Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, Harry Potter or any of their affiliates. Anything that you recognise is property of its respective owners. Any relations to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.
Base/s: Bleach, Harry Potter
Title: Book One: Gula
Summary: 'At the age of four, the world finally sees that there is something wrong with little Harry Potter.' Reincarnation was always a tricky thing. Poor wizarding world, they won't know what hit them. AU
Music used for inspiration: Grounds for Divorce – Elbow, Evil Angel, Dance with the Devil – Breaking Benjamin, Widows Harbor, – Nox Arcana, the Bleach OST's
At the age of four, the world finally sees that there is something wrong with little Harry Potter.
When Petunia Dursley picks up the baby on her front doorstep, she doesn't see anything immediately wrong with the child save his obvious parentage.
But over the following weeks, despite shutting him away in the cupboard under the stairs, the child's presence seems to settle over the house. Dudley is twitchy, his crying muted as if he is afraid of defying some harshly punishable law. Vernon also feels it, but masks his feeling with anger and impotent threats. Petunia tries to ignore it, focusing on her husband and son.
In all the time he lives in number four, he is never given a single morsel of food. Petunia has conveniently forgotten and Vernon is in no hurry to remind her. But the child's presence does not disappear or fade, nor does he cry to be fed. Once, she dares to peek into the cupboard, only to find the child laying where she had left him, looking as healthy as ever, if slightly older. She never opens the door again after that.
When he is three, almost two years after he had first been dropped on their doorstep, the Dursleys awake on an innocuous Wednesday morning to find the child sitting at their kitchen table, his nose buried in Vernon's Encyclopaedia. When Petunia enters the room, intent on starting breakfast for her family, she shrieks and stumbles backwards, clutching at the wall. He raises his head and cocks it to one side, innocent.
"It seems I'm in need of some glasses. Would you care to take me?" he asks in perfect form, a saccharine smile on his lips and his eyes carefully blank.
She'd nods, on autopilot, horrified at the thought of this creature (for she couldn't possibly describe it as a child) in her home. He turns back to his book, apparently ignoring her now her use had been served. She stands for a few moments before collecting herself and fleeing from the kitchen.
On the drive back from the opticians, she nervously glances in the mirror to see the small child sitting in the back seat, a pair of plain rectangular glasses on his nose, quietly reading a medical magazine the receptionist at the opticians had allowed him to keep. As if on cue, he looks up, that sickly smile on his lips and his eyes half lidded. She hates those eyes, she thinks as she pulled off the A246. They were so, she can't really think of a word. She settles on apathetic. Not a broken kind of apathy, but a selfish one. As though she and the rest of the world were mere bugs beneath his little feet. Yes, she thinks, apathy fitted the creature in the back seat of her hatchback perfectly.
On the day primary school starts for Dudley and Harry, Petunia isn't sure what to do. She hasn't informed the boy of his impending foray into education and really doesn't know how to make herself open the door to the smallest bedroom and tell him. As she hears the soft creak and pad of feet descending the stairs, she shivers, collects her keys and steers a protesting Dudley to the car. The creature is sharp enough anyway, he doesn't need a whetstone.
Pulling up to the playground and turning to smile at her son, kissing him on the head and bidding him a fun day, she wipes a few tears from her cheeks. Her boy is all grown up. She watches him fondly for a few seconds before her eyes slide to a patch of scenery that seems oddly colourless. The boy is standing there, his eyes fixed on her, at odds with his lazy smile. He tilts his head to the side, looks her for a few seconds before the sound of the school bell brakes the spell and he turns away, walking to the doors.
Petunia remembers to breathe after a few moments and presses her foot down hard. She ignores the furious gestures from other drivers as her foot buries itself in the floor.
The teacher of the reception class is a young woman, only in her mid twenties, with a pretty smile and a temperament matched by few. She watches the new batch of four and five year olds wander, frightened, into her classroom. She stands in front of the board and lets a welcoming expression grace her face. She ushers them to sit down on the carpet and sits on her chair, looking down at the little faces. In the back of her mind, she picks each one out.
That one might be trouble, she's shy, so's he, that one looks a little spoiled, and- oh dear.
Her eyes rest on little Dudley Dursley, who looks absolutely petrified. He is pale and shaking like a leaf in high wind.
She smiles at him but it does little to ease his fear.
"No need to be scared, we're all going to be friends here aren't we?" she asks.
To her surprise he starts to sweat and began inching towards her. It is odd, most children were frightened of her; being the adult and the biggest person in the room. She looks to where he is shuffling away from and in that moment, she first lays eyes on little Harry Potter.
Unlike his classmates, who were trying to sit up straight and keep their arms folded in an effort to impress their teacher, just like they'd been told by their parents, he is different. He sits sprawled, yet somehow poised inside a circle of space. None of the other children have attempted to sit near him and he appears to have made no effort to interact with them. He doesn't look abnormal, his colouring is rather average save his eyes, which are a startling green, his uniform is ordinary as are his shoes. But that expression. She narrows her eyes at the sickly smile and the watchful, half lidded eyes. It isn't that he doesn't blink; he does, slowly and deliberately. She tears herself away and fixes a smile on her face. She catches the eyes of young Dudley Dursley and finds them to be knowing. He knows.
She swallows and begins the register.
At the age of six, he has completed his entire primary education, scoring exceptionally high on all his SATs. No one celebrates save those who had never met the boy. By ten and a half, he has sat his A-levels, also doing exceptionally well. Again, no-one celebrates, not even the boy himself. He is an enigma. He is quiet, but not shy. He smiles, but finds little to be funny. He is a prodigy, yet seems constantly bored by his success. There is a collective sigh of relief when the boy finally leaves St. Peters Primary.
So when on that innocuous Monday morning, a letter comes, addressed to one Mr. H. Potter, it is assumed that it is another university offering him a scholarship.
Imagine their surprise when they hear laughter coming from the hallway. Petunia, Vernon and Dudley shiver. They have heard him laugh before, it is unnatural.
The laughter dies down into light chuckles as he walks into the kitchen, sifting through mail. In one hand, held separate from the uniform white of the other envelopes, is a large letter, written on cream parchment. Petunia pales and begins to stutter.
"Magic?" he gives a derisive laugh, "What do these people think I am? Stupid?"
Petunia is relieved when she realises there is something that he doesn't know.
"W-what have you got there?" she asks, clearing her throat.
She almost flinches when he turns those deceptively vapid eyes on her.
He holds up the letter.
"Nothing, just some idiots who think I'm foolish enough to believe in magic."
She swallows. She turns her back to him, ignoring the sense that it is dangerous to, and faces her husband once again. He looks penetratingly at her, she meets his eyes for a second before looking away, ashamed at her own cowardice.
She won't tell him. He is dangerous enough already, she doesn't want to give him another weapon for his arsenal.
The day the Professor from the school arrives, Petunia is the only one in the house.
Vernon, at her urging, has taken Dudley to the theme park with his friends, and left her to deal with the situation.
The doorbell rings and she peeks out of the window. A severe looking woman dressed in equally severe clothing is standing outside her front door.
"Aren't you going to let the good Professor in Aunt?" his voice comes from behind her. She hasn't heard him enter the room.
She pulls her head back from the window and stumbles, catching onto the wall for support. She nods and, trying to keep her eyes fixed on the boy, lest he move when her gaze isn't on him.
She slides the chain across its housing and opens the door.
"Hello?" she half asks, half greets. She doesn't like how fragile she sounds.
The severe woman pins her with a sharp look.
"Mrs. Dursley?" she asks, her words clipped and precise, spoken in a distinct Scottish accent.
"Deputy Headmistress and Transfiguration professor, Minerva McGonagall." She introduces herself, holding out a hand.
Petunia hesitates but offers her own limp one in return. The handshake is a brief as each could make it.
"If I may come in Mrs. Dursley?"
The blonde woman starts and holds the door open for her guest. Showing her to the living room and not daring to ask if she could remove her shoes, she gestures to a seat. Minerva takes it and sits, prim and stonily polite.
"You're welcome to take the boy."
Minerva raises an eyebrow. Petunia feels like she is a little girl again and blushed at what she has blurted out.
"We-" she starts, trying to find the right words. "It's hard, to take care of him. He's... odd."
"I assure you Mrs. Dursley, he is no danger to you. His abilities will be trained at Hogwarts and-"
"No no, that's not it!" Minerva doesn't look pleased at the interruption.
"It's not that. It's just," she fidgets, unwilling to tell the unnatural woman in front of her something so personal. "he frightens me."
Minerva looks taken aback for a moment but Petunia doesn't let her respond.
"Not because he's got, y'know. He's clever, too clever. The way he looks at me, like he knows."
"I don't know! Everything, I don't know. Did you know, he's taken his A-levels already? Scored high on them too, but he doesn't seem to care. A normal child, even one from your world, would be at least proud. But not him." She says, sounding bitter. "He just sat there, his results on the table, with that awful look on his face."
She bows her head, and McGonagall leans forward, trying to catch the muffled words.
"He- he's never eaten a single meal in this house. Not one, and he rarely leaves his bedroom. Never, since he entered this house for the first time, has he ever eaten food. I don't know, Lily wasn't like this. I know that even for your kind, this isn't normal. Y-you'll believe me when you meet him. Yes, you'll know then." She mumbles. "Y-you'll take him away right? He won't have to come back here? My-my son he- he's petrified of him. That boy's never laid a hand on my Dudley, but my boy won't even be in the same room as him. Please, take him and go!"
McGonagall is still, obviously at a loss at what to make of this sudden breakdown. She doesn't go to Petunia as she would have another, she doesn't think the other woman would appreciate it.
Petunia gathers herself and meets the Professors eye with a dull, resigned look.
"I'd ask him to come in, but he's already here."
There is a pause before the door opened and Minerva jumps slightly when it did. She looks around and her eyes rest on the diminutive figure of Harry Potter.
He is thin, she realises. His face is almost a carbon copy of James' save for one or two features she though must come from Lily, although he doesn't recall them on her former students face. His expression is something she had never seen on either of his parents. It seems to be vaguely sardonic, a sickly sweet smile gracing his lips. She gets the impression that it rarely changes. His eyes under his glasses are half lidded and appear lazy, but she has seen the burning of intelligence in many before and can recognise it here. Not that it is hidden.
He gives a short bow, an odd gesture from anybody, especially an eleven year old child. It, like everything else, seems part of an act that belonged on stage.
"Good afternoon Professor." He says.
She feels as though she is reading too much into it, but his voice sounds like his expression looks. A mask, slightly patronising, a formality, like a king speaking to one of his subjects.
She frowns but says nothing chastising, she feels silly for wanting to reprimand the boy for his tone of greeting.
"Mr. Potter." She greets curtly. Standing, nodding her head and offering her hand as she has never done before with a student. "My name is Professor McGonagall, I'm a teacher from Hogwarts."
"A pleasure Professor."
Once again, she resists the temptation to frown.
"If you would take a seat Mr. Potter, I believe this will be an interesting conversation."
An interesting conversation is exactly what they get. The boy listens, and for the first time, Petunia sees that hellish look disappear from his face.
He questions the Professor, she answers but finds it hard to contain her annoyance. He frowns sharply when McGonagall informs him of the lack of non magical subjects. 'No biology, chemistry, physics? Not even mathematics?' McGonagall looks very disapproving at the dissatisfaction in his voice and his wrinkled nose. She earns a sneer when she describes the 'science' of Arithmancy.
She gives him a practical demonstration and he frowns again, apparently annoyed at himself for not understanding how she changes the coffee table into a Labrador.
He asks questions. What is the monetary system? How is the government set up? What made people magical? How is power focused? She answers to the best of her ability, but questions regarding the theoretical application of magic are beyond her. She feels, as she admits to not knowing if wands are foci or filters for magic that she has failed somehow. She hasn't quite met expectations.
"I must say, you're very lucky I've already completed my, what is the term? Muggle education. I would be hard pressed to just give it up." He says airily. "Very well Professor, I shall attend your school. Who knows, maybe it'll actually give me a challenge?"
"I can help you there."
Szayel looks at the proffered hand amusedly.
He takes it and fights a smile as the other flinches at his pallid touch.
"A pleasure. But I prefer to find things out for myself, I'm sure you understand." He says smoothly.
Malfoy looks unsure whether he should be relieved or insulted. He settles on indifferent.
"I see. A little heard start for you then, the Weasleys are nothing but trash." He turns his nose up and revels in the sight of the red head flush in anger and clench his fists. To his surprise he sees the Potter boy frown. He's sure it is not the insult, he has tossed enough beforehand.
Then the frown is gone and that vapid smile is back on his face as though it has never left. Draco makes his goodbyes and leaves, feeling oddly claustrophobic.
As he leaves, he hears the Weasley boy speaking to Potter. It makes him smile.
"Don't you realise who that is? That is Malfoy! And you shook his hand!"
He hears Potter chuckle and his smile disappears. His only consolation is that it's Weasley in there and not him.
Ron discreetly watches the Potter boy as they walk into the entrance hall. He seems irritated at the water on his clothing and Ron wonders why he cares. He forgets to wonder when the doors are opened and they are led into the hall like little sheep. He looks around at the beautiful hall, and then to the sea of faces staring at the crowd. He feels uncomfortable. He sees Potter out of the corner of his eye and feels grateful he isn't smiling. Ron decides he doesn't like that smile.
Ron is sure he is going to be sorted into Gryffindor. He doesn't know about Potter. He isn't sure if he even wants him in Gryffindor.
He hears that brown haired girl- Granger? - whispering about something. Then, to his surprise, he hears Potter whispering back. Granger seems angry and huffs, but Potter just straightens and doesn't bother to wipe the tiny upturn of his lips off his face. Ron tries to ignore them.
Szayel waits for his turn to be called. He can't help but feel slightly giddy. Magic, he was getting to study magic. Of course, he isn't sure if it is indeed magic, or something else. He knows what his next project is going to be.
He doesn't care about his house all that much. He supposes it would be a minor annoyance to be placed in any. Slytherin seem paranoid, Gryffindor are self righteous, Hufflepuff are naive (although that makes them all more perfect to lead astray) and Ravenclaws are nosey. He supposes he will have to make do. He always does.
He hears his name called and steps forward. He doesn't like his new name, he much prefers his old one. But he'll keep playing their game, until he has no more need of it.
He sits on the stool, and lets the hat drop over his eyes. His smile disappears when he hears a voice whispering in his ear. He clenches his hands.
"Hello there Mr. Potter. No need to be nervous, I'm just the sorting hat. Now let me take a look and see where you belong..."
Szayel allows himself to relax slightly. None of the other students had screamed in terror so he assumes that it's safe. He doesn't like it. The hat chuckles.
"My my Mr. Potter, what a brilliant mind you have! There's ambition, oh my goodness yes, plenty of that! And what talent! Hard work too, but I don't think Hufflepuff would do, loyalty is just a word to you isn't it? That would do you well in Slytherin. Yes, you would do very well in Slytherin. Courage you have in abundance and Gryffindor would suit you in that respect. Perhaps... no, I think not. Very well then Mr. Potter, you would do exceptionally well in RAVENCLAW!"
The hat shouts the last word to the entire hall as it has for those students who came before him.
Szayel takes off the hat and hands it to the rather stunned Professor. The hall is clapping, but whispers are running through it like a breeze.
He notices his uniform has changed. His blank tie is coloured blue and bronze and he walks to the table that matches it. He sits in an open space, one of few, and is immediately congratulated. He wants to sneer and wrench his hand away, but he does the best he can. Several other first years shy away.
He listens attentively to the Headmasters speech. Then the food appears on the table. It looks delicious, but he feels bloated already. The amount of Reiatsu in the air is off the charts and is incomparable to the human food before him.
"Hey Potter, why aren't you eating anything? It's perfectly fine to eat, even if it did just appear from thin air!" a voice says. The voice is jovial and slightly condescending. He turns to see a fellow first year, a boy with dark skin and a lopsided grin on his face.
"I'm not hungry is all." He replies airily.
The boy snorts and shrugs. He holds out his hand unflinchingly. Szayel is slightly impressed. He takes the hand and shakes it.
"Michael Corner." The boy introduces himself. "Quite a spell you've got the school under." He remarks.
Szayel raises an eyebrow.
"Harry Potter. A spell? I sincerely doubt it."
"Well then how can you explain why half the people at this table are frightened to death of you? Not that that's stopping them from listening in of course." He says, apparently unbothered that their conversation is not private.
Szayel decides that some humans arn't so bad after all.
The Ravenclaw common room is surprising, Szayel thinks. It was in one of the castle's towers and was only accessible by a tight spiral staircase. The wide circular room has graceful arched windows, and the walls are hung with blue and bronze silks. The domed ceiling is painted with stars, which are echoed in the midnight-blue carpet. Tables, chairs, and bookcases cover the expanse of the floor, and a white-marble statue of Rowena Ravenclaw sits next to the door that leads to the dormitories above. Despite himself Szayel is rather impressed.
He is itching to go to one of the bookcases and peruse their contents, but restrains himself and promises to go later.
As he falls into his bed, he feels excitement bubble up inside him again. The first question, what is magic? He would hit the library first, but if that didn't help him? Well, he is just going to have to find some volunteers to aid him in his research now wasn't he?
Szayel loves Potions. He tries not to, but the enjoyment creeps its way in anyway.
It's calming. But mindless following of instructions looses its appeal after you've done it for an entire lifetime already. So Szayel wants to experiment. He won't do it in the lesson of course, he is certainly not stupid, and not until he knows a little more about the subject. Not now then, but maybe later.
The teacher however, is fast becoming the first volunteer. Still, it's a little too early to be going for the big game. So Szayel will wait. After all, a good scientist has to be patient.
Szayel has just finished stowing the last of the vials of troll blood under his robes (Such a fascinating creature, it would be a shame to let it go to waste) when the teachers storm in. He turns, smiling slightly, as though he has just spotted someone he knows in the supermarket, and lets McGonagall say her part. She deflates and soon waves him away, seemingly having forgotten about the Gryffindor girl lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the floor not ten feet from her.
Szayel would have not pointed it out, but for the fact that he feels it is what he is expected to do. So Granger is carried to the Hospital Wing on a hastily conjured stretcher.
He thinks, as he cleans his hands in the sink, the water stained red, that the troll vaguely reminds him if Yammy. Although, he admits, the Tenth was slightly more intelligent.
Michael, apparently, is less than pleased that Szayel got to fight a troll by himself. He is huffy and Szayel is amused by this, not quite sure why he is tolerating the other boys' presence. Szayel also finds out that Michael can't hold a grudge for long and is soon back to making biting, sarcastic comments that Szayel widens his smile at. Needless to say, their fellow first years avoid them where possible.
Michael is a pureblood. Having only a vague idea of what this means, Szayel goes to his favorite place in Hogwarts: the Library.
When Michael finds out what he is doing, he laughs. Szayel feels a little annoyed when Michael tells him he's an "ultra concentrated Ravenclaw". Szayel isn't sure whether this is a bad thing or not. Michael ends up admitting the reason so many people avoid him is not because of his association with Szayel, but because of his mother. Having had four husbands prior and now working on her fifth, Lady Corner has a bit of a reputation. Said husbands had all died in tragic, sudden accidents. Szayel for one, rather wanted to meet her.
He realises Michael is a little disturbed at his admiration for the infamous 'Black Widow'. Szayel just smiles and responds that it's just professional curiosity. Michael looks at him strangely but doesn't say anything. It's one of the qualities he likes most in Michael, Szayel thinks. The ability to keep one's mouth shut and their nose out of other people's business.
Your father left this in my possession before he died. It is time it was returned to you.
Use it well.
A Very Merry Christmas to you.
He tries the cloak on and a wide smile grows on his face. Fascinating.
Szayel hums as he stirs the bubbling liquid in front of him. It annoys him, to have to experiment in secret, but he is enjoying himself none the less. He adds a sprig of mint to the silver liquid and watches as it turns baby blue. Perfect.
He reaches down, under the desk he is using and produces a cage. He glances at its occupant and grins, a hint of the true former Octava in his expression. With one hand, he dips a pipette into the cauldron and with the other, unlatches the cage and grabs the animal inside. The toad struggles and lets out a desperate croak but the Ravenclaws gripe is vice like.
Szayel hovers, waiting for his chance with the pipette poised over the toad. It opens its mouth to let out another croak, when he jams the tool in its mouth and squeezes a few drops down its throat. It thrashes for a moment before its warty skin starts to shrivel and its nerves sent spasms to its limbs. It eventually fell still, its skin blackened and withered.
Szayel finished jotting down his observations in a small notebook he had commandeered from Dudley and poked the remains with his pen. He detested quills, so backward. The corpse crumbled and fell apart, revealing that all the moisture had been removed from the body.
Saint Aurea's Blessing. Wonderful concoction.
He studies what is left of the corpse for a moment before writing in his little book again. He sighs, animal subjects were so boring. You couldn't hear them scream.
Szayel is confused. He does not like the feeling. The mirror he is looking into -gaudy monstrosity it is- shows him. He is different, or rather, the same. He is standing, completely alone in a pristine laboratory, looking as he did before his current body. Pink hair and all. He finds it funny how he misses the appearance he once found irritating. The mirror image's expression is similar to his own and yet... he struggles to find the words. Clear, victorious, free. He likes the look on his double's face, he decides. He vows to come back the next night and study the mirror further. That invisibility cloak, such a fascinating thing.
The next night, he almost doesn't notice the Headmaster when he walks to the mirror. As it is, he only realises there is a person with him a split second before they speak. He turns and holds his lit wand aloft, tense and staring into the aged face of the headmaster who looks vaguely surprised. He lowers the wandlight and smiles at the Professor, as though he had just seen an old acquaintance.
Dumbledore is slightly surprised when the boy detects him before he speaks. He realizes he shouldn't have been, the boy was odd by all accounts. A consummate Ravenclaw if ever there was one. He smiles at the lad who gives that vapid, disarming (although it manages to do the exact opposite to most) smile back. His eyes are half lidded, staring lazily at him, looking as though he isn't, and would never be, surprised.
"I see you, like many before you, have discovered the wonders of the Mirror of Erised." He says, the boy shows little reaction. "Do you know what it does?"
The smile grows and the boy answers.
"It shows us our deepest desires. What we covert most in our hearts. Hence the name."
Dumbledore's own smile widens. He chuckles slightly.
"Ever the Ravenclaw I see. I should have expected nothing less from you Harry." He grows somber. "However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge nor truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible." He shakes his head.
To his great surprise, Harry speaks.
"I would ask you not to worry sir. I have no wish to stare at a mirror for all eternity. Where is the fun in that? I merely wished to study it." The boy pushes his rectangular glasses up his nose, looking scholarly and Dumbledore shakes his head, a smile crinkling his eyes.
"After all, why stare at a reflection when I can have the real thing?"
Dumbledore is alarmed and quickly tries to dissuade the boy.
"Harry. Do not waste your life attempting to pursue what you have seen! It may not even be possible."
The boy shakes his head, and that expression does not change, but makes the aged headmaster feel different somehow.
"My desire is perfectly achievable. All it requires is a little hard work and some careful planning. I assure you headmaster, my goal is a... noble one." The smile widens and it looks vaguely like a smirk.
Dumbledore looks unsettled. He sees that the boy cannot be deterred and drops the subject. After all, he has no idea what the boy sees.
"The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don't you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?" He suggests.
The boy looks like he wants to shrug, but doesn't. He gives the mirror one last look before bowing shortly to the Headmaster and leaving the room. Dumbledore is left standing in the moonlight, avoiding looking into the polished surface of Erised.
Albus shakes his head as if to dislodge stray thoughts. An odd one, that Harry Potter.
"Flamel? I've heard of him. He created the Philosophers Stone. I think I have a book on him somewhere, why do you want to know?"
Michael, Szayel decides, does have his uses after all.
Szayel sighs as he walks through the black fire that is Snape's test. He is rather disappointed. He knows he has somewhat of an advantage, but he thinks that even the Crabbe boy could solve such a riddle. Boredom, how he detests it. Michael is no doubt frantic, Szayel having taken his cue in the previous room, and sent Michael back through the other flames.
He wonders why he is even here. He was bored, and he knows he was dying for something interesting. Curiosity killed that cat and all.
He watches, amused, as the man in front of the gaudy mirror turns and his expression turns thunderous.
Szayel smiled indulgently as he twirls his wand. He isn't sure what good he can do with his limited repertoire of spells but he's done his research. After all, knowledge is power. He finds he rather misses Fornicaras comforting weight by his side.
"Hello Professor Quirrell." He greets, inclining his head.
Quirrell doesn't know how to react. He seems to settle on indifferent.
"I wondered when I would be meeting you here Potter." He says.
Szayel looks at him from under lowered lids, enjoying himself.
"How very strange. I knew it would be you I would see." He responds airily, still staring.
Quirrell narrows his eyes and the grip on his wand becomes vice like.
"Explain, Potter!" he hisses.
Szayel allows his saccharine smile to become tinged with viciousness. He is enjoying this, it has been far too long since he has been in a position to banter with an enemy like this. Although, he can't really describe it as banter. It is more like riling his opponent up enough to give them an aneurism. What fun.
"I would really rather not. After all, why waste words on an imbecile like you?"
It causes no small amount of amusement to see Quirrell almost foaming at the mouth.
"Incarcerous!" he screams, and Szayel is surprised he doesn't cast anything stronger. He hopes he isn't losing his touch.
He moves out of the way, the flailing ropes missing him by an inch.
He looks out from behind deceptively vapid eyes, his eyes glittering. He waves a finger at the man in front of him.
"Tut tut," he admonishes, "so impolite." His smile widens into a sharp grin. "A Professor should set an example for his students. Trying to kill me? Honestly, you could have been more subtle. And that troll?" he scoffs. "A blunt instrument. I had hoped for better."
Quirrel is unnerved by his demeanor and that predatory expression. His face twists itself unpleasantly.
"The stone, I must have it! But how? How do I get it from the mirror?"
"Use the boy." Szayel hears a sibilant voice echo through the room, apparently emanating from the professor. His mouth hadn't moved from its snarl. He is tempted to correct the voice, but feels it is somewhat accurate. He is, after all, in a child's body.
"Yes." Quirrel snaps his narrowed eyes to the Ravenclaw. "Potter! Come here, tell me what you see!" he demands.
Szayel walks forward lazily. He wants to see the mirror again, such a fascinating artifact.
"Well? What do you see?"
Szayel is quiet for a moment, but answers before Quirrell can demand again.
"I see myself." He says, truthful. "I am... powerful. Free, how I was...and more." he murmurs the last part, unsure of what he is doing and lost in the vision.
"Stupid boy!" he is struck and is sent flying into the stone floor and feels pain race its way up his shoulder. Anger cracks his facade and fog settles on his mind.
How dare he! How dare he strike me! I'll rip his fucking throat out! I'll-
"He speaks the truth. Let me speak with him." The voice intervenes.
"Master! You are not strong enough!" Quirrell protests to whomever had spoken.
"I have strength enough for this."
Quirrell manages to grovel without seeing whoever the voice belongs to. He reaches up a steady hand and, slowly and deliberately, unwinds his turban.
Szayel raises an eyebrow as he looks into the red eyes of Lord Voldemort. Such ugliness.
"Harry Potter." The shade says, its voice sibilant. "We meet again."
Szayel knows his mask is thin and cracked, but wears it anyway.
"Lord Voldemort I presume?" he says.
"Yes, you see what I have become? A mere shadow of my former glory. See what I must do to survive? Live off another! But there is something that can end my suffering, something that I believe you can get for me."
Szayel cocks his head.
"I sympathise. But I cannot retrieve the stone for you I'm afraid."
Voldemort's 'face' contorts in anger and he opens his mouth to shout.
Szayel holds up his hands.
"Not that I won't, but that I can't. You see, I have no idea how." He admits, frowning.
The spirit looks shrewdly at him. Szayel feels his own vapid eyes bore into the searing red.
"You are... different, to how I expected, Harry Potter." He says at last.
Szayel raises his eyebrow again.
"Oh? And what did you expect me to be like?" he asks interestedly.
"I admit, I thought you would be just like your father. Brave, stubborn, shallow. And yet undyingly loyal."
Szayel can't help it. He throws back his head and laughs. It is a sound that sends shivers down many a spine and does not suit his child's body.
"Loyal?" he asks, his voice wavering. Loyal? Really? Nel would disagree. "To whom I may ask? The sorting hat was right about something at least. Just a word..." he trails off.
Voldemort looks gleeful.
"Why die a horrible death when you can join me? All you have to do is get the stone for me." He says, showing the charisma that made him so sought after.
Szayel quiets and looks penetratingly at the Dark Lord.
"Join? I believe the term is serve." He chides. "No, I'm afraid I must decline."
Voldemort's eyes flash.
"So," he hisses, "Staying true to the light after all?"
"No," Szayel answers airily. "I simply dislike the idea of being a slave. Been there and done that." He waved a hand indolently. He feels odd, telling the truth to an enemy.
Voldemort's face is wrathful before it smoothes over.
"Tell me Harry, would you like to see your mother and father again? Together we can bring them back. All I ask is for something in return. That's it Harry. There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it. Together we'll do extraordinary things. Just give me the Stone!"
Szayel is suddenly interested. He finds he rather agrees with Voldemort's opinion on power.
"Bring them back? You believe you can resurrect the dead?"
Voldemort's grin widens. His eyes shine.
"Yes. I alone have the power to do so, I am the master of death! All I need," he persuades, "is the stone. So Harry, if you would?"
Szayel is disappointed. He sighs theatrically.
"No, I think not. Master of death? No mortal can master death." He shakes his head. "And here it thought you might be interesting."
The Dark Lord narrows his eyes.
"Kill him!" Voldemort hisses in anger. Quirrell, and Szayel realises he has almost forgotten through whom they were conversing.
The Professor raises his wand and the Ravenclaw tenses. He wishes again that he had his faithful Fornicaras at his side.
Quirrell raises his wand and brings it scything down, loosing a sparkling orange spell that Szayel twists his body to avoid. He hates this body.
Before he can raise his own wand to cast a spell, he is forced to roll and dodge once again. Anger bubbles in his gut. Weak. He is weak.
"Really now Potter, I had thought you would be more of a challenge!"
As he dodges and tries his best to ignore the taunts from his enemy, his brain is flashing through the workings of a plan. At least he hadn't lost his best weapon, his mind.
He dodges another spell - this one sizzling through the solid stone like acid – by diving and rolling towards the professor. His body tips to the side and he has to stretch out a hand to stop himself from falling. He puts his weight on the hand and propels his body into the air and, grimacing at the poor condition of his current body, kicks the host of Lord Voldemort in the face. The kick doesn't do as much damage as he hopes. It knocks Quirrell back a few steps and gives him a bloody nose.
Cursing his meagre skills at hand to hand combat, Szayel follows up with a punch to the jaw, which has more of an effect.
Where his skin touches, the flesh begins to sizzle and burn. The scent of scorched flesh enters his nose and he feels vaguely nostalgic of his days as the Octava. He rears back, fascinated as Quirrell clutches his face, howling.
"What is this magic?" he asks and Szayel isn't sure if he is asking him or his master.
"You fool! Kill him!" Voldemort shouts.
Szayel throws himself to the side, wincing as he feels his shoulder give a sharp stab of pain.
He is up and throws himself towards the professor once more. His smile is gone, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a snarl and his eyes are wide and feverish. The dodges another spell, but is not fast enough. It clips him on the side and he cries out as it scores out a large gash in his skin. He looses momentum and falls to the floor, the air being forced from his lungs.
"Eres un hijo de puta!" he spits the curse at his enemy and rolls again as a navy bolt obliterates the slab he has been lying on.
Seeing a chance, he darts forward and knocking the wand from his enemy's hand, wraps his hands around the larger mans throat.
Quirrell struggles and almost throws the Ravenclaw off, but weakens quickly. One hand scrabbles for the fallen wand, lying mere inches from the desperate fingers and the other tries in vain to push the enraged boy off. The flesh scorches and blisters under Szayel's fingers and it sloughs off until the struggling stops and the hands eventually fall still.
Slowly, the blanket of rage recedes and he gradually removes his hands from the ruined skin. The throat is rent open, barely hanging together by threads of muscle and cartilage. His hands are unharmed, but covered in gore. An oddly comforting sight.
Szayel tips to the side, exhausted and once again cursing his body. His chest shakes and his breaths eventually calms. Picks himself up and drags himself over to the cooling corpse. He studies it, his head tipped to one side.
He examines it as only a scientist could and took a sample of the burnt tissue and secretes it away in a glass phial that goes into one of his voluminous pockets.
He turns and makes to leave, dragging his feet and wishing for a handy fraccion or a bed. Unfortunately, he was a long way from either.
He senses something and half turns, unsure of what the sudden ripple in reiatsu means. His eyes widen as the smoky form of Lord Voldemort passes through him, it's 'face' ugly and contorted. His breath catches and his eyes roll up into the back of his head as he collapses in a boneless heap on the stone floor.
Szayel resists the temptation to groan as he wakes up. When he finally opens his eyes, he sees white. Lots of white. He decides he likes wherever he is, it smells of cleanness and reminds him of his old laboratory.
He takes a deep breath and tries to sit up, his vision is blurry. He gropes for his glasses and almost jumps when he feels them pressed into his hand.
He slides the rectangular frames onto his nose and sees the headmaster sitting beside his bed. He raises an eyebrow at the older (although only physically, he thinks) man.
"Ahh Harry. You're awake." He states, his eyes crinkling.
"So it would seem." Szayel responds dryly, his eyes rest on the pile of brightly coloured boxes piled at the foot of his bed.
Dumbledore follows his gaze.
"Token from your admirers." He explains, that twinkle going strong.
Szayel smiles amusedly. Admirers? How very odd.
Dumbledore catches the expression.
"What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret. So naturally the whole school knows. Ah, I see that your friend Michael has saved you the trouble of opening your Fizzing Whizzbees." He says, looking at the aforementioned sweetbox amusedly.
Szayel allows his lips to twitch. Michael knew he hated Fizzing Whizbees. Far too sour for his taste.
"And the stone? Is it still inside the mirror?"
At this, Dumbledore pins him with a very intense look, his earlier joviality entirely gone.
"No, it was removed and destroyed. I talked with Nicholas and he and his wife agreed it was for the best. Now, I'm sure you were wondering why you could not access the stone?"
Szayel has indeed been wondering this and nods.
"Ah, you see only a person who wanted to find the Stone, find it, but not use it would be able to get it. That is one of my more brilliant ideas. And between you and me that is saying something. What I am most concerned about is that you wished to acquire the stone for yourself. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt Harry, but I am curious as to your reasons."
Szayel blinks slowly.
"I wanted to study it."
Dumbledore raises a white eyebrow and prompts his student to go on.
"It is – was – a one of a kind artefact. I wanted to study it. As you said Professor, I am ever the Ravenclaw. You should have expected nothing less."
Dumbledore scrutinises him for a moment before leaning back in his chair and sighing. A small smile crosses his face.
Szayel takes the opportunity to ask something that has been bothering him since he has woken up.
"Why was Quirrell so affected by skin contact? I cast no spells, nor felt anything when I touched him."
"It was because of your mother. She sacrificed herself for you. And that kind of act leaves a mark. This kind of mark cannot be seen. It lives in your very skin." He explains.
Szayel looks at him expectantly, getting irritated with all the dancing around. He feels that it is vaguely hypocritical of him to feel so, but he ignores it.
Dumbledore sighs again.
"Love Harry, The power is love."
Szayel is less than impressed. Love? Love is an emotion, a product of chemicals secreted by the Adrenal gland.
Dumbledore no doubt sees this and his face reflects sadness for a moment before smoothing over. He smiles and reaches for a half buried box in the pile of sweets.
"Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. I was most unfortunate in my youth to come across a vomit flavour one. Since then I'm afraid I've lost my liking for them. But I think I could be safe with a nice toffee." He picked a golden brown bean out a popped it into his mouth. After a second he wrinkled his nose but grinned. "Alas! Earwax!"
Szayel allowed his lips to twitch. He always did appreciate good humour.
"Another year gone. And now as I understand it, the House Cup needs awarding. And the points stand as thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor with 312 points. Third place, Hufflepuff with 352 points. In second place Ravenclaw with 426 points. And in first place, with 476 points, Slytherin House."
Cheers erupt from the green clad table and Michael turns a sullen eye on them. He doesn't like Slytherins. They say things about his mother. Granted, most of those things are true and well deserved but they are so cruel about it! He spares a glance at his friend who sits beside him. Harry Potter. He was not how Michael expected the legendary boy-who-lived to be. For one, he was in the wrong house. And second... there were too many things to name. Part of Michael (the part that made the hat consider Slytherin) believes it's a good idea to make friends early on with such an influential figure. Another part simply enjoys the other boys company, his dry humour and wit and his endless antagonisation of his peers. The last and smallest part of him is wary of the boy. Harry Potter is odd. As in creepy-odd. As in not-quite-there-creepy-odd.
But Michael gets creepiness. He finds it funny how Half the Slytherins try and suck up to his friend, only to scuttle away when they have his attention.
He has invited Harry over for the summer holidays. He isn't sure what possessed him to make the offer, but the other boy had smiled at him and thanked him for the offer, telling him he would respond at a later date, when he had spoken with his guardians. Michael had nodded and immediately written to his mother.
He shakes himself out of his train of thought when Dumbledore announces the scores for the house cup.
He mutters about unfairness and bats under his breath. One of their housemates, - Goldstein? – says something comforting.
"Yes, yes. Well-done Slytherin. Well done Slytherin. However recent events must be taken into account. And I have a few last minute points to award." The headmaster says.
Muttering brakes out in the hall and whispers bounce off the walls. Michael perked up, interested.
"To one Mr. Harry Potter, for outstanding courage and bravery I award Ravenclaw house fifty points."
"We're tied with Slytherin!" Goldstein stage whispers in excitement, a giddy grin on his face. Michael lets a grin spread across his face and turns to Harry, who is sitting at his side and who gives his a wry, secretive smile.
"And to Mr. Michael Corner, for having the nerve to burst into Professor Snapes classroom and demand help, I award ten points."
Michael is stunned. And embaressed. His mouth is open and his eyes are wide as his house explodes into noise.
Szayel finds people trying to shake his hand and he indulges them, almost laughing at the pile of people that are swamping his – when did this happen? – friend.
He catches Dumbledore's eye and the man raises his Goblet, Szayel offers his a nod of the head and a smirk. The headmaster winks.
He finds it odd. He enjoys being here. He does not relish the idea of returning to Privet Drive, but he will stomach it if it means he can return next year.
After all, he hasn't had much of a chance to experiment this year now has he?
Yes, the ending sucks. I knew this. I honestly couldn't think of anything! But hey, it's finally done. And it's really, really long. The second one (and there will be a second) with be a bit shorter. Probably.
Obviously, I'm going to do all seven years. Unless I get the dreaded writers block. Which is very likely, knowing me. So review and keep my enthusiasm up! ;)