Don't ask about Veritas. It's coming, slowly. This is just my most recent attempt to get back into writing. Once again, a lot of thanks to AFC for helping get it out. Without them nothing would be happening.
Harry Potter knew love, when he was younger.
Lily and James Potter didn't hold back at all and showered their firstborn with all the loving attention a baby could and should have. His 'honorary uncles' and devoted godfather contributed to Harry's upbringing too, making sure he never felt a moment of loneliness, and he returned the emotion in full force.
That all ended of course, when Voldemort struck.
While growing up with the Dursleys, Harry may not have been subjected to the full spectrum of positive emotions he should have, but there was always an abundance of one emotion: Hate.
Petunia made sure to express her resentment and bitterness at every opportunity, and she fed Vernon's paranoia and fear so that he too was clear and certain in his antagonism. Dudley followed their example with the diligence any parent could ask from their child.
After a while, Harry learned how to hate too.
Harry hated having an almost shaved head. He hated it so much that he tossed and turned all night fitfully dreaming of the teasing he would get at school the next day and the associated humiliation it would bring him for weeks, if not months.
And his hair grew back that night.
Another time he found himself hating the revolting old sweater Petunia was trying to force over his head. It was another indignity being forced upon him by his Aunt's cruel spite, and he knew it well. In fact, he hated that awful jumper so much that it shrank to the size of a hand puppet even as his aunty futilely struggled to make him put it on, sparing him the indignity she had obviously planned.
Harry grew very good at cultivating his hating, so much so that it didn't really take a lot of effort to focus his hate on the teacher yelling at him.
And her wig turned blue.
While not the brightest star in the sky, even Harry could not avoid coming to the obvious logical conclusion:
Hating made things better for him.
So he began to consciously and actively hate the less pleasant things in his life. Every day he sat for hours staring at his broken sneakers, despising their condition, usually developing a headache severe enough to make him stop.
At first it looked like it was making things worse, and for a moment he was sure they were going to burst into flame or do something equally as tragic. So he tried to change the way he was thinking, and worked to avoid hating them in such a destructive manner. It was harder, much harder, but it started working.
Each day, the shoes seemed to be a little better than they were before, like they were somehow 'healing', until they eventually looked new. They even became more comfortable and stopped ever allowing themselves to become dirty again, lest Harry be subjected to Petunia's ranting about dragging mud into the house.
Encouraged by that success, he practiced hating his overly large clothes until they were a perfect fit, and then hated their old, worn out appearance until they too looked new again. It took time, quite a lot of time really, but the results were worth the effort, despite his often shaking hands, frequent headaches, and sick feelings brought on by overworking his emotions.
After a while he began hating the small prison laughingly called his bedroom. He lay awake for hours each night for weeks on end, shaking in anger and concentrating on how much he hated it. Often this left him physically worn out in the morning, but gradually the room became larger, much larger than it had any right to be.
When Petunia discovered the alterations to the shoe cupboard-bedroom, her shrieks were barely finished before Vernon nailed the door shut and painted it over, opting to move Harry into Dudley's second bedroom and pretending nothing had happened, rather than allow any blatant 'unnaturalness' to exist in their daily lives. They gave up making too big a fuss over such occurrences, and instead tried to pretend nothing unusual was going on. Dudley was shushed and distracted with rewards for not talking about it, and Petunia stopped giving Harry clothes that did not fit or were too worn or ugly.
The Dursleys were quite talented at pretending everything was normal.
Of course, not everything he hated worked out the way he wanted. No matter how much anger or how many poisonous thoughts he directed towards his 'family', nothing very bad ever happened to them. It was as if they were protected from his less-than-grateful thinking.
Still, Harry stubbornly held onto his hate and found different things to vent it on. His worn-out mattress eventually became soft and comfy, his threadbare blankets snug and warm, and the rickety old furniture salvaged from roadside collections turned out to be sturdy and strong, with surprising amounts of 'extra' space tucked away in hidden corners for Harry to hide things in.
Many of Dudley's busted old toys worked again after Harry tinkered with them, all the time hating the fact his oaf of an ungrateful cousin had broken them through neglect or spite, and they gave Harry hours of fun, albeit secretly.
It was about the closest Harry had come to being happy for a long time, which unfortunately meant he had to work much harder to hate things.
Aunt Marge's dogs began behaving themselves incredibly well while visiting the Dursleys, much to everybody's relief, and somehow learned the trick of burying their own waste in the garden beds like a cat, rather than leaving disgusting droppings out for Harry to clean up. They avoided Harry too, fearing the creature that reeked of anger and danger strong enough for even their limited brains to comprehend and fear.
It was a pity Marge wasn't quite as accommodating, but she always managed to get struck down with a virus or flu that inevitably robbed her of her voice, so her visits were brief and far between.
Watching Dudley interact with his aunt, Harry made a conscious choice not to allow himself become the jealous type. His hating could easily have led to it, and it was almost natural for it to do so, but the fine examples of how horrible a person he could be put an unusual twist in his young and not quite logical thoughts. He could hate with passion, but he decided that the root of it, the fuel, had to come from within and not be driven by what others had.
Harry started to hate being so small and skinny, and consequently wasn't so much anymore, but he never really enjoyed the scraps of food he was given to eat, and he would sometimes have a sore tummy for days after he spend too much time hating things. Sometimes it got so bad he would throw up a little blood, despite how he hated doing that, and so he never really grew to the size he should have been.
He also hated doing his chores, but only because Dudley got away with doing nothing, Petunia and Vernon were never satisfied with his efforts, and it left him no time to do things he wanted to do. Weeding and pruning were particularly arduous and seemingly pointless tasks, since the bushes grew back quickly and the weeds sprung anew practically the day after he finished, forcing him to start again from the other end.
Long hours labouring under the sun gave Harry ample time to focus and refine his hate, and before too long, the weeds started withering even as they stuck their tips out of the ground, leaving the flower beds needing a lot less work to maintain. The bushes and grass still grew, but not nearly as fast as they used to, and nowhere near as wildly.
Harry hated getting bad grades or being punished for ones better than Dudley. He worked hard, with nobody to help him, and it wasn't fair that he has accused of cheating simply because Dudley was as thick as a short plank. It took hard work and a bit of time, but eventually the Dursleys stopped receiving any reports or indications of Harry's fairly average progress, and they never bothered to ask after him, content to believe he was doing so poorly as to not even rate a mention.
He really didn't like not having school friends, but despite many people becoming drawn to him, his often dour disposition and bursts of sullen anger kept anybody from ever being too friendly. They were all a bit scared of him really, especially with all the gossipy rumours and stories floating around. Catching random and unexpected expressions of utter loathing on his face just made them more wary, as did the frequent bleeding cuts on his palms where it looked like his fingernails had dug into his clenched fists.
One day, after watching a bunch of bullies picking on a small boy and having a burst of hate so intense it caused several of the boys to trip over and hurt themselves, Harry recalled another extraordinary event while being bullied by Dudley's gang.
He remembered somehow jumping up on the roof of the school.
It was back before he learned to properly channel his hate, back when the bullies still picked on him, back before Dudley's best friend Piers lost his way during a 'Harry Hunting' chase and ran in front of a speeding car.
Harry forgot about it amongst the regret and fear he felt after Piers lost his ability to walk and was moved to a special school. The worry of being found out and getting punished for causing Piers's accident was almost as great as the sorrow he felt for causing somebody such horrific injuries.
Despite the older boy being a rather nasty fellow, Harry didn't think Piers's actions deserved such severe punishment. It was one of the main reasons Harry became determined to control his hate, lest he become a bigger bully than even the worst of Dudley's gang.
Hate was poison, but it was so useful. He just had to be sure not to let himself become "infected" by the hate he used.
Remembering the event now, he went back to the dead-end where his inexplicable flight happened to investigate. The big trash cans were still there, and he recalled trying to jump behind them when something strange happened. He originally supposed the wind had caught him mid-jump, but now he realised it was more of his 'hating' thing.
Trying to reproduce the feeling, Harry tested jumping a few times, but met with no success and hurt an ankle to boot.
With a persistence and perseverance born of the stubbornness that kept in him going despite the Dursley's best attempts to crush his spirit, Harry returned day after day for months and tried to use his hate to fly. He tried many different ways of using his hate, including trying to hate not been able to leap high into the air and really hating that he was not succeeding, but nothing made any difference.
Eventually, he was forced to accept that he couldn't simply hate in a way that would make him able to fly. With true regret, Harry abandoned his experiments and went back to using it for more 'mundane' matters.
When his letter from Hogwarts came, Harry didn't mind watching Vernon have a breakdown trying to keep it from him. The frantic efforts of his obese uncle were amusing to say the least, and Hagrid's introduction and subsequent addition to Dudley's posterior was well worth the inconvenience of being shipped out to a rock in the middle of the ocean on the eve of his birthday
In fact, the first time Harry found himself wanting to hate something since the letters started appearing was when he met a blonde git in the Robe shop in Diagon Alley. The more the little twit talked, the more Harry wanted to hate him, but he hesitated, unsure about what might happen if he tried his 'tricks' on another wizard.
That ended when the pale idiot had the audacity to insult Hagrid.
"Oh," said the boy, "I've heard of him. He's a sort of servant, isn't he?"
"He's the gamekeeper," said Harry, fighting to keep his voice at least a bit neutral.
"Yes, exactly. I heard he's a sort of savage - lives in a hut on the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic, and ends up setting fire to his bed."
Indignation and rage swelled up in Harry's chest, and let his anger over ride his caution.
By the time Draco left the shop with his distraught mother, the puss filled boils had spread all over the git's pasty white complexion and obviously well under his robes, if the crying and scratching was anything to go by. Since Harry had been standing with his arms out while being fitted, nobody considered he had anything to do with it, but had they asked, Harry would have been happy to have enlightened them, as a warning.
On the long train ride home from Diagon Alley and laden with his strange packages and owl, Harry ignored the stares of the people around him and thought long and hard about his ability to hate. He had a lot of books to check through, but it was fairly obvious that either very few people did the same things he did, or he was again unique – a freak.
It was almost enough to make him hate himself.
For the next month Harry kept to his room with his owl for company and read through his books. It was hard going at first, to come to grips with the concepts presented without the necessary background they all seemed to expect him to have, but the thought of looking like a fool to people like Draco Malfoy because he didn't know anything or couldn't write with a quill made him angry.
In fact, he hated that idea.
Strangely, or not so really, the angrier he was while reading, the clearer things got. Before he knew it, he had skimmed through his whole collection and confirmed his ideas about the uniqueness of his ability to magically manifest his hate. He recognised some of the things he did as spells, although without the funny words and wand waving, or indeed, a wand at all, but many where not mentioned at all, like his one-off flying.
So, with a maturity born of his unusual upbringing, he decided it was best if he kept his abilities to himself and used them as little as possible where he might be found out, but he made a commitment to keep practising in secret, since it was definitely handy and very much a part of himself now.
On his first day as a student of Hogwarts, Harry made friends with several people and enjoyed the whole unique train ride experience. The sorting hat made several disparaging comments about Harry's ability to despise on a whim, but ended up putting him Gryffindor anyway, without Harry even really trying to detest the idea of being a Slytherin.
There were a couple of brief moments that day where he was tempted to unleash a barrage of hate, like when Malfoy made a pathetic attempt at friendship, but the closest he came was when faced with Snape's unrelenting glare. He was about to do something about it when a stabbing pain shot through the scar on his forehead, shattering his thoughts. So Snape was spared and Harry was later glad he had not used his ability on his very first day by foolishly attacking a teacher in front of the whole school
The next time he encounter the surly Potions master, things did not go quite so well, for Snape that is.
"Tut, tut - fame clearly isn't everything."
Harry began silently fuming. He was being humiliated and embarrassed in front of his new classmates, he was being unfairly chastised for not recalling everything he had read, and worst of all, he was being sneered at. It was enough to make him angry, it was enough to make him really Hate.
His breath sped up and his arms started shaking with adrenaline. His fist clenched tight, despite his every effort to control himself.
Ignorant of the boiling cauldron of emotion he was stoking, or perhaps acutely aware and purposely striving to make it overflow, Snape decided to redouble his effort.
"Let's try again shall we? Potter, where would you look-arrrgghhh," screamed Snape, clutching his face.
Students screamed and leaped from their desks as the man flailed about, blindly crashing into desks and shelves, knocking bottles and their vile contents flying while his agonised yelling continued.
Harry would have liked to have just sat there and watched his tormentor suffer, but a sudden tide of panic over took him when he realised what he had just done. Luckily, every other student was also panicking, so nobody noticed it was he who first fled the dungeon.
For several days nobody saw hide nor hair of the Potion's Master, while wild theories and rumours about the man's absence ran rampant throughout the school.
Harry hated the idea of anybody connecting him to the attack, so surprisingly, nobody did, although he caught the Headmaster staring at him a lot more often than he saw the old man looking at anybody else, and at least one of the rumours floating around had Snape being overheard yelling that Harry had cursed him. Professor Quirell was also watching Harry quite often, but always looked away or pretended to be doing something different when Harry caught him.
It all made Harry quite worried, but not enough to stop using his hate completely.
When they next saw him, Snape was still sullen and surly, but didn't appear to notice Harry at all, which is exactly what Harry wanted. He was still a lousy teacher, and incredibly unfair to everybody except the Slytherins, but all of the older years couldn't stop talking about how much better he was treating everybody compared to every year before.
Aside from the mysterious if rather lame spying attempts, Harry found Quirell boring beyond belief, but nothing worthy of any level of hate.
History of magic was even worse though, and Harry decided he hated wasting his time there enough to 'inspire' the ghost of a teacher into trying a bit harder. From then on the lectures acquired a life of their own, with Professor Binns more animated and expressive than even before he died. His talks became popular practically overnight, and Harry wondered if the dramatic change meant it was easier to hate dead people.
Malfoy's ego needed to kept in check by regular bouts of inexplicable illness that left him looking terrible and unusually silent, much like Harry's Aunt Marge really. Dreadful and embarrassing things seemed to happen to the Slytherin and any of his cronies on a regular basis.
Still, Harry tried to be cautious, and putting up with a bit of grief from various gits was a small price to pay for reducing the chance anybody, especially Dumbledore with those all-too-knowing eyes, would connect him to some of the strange things happening in the castle – not that there weren't many other strange things happening that had nothing to do with him.
Harry plastered a false smile on his face and tried really hard to stay looking cheerful and happy.
When Halloween came around, Harry somehow found himself facing an angry Troll in the girl's toilet, with Ron at his back and Hermione hiding in a stall. Screaming in rage and leaping onto the Troll's back, he jammed his wand up its nose and allowed unfettered hatred to pour through it.
The Troll's head exploded.
Shell-shocked, he never even tried to explain what happened, but happily accepted Dumbledore's assessment that it was a 'fortuitous accidental magical discharge' caused by Harry's panic.
It was a pity Ron and Hermione were now a bit wary of him.
Harry decided to cut down on hating anything at all unless it was really necessary, or at least not likely to be seen.
Still, time passed and memories fogged, and the three shared a bond that tended to make his two new friends forget the ugly and downright frightening boy they had seen attack and kill a full grown Troll. They went on adventures and did all the things children in a magical school are wont to do, but Harry was faking a lot of it.
There were things that Harry almost loved at Hogwarts, although he was not used to the feeling and probably would not have truthfully identified it as such if somebody asked him.
Flying was without a doubt something Harry really appreciated. Going flat out on a broom was total exhilaration and brought a very rare true smile to Harry's face. He found it almost impossible to hate anything when he was on a broom, so it was lucky we was a gifted seeker and didn't need to hate losing in order to spot the tiny golden ball.
He did hate the idea of looking like an idiot by falling off his broom however, so not even the violent shaking that occurred one game came close to dislodging him after the first surprising lurch. Nobody really noticed though, as a small unexplained explosion in the stands caused a moment of mayhem, turning all eyes away from Harry at the moment of his greatest triumph – catching the snitch.
The bitter irony that hating to be seen doing something embarrassing meant not being seen doing something great was not lost on Harry.
He enjoyed doing magic of course. Every spell, every incantation was a pleasure to learn and perform. Only when he was particularly frustrated at not being able to do or understand something did he find himself accidentally slipping back into old habits and hating his inability.
Sometimes, at times like this when he would suddenly become competent at whatever it was they were trying to do, Hermione would look at him suspiciously for a little while and Harry would curse himself for his lapse, but soon enough she seemed to forget about it and move on.
After getting his dad's old invisibility cloak and discovering the Mirror of Erised, Harry found that no amount of hating a magical reflection would help him get to know his parents. The magic he invoked seemed to fade out into nowhere and achieve nothing except leaving him tired and shaking with bloodied palms. After only his third visit, Harry gave up and resolved never to return to the mirror and its false promises, lest he begin to hate the images themselves and not the fact they were silent and insubstantial.
Still, even small doses of hatred build up over time. Slytherin house was having the worst year ever, and their head of house was particularly suffering a number of strange and unpleasant incidents. Even though he was being unusually pleasant, or less antagonistic, his vile personality was still more than enough to ensure a regular dose of Harry's ire.
The man's leg took an extremely long time to heal after he confiscated Harry's "Quidditch through the Ages" book. One rumour said Madam Pomfrey had considered cutting it off, but it didn't end up going that far.
As various mysteries presented themselves, Harry discovered another way to use his hate. He found he could use tiny amounts of hate – simply really hating not knowing or not being able to find out an answer – and things would suddenly fall into place.
Harry lay awake on his bed one night hating not knowing who Nicolas Flamel was, and then the very next day Ron got a chocolate frog card with the man on it, leading to a full explanation in one of Hermione's light reading books and the inevitable conclusion of what was being hidden in the school.
He spent days hating now knowing how to get past Fluffy the three headed dog, only to have Hagrid mentioned putting it to sleep while practising in front of the beast with the flute he gave Harry for Christmas.
Eventually, one thing led to another, and fate found Harry standing tired and alone in front of a man's face sticking out the back of another man's head.
"Harry Potter..." it whispered.
Harry tried to take a step backward but his legs wouldn't move.
"See what I have become?" the face said. "Mere shadow and vapour ... I have form only when I can share another's body... but there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds... Unicorn blood has strengthened me, these past weeks... you saw faithful Quirell drinking it for me in the forest... and once I have the Elixir of Life, I will be able to create a body of my own... Now... why don't you give me that Stone in your pocket?"
For the first time since the Troll, Harry felt unmitigated rage and hatred. Here was the thing responsible for the loss of his parents, for the lives of countless good people, and for the life Harry had been forced to live.
With an incoherent yell, he broke free of the magical paralysis and leapt at Quirrel's back, driving the possessed professor to the ground with anger-fuelled strength.
Harry grabbed Quirell's ear with one hand and pounded the other one into Voldemort's face. When the ear tore apart, burned off by the magic in Harry's hands, he began smashing both fists into the thing that was by now barely recognisable face. Anger, pain and hatred like he had never felt before poured out of him and into the thrashing body under him.
It wasn't until a bony hand clasped his shoulder with surprising strength, and Albus Dumbledore's stern voice commanded him to stop that Harry let it all go and fell into unconsciousness.
When he awoke in the infirmary to find Professor Dumbledore standing over him, he at first felt terrified about what the man would do to him, since it seemed impossible that he had not seen Harry brutally murdering a professor.
But Dumbledore surprised him.
"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, burned at your very touch. It was agony, and eventually fatal, to be touched by a person marked by something so good."
Harry, grateful for the old man's blind excuses, resisted the almost overwhelming temptation to use his hatred of not knowing the truth to prise more information out of the headmaster, and instead said nothing to dispute the sage's words, but deep down, he knew it was not love that burned Quirell.
Voldemort thought he knew hate, but he lacked the one thing that would have made his magic truly unstoppable. Without that solid basis, that wellspring of Hate's opposite, the Dark Lord could never tap into the true depths of power Harry was only just touching the surface of, and that Lily had used so effectively while casting magic not even Dumbledore truly understood.
After all, what was a mother facing the murderer of her husband, child, and herself more likely to be feeling; love, or an all consuming, burning hatred?
A surprisingly subdued Vernon Dursley approached Harry and his friends outside the gate at the train station. He wanted nothing better than to grab the boy and hurl him into the car, but he knew it was not wise to push the freak too far, especially while he was surrounded by other freaks.
"Enjoying your new freak school?" he asked acidly as they walk away, giving being friendly his best effort.
"It's not bad, but there are some bits I absolutely hate," answered Harry, grinning wickedly.
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