The Circle Around the Fire

Chapter 1 - Snow and the Snake

Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter stories, its plot, characters, places, or any recognisable features in this story. Only unrecognisable plot features and characters are (hopefully) mine. This is written purely for entertainment purposes, and I am not benefiting financially from it.

Warnings: AU, slash (much later though)

This is my first fic, so constructive criticism would be much appreciated.

Harry's head made a worrying cracking sound against the floor of the car boot when Uncle Vernon threw him in. He narrowly avoided the large, heavy suitcase, and only just managed to get his feet fully into the boot before the door was slammed shut. The Dursleys got into the main body of the car, deliberately forgot about him, and drove off. They were, quite obviously, none too pleased about having to take Harry with them on their Christmas holiday. Miss Figg was, unfortunately, currently in hospital, and there was no one else who could take the miserable child while they were in Canada. They would have left Harry at home – they had before, and the five year old could fend for himself – but the local council had suddenly become proactive when it came to child safety.

"Hurry up, Freak!" Aunt Petunia hissed as she practically dragged Harry through Toronto airport, followed by Dudley and Uncle Vernon, as they hurried to catch their connecting flight. The fact that they were late was, quite naturally, blamed on Harry, who had stopped for barely a second after Dudley had run the luggage trolley over his foot. Harry had no idea where they were flying to next, as no one had told him. He hoped it wasn't too far away, as the last flight had been hell; he didn't know how he had survived seven hours sitting next to Dudley. It fortunately only lasted a couple of hours, and they were soon on the road in their rented car, somewhere in Canada. Harry thought it might be north of Toronto, as there was much more snow here than there. The landscape became more wooded but through the tress the snowy mountains behind could be seen. Or at least Harry thought this was the case, as the small window in the door of the boot didn't afford him much of a view. They soon reached the town in which they would stay. Harry wondered what on Earth the Dursleys could possibly find to do in this small town. He wondered if they were going skiing, something he had only ever heard about. The car jerked to a halt, throwing Harry to the floor. The boot opened, and the suitcase was dragged out by Vernon's meaty fist. Harry began to stand up, but the boot was hurled shut again, accompanied by a grunted profanity. The car jerked to a start again, and again sped off. Harry could see Petunia smirking at him through the small window as she walked off holding Dudley's hand. Harry didn't know for how long Vernon drove, but could only see the environment outside grow wilder and more foreboding, especially as it was starting to snow. When Vernon finally pulled to a halt and pulled Harry out, it had grown into a full blown blizzard. However, that was all Harry could see before there was a sharp pain on the back off his head and his vision went black.

When Harry awoke, the first thing he became aware off was the cold. He could barely feel his feet or his fingers, and the latter were starting to turn blue. The back of his head throbbed with pain, and his body wracked with violent shivers. He pulled his inadequate jacket around him and, with difficulty, stood. It was pitch black, and the snow and wind swirled around him, picking at him with icy cold fingers. The trees seemed to lean in towards him, menacingly. The only light came from the lights that hung in the sky above him, the veils of colour that glowed pink and blue and green. Harry was astonished, dimly remembering something he'd overheard on the Dursleys' TV one evening. Something about the Northern Lights? Harry was jolted back to the present by a faint crack of a twig.

"Hello!" he cried out to the darkness. "Uncle Vernon! Are you there?" he received no reply, and something told him that this was not just another Dursley joke. They had got rid of him for good this time. Harry didn't want to die. He didn't feel as if he'd done much, yet. He resolved to find shelter, or someone to help him. With that in mind he struggled forward through the knee-deep snow. "Hello?" he called again. "Help me! Is anyone there?" A distant wolf howled in reply. This startled the little boy so much that he tripped over a tree root and fell with a cry. He picked himself out of the slushy snow, and looked up. Right into the face of a small snake, who had been sheltering beneath the offending tree root. Harry jumped up in shock. "Snake, snake! Don't bite me!" he cried.

"How rude," replied the snake? If snakes could sound offended, then this one did. "As if I would bite you for no reason."

Harry was dumbfounded. His small mouth hung open, but he eventually spluttered out a question.

"You can talk? I didn't know that snakes could talk!"

"Well, it seems that we can," the snake replied. "And excuse me, but it's you who can talk. You are speaking my language."

"I am?" asked Harry. Even as he said it, he was aware that what came out of his mouth were not words, but a strangled snarling hiss.

"May I make a request?"Asked the little snake.

"Of course," replied Harry.

"May I make use of your artificial coverings? I am very cold."

"My arti…" Harry realised that the snake was referring to his clothes. "Of course," he repeated, smiling with the innocence of the very young, and reached forward to pick the snake up. He did so instinctively gently, and placed the snake inside his jacket pocket.

"That's better," said the little snake, sounding, if snakes could, smug and cosy.

"If it's so cold, what are you doing outside?" Asked Harry.

The snake seemed to sniff, "My human owners abandoned me."

"I'm so sorry," replied Harry. "We're very similar, though. My family left me here too." The danger of Harry's situation came back to him in a rush, and he started to cry. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

"There, there," said the snake. "Just sit down by the tree where there is shelter. My name is Anissu, and together I'm sure we will figure out something."

Harry sniffed. "Hello Anissu. My name is Harry Potter."