kitchen, handing the letters to Vernon and getting back into his chair.
Vernon went through them, scowling at bills and harshly ripping apart junk mail. He stopped at one particularly heavy letter, staring at the address, aghast. Vernon's face drained of blood, becoming the color of old milk.
"Petunia… it's from them."
She looked at the envelope in his hands, then covered her mouth in shock. "What… what should we do?"
Harry looked up from his plate of barely-touched eggs.
Vernon slowly regained color. "He's already a freak as he is… if he goes there then at least he'll be gone for most of the year."
Petunia nodded. "Yes—yes, of course, you're right," she said quickly, darting a glance at Harry.
"Who's it for?" Dudley asked, craning his neck to get a glimpse of the letter.
"Go do your room, duddykins," Petunia said, saccharine sweet. Dudley pouted.
"But I want to—"
"Now!" Vernon commanded, and Dudley squeaked, hurriedly shuffling out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Vernon turned to Harry.
"It's for you," he grunted, sliding the letter across the table. Harry picked it up, inspecting it.
Mr. H. Potter
The Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Why did they (whoever they were) know where he slept? Harry noted the lack of return address and the unusual color and texture of the letter. Was it parchment? He turned the envelope over, running his fingers over the red seal stamped with an ornate 'H'. Sliding a finger under the flap, Harry opened the envelope, letting its contents, two sheets of the same thick maybe-parchment and a small gold key with an accompanying note, fall onto the table.
He read the letters to himself as the Dursleys fidgeted in their seats, beads of sweat forming at their temples, not knowing what was going through their young ward's mind. He finished, still expressionless despite the content of the letters, then picked up the key, turning it back and forth.
"You knew." he stated.
"Yes," Petunia said nervously. "My sister—your mother—she was-"
"I know. Tomorrow, take me to London." Harry left the table and went to 'the smallest bedroom' to analyze his letter. The Dursleys sighed in relief.
There was a timid knock on Harry's door. Harry looked up.
"Enter," he called, realizing that, whatever it was, it had to be important for his family to willingly approach him.
The door creaked open, revealing Petunia. She clutched something in her hands.
"This—this was left with you on our doorstep," she said. She set it on Harry's desk and closed the door again. Her footsteps rapidly faded away.
Harry rose from the bed, stepping over to his desk. It was a long roll of the same heavy material as the letter. He untied the string that held it closed, and began to read.
October 31, 1981
Dearest Petunia Dursley nee Evans,
It is my most sincere regret to inform you that your sister, Lily Potter nee Evans, was murdered today in her home by the Dark Lord Voldemort, along with her husband James Potter. Inexplicably, her son, Harry, survived. I beg you to take him into your home and heart.
Young Harry will need your support in the years to come. No doubt strange occurrences will surround him; it is only accidental magic. When he is eleven years of age, he will be eligible to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please explain to him his unfortunate past and his heritage.
In the Wizarding World, Harry's status has been heightened to something akin to a celebrity. I'm afraid that if he matures in such an environment, it will be detrimental to his character. I hope you home can allow him to grow in the peace he deserves.
Again, my deepest sympathy and condolences for your tragic loss. Lily and James were among the best and brightest of their generation. They will be missed.
Until we meet again,
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
P.S. Birth and legal papers are enclosed. You'll find no one will think twice about Harry's sudden appearance.
Harry entered the tiny, dusty wand shop, taking in the countless shelves and the dim lighting.
"Hello there, Mr. Potter."
Harry whirled around, both irritated and fascinated that the old man in front of him had snuck up on him.
"You are Ollivander?"
"But of course," the man said, staring at him with his wide, silver eyes. "You've quite an aura about you, Mr. Potter. Very powerful, not unlike your mother. Oh, her wand was a work of beauty! Willow, slender and swishy, made for charms work. Your father, he was a bit more brash, mahogany, eleven inches, good for transfigurations."
Harry remained silent. Ollivander stared unblinkingly at him for several moments, then smiled broadly, his teeth flashing in the lamplight.
"Well then, let's begin. Which is your dominant hand?"
Harry held out his right, and Ollivander nodded. The old man took out a tape measure, and hummed a bit as he took Harry's measurements. Harry fought the urge to move away. No one touched him.
Letting the tape measure continue its work solo, Ollivander turned to his wands, running his hands over their boxes lovingly.
"Here, twelve and a quarter inches, dragon heartstring, ebony, somewhat brittle." He placed the wand in Harry's hand, then frowned and removed it quickly. "No, no, no, that doesn't fit at all. Hmm, eleven and a half, rosewood and phoenix feather, pliable." Again, Ollivander snatched away the wand as soon as Harry touched it.
The stack of 'no' boxes piled up, and Ollivander seemed to take glee in having such a 'tricky customer'.
"Well, maybe, let's see, holly and phoenix, eleven inches, pleasant and supple." He handed the wand to Harry. He held it for a second, and an explosion of copper sparks flew out its end, filling the store will the smell of brimstone and smoke.
"Ah, no, I see, far too temperamental. How strange, I was almost certain…" He continued to search through the shelves, disappearing into a shadowy corner. He emerged with a dust-covered box. Harry could feel it pulsing with power.
"Well, it doesn't hurt to try, does it?" Ollivander muttered, reverently taking out the wand inside. "My father made this wand, one of his last. He favored strange cores, liked to experiment. It's what got him killed, in the end." Ollivander sighed. "Rowan and Dementor's Bone, thirty-five centimeters, yes Father preferred centimeters, rather unyielding. Very powerful indeed." His eyes seemed glow as he passed the wand to Harry.
It felt icy cold to touch, but nearly hummed with power. Something within him seemed to connect with the wand, and a strange force surged through him, setting his blood aflame. The tip of the wand glowed acid green.
Harry's eyes widened as a memory tickled in his mind. He 'pulled' most of his power back in, and just in time. Instead of what would have happened, a firework display of green and white sparks filled the shop.
Ollivander smiled bitterly.
"It seems we've found your match, Mr. Potter. That is an extraordinarily potent wand." He grabbed hold of the boy's shoulder. Harry flinched away from the contact. "I didn't tell you everything about this wand. It wasn't just one of the last my father created, but rather the last. He nearly lost his soul to collect the Dementor's Bone. It took him a year to carve the Rowan wood just right. In the end, when he tried to wield it, he was too weak." Ollivander leaned in close enough that all Harry could focus on was his eerie, moon-like eyes. "It backfired, and just like that, two centuries of wand lore and skill went up in literal flames."
Harry jerked out of the man's grip, taking several steps backward. "I'll be careful," he said.
Ollivander's eyes narrowed. "Good. Now, that will be twelve galleons. More than normal, but that's not a normal wand."
Harry handed over the money and left quickly, unnerved by the strange man.
Harry stared at the young barn owl he had purchased. Who would have though wizards used owls to communicate? It was bizarre, but Harry supposed he would have to get used to it. He tied his acceptance letter to the owl's outstretched leg and watched it fly off.
Rather than return to the Dursleys, Harry had opted to stay at the Leaky Cauldron. In truth, it wasn't exactly an improvement—the pub folk were loud, and the smell of cheap food permeated the entire building. However, he was close to the center of Wizarding commerce (at least for Britain), and that was important if he was to learn about this strange new world.
Harry lounged in an empty compartment aboard the Hogwarts Express, flipping through Curse or Be Cursed: A Thousand Jinxes, Hexes, Curses, and Their Counters. Most of the spells seemed like mere trifles, but he supposed it was better to know them then not.
The door of his compartment opened, and a freckled boy with bright red hair peeked in.
"Um… can I sit here?"
Harry stared at the boy for a long moment, then nodded once. The boy gulped and sat in the seat across from Harry.
"I'm Ron Weasley," he said nervously, tugging at his collar.
Ron gaped. "Harry Potter? Really?"
Harry looked at him scathingly. This boy was already getting on his nerves. Ron took no notice.
"Do you have… the scar?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. "Yes."
"Can I see it?" Ron asked hopefully.
Harry glared at the boy, then turned back to his book. He didn't notice Ron's crestfallen look.
"Trash," he muttered under his breath, ignoring the boy for the rest of the ride.
Harry sat in silence at the Slytherin table, paying no heed to the loud gossip and stares sent his way. He was more famous than he initially realized, and it seemed that the 'Slytherin' house carried some sort of stigma that did not go with most of the school's expectations of him. He heard whispers of 'traitor,' and 'evil,' all around the Great Hall.
A blond, haughty boy dressed in expensive silk robes sidled up next to him.
"So. You're Harry Potter."
The boy smirked.
"I'm Draco Malfoy. I'm sure you've heard of my father. He's quite well known among… certain circles."
The name 'Malfoy' had turned up in various books Harry had read. The only one that could possibly be the age to have an eleven-year-old son was Lucius Malfoy, the current Head of the House of Malfoy. Harry nodded in acknowledgement.
"I'm glad to see you in Slytherin House. I must say, you certainly have the colors for it."
Harry knew how he looked to others: thin, unnaturally pale, with messy, black, chin-length hair and vividly green eyes. Appearance-wise, he fit the Slytherin House perfectly.
And speaking of the Slytherin House, he had the feeling that he had to play his cards right around these children, at least until he was better acquainted with this new world.
"It is an honor to be part of a House of such noble history and antiquity," Harry replied. Draco smiled. It seemed he had said the right thing.
"Well… I had my doubts, but it seems they were misplaced. I'm sure you'll fit right in with the rest of us."
The others around the table subtlety turned to look at Harry. They whispered amongst each other, eyes sharp.
An upperclassman grinned and seemed to make up his mind. He walked over to Harry and extended his hand.
"Marcus Flint. Welcome to Slytherin, Harry Potter."
Harry took the offered hand, suppressing the urge to quickly remove it. "A pleasure," he replied.
Harry stared analytically at 'Professor Snape' as he swept across the room, peering over student's shoulders and scowling darkly. He caught sight of Harry's gaze and his glare deepened.
"Something you want to say, Mr. Potter?" the man asked acidly.
"Then get back to work."
Harry looked down at his finished potion. It was the perfect periwinkle shade. Harry frowned for a moment, then took out a few vials from his potions kit and began to make a collection.
It made no sense to allow perfectly functional potions go to waste, even a simple burn cure.
Harry relaxed in the cool atmosphere of the common room, having finished all of his school work. The common room was mostly deserted; it was the first Hogsmeade weekend.
The entrance of the common room opened, and Draco sauntered in, flanked by his two 'friends', Crabbe and Goyle. He noticed Harry and chose a seat near him.
"Good afternoon," he said, inspecting his nails. He glanced around at the sparsely populated room and frowned. "It's truly ridiculous, having to wait until third year to visit the village. I'll have to write to Father. Maybe he can talk some sense into the governors."
Harry nodded slightly and looked away.
Malfoy continued to talk. "Did you finish your Potions essay? It was the easiest thing; I don't know what Unc—Professor Snape was thinking when he assigned it." He paused. "He doesn't seem to like you very much. Do you know why?"
Harry shook his head no.
"Hmm. Well, it's odd of him. He usually favors us Slytherins, but he barely treats you better than a Gryffindor." Malfoy grimaced. "Speaking of Gryffindors, did you see that idiot Weasley in Charms the other day? He's a disgrace to purebloods everywhere; he doesn't even know basic magical theory!"
"He's trash," Harry replied. "He doesn't matter."
Malfoy smirked. "You're right. Let's talk about something else. Say, do you play Quidditch?"
Harry looked at the rows of broomsticks. Just how often had wizards been exposed to be so close to the muggle stereotypes?
"Come on, lets find a… reasonably maintained broomstick… before the Gryffindors get here," Draco said, tugging on his arm. Harry flinched away, taking a step back.
"What's your problem?" Draco asked, frowning at him. Harry shook his head. "Well, then you go over to that one—" he pointed at a broom with most of its twigs facing in the right direction "—and I'll take this one," he said, walking next to a broomstick that was a smidge better than the one he had assigned Harry.
Harry moved to the broomstick, inspecting it warily. It didn't look at all safe, but he supposed that some sort of charm kept you from falling off… maybe.
Slowly, the Griffyndors trickled in, grumbling as they saw the Slytherins had already taken the best of the terrible school brooms. The instructor gave her directions, her hawk-like eyes watching their every move.
"Up!" Harry said, and the broom flew into his hand with a satisfying thump. He wrapped his fingers around its handle, smooth from years of similar grips, and felt a spark of magic within the wood come to life. He settled himself on top of it as per the teacher's request, only slightly surprised as he floated up until only the tips of his toes ghosted on the ground.
"Good. Now, on my mark. Three, two—Mr. Longbottom, I said to wait for my mark!"
The pudgy boy next to him had kicked off too soon. Without thinking too much, Harry leapt up after him, grabbing a handful of twigs. He roughly pulled the terrified boy down.
The jerking motion of his pull tossed the boy off his broom, but by then he was only three feet from the ground. Harry settled back down and resisted sneering. Trash. Utter trash. He wasn't sure why he even bothered to save the boy, who was now stuttering his thanks and apologizing to the instructor. He scrambled to his feet, still babbling.
"Thank you, Mr. Potter," Madam Hooch said lightly. "Mr. Longbottom, do get a hold of yourself."
Laughter rang out over the field.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, I mean, of course, ma'am," the boy replied, then, seeing the scathing look she was sending him, finally shut up.
"Go sit in the stands, Mr. Longbottom, and watch for today. Clearly you have problems listening to directions."
Longbottom's face glowed bright red as he stumbled over to the stands. Madam Hooch turned back to the students.
"Now, again, on my mark. Three, two, one, mark!"
Harry again pushed off the ground, the wind ruffling his already unruly hair. He easily rose higher into the sky, controlling his broom effortlessly. He felt as though he were born to fly; it simply felt natural.
And yet… something was off, weighing him down. He flew around some more, trying to pinpoint the feeling. Finally, he realized what was the problem. The broom itself felt wrong! It was like a ball and chain dragging behind him. Something seemed to be telling him that it was unnecessary, that he could fly without the aid of some magical trinket. The feeling grew within him until he couldn't bear it and drifted back to the ground.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Potter? You were doing just fine a moment ago."
He held out the offending broom.
"This thing is useless," he said. Frowning, the flying instructor took it, inspecting its handle and twigs.
"I admit it's not in the best of shapes, Mr. Potter, but as a learning device, it works just fine."
"I know how to fly. May I be excused?"
Madam Hooch looked at him for a long moment, then sighed and nodded.
"Very well, Mr. Potter. You have shown yourself to be proficient; there is no need for you to stay here. Go ahead."
Harry thanked her and walked back to the castle, not bothering to look back at the students overhead who were no doubt watching him leave.
Harry gazed at the starry night above him, then glanced down at the drop below. It was a long fall from the Astronomy tower to the ground, but he had no intention of falling.
He pulled himself onto the window ledge, standing at the edge. A cool breeze ruffled his hair, exposing the thin scar so famous in the Wizarding World. Without hesitation, he leapt off.
Almost instantly, he hit 'solid' air. He surveyed his surroundings calmly, as though he were not floating hundreds of feet off the ground.
How… interesting, he thought. It appeared his hunch was correct.
Harry followed his House as they descended toward the Slytherin common rooms, nearly frowning. There was something wrong with the turbaned man, something… foul and oddly familiar about the way he felt. It had been that way all year, but this day, it had been so strong…
"This is idiotic," Draco whispered anxiously, eyes darting around. "Quirrel said the troll was in the dungeons, and where are we? The dungeons. This is too much. I'm telling Father about this."
Harry's near-frown deepened. He could feel that there was nothing but humans and ghosts in their vicinity. It added to his suspicious that his ability to sense things was unique to him, or at least rare. The troll (he concentrated for a moment) was somewhere on the fourth floor, near a young witch he knew as a muggleborn from a few of his classes.
The group reached the blank wall that was the entrance to the common rooms. A prefect spoke the password, and the children converged inside.
Harry moved to the room he shared with Draco (who chose to stay with the others) and sat on his bed, still focused on the troll overhead. He felt the witch's strength flare, then sputter. Quite suddenly, it disappeared altogether. She was dead.
An group of teachers approached the troll and dead girl, and their strengths flared in shock. Snape's spiked and the troll was gone.
Harry let the situation above fade out of his range, refocusing on the 'real' world. So, either Quirrel had been lying about the troll being in the dungeons, or it had somehow gotten all the way up to third or fourth floor in the time it had taken him to reach the Great Hall, which was possible, but unlikely. Why would have Quirrel even been in the dungeons, anyway? And there was no way a troll could have simply wandered in. Quirrel… he was up to something. Did it have anything to do with the forbidden corridor on the third floor?
Then Harry mentally shrugged. It wasn't his problem. It didn't matter to him at all.
Harry often wandered about the corridors at night. It was peaceful in a way that daytime never was, especially in such a crowded place as Hogwarts. It was never difficult to avoid patrolling teachers or others still awake at such hours.
Today, he let himself slowly amble toward the fourth floor bathrooms. He slipped inside the girl's toilets out of idle curiosity, morbidly interested in place of the muggleborn witch's death.
The place had already been repaired—not a tile was out of place—but on one of the sinks sat the dead girl, her messy brown hair matted with blood, her hands over her face as tears dripped onto her lap. A long chain snaked down from her chest, onto the floor and through the door Harry had just entered. Harry wondered why he hadn't noticed it before.
The girl looked up and gasped.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. "Can you see me?"
"Yes," Harry replied warily. The girl sighed in relief.
"Nobody else can see me," she said, wiping her eyes. "No one. They keep on crying. I'm dead, aren't I?"
"I don't know what I'm doing here. I shouldn't be here. But I can't go." She tugged at the chain attached to her chest. "This leads to the library. I don't want to go there yet. Too many people." Her lip quivered, and she started to cry again. "I want to see my family! I don't want to be here. Look!" She held up her hand, and Harry could see it was very slightly transparent. "I think I'm turning into a ghost. I don't want to be a ghost! I want to go home…"
"There is nothing I can do," Harry said, turning to leave. The girl sobbed and stumbled off the sink, lurching towards him. She grabbed at his sleeve, but her hand merely passed through, and she slipped forward, falling into him, then onto the floor. Harry jumped aside.
A furious, ravenous hunger tore through him for a split second as he stared at the soul sprawled out on the ground, then just as suddenly the feeling disappeared, replaced by his usual cool calm.
"Help me," she pleaded, slowly getting to her feet. "Please… do something. Break the chain." She held it up and shook it. "Please!"
Harry looked at it, then at the girl. "Very well." He pointed his wand at the chain dragging on the floor and said, "Diffindo!"
The spell cleanly cut the chain, and the girl gasped and pulled the end toward her. She smiled in glee.
"Thank you!" she cried loudly, then disappeared through the wall. Harry stared after her, more confused than he had ever been in his life.
This place… it was dark, so dark he could hardly see. Then, out of the darkness, two eyes as green as his own glowed brightly. They stared at him, then a shadowy form sped past him. Harry followed instinctively, trying not get lost in whatever strange cavern he had found himself. He rounded a bend, and stark moonlight washed over him. He was at the mouth of the cave.
The form stopped, turning toward him. He of medium height, and very thin. Atop his head was a helmet of bone with four spikes, two long and slender, like horns, and two others that flared behind his head like ears. His skin was paler than Harry's own, and from his eyes fell two streaks of a green so dark it was almost black. Enormous black wings stretched out behind him, contrasting with his pure-white robe and blending with his long black hair. In one hand he held a long white javelin.
"Who are you?" Harry asked.
"I?" The being stared piercingly at Harry. "You don't know? How…unobservant. I am *********."
Harry frowned. "I can't—"
The being turned away. "You cannot hear me. Pathetic." He turned his head to look at Harry, green eyes meeting green. "You are trash," he spat, then leapt into the air, gone in a flutter of black wings.
Harry woke up, breathing hard. He took several deep breaths, wondering what had just happened. That man… he was so familiar, but Harry couldn't place him. What was he? Harry was certain he wasn't just a dream.
"Aren't you going to wake up?" Draco asked, prodding his shoulder. Harry sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"Why have you woken me at such an ungodly hour," he hissed, for once irritated. Draco stepped back, alarmed at the unusual display of anger, then smiled brightly and pointed at a heap of presents by the foot of his bed.
"It's Christmas!" he exclaimed, the went back to his bed and began to unravel a box decorated with green foil and a silver bow.
Harry looked at the foot of his own bed. To his surprise, it was a sizable amount. He picked up the first one and checked the tag.
To: Harry Potter
From: Pansy Parkinson
He frowned. Why had she sent him a present? A quick check of the other presents made it clear that many of them were from Slytherins, and a few from Ravenclaws.
Now he realized what it was. For whatever reason, they were trying to curry favor with him. His frown deepened. He wasn't looking forward to writing the thank-you notes that would be expected, as per Pureblood etiquette.
He made his way through the pile of gifts, noting that many of them were quite expensive. He admired a well-made dragon-leather wand holster from Marcus Flint and a tasteful emerald pendant from Daphne Greengrass, as well as an ever-ink quill from Draco made from the silver-white feathers of an occamy. He received several books as well, and he placed them on his nightstand to read later. Near the bottom of his pile, he found a letter from the Dursleys. He opened it.
Feel free not to come back for the summer.
Petunia and Vernon
Along with the note were 200 pounds sterling. Harry raised an eyebrow, then set the money aside and lifted the last package off the floor.
It was light and soft, wrapped in plain brown paper. He undid the fastenings and took out what appeared to be a silvery cloak. Pinned to the cloak was a small note.
Your father left this in my possession before he died. Use it well.
It was unsigned. Harry unfolded the cloak and ran his hands over it. It was smooth and almost slippery, more like water than cloth. He wrapped it around himself.
From the other bed, he heard a gasp. He turned to look.
"It—it's an invisibility cloak!" Draco exclaimed. Harry looked down and was amazed to see his body was completely transparent. He took it off immediately, then looked back at Draco.
"Don't tell," he said, and Draco nodded, grinning mischievously.
"But you'll have to let me borrow it sometime," he said, and Harry nodded reluctantly. That's the way it was in Slytherin: quid pro quo.
He put the cloak and the majority of his presents away, then sat at his desk and began to write his thank-yous.
He was there again—that dark, empty cave. He made his way to the mouth of the cave, crashing into the wall a few times before finally stumbling out. The being was already there, waiting for him
"Who are you?" Harry asked again. The being frowned.
"You… you are still immature. Don't come back until you are ready, trash."
The dream faded away, leaving Harry disappointed and all too awake, even if it was the middle of the night. He slipped into his shoes and took out his invisibility cloak, feeling the urge to wander. As he snuck out into the dungeons corridors, he decided to go to the library and try to find out if dreams such as his were normal.
He made his way to the fourth floor, where the library was located, but stopped as he felt something odd in a spare room nearby. He walked towards it, then peeked inside.
An enormous mirror took up a side of the room, gleaming quietly. He went inside, noticing the words engraved into the frame.
"I show not your face but your hearts desire?" he whispered softly after a moment of deciphering it. He drew nearer, sensing a great power in the mirror.
As he looked into the reflection, it began to change. He saw a blurred face in the distance, and a pale hand reaching towards him. It stirred strange emotions within him. Then the imaged shifted again, and the man from his dreams stared back at him, a hand pressed against his chest.
"Find her…" he mouthed. "Find her… she will show you… she will make you see that invisible thing… the heart." He clenched his hand closed over his sternum. "Then come back to me."
He disappeared, and the image was again of that outstretched hand. This time, the face was not blurred, and a name sprang to his lips.
"Inoue Orihime. I will find you."
Harry flipped through the vast book of names. Every witch and wizard that ever lived was listed in the self-updating tome, and though there were many, many people within, there was no mention of a 'Inoue Orihime' or 'Orhime Inoue,' as English name order would have her. What was she then? A muggle?
The language of her name was Japanese, something told him, but that did not necessarily mean she lived in Japan. Harry narrowed his eyes in frustration. How was he supposed to find this girl?
He supposed he ought to learn Japanese, just in case. He would have to resume his search in the summer. Suppressing a sigh, he went to the languages section and searched for the books he would need. He made a mental note to brew a wit-sharpening potion for his studies.
The rest of the year passed as a dull blur as Harry easily passed his classes. His Japanese studies seemed to be progressing almost too well; the language was as natural as flying to him, and it frustrated him when he 'reached' for a word and realized he hadn't learned it yet. He made few friends, although he occasionally spoke to Draco simply because the boy never stopped talking at him.
His teachers all seemed impressed with his performance; he was the top student of his year. Snape had eventually learned to ignore him and graded him with reluctant fairness—Harry had never handed him less than a perfect potion. Quirrel Harry kept an eye on, but the man never gave Harry a reason to interfere with whatever he was up to. He continued to 'feel' even more corrupt as the year went on, and Harry figured it wasn't long until the stress killed the man.
Flitwick seemed to think Harry took after his mother, but was quiet due to his upbringing. He often praised the boy, who did his best to ignore the short man. McGonagal was outwardly as strict and polite to him as she was to any other student, but Harry noticed that she would often shoot worried glances at him when she though no one was looking. Sprout simply treated him with the same cheerful fairness that she treated all of her students with. She seemed to appreciate his ability to do as he was told.
The Slytherins continued to act courteously around Harry, always calculating their moves. The Ravenclaws were anywhere from fearful to worshipful of him, but were mostly very respectful, and most of the Hufflepuffs stayed away from him in far-away fright or admiration. The Gryffindors disliked Harry, and some even hated him, bumping into him in the halls and whispering 'traitor' when he was around. A few seemed unsure about him, however.
Dumbledore had taken to watching him creepily at meals and inspecting his actions. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, and Harry felt obligated to act his best while under the man's piercing gaze.
Near the end of the year, Dumbledore told the student body that Professor Quirrel had 'decided to retire,' but Harry knew what had really happened. He had felt a massive confrontation the night before, and knew that the horrible spirit that had corrupted Quirrel was, in fact, Voldemort, whose distinctive aura Harry could still place, even after so many years. The spirit had passed through his room on its way out of the castle, his wraith-like form growling angrily at Harry before disappearing through the wall, leaving a lingering sense of hate and malice. Harry had caught only a glimpse of the dark soul, but he had the impression that he had been dangling rusted and blackened chains.
Soon enough it was the end of term, and as Harry packed to leave, he found himself wondering what he would do now. After all, he had no need of returning to the Dursleys.
He supposed he would search for Inoue Orihime in London, the spread his search from there.
He had a lot of work to do, if he was to find her.