Sole Survivor

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June 5, 1991

Panting heavily, a ten year-old Harry Potter stopped in front of Number Four Privet Drive, only the number on the mailbox distinguishing it from all the other houses on the street. Wiping an arm across his sweaty brow, he swiftly dismounted the shiny green racing bike, pristine with disuse, and leaned it up against the low garden wall.

He took a moment to peel the sweat-drenched shirt from his back, shrugging his bony shoulders to reposition the oversized garment. Giving it up as hopeless, he gave a glance towards the twin plastic bags which hung from the rubber-sheathed handlebars.

If given the choice, he certainly wouldn't have gone down to the corner shop in the stifling heat of today's early June morning, but considering the alternative…

Shaking his head, he banished the selfish thoughts. What was he supposed to do, just leave his relatives by themselves? Maybe they would have left him behind, but he took a certain amount of pride in knowing that he was different from them.


Hefting the bags from their hanging place, he began to drag them up the walkway, one in each hand. The muscles of his scrawny frame burning, he reached the doorway. Gently setting down the bags, he fished the front-door key from his pocket, jamming it into the lock.

Considering the situation the past few days, Harry really didn't think any criminals were going to try to rob the Dursleys, but had humored them nonetheless, locking the door before he had ventured out.

Refreshing cool air wafted out of the house as he opened the door. Basking in the chill, he lugged the bags inside, setting them on the tile floor.

"Who's there?" Uncle Vernon's bellowed, though his voice lacked its typical volume.

"Me," Harry answered simply, stepping into the living room. "I tried-"

"Shut up!" Dudley croaked, lifting his head up slightly from the pillow, before it sunk back. Despite the chill of the house, his cousin was sweating profusely, his blond hair plastered to his head like a grotesque helmet. Thick yellow gunk crusted around his eyes, while dark bags hung heavy beneath his eyes.

Following Dudley's gaze, Harry glanced over to the television, where a harried-looking female anchor sat behind a desk, reading from a sheaf of papers. Turning her head quickly to the side, the woman sneezed violently into a tissue. The forceful spasm tore through the thin paper in a mist of greenish-yellow snot and fine flecks of blood.

Her cheeks beginning to redden, black mascara running from her eyes and mingling with the barest traces of yellow gunk, she turned back towards the camera.

"Citizens are advised to stay in their home as this time. In light of the strange malaise that has-"

Shifting her gaze slightly to the right, off-center from the camera, the woman's bright blue exhausted eyes widened for a moment. She let out a barely perceptible nod, before refocusing her attention squarely on the camera.

"P-p-please," she urged, shaking slightly, "Again, we urge you all to stay within your homes. Even as we speak, the government is deploying flu-shots to neighborhoods across Britain. Within the next day-"

"The next day!" Vernon roared from his armchair, his face beet-red and sweating. "We need it now, dammit!"

His fevered eyes scanning the room, they stopped upon Harry.

"And you, you freak," Vernon roared, jabbing a finger at him. "It's your kind that caused all of this, wasn't it!"

Harry shook his head, not wanting to answer his uncle's delirious claims. Unless Vernon had left him in the dark all these years, he was pretty sure that his Uncle and him were of the same 'kind'.

As sad as the thought was.

Aunt Petunia, sprawled across the loveseat on the far end of the living room, lifted her head slightly at Vernon's yelled, but then returned it to the pillow, too exhausted to do anything else.

"Answer me, boy!" Vernon roared, hefting himself to his feet. He swayed uncertainly for a moment, before beginning to march towards Harry, fist raised. "We're all so sick we can…barely…move, but you don't…even…have…. a cough!"

Gasping for air between words, his chest heaving, Harry backed away from his uncle. Despite the air-conditioning, Vernon was radiating heat like a furnace. Leaving the living room behind, Harry began to backpedal down the hall.

"Get…back…here!" Vernon ordered, his face turning purple.

Shaking his head, Harry opened the cupboard door, entering into it. His uncle's delirium had gotten worse over the past few days, and these threats, sadly, were nothing new. He should probably put away the food before it went bad, but in his uncle's current state, it was better to stay out of reach, and there was no way Vernon was going to follow him into the small, confined space.

Turning, Harry saw the light cut off as the door slammed shut, quickly followed by the locking of the door.

"Don't…want…to…come….out!" Vernon bellowed loudly, cackling madly. "Then…stay…in there!"

A coughing fit coming over him, Harry heard heavy footsteps as his uncle stumbled back towards the living room. Pictures fell from the wall and crashed heavily upon the ground as Vernon lurched back.

Balling his hands into fists, Harry began to pound upon the door. The blows echoed in the confined space, making him feel as if he was trapped inside a drum.

"Let me out!" Harry screamed, continuing to hit the door, but his demands were ignored.

"That was a stupid idea, Harry," he chided himself, before sitting down on the floor. "Really stupid."

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A summer cold wasn't exactly rare, especially in the increasingly large classes that Harry had attended on his way through primary school. If one person caught it, usually in a few days, half of the class would also be sniffling uncontrollably, the trash baskets overflowing with wads of phlegm-soaked tissues. No big deal, a cold was something everyone had to deal with at some point, Harry included.

No big deal. Nothing to worry about.

As the days stretched on, more and more people got sick. Students, teachers, shopkeepers, neighbors; they all got a taste of the summer cold. Oddly enough, however, the first people to catch it didn't get better.

Instead, they got worse.

Common cold symptoms degraded into flu-like ones. The sickness drained people completely of energy, leaving them helpless as phlegm congested their lungs, and their eyes continually watered.

As more and more people contracted the 'summer cold', Harry found that he alone, out of everyone he knew, was immune to the virus' effects, a fact which drove his relatives spare. Dudley had even taken it upon himself to sneeze directly in Harry's face, an act which had hurt his pride and cleanliness, but little else.

Unable to take care of themselves, Harry found himself occupied beyond his already long list of chores and responsibilities. He suddenly found himself having to take Dudley's rarely-used racing bike and go down to the store for supplies. Unsurprisingly, most of the over the counter flu medications had become more valuable than gold, often prompting fist fights over the last boxes. On one particularly memorable day, he recalled watching as an old lady swung a glass bottle of vinegar at a middle-aged man's head, all for taking the last box of Sudafed.

On his last trip to the corner shop, all of the medicines had been completely bought out, down to the last bottle of aspirin. The shopkeeper, a tall, bald man, swayed unsteadily on his feet as Harry paid for his purchases. His gummy eyes sunk deep into his head, he had refused payment from Harry, instead opting to warn him, slightly deliriously, that he should watch out for the dogs on the way home.

"Should have watched out for my relatives instead," Harry spat angrily, punching his single lumpy pillow. He still couldn't believe that his uncle had flipped out like that, and decided that locking him in the cupboard would be the right thing to do.

Harry had waited for hours, yelling through out the day, but all to no avail. As the shadows on the carpeted hall lengthened, his mind began to wander. He was thirsty, hungry, but that wasn't the worst of it.

When were they going to let him out?

It had taken all Vernon's strength to get up from the chair, and lock the door. Honestly, Harry didn't know if his uncle would be ale to do it again.

Trying to tell himself that everything was going to turn out alright, Harry curled up upon his meager bedding of clothes and threadbare blankets, closing his eyes. While sleep proved elusive, he found it after hours of tossing and turning, praying that by morning, everything would be all better.

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A loud crash echoed throughout the house, expelling Harry from the solace of dreams. Sitting up, he felt the familiar pressure within his bladder, informing him it was time to do the morning's necessary. Stretching for a moment, he got to his feet slowly, rubbing his eyes as he did so.

Reaching his feet, he gave the cupboard door a casual glance, before his mind caught up with the significance of the crashing sound.

"Let me out!" Harry screamed, pounding heavily on the door. If one of his relatives was up, knocking stuff over, maybe they'd let him out!

"Help…" a faint voice, barely audible, whispered, before entering a coughing fit.

"Dudley, you've got to get me out of here!"

Harry put his ear against the wooden door, desperate for any reply. Instead, Dudley's coughing increased in violence, transitioning into loud gagging.

"Dudley, come on, you've got to get me out of here!"

Again, his cousin had no reply. His gagging continued to grow in volume, almost like he was-

With a start, Harry let out an involuntary gasp as the truth took hold.

Dudley was choking to death.

Re-doubling his efforts on the door, he began to punch it and kick it, causing it to shake in its frame. Tears of frustration began to roll down his cheeks as his efforts bore no fruit.

"This isn't fair!" Harry screamed. "I have to save Dudley! Get out of my way, you stupid bloody door!"

Still the door remained, unopened. It didn't care that his cousin was dying, or that he was trapped inside. No, all the evil door cared about was itself, and more than anything, Harry wanted it to disappear, to just go away-

Without warning, the door vanished into thin air. Having been leaning against it, Harry fell forward, landing awkwardly on the carpet. His elbows stung as they were skinned slightly on the fabric, but his mind barely registered the pain.

He was free!

Not stopping to ponder the 'how', Harry leapt to his feet. Running down the hall, he took the corner, bracing himself on the doorway. Prepared to rush into the living room and help his cousin, he instead froze in his tracks.

Dudley's tremendous girth was laid upon the same couch Harry had last seen him. His cousin's eyes bulging and filled with terror, his face completely purple, he let out one final spasm before stilling, his eyes glazing over.

His cousin was dead.

Letting out a choked sob, he looked away from his cousin's form, towards the other side of the living room.

In his favorite armchair sat Vernon Dursley. His mouth was frozen in an eternal soundless scream, his purple, inflated tongue lolling from the right side of his mouth. Next to him, facedown on the floor, was Petunia Dursley.

She was not moving.

It was all too much for Harry. With a shriek, he tore away from the living room, one of his sneakers coming down directly on top of one of the plastic bags, squashing the loaf of bread. Throwing the door open, he leapt down the small set of stairs.

All thoughts of thirst, hunger, and his need to pee departed, he took Dudley's racing bike from its leaning spot and quickly mounted it. Standing up, he began to pedal furiously down the street, as hard as he could.

"Mr. Potter!" a breathless, elderly voice yelled after him. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Mrs. Figg jogging down the sidewalk, trying to catch up with him, but Harry ignored her, attempting to peddle even faster, legs pumping up and down as hard as he could. It didn't even matter what direction he went, all that mattered was getting away from the Dursleys.

And the unavoidable guilt he felt at their deaths.

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Piece by piece, Harry's deteriorating physical condition began to chip away at his mental defenses. The mental trauma of seeing his relatives dead lost no potency, but his aching legs and back, and his parched throat took higher priority.

Not to mention that he hadn't even gone to the bathroom since waking up.

Pumping the hand-brake on the racing bike, he slowed to a stop in front of a thick copse of bushes. Lowering the kickstand, he dismounted the bike, and headed into the greenery. The shade provided a measure of respite from the scorching sun, as well as the privacy to do the necessary.

Re-buttoning his worn jeans, he noted that for the first time, the roaring of blood in his ears, the panic, had finally faded, exposing the world for what it truly was.


No car engines running, no televisions or stereos blaring, no kids playing in the streets, nor adults to yell at them to get out of it. Stepping out from the shade, all he could hear were the chirping of birds, and the slight rustle of the wind as it wound its way through the trees.

Far from comforting, it reinforced the thought that he might be one of the last people left in Surrey, a thought he had tried to stave off. All the cars, the houses, they all had begun to take on an abandoned look, like the relics that Indiana Jones was always traveling around the world trying to find.

Peeling the sweat-stained shirt from his back once again, Harry flicked up the kickstand, and hopped on the bike. His legs were still tired, but his thirst was stronger. Maybe he could have searched the surrounding houses for water, but the thought of going into one of them, and finding more bodies…

Definitely something he wanted to avoid.

His legs pumping as he built up speed, he flew down the hot asphalt of the road, deserted houses passing on each side of him. The homes had shifted away from the cookie-cutter formation of the houses in Little Whinging, becoming more individual in design, not to mention larger, which meant that he was approaching the Kent border.

Weaving around a small, green sedan that had stalled in the middle of the street, Harry saw a road block at a four-way intersection. It was comprised of four police cruisers, two per road, parked perpendicular to the street. White wooden saw-horses were set up in front, just in case someone managed to miss the police vehicles.

Drawing closer, he saw a great deal of a dark, sticky crimson liquid pooled in front of one of the barriers, with small splotches and drops surrounding the main puddle. Mystified, Harry slowed in front of the barriers, to see an object glittering in the bright rays of the sun. Swiftly dismounting the bike, Harry picked it up.

It was a small, hollow cylindrical object, perhaps one inch in length, with a far smaller circumference. The golden colored metal felt hot against his palm. Wondering what it was, he walked towards the police barrier, only to see another one of the objects on the ground, next to the empty police cruiser. Walking towards it, he glanced on the other side of the cruiser. Directly behind it, fifty, maybe a hundred of the metal objects littered the ground.

Glancing at the pile of discarded metal, a distant memory of primary school surfaced, where Jimmy Appleton, a classmate, had asked the officer visiting their class if they got guns. The policeman had laughed, before telling them that they normally didn't, but in 'extreme circumstances' were authorized to do so.

Clarity coming, Harry dropped the casing quickly. Hearing it clink against the ground, he raced back to his bike, quickly mounting it. Even if the police cruisers were empty, being this close to were someone had been shot was too disquieting.

Not wanting to go back in the direction he had come from, he took off down the only unblocked road, putting distance between himself and the large pool of dried blood.

Harry wasn't very familiar with this part of Surrey, but thought that in his panic leaving Number Four Privet Drive, he had wound up going north. If he had followed one of the roads that had been blocked off, it would have taken him to the freeway, which would have led directly into the heart of London.

Had the police been trying to keep people from escaping Surrey?

Or from getting in?

With no way of knowing, Harry continued down the street. The sun beat down mercilessly upon him, at its zenith. He needed water, and fast, if he was going to keep pushing himself.

Even if he had no idea where he was going.

The street he was traveling emptied out into a larger, more commercial area, quaint brick buildings lining each side of the street. Spotting a convenience store at a corner, he made his way towards 'O' Brien's Corner ', leaning his bike against the building's brick exterior. White shades had been drawn across the large glass window, blocking out the building's interior.

"Bloody hell," Harry muttered under his breath. The first store he finds, in desperate need of water, and it's closed?

With a frustrated growl, he kicked out at the door, only to have it swing inward. Surprised, Harry jumped back for a second. Why would they bother pulling the blinds, but not locking up the store?

Staring at the door, trepidation began to fill him. What if there were bodies inside as well? Shaking his head, he pushed on through the threshold of the store. Whatever happened next, he definitely needed water, and would have to stop somewhere regardless.

Within the gloom of the store, he could see nothing. Standing just inside the doorway, the door swung shut behind him, the slight disturbance echoing throughout the store.

Try as he would, he couldn't get the image of a tomb slamming shut out of his mind.

With the invasive sunlight blocked off by the closed door, Harry saw that while the overhead lights were indeed off, a bright, pale luminescence glowed on the back wall of the store. Listening closely, he heard the steady hum of running refrigeration, nearly masked by the dull roar of a generator.

The store itself was a complete mess. Brightly colored packages and boxes lined the floors, many of the items having been carelessly knocked from the shelving. To his right, next to the register, a newspaper rack had been upended, spilling the papers across the floor. Every single headline, in large, bold letters, screamed about the spread of the 'summer cold' virus.

Picking up the nearest one, 'The Daily Telegraph', he glanced quickly at the date in the upper right-hand corner.

June 2, 1991

Four days ago. That was the last time they had bothered to print the newspaper. Quickly dropping it back to the ground, he turned and made his way through the aisles. Half-filled with various chips and candy, they stretched high above his head, limiting his view of the store. As he approached the white lights at the back of the store, panic began to well within his mind, the sharp, insidious stench of death assaulting his nostrils.

The same exact smell he had experienced in the Dursley living room.

For a moment, he made to bolt from the store, back into the sunlight, but logic won out. Along with needing water, dead people were something that he was going to have to get used to.

Taking another shaky footstep forward, trying not to think of the store as a haunted house, he emerged from the aisles, arriving at the back of the store. From within the glass-fronted, refrigerated cases shone white fluorescents, the only source of illumination in the store. In sharp detail, they lit the source of the stench.

Crumpled in front of the case containing the beer, facedown, was a figure in a dirty, worn, beige overcoat. From beneath a stained, gray knit cap peeked long, straggly hair, knotted and tangled. Fingerless gloves covered his hands, showcasing long fingernails with years of dirt and grime wormed under them.

With great trepidation, as if afraid of waking the dead, he made his way across the white linoleum, around the dead wino. Passing the body, a wild, dirty smell assaulted his nose, almost making him gag. Above and beyond being dead, it hadn't seemed the man had showered in the year before his death.

Passing the man, he let out a relieved breath as he reached the cooler that had the water and juices in it. His fingers grasping the cool stainless steel handle, he pulled it open. Cold air blew out at him, a sensation so refreshing that he basked in it for a few moments, even his vast thirst forgotten. Smiling, he reached in, pulling out a plastic bottle of water. Quickly he twisted the cap off, throwing it carelessly over his shoulder, before raising the bottle to his lips.

The first gulp was like heaven in a bottle. His dehydrated body crying for more, Harry drunk deeply and greedily, heedless of the water he sloshed onto his shirt. Letting out a loud burp, he stopped long enough to take a breath, before continuing, temporarily forgetting the haunting atmosphere of the store.

Without warning, a slight whisper of shifting fabric sounded behind him. Turning, he saw the dead man spasm violently on the floor, legs kicking outwards. At once, Harry's fingers went slack, allowing the half-full plastic bottle to fall to the ground. Horrified, his mind filling with yammering terror, he turned and ran.

Directly into a large display of sunglasses.

Caught by surprise, he tumbled to the floor, landing on his side. The plastic display hit the ground after him with a crash, scattering cheap pairs of sunglasses all over the floor. Eyes wide with terror, he saw the dead man convulse violently again, before lurching to his feet, using the cooler to pull himself up.

What little he could see of the man's eyes were bloodshot, his eyelids being partially gummed shut with yellow gunk. His nose ran profusely, running down his face, into his already dirty, scraggly beard. Between severely rotted, blackened teeth he exhaled labored breaths.

"Wh' aint' ye sick?" the man slurred, moving towards Harry. Frozen with fear, he could only watch as the man reached down, grabbing his bony arm.

"Answ'r me!" the man demanded, pulling Harry to his feet, and beginning to shake him violently. Without warning, the man flung Harry backwards, sending him flying into the glass cooler. He hit the glass door hard enough to shake it in its frame, his teeth clicking together painfully.

"Yer gon' giv me te cure!" the man declared, beginning to charge at Harry. Filled with terror, the young boy wished with all his heart that he could just get away from this crazy, dying man.

Before he knew it, he found himself ten feet away from the wino, watching as he charged an empty space. The wino, shocked by his sudden disappearance, tried to step, but his feet tangled together.

Almost in slow motion, Harry saw the man fall head-first into the glass case. His head broke through the glass, shattering the entire pane. At once, hot blood began to spurt from the wino's neck, beginning to pool on the floor. The man began to convulse wildly, gurgling as he did so.

The sound, more than anything, broke Harry of his paralysis. Turning, he sprinted down the aisles, hitting the front door as hard as he could. It flew open, admitting bright sunshine. Squinting against the increased light levels, Harry mounted his bike, and fled further down the street, without looking back.

Along with being sick, had the entire world gone crazy?

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As Harry rode on, putting as much distance between himself and the store as possible, his thoughts were heavy with the inexplicable things he had done over the past day.

Not that he hadn't had his fair share of strange episodes throughout the years, including his hair growing unnaturally fast, Aunt Petunia's hideous sweater shrinking, and finding himself on the roof of the school, but this…

This was different.

For the first time, things were happening that he actually wished for. The door disappearing, getting away from the sick wino…

Was he really the freak his relatives had always claimed?

If so, he was glad, because if he wasn't a 'freak', he probably would have gotten sick like everyone else had. How did it work, though? It wasn't like the superpowers that he had read in comics, where the heroes could use their powers whenever they wanted. Maybe they only worked when he was in trouble.

As he rode, the stores and businesses faded away, once again transitioning into large homes complete with spacious yards. His legs exhausted, his stomach grumbling disconsolately, he decided he could try to figure out his 'powers' another time.

Pedaling down the asphalt, he scanned the driveways as he traveled, looking for-


The large house to his right was a sprawling, two-story with brick exterior and heavy brown shutters. Curtains well pulled shut over all of the windows, giving no indication of what the interior looked like. Most importantly, though, was that there were no cars in the gently sloping driveway.

It wasn't a sure thing, but it increased his chances that the house would be empty. Pulling into the driveway, he quickly got off the racing bike, pushing it the final few feet. Trees shadowed the driveway, giving a respite from the scorching sun. At the end of the driveway was a low wooden fence, with a simple gate set in the middle. Unlatching it, he wheeled the bike in.

The back yard was large, perhaps a hundred feet in length and width. A meticulously maintained garden took up the rear, flowers of vibrant color standing proudly in bloom. A small pond was placed in the far corner, surrounded by a low rock wall.

Carefully, he leaned the racing bike against the building's brick exterior. The past day, the only people he'd seen had wanted to hurt him for not being sick. It seemed like a better idea to hide that he was here.

The bike secured, exited the back yard, and went to the side of the house. Up a short flight of wooden steps was a simple white door, the blind drawn shut on it. Vibrant green vines climbed the entire side of the house, a wooden trellis poking through.

Grasping the handle, he took a deep, steadying breath, before attempting to turn it.


He quickly stepped into the darkened interior of the house, shutting the door softly behind him and throwing the latch.

It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the relative gloom of the house, but once it did, he found that he was in a vast kitchen. White tile lined the floor, broken only by a large wooden island topped by a granite slab. Countless cabinets of a dark wood lined the opposite wall, mounted atop an L-shaped granite countertop.

"Is anyone here?" he called out loudly, taking a hesitant step forward. He received no reply, amplifying the dead silence of the home. With careful steps, he began to creep across the tile, making his way around the island, to the center of the far counter. Place directly in the middle was a huge, gleaming stainless steel sink, almost large enough for him to bathe in. Half-heartedly, he turned the 'cold' knob, not expecting much.

His eyes widened as a torrent of water began to pour from the faucet. Eagerly, he stuck his head under the current, drinking long and greedily from the cool fountain, careless of the water that spilled down the front of his shirt. More than anything, it was actually refreshing, soothing him further. Taking a moment to let out a gargantuan belch, he resumed, feeling his thirst disappear.

Turning the faucet off, he stepped away, glancing towards the large, hulking refrigerator. Hoping that the house still had power, he opened the door. At once, the stench of rotten food wafted out, hitting him full in the face. Recoiling from the smell, he quickly slammed the door shut, but not before catching a quick glimpse of maggots squirming inside the bowls and plates piled within.

No electricity, but at least he had water.

Answering the call of his neglected stomach, he went towards the small wooden door next to the cabinets, pushing it open. Beyond lay a large pantry, every wooden shelf filled to capacity with brightly colored boxes and packages. Grinning widely, he snatched a purple plastic packet from the shelf, adorned with yellow animals on it. Tearing the packet of Cadbury's Animals open with his teeth, he spat out a torn section of plastic, before laying into the animal-shaped biscuits. He voraciously devoured the chocolate coated cookies; the hunger is his stomach beginning to abate.

He finished the bag quickly, and crumpled the bag into a ball. About to throw it on the floor, he reconsidered, instead tossing in into a nearby waste basket. He might be here for a little while, and might as well keep the place as clean as he could.

Though the crumbs from the crackers he could certainly pick up later, right?

His most basic needs attended to, he began to explore the house. Being much larger than Number Four Privet Drive, it was fare more interesting, with its high ceilings. The television in the living room was even bigger than he was.

Shame he had no electricity to watch it.

After poking through the ground floor's rooms, he climbed the large staircase at the center of the house, up to where the bedrooms were. The stairs did creak as he ascended them, startling him slightly, but it was but a minor incident.

The upper floor was a large hallway that took up the middle of the house, spanning from front to back, with all the bedrooms branching off of it, along with a laundry chute on either side. Going to the front of the house, he opened the last door in the left, revealing a huge, immaculate bedroom.

A king-size bed, covered with a large beige comforter, took up the center of the room. Grinning wide, he kicked off his shoes and hopped up onto the bed, beginning to jump up and down on the soft surface. Laughing wildly, he glanced at the mahogany dresser, replete with a large mirror rising up from the center.

A jewelry box, filled with glittering metals, was placed to the left of the mirror, while to the right, were a myriad of pictures, most displaying a smiling, middle-aged couple, arms linked about each other's shoulders.

At the sight, he stopped jumping, the grin slowly fading from his face. He began to feel guilty, like every bit the intruder he was. Almost ashamedly, he stepped off the bed, thinking of his dead relatives.

While he was well aware that his relatives had been horrible people, they were the only family he'd ever known, even if most of the time they had treated him like a slave. Sure, sometimes he had hated them, but they didn't deserve to die choking on their own phlegm, to go insane with the delirium towards the end.

No one did, really.

Leaving the bedroom behind, closing the door behind him, he checked the one across the hall. Though decorated nicely, with framed photographs of landscapes on the wall, it's clearly a guest room, not having much in the way of personal effects. Setting his shoes down, Harry concluded that this was far better.

All he wanted to do was crawl into bed and catch some sleep, but he went to the window first, opening it halfway.

He didn't know how many people were left besides him, but what if they were like the man in the store? Maybe if he left the window open, he'd hear them coming. It was kind of paranoid, but he was going to have to be smarter if he wanted to stay alive. If not for his…power, he'd still be locked in the cupboard at Privet Drive, probably dying of thirst.

No, he couldn't afford anymore stupid mistakes.

Satisfied, Harry slipped beneath the covers, sleep claiming him almost immediately.

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In the heavy dark of night Harry sat beneath the open window, breathing heavily of the cool air. Within his chest his heart beat furiously, like a rabbit hiding from a predator.

Not two minutes ago he had been sleeping peacefully, dead to the world, until voices floating in through the window had woken him. Desperately afraid of being seen, he had settled for creeping to the patch of wall beneath the window, and listening closely.

"He could by anywhere," opined a female voice, full of weariness and frustration.

"Yes he could," a gruff male voice agreed. "Would you rather we find him, or the Aurors?"

The scornful and bitter inflection placed upon the last word was not lost upon Harry. Whomever 'Aurors' were, the man clearly didn't care for them.

Silence reigned for a moment, before a third voice spoke up, in a hoarse voice.

"Of course not, Alastor, we're just tired. Emmeline's right; he could be anywhere."

"Arabella herself said she saw him speeding off towards this general area," Alastor replied. "On a bike, with all the roadblocks leading into London, he couldn't have gotten that far."

So they were looking for someone on a bike as well? Well, at least he hadn't tried going around the police barricade. From what 'Alastor' was saying, it seemed like the roadblocks might have been quite nasty.

"He's Harry Potter," Emmeline replied, a slight sneer in her voice. "Who knows what's possible with him involved?"

At the unexpected mention of his name, Harry gasped aloud, before quickly covering his mouth, hoping that none of the three strangers had heard him. They were all talking about him!

He was being hunted.

"Did you hear that?" Emmeline asked, her question chilling Harry's blood.

"No, didn't hear anything," Alastor gruffly replied, almost dismissively.

"Let's get out of here, check that next street," the third, unnamed male voice suggested.

"No, Remus, I'm sure I heard something," she stubbornly insisted. "Right over there, from that brick house."

"Dammit, Vance, where's your discretion?" Alastor cursed, frustration evident in his voice.

"Well how was I supposed to – shit!" she swore.

"Look, don't worry about it," Remus reassured, as the sound of heavy footfalls on asphalt began to creep closer towards the house.

Though thankful for Emmeline's slip, fear began to coil in his insides. He had no way out, and they were almost upon him. He was trapped. What was he supposed to do?

Frozen by indecision, he could only sit as the trio made their way to the front door.

"How do these muggles do it?" Emmeline grumbled, from the front of the house. Without warning, the sound of breaking glass rang out through the night, startling Harry.

"It's easier to improvise when you've got no choice," Alastor grimly explained.

In Harry's mind, the subsequent click of the lock being undone was as loud as a gunshot. In its wake, the door swung open, admitting the three people, their footwear thudding on the hardwood floors.

He was no longer alone.

Like a caged animal, Harry's eyes darted around the room, desperately trying to find a way to improve his situation. Darting towards the entrance, he slammed the door shut, locking it.

It wouldn't stand up to much, but might buy him a few seconds.


Running back to the window, he lifted it up all the way, before pushing hard against the screen. The metallic mesh resisted his efforts, so he applied more pressure, straining his back. Unexpectedly, the screen popped out of its track, tumbling to the ground below, nearly sending Harry falling after it.

If he had been uncertain before, leaning over the windowsill, it became obvious that it was too high to jump. He'd definitely break something if he tried. Glancing to his left, he saw the silhouetted outlined of the trellis, thick with vines. For a moment, indecision reigned, before he swung one leg over the windowsill, straddling it.

As Harry swung the over the leg over, something slammed against the door, the sound startling him, nearly causing him to lose his balance.

"Potter, come on out!" shouted Alastor, before being shushed pointedly.

"We're here to help, Harry," Remus claimed, his voice calm, level.

"Don't come any closer!" Harry warned, trying to blindly find footing on the trellis.

"Harry, you need to calm down. Please, take a few, deep breaths."

"Go away!" Harry screamed.

"Listen to me," urged Remus, his tone dire. "You got out of the area quickly the first two times, but they're onto you now. If you cast any accidental magic again, they will find you."

Magic? Harry shook his head incredulously.

"Get away from me, you're all crazy!" he yelled as his foot finally found purchase with one of the wooden cross-pieces. Pressing down, it cracked slightly beneath his weight, eliciting an alarmed yelp.

At once, the door was kicked inwards, slamming hard off of the opposite wall. For the first time, Harry caught a glimpse of his three pursuers.

As the voices had indicted, there were three people; two men, and a woman.

The woman, 'Emmeline', was stately in appearance, despite the obvious weariness in her grey eyes. Tall and thin, brunette wisps of hair peeked out from beneath an emerald shawl.

The first man to enter, who looked slightly older, had brown hair streaked with grey. Though his eyes were tired, the premature lines in his face were gentle.

However, it was the third intruder that captured the majority of Harry's attention.

The other, older man looked like he'd spent his entire life fighting. His entire face was covered with a roadwork of scars, winding between and through one another. A large chunk of his nose was missing, and judging by his stiff gait, so was his right leg. Most striking, however, was the electric-blue eye which rolled and whirred in its socket, spinning restlessly.

The mere sight of the strange eye unsettled him, enough to inspire him to reach out to the trellis, and grab it with both hands. With slow movements, he began to crawl sideways across the trellis, piece by piece, the scant moonlight his only guide.

"Harry, what are you doing?" Remus asked incredulously, sticking his head out the window.

"Stop calling me Harry! I don't even know who you people are!"

Shockingly, Remus' eyes widened in surprise at the declaration, before comprehension took its place. The older man opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a colossal crack.

For a moment, Harry was weightless, as the entire trellis pulled away from the house. Clinging to the wooden cross-pieces, fear gripped Harry's heart as a dark wall of greenery loomed above him, bearing down, freezing him in place.


Expecting to his hard ground, Harry was stunned to fall on nothing crueler than a soft bed. For a moment, he wondered what happened, before the rest of the trellis came crashing down atop him. Closing his eyes, the wall of wood and vines fell upon his body, pinning him between it and the grass. Furiously, like a trapped animal, he squirmed, trying to roll out from under the collapsed structure, but it wouldn't budge.

Vines covering his body, he heard a loud crack behind him, followed by a pop.

"What the hell were you thinking, Lupin?" Alastor demanded, clearly irate.

"He's ten," Lupin snapped back angrily. "I'm not willing to just assume he'd survive the fall."

"The Aurors could be on their way right now," Alastor snarled. At once, the entire trellis was lifted off Harry, and flung aside, as if by a giant, invisible hand. Freed, he watched as Alastor charged toward him, hand outstretched.

Instinctually, Harry rolled the right, narrowly avoiding Alastor.

"We don't have time for this, Potter!" the scarred man yelled, moving towards him again. "We have to get you out of here be-"

Without warning, the air seemed to grow heavier, almost as if alive.

"Shit," Alastor cursed. "The wards are up."

"How'd they react so fast?" Lupin asked, disquiet in his eyes.

"Doesn't matter. We can't get Potter away safely now. Lupin, me and Vance will draw them into the house. You know what do to."

With that, Alastor spun around, heading towards the house. Withdrawing a slender wooden stick from his robes, he pointed it at the side door. At once, it tore from its hinges, and was thrown across the lawn.

"Harry, listen to me," Lupin pleaded. His mind nearly overloaded, Harry looked back, his eyes wide.

"I know you don't know who we are, but I was friends with your parents, and am trying to keep you safe."

Incapable of articulating himself further, Harry nodded a single time, prompting relief to flood through the older man's face.

"This spell won't last long, but it will allow you to escape the ward-zone unnoticed."

Follwing Lupin's words, he withdrew another long piece of wood, which looked like ash, and rapped him upon the head with it. Like a cold egg yolk, the sensation ran down his body.

"What was that?"

"It will allow you to blend in with your surroundings, but listen to me, Harry. Stay hidden, hide until the morning, then keep moving south. In three days, we'll meet you at Hastings Castle, in East Sussex. Can you do that?"

Harry nodded, his eyes wide with unasked questions. Remus knew his parents?

"Good, good, now go! We'll distract the Aurors!"

At once, Harry ran away from the house. Turning back, he saw Lupin rush towards the door. Immediately, a sea of dark figures seemingly floating in the air surrounded the house, and launched a volley of bright lights at Lupin. They missed, digging into the earth as Lupin disappeared into the house.

Regretfully, Harry turned away from the spectacle, and disappeared into the shadows.

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One of the most distinguishable objects in the night sky is Ursa Major, or as it's most commonly referred to as, the Big Dipper. For centuries, sailors and explorers have used its distinct shape to find their way.

If one were to connect the lines between the stars within the constellation, one would find that two stars make up the outer edge of the Big Dipper. Continuing the line that the outer edge formed, it would connect to Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper. At the end of its handle, easily the brightest star in the constellation, is Polaris.

The North Star.

By its distant light Harry traveled, his lessons from school kept close in mind. Moving in the opposite direction of Polaris he crept, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. Through back yards, through lawns, through parks he moved, always traveling south.

To his surprise, Harry discovered that rather than being unnerved by the dark of night, he was energized by it. It possessed a vibrancy that he had been completely unaware of.

The hooting of owls, the chirping of crickets, all without the usual sounds of televisions blaring, of car running, combined to make it seem like he was almost in another world.

Granted, with all the insanity that had already happened this night, it might as well be.

Magic? Spells? Sure he'd pretended just like any other kid when he was younger, fantasizing about using magic and fighting evil wizards, but to actually hear that it was real…

Even now, had he not seen Alastor rip the door off the house, or seen the bright kaleidoscope of spells flying through the air against the night sky, he wouldn't have believed it.

Just as strange, however, was the strange coincidence of meeting Lupin, who had claimed to know his parents. To Harry, this opened avenues of thought that he had never even considered before.

Had his parents been just like him? Despite all of his relatives' claims, was he really not a freak after all? Was there even something natural about some of the things he could do?

And who were the people that had been chasing Lupin, Alastor and Emmeline? Harry had never seen of them, only the bright color of their spells, but Alastor had referred to them as 'Aurors'.

What were 'Aurors'? And what did they want with him?

His dilated pupils were adjusted to the night, he saw that the last row of houses had given way to a large field. Across from it, perhaps almost three hundred yards away, was a small farmhouse. Far away, isolated from the road, where the 'Aurors' might be searching for him.


Climbing between the rotting beams of an old wooden fence, he began to make his way through the field. The grass was almost up to his thighs, forcing him to almost wade through the ocean of greenery.

Trudging through the high grass, a faint luminescence in the air attracted his attention. Standing in place, he saw pinpricks of light begin to swarm in mid-air, in a collecting mass, almost like a living fireworks display.

Fireflies, he realized, in wonder at the display. Almost inexplicably, the sight raised his spirits. He didn't know how, but in that very moment, he knew he'd make it to Hastings Castle, and meet up with Lupin, and he'd tell him about his parents.

And everything would be alright.

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Harry spent the rest of the night in the house, curled up on a moth-eaten sofa in the living room. There was no running water to speak of, but there was plenty of bottled water left in the pantry, as well as preserve in the basement.

As luck would have it, he was able to grab a fresh change of clothes from one of the bedroom, having once belonged to someone else that was almost the same size as him. Much to his dismay, the shirt that fit the best was a Newcastle United shirt, that looked as though it had never been worn. He also found a large backpack, which he commandeered.

In the garage, he was fortunate to find another bike. Slightly rusted, its body full of dents and dings, it was not nearly as nice as Dudley's racing bike, but would definitely get him where he needed to go.

Right as the sun began to stretch out over the horizon, Harry took off from the house, pedaling at a brisk pace. As he traveled, he marveled at how nice is was to actually have jeans and a shirt that were not only clean, but fit him, as opposed to the ragged hand-me-downs that the Durlseys had usually given him.

The straps loose around his shoulders, his backpack bounced slightly as he rode over cracks. Within it he had brought six bottles of water, the last few oranges, a box of crackers and a jar of peach preserve. He didn't know how much fruit he was going to find along the way, so at least wanted to keep some on him for the trip.

At around eleven in the morning, he stopped riding, wheeling the bike into a nearby copse of trees. His back against the bark of a large elm tree, he slowly sank to the ground, sitting upon the cool soil. Taking a heavy pull from one of the water bottles, he began to unpeel one of the oranges. He ate it slowly, taking his time between each slice, savoring the sanctuary that the shade provided. The piece of fruit was bit dry, but still edible. Once done, he buried the peels, before taking off again, continuing his ride southward.

The rest of the day passed quickly, the temperature continuing to rise as the sun shifted positions in the sky. He was now traveling through the more densely populated areas of Surrey, the houses cramped tightly together.

In the space of a few days, the neighborhoods had taken on the look of a ghost town. Grass grew unchecked in front yards, while weeds flourished between cracks in the sidewalk and within the gardens, as if it was choking away the last traces of human civility.

Taking a right, pedaling down a dust covered street, the vaguest hint of a sound met Harry's ears. At once he braked heavily, the tires squealing slightly as he braked to a wobbly stop. Straining his ears, he heard what sounded like a faraway roar, most likely a car engine. Against the backdrop of this new empty world, it almost felt like an alien intruder.

Standing in place, the volume of the roar grew louder. At the sounds became more distinguishable, it sounded more and more like several vehicles.

Staring at the direction the sound came from, he found himself caught by indecision, before beginning to push the bike towards an alley between two of the buildings. It was dark, trash strewn about the walkway, but provided cover from the road. Leaning the bike against the brick wall, he hid behind a large trash bin, which shrouded him entirely in shadow. Desperately trying to ignore the stench of rotting garbage, he peeked around the bin.

As the sound drew closer, Harry began to realize that the vehicles were far larger than he anticipated, like a really big truck. Was help on the way?

Tempted to run into the street and flag the vehicles down as they passed, only Lupin's warning about the Aurors kept him in place. What if the Aurors were driving the trucks? Wondering if he was making the right decision, Harry leaned back slightly into the darkness, resigning himself to only watching.

The roar of engines approaching hurricane pitch, the first one came into view, driving slowly. It was a large, six-wheeled truck, with a canvas covering of the rear half. Through the many tears in the fabric he saw a multitude of soldiers in grey fatigues. Respirators completely covered their face, connected to a backpack with held twin green metal cylinders. Nestled tightly within their arms were huge rifles, right out of an action movie.

Once the first truck passed from view, a large, jet-black SUV took its place. The windows were tinted to obsidian, completely obscuring its passengers.

Following the third vehicle, a SUV identical to the first, came a truck similar to the first. On this one, though, the canvas had been completely ripped away, leaving only the metal supports hanging over, swaying slightly as it drove. The back was completely filled with same green cylinders, which were perhaps eight inches wide, and two feet tall. The cargo section was completely packed with them, lashed tightly together with yellow nylon rope.

As the last vehicle in the chain exited his view, doubt began to creep in. What if that had been his only chance of rescue?

Or had it been the 'Aurors' that Lupin had talked about?

Rising up from behind the dustbin, he made his way to the mouth of the alley, peeking his head around the corner. The machines beginning to fade from view, Harry began to regret his decision to stay silent. From what he could tell, the 'Aurors' fought with spells, just like Lupin, Alastor and Emmeline. The guys driving by had guns, so if –

Loud, banshee-like screams tore him from his pondering, startling him. From up ahead, out of one of the dilapidated flats, ran a middle-aged woman in a dirty sunflower-patterned housedress. Her blonde hair hung lank, while her eyes were almost crusted completely shut. Through strained, broken vocal chords she screamed at the departing tracks, waving her bony arm in the air, tears running down her pale cheeks.

"Help!" she screamed, drawing out the word. Surprisingly, the trucks all slammed to stop, tires squealing as they left burning rubber upon the road. From the lead truck swiftly jumped two soldiers.

"You've got to help me!" she screamed, moving towards the two soldiers. In one single, fluid movement, raised their rifles, balancing the stock against their shoulders. Before Harry could even ask, they simultaneously depressed the triggers.

The air exploded with cracks of thunder as the high velocity slugs tore through her body, ripping through it in mists of bright blood, nearly tearing her body in half. She crashed to the ground sprouting blood from dozens of holes, dead before she even struck the pavement.

Clapping a hand over his mouth, Harry willed himself not to scream in terror at what he had just witnessed. Without a look back, the soldiers leapt back into the truck as it took off, leaving behind only the still form of the woman, fermenting in a pool of her own life blood.

Shaking with fear, Harry slid to the ground, hyperventilating. It could have been him out there! No matter what he told himself, he knew that if he had revealed himself, they would have done the same exact thing to him.

What type of monsters were these people?

"Thank you Lupin," he whispered to himself, eternally grateful to the stranger. If not for his parents' friend, he'd be dead now.

A victim of the Aurors.

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Unsurprisingly, the trauma of the day's events let their mark upon him. Every foot of pavement he crossed, his ears strained, searching for the slightest hint of an engine roaring.

If not for the knowledge that he would have heard convoys from miles away in this new, quiet world, he didn't know if he'd be able to continue on.

Nearly paralyzed by paranoia, he traveled on, down the desolate roads of Surrey. Lupin had said to meet him in Hastings Castle, in three days, but had given him nothing in the way of directions.

He'd probably need every minute of the three days to make it.

Harry had heard of Hastings before, a town on the southern tip of England, part of East Sussex, but nothing else.

Cresting a small rise, a sign greeted him on the side of the road, which read 'Borough of Sussex', informing him that at least he was heading in the correct general direction.

Coasting along the dark asphalt, the densely populated neighborhoods began to fade, giving way to more sparsely positioned homes and wide expanses of farmland. No longer caught between decaying urban ruin, his troubled mind began to ease slightly, though the death of the unknown woman still lurked at the back of his mind.

As the daylight began to fade away, Harry pulled up to the nearest farmhouse, gently laying the bike in the packed gravel. Making his way onto the porch, he tried the front door, to find that it was unlocked. Opening the door, he began to step inside, before the stench of decay and rot struck him full in the face, knocking him back a step. Bile beginning to rise in the back of his throat, Harry quickly shut the door.

As much as he wanted to rest for the night, he wanted to spend a night among decomposing bodies even less.

The steps creaking beneath his feet, he hopped off the porch, surveying the driveway. A white Land Rover was parked in the driveway. Surrounded by weeds, shrouded by the lengthening shadows, the truck looked almost forlorn. Opening the four doors for a few minutes to cool it down a little, he then dumped his backpack in the front seat, before climbing into the back. It didn't make for the most comfortable of bedding, but with the exhaustion of pedaling all day settled deep within his muscles, it was more than enough to allow him to sleep.

Though Harry succumbed to sleep quickly, nightmarish images plagued him. Over and over he replayed the events of the day, watching helplessly as the rounds tore though the woman. After she fell, however, his legs took minds of their own, carrying him away from his hiding spot, into the view of the Aurors. He woke up right as they mechanically raised their rifles at him, and depressed the triggers.

His dreams too haunted get any real sleep, he took to the road at dawn. It had rained during the night, thoroughly wetting the road surfaces. He did his best to avoid the larger puddles, but sometimes he was left with no alternative.

Within a few hours, his clothes were soaked all the way through. He considered stopping, the morning ride becoming miserable, but trekked on, confident that since the sun was beginning to peek out again, it should help to dry him.

Hopefully, anyway.

Around noon, after six hours of riding, the houses once again began to thicken. The terrain also began to slope downwards, making his ride far easier. Slightly exhausted by the damp drawing the life from him, he laid off the brakes, content to barrel down the hill, hoping to build up enough speed to get him over the next hill without much effort.

His mind beginning to drift, he saw too late that the road ahead was mostly washed out. Letting out a curse, he attempted to skirt around the washout. As he did, his bike skidded to the ground, the tires unable to find purchase. He struck the pavement hard, shoulder first, before skidding down the pavement for fifteen feet. Sliding off the road, he began to tumble ass-over-teakettle down the grassy slope, before coming to rest in a puddle.

Soaked, his body aching, his arm and shoulder screaming, Harry let out an inarticulate scream of rage, more akin to a primal screech. Forcing himself to his feet, he looked over his left shoulder to inspect the damage.

The shirt covering his shoulder had been completely worn away, leaving behind a large expanse of abraded, angry red skin peppered with dots of blood, dirt and gravel. His elbow, unprotected by the shirt, fared far worse, the skin almost completely worn away, and slowly weeping blood.

"Bloody hell!" Harry screamed, tears beginning to leak from his eyes. He didn't want to cry, that was for babies, but it just hurt so goddamn much that he was helpless. Angrily, he kicked at a branch, sending it flying into the underbrush.

Hearing the snapping of a twig, he whirled around, but saw nothing.

Was there someone there?

At once, he went as still as a statue. Though he heard no further noises, he could almost feel the heavy gaze of someone staring at him.

"Is anyone there?" he asked loudly, barely able to keep the shake out of it.

Following a few moments of heavy silence, he heard the crunch of approaching footsteps. His breath held, prepared to flee, he saw two small figures emerge from the forest. One slightly larger than the other, they both had identical mousy, brown hair, and slight builds. They were both dressed in jumpers, one black, the other dark green.

"We're so sorry that our dam made you fall!" the younger of the two said breathlessly.

"Um…what?" Harry asked, still in shock as seeing other people who didn't appear sick.

"We were making a dam in the woods," the older one said, stepping forward a step. "It kinda grew faster than we thought it would, and took the road off. So, we're sorry it hurt you."

Still slightly fuming, his arm in agony, Harry swallowed his rage.

"It's okay, I'm just glad to see other people. I'm Harry Potter, who are you two?"

"I'm Colin Creevey," the older boy introduced, "And this is my brother, Dennis. If you want, we might have something in the medicine cabinet for your arm."

"You live near here?"

"Close by," Colin replied. "Right down the road."

"Yeah, show me the way," Harry answered. At once, they began to lead him down the road, both brothers jabbering away, with Harry only needing to nod in the right places. Sure, the Creeveys might have messed up his arm, and sure did talk a lot…but it was nice to finally be around other kids his age.

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The Creevey home was a small, three bedroom house set slightly away from the road. Upon entering the neat home, they ushered him into the dining room at the back at house. Dennis pulled out one of the chairs, which Harry flopped gracelessly into with a hiss of pain.

"Can you grab the hydrogen peroxide from the cabinet?" Colin asked his brother.

Dennis nodded a single time, before leaving the room.

"Is it just you two?" Harry asked quietly.

A pained expression flitted across Colin as he nodded, for a moment looking past Harry, to the back yard.

"For the past four days, yeah," he answered quietly. "You?"

"Same thing."

"It's not fair, is it?" remarked Colin bitterly, staring past Harry again.

Turning, Harry followed Colin's gaze, to a glass sliding door which led out to a small deck overlooking the back yard. The large grassy area was framed on all sides by tall trees, casting everything into shadow. At the rear of the yard, bordering the forest, were twin mounds of dirt, marked by crucifixes fashioned from sticks tied together with twine.

"No, it's not," Harry agreed softly.

"You know," Colin began, turning back towards him, "You're the first person I've seen since all…t-this started. What made you leave home?"

Harry couldn't help but be intrigued by the lowering off Colin's words, as if he was sharing a secret. Had he broken the law or something?

"Why wouldn't I? With my relatives gone, there was no reason to stay in Surrey anymore."

"But it's really dangerous out there!" Colin exclaimed, leaning forward in his chair, his expression earnest. "Our dad told us to stay close to home, and I don't blame him. Don't you know what's going on?"

Harry shrugged carelessly.

"The TV's been out since the day my relatives died, so I haven't really been able to keep us."

"You haven't been listening to the radio?" Colin asked incredulously.

"Um, no."

"The radio was working up until yesterday," the boy explained excitedly. "Before it got shut down, they said the military was going around the country, killing everyone they found."

"They are," confirmed Harry, his voice low. "I saw it happen."

"Then it's all true," Colin said fearfully, his blue eyes widening. "I'm glad we stayed close to the house, then. We heard a bunch of trucks go by, but we hid in the house until they were gone."

His thought beginning to drift towards the unknown woman, Harry shook his head, trying to banish the memory. As he did, Dennis came back into the room, carrying a large brown bottle in both hands. He grimaced upon seeing it, but still held out his hand, taking it.

"Thanks," he said. Rising from the chair, he walked into the kitchen.

"Um, can I help you with that?" Colin asked, to which Harry shook his head.

Twisting the white cap off of the bottle, he placed his arm over the sink, and began to pour the chemical on his arm. He bit his tongue as the disinfectant did its job, fizzing as it splashed over the missing skin.

He began to lift up the bottle, put the stinging, burning pain proved to be too much, and he slammed the bottle back on the counter, nearly spilling it. Colin was up at once, taking the brown bottle.

"Turn around," Colin ordered. "You need help with this."

Losing his will to argue, Harry turned around. Bracing himself against the counter, Colin poured the vicious liquid over his shoulder. Harry let out an involuntary hiss of pain, gripping the counter so tightly his fingers had turned white.

"Sorry," Colin apologized.

"S' okay," Harry replied through gritted teeth, trying to block out the burning sensation. Turning around, he leaned against the counter, letting the disinfectant do its work.

"So," he continued, "Did the radio say anything about the virus?"

Colin shrugged.

"Not really. They think it's a new type of flu, but they don't know how it's spread. They think through the air, but they don't really know. Um…according to them, everyone catches it."

Silence hangs in the air after Colin's statement. Its significance was not lost upon Harry. Either he was going to get sick eventually, or immunity was so rare that scientists hadn't come across anyone who had it. He and the Creevey brothers certainly seemed to have it.

"It must be something in the air," Harry deduced. "All the soldiers had gas masks on, with big tanks on their backs. They must have had their own air supply, but why even stick around England?"

Colin shook his head.

"We've been cut off. No one goes in, no one comes out. The radio said that the only way out was in Dover. If someone showed up, and let the scientists test them, they'd be taken to France if they weren't sick. Dennis and I wanted to go, but after what Dad told us, and the radio's warning about the military…

Harry nodded in understanding. After seeing what he had, he almost wished that he had stayed in Surrey.

"You can stay with us if you want!" Dennis blurted out suddenly, before shutting his mouth, his face turning red.

"Thanks," Harry replied, shaking his head, "But I have somewhere to be."

"Where?" Dennis demanded. "Isn't it dangerous out there?"

"Yeah…" Harry agreed slowly, running a hand through his hair, debating how much to tell them.

"Look," he continued, uncertainly, "Has…anything, well, strange ever happened to you two, something that should have been impossible?"

At once, the two brothers locked gazes, something unseen passing between the two of them. Dennis nodded emphatically, which seemed to please Colin.

"What do you mean?" Colin asked carefully, turning back towards Harry. His words were deliberate, as if he didn't want to misspeak.

Harry swallowed heavily, debating how to begin. He was sure his hunch was correct, but still…

"It's not just one thing," he explained. "I remember a few years ago, my Aunt tried to give me an awful haircut. She cut everything really short except for my bangs, to hide this scar," he said, pulling aside his fringe of black hair so they could see the strange scar.

"How'd you get it?" Dennis asked.

Harry shook his head a single time. He was beginning to think that the story his relatives had given him was a lie, and didn't want to say either way until he knew for sure.

"I…I don't want to talk about it. Anyway, when I woke up the next day, my hair had grown completely back, like it hadn't even been cut."

Encouraged by the growing smiles upon the faces of the brothers, Harry continued.

"And there was this time when a bunch of kids at school were chasing me into a corner, and before I knew it, I was on the roof."

"We thought we were the only ones!" Dennis exclaimed loudly.

"We never told anyone," Colin added, "But strange stuff like that is always happening to us."

"Yeah!" yelled Dennis enthusiastically, laughing. "Remember that time you stole Teddy, so I made him come alive and try to fight you?"

Colin grinned wide, exposing a bright smile with two gaps in the back, slowly being filled by adult teeth.

"Or the time I turned your bathwater blue, so you came out looking like a Smurf?"

"We're really the same," Dennis concluded, staring at Harry with something resembling awe. "I wonder if there's more people like us."

"There are," Harry answered, before relaying the story of how he met Lupin.

The Creeveys were enthralled by his story, delighted by the ideas of magic, wands, spells and wizards.

"So he said to meet him in Hastings Castle?" Colin asked following the story.

"Yep, and I'm going to meet him there tomorrow. Sooner, if I can."

At his statement, both of the Creeveys look at him like he was insane.

"There's no way to get through," explained Colin, shaking his head. "There's a road block on the main road into Hastings. Dad said that it stretched across the entire road, and that there were soldiers guarding it.

"That doesn't mean its still guarded," Harry pointed out, his mind working furiously. "With almost everyone already gone, there might not be guards anymore."

The more Harry thought about it, the less he thoughts that 'Aurors' and the soldiers were the same thing. If they had wands, they wouldn't bother using guns. So who were the 'Aurors'?

"Maybe," conceded Colin, "But even if they weren't there anymore, we can't make it there in a day. How long is Lupin going to wait for us?"

Harry shrugged.

"I'm not sure. I think I could probably make it in a day on my bike, and then come back for you two."

"With that arm?" Colin asked incredulously.

At mention of his damaged shoulder and elbow, Harry let out a breath of frustrated air. As much as he didn't want to admit it, Colin had a point.

"Well, okay, that's out, but maybe there's a way that we could all go."



Harry trailed off before beginning the explanation. By the time he finished the explanation, both Creeveys were nodding enthusiastically.

"This is crazy. You know that, right?"

Harry grinned widely.

"It might be crazy, but I think it's going to work."

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Harry sat with his legs folded under him, Indian style, in the plush leather driver's seat of the Creevey's family car.

"You ready?" he excitedly asked.

Colin nodded vigorously from his seated position on the floor in front of the driver's seat, a hand each hovering over the gas and brake pedals.

"Let's do this!"

Reaching out, Harry grasped the silver key hanging from the ignition, and turned it slowly. The engine roared beneath the hood, prompting him to pull the key back, killing the engine.

"What's wrong?" asked Dennis from the passenger seat. His features were mired in disappointment, looking like someone had told him Christmas had been cancelled.

Harry shook his head.

"Nothing, I just pulled the key back too soon. My uncle always said you could flood the engine by holding the key forward too long."

Trying again, he held the key forward a second longer. At once the engine roared to life, inspiring the three boys to cheer loudly.

"Brake," Harry said, Colin promptly pressing it down. Carefully, Harry shifted the transmission into drive. Colin easing off the brake slightly, the car begin to creep forward, before the break was again depressed, jolting them all. Slowly, they began to fine-tune the mechanics of braking, all the way to the end of the driveway.

"Stop," ordered Harry upon reaching the end of the driveway. The car halted, Harry began to pull the wheel to the left, surprised at how difficult it was to turn. When it couldn't turn any more, Colin pressed down on the gas, a bit harder than intended.

The car leapt forward with a jerk, right towards the mailbox.

"Brake!" Harry screamed as the car plowed through the wooden post, breaking it and sending the mailbox flying over the roof of the car. The brake depressed, the car screeched to a halt in the middle of the road, throwing them all forward. Harry's chest bounced painfully off of the steering wheel, drawing a wince.

"Sorry!" Colin exclaimed.

Rubbing his chest, Harry shook his head.

"None of us have driven before. We knew this wasn't going to be easy. Just, uh, go a little easier on the brake."

Struggling, Harry turned the wheel back to center, before having Colin release the break. Going slowly down the gentle decline, he made a few adjustments, marveling of how much easier it was to steer while the car was in motion.

"Um, shouldn't we put our seatbelts on?" Dennis asked hesitantly.

"Definitely, especially with your brother in charge," agreed Harry with a snicker, buckling his own belt.

"What am I supposed to do?" Colin asked.

"Hold on tight, and don't make any more mistakes," Harry cheekily replied, drawing a laugh from both of the brothers.

The car beginning to pick up speed as it rolled down the hill, Harry glanced down for a moment.

"Hit the brake softly," he ordered, emphasizing the last word. He did as ordered, the car slowing down to a creep. They coasted the entire rest of the way down, Colin slowly beginning to get a feel for braking.

"You just broke the law," observed Dennis with a wide grin as they plowed through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.

"We broke the law as soon as I got behind the wheel," Harry observed. "Hit the gas."

At his words, the car rocketed forward again, throwing Harry and Dennis back against their seats.

"Sorry," apologized Colin, before pressing down more gently. Rising up the incline, he began to get better with it, to truly get a feel for acceleration.

Through the deserted roads they drove, passing by the neglect and ruin that had become England. Harry's steering still remained a bit shaky, but over the course of the next hour, their driving improved. Granted, no one was ever going to give them a license, but they were no longer in severe risk of getting themselves killed.

"You really know this area well, don't you," Harry remarked, following Dennis' suggestion. Despite being three years younger than Harry, his navigational skills were fantastic, seeming to know every road.

"Dad was a milkman," the younger Creevey explained quietly. "I used to go with him on his routes sometimes…I miss him," he finished, his voice full of longing and sorrow.

"He was the best," Colin added, his voice slightly choked.

Uncomfortable silence began to stretch out. For a moment, Harry wondered if had he ever known his parents, if he would have loved them as much as the Creeveys had clearly loved theirs.

"Do you smell it?" Dennis asked excitedly, breaking the lingering silence.

Harry inhaled deeply, through the air coming in through the open windows, and caught a faint whiff of salt water.

"We're almost there!"

The three boys let out another cheer, knowing that the end of their journey was near.

"I think this is it," Dennis said, pointing at an upcoming intersection. "Take a right there."

Taking the turn, they found themselves on a ramp. Following the slight incline, they merged onto a double-lane road. In the distance, perhaps a mile down, they finally saw the barricade.

It stretched across both side off the multi-lane road, comprised of civilian cars parked perpendicular to the flow of traffic, with small spaces between each vehicle, too small to admit any single car.

"How are we gonna get through that?" Dennis asked. Eying the barricade, Harry noticed a slightly larger opening along the right shoulder.

"Right there," he said, pointing towards the area. "It will be tight, but I think we can make it through. Slow down, okay?"

Colin did as ordered, slowing the car down to a crawl.

"Dennis, do you see anyone?" Harry asked, his eyes scanning the barricade, which grew closer by the second.

"No, I don't see any- right there!"

Following Dennis' pointed index finger, Harry saw that a car door had been kicked open, spilling out a soldier. Respirator in place, oxygen bottles hanging from his back, a radio strapped to his belt, the soldiers' expression remained static as he rolled over the car's hood, putting the parked vehicle between him and the Creevey family car. Crouching down, he balanced the rifle on the hood of the car, pointing it directly as Harry.

"Get down!" he screamed, flattening himself against the seat. Dennis followed suit right as a hail of rounds punched through the windshield, showering them all with safety glass. The screams of the Creevey brothers in his ears, Harry shot up for a single moment, spinning the wheel, changing the trajectory of the car.

"Faster!" Harry screamed, ducking down again. He felt the displacement of air right above his head as more bullets whizzed by his head, barely missing it. With a cry, Colin pushed harder on the accelerator, sending them between one of the narrow gaps.

Metal screeched and tore as the car collided with both sides of the barricade. Glass exploded as Harry and Dennis were thrown hard against their seatbelts. Colin was thrown against the underside of the steering column, eliciting a cry of pain from the boy.


Gasping, Colin still did as ordered, slamming the break with his right hand. Rising up, Harry glanced behind him.

Their collision with the car protecting the solider had flung the man across the asphalt. Shakily, he rose to his feet, nearly falling over in the process. Quickly, he took the radio from his belt and held it up to his mouth. After a moment, he shook it angrily, before throwing it to the ground. With a pronounced limp, the solider went after his rifle, which had skidded across the ground, landing twenty feet away.

"Drive!" Harry screamed, turning forward, placing his hands on the wheel. Letting out a moan of pain, Colin slammed the gas down, sending them rocketing forward. Through the shattered, spider-webbed glass, Harry tried to keep the car in the center of the road. Hearing another hail of gunfire, Harry and Dennis ducked down. Rounds slammed against the back of the car, shattering the rear windshield and tearing open the trunk.

Keeping low, Harry heard another hail of gunfire burst forth. A loud boom resounded from the rear of the car. Immediately, it began to fishtail across the road, rubber squealing beneath them. Desperately Harry tried to straighten the wheel, but it was pulled from his grasp as the car lurched violently to the left, shooting across the grass median, through the opposite lane.

Harry was twisted like a rag-doll as the car slammed head-first into a thick tree, his chest wrenching against the seatbelt. With no such protection, Colin was slammed into the underside of the steering column, his shoulder breaking with a loud crack.

Quickly undoing his own belt, Harry threw the door open and pulled Colin out with him. Escaping the car, he turned to Dennis.

"No, come out this way!"

His words coming too late, Dennis jumped out of the passenger-side door. Before he could move, more rounds tore through the air. One caught him in the side of the head, painting the side of the white car with blood and wisps of mousy brown hair.


His horrified scream already fading, Colin picked himself off the ground and ran around to the other side of the car, where his brother had already slumped to the ground. A hail of gunfire rained down, slamming into the passenger door, barely missing the Creevey brothers.

His eyes darting upwards, Harry saw that the soldier was about a hundred yards away. He depressed the trigger again, but instead of further rounds, it merely clicked. Quickly, the soldier ejected the cartridge, before drawing another one from his belt.

Darting around the car, he saw the Dennis' blue eyes were open, blinking owlishly.

"Whaz goin' on?" the younger Creevery mumbled, oblivious to the blood pouring from his head, dyeing his grey shirt crimson.

"Colin!" Harry screamed, grabbing a hold of the boy's shirt. "We have to get him out of here!"

Tears openly flowing from his eyes, using his good arm, he helped lift up Dennis. With the smaller boy between them, they stumbled towards the woods. The leaves crunched beneath their feet as they fled, a loud click resounded over the area as the soldier slammed another magazine into place.

Desperately, they entered the forest, nearly dragging Dennis between the two of them. Loud shots echoed through the woods as rounds tore into the area right next to them, kicking up dirt and striking the trees next to them, peppering them with chips of wood.

Skidding down a slight incline, Colin turned to face Harry, his eyes wild.

"Is-is-is he g-g-going to be alright?"

"He'll be fine," Harry said quickly, without hesitation, even if a distant part of him hated lying in the face of Colin's pure anguish. He knew no such thing, only that people didn't usually live after being shot in the head. How Dennis was even alive now, he hadn't a clue.

Quickly glancing back, Harry saw the soldier steadily stalking them, one twisted leg dragging behind him, falling slightly behind their pace.

"Faster!" Harry urged as they splashed through a small stream, the cold water soaking them to their ankles. With a grunt of effort, Colin re-doubled his efforts, pulling his brother along. Encouragingly, Dennis helped them slightly, beginning to move his feet, though his head continued to loll from side to side as he shambled, blood continuing to run from the wound, beginning to drench Harry's shirt as well.

Reaching the top of a slight hill, the trio spied a road peeking through the lush woods. Grimly, they forged their way towards it, shouldering their way through the thick bramble. With a grunt of effort, Harry pushed through, pulling the other two onto the sidewalk with him.

The commercial street was lined with large brick and concrete buildings. Seeing a large building across the way, they stumbled towards it. Dragging Dennis up the four large concrete stairs, they reached a set of wooden double doors, pushing through them.

Beyond lay a wide entryway, with long bulletin boards running the length of each wall, filled to capacity with ads, brochures and newspaper clippings. Just beyond a second set of wooden double doors, the slightly dirty, grey tiled floor opened out into a wide library, stacks stretching high above them. As they passed into the library's interior, they heard the rustle of the soldier breaking through the thick foliage.

Harry quickly turned and slammed the outer door shut just as gunfire exploded outside, echoing throughout the street. Chunks of the door were ripped out in minor detonations of splinters as the rounds hit it. The last one punched all the way through, striking Colin in the right knee, disintegrating it in a spray of red mist. With a cry of agony, he fell to the ground.

The sole member of the trio to escape injury, Harry dragged Dennis through the threshold, dumping him onto the floor. Going back, he took hold of Colin's shirt and pulled him backwards, through the inner door. Colin's screams echoing in his ears, Harry slammed shut the inner door, trying to lock it.

Fumbling with the unfamiliar lock, he shook it wildly, before the deadbolt dropped into the floor receptacle, locking it. That done, he turned around, to see Colin crawl over to his brother, leaving a trail of blood behind him.

Somehow, despite the mangled state of his shoulder, the older Creevey brother had managed to take off his bloodstained shirt, and was using it to mop at the blood around Dennis' head. Wiping away the worst of it, white, slightly chipped bone poked through the split scalp. Though the wound still wept blood, the shot had merely grooved Dennis, missing his brain completely.

"You can't die!" screamed Colin. "You can't!"

Leaning down, oblivious to his own pain, he clutched his brother tightly. At once, the skin on the side of Dennis' skull began to pull together, closing the wound, stopping the flow of blood.

"Colin, you're doing it!" Harry exclaimed, his eyes widening.

"What happened?" Dennis asked, his voice clear, free of its former fogginess.

"You're okay!" Colin cried. "I thought you were-"

The older brother was interrupted by heavy blows raining down upon the inner door, the echo reverberating throughout the library. At once, Colin, his skin pale and shiny, his face damp with tears, began to usher his brother deeper into the library.

Spying a handcart stacked high with books Harry crept closer to the door, hoping to block it off further. Feet from the door, high caliber rounds broke through the door, spraying Harry with splinters, Diving to his left, he landed hard on the floor, barely avoiding another hail of gunfire, deafening in the confined space.

"Get him back!" Harry screamed to Colin. His eyes becoming glassy, Colin complied, giving his brother a weak, frail push, which was enough to get him moving, out of the shooter's range.

Splintered and broken by gunfire, the right side of the inner door fell inwards, kicked in by the soldier's mud-splattered boots. Forcing his was through, the oxygen bottle hanging up briefly on the broken door, he stalked down the middle of the room, away from Harry, towards the Creevery brothers. He raised his rifle just in time to see the Colin, flopping like a worm across the floor, disappear into one of the stacks. Keeping his rifle raised, the solider continued after them.

Fear gripped Harry's mind. What the bloody hell was he supposed to do? He was going to kill them!

Grabbing a heavy tome from the cart, Harry ran forward, launching the book as hard as he could. It flew through the air, striking him right between the shoulder blades. Stumbling forward, the soldier whirled around, rifle tucked into the crook of his elbow. Harry retreated back to the side, the first shot barely missing him. Scuttling backwards, he could only watch as the soldier lined up a second shot, the muzzle of his weapon pointed straight at Harry's chest.

All of a sudden, the intact part of the inner door flew forward, striking the soldier in the side. The heavy projectile knocked him to the floor, sending his weapon sliding away from him. Scrambling towards his weapon, Remus Lupin, adorned in his familiar patched robes, stepped through the broken doorway, wooden stick raised upwards. His eyes blazed with a cold, inhuman fury as he brought the stick down.

"Avada Kedavra!"

A green light leapt from the stick, striking the soldier in the back. He immediately collapsed upon the ground, his chest still.

His heart frantically beating in his chest, Harry let out a long, deep breath.

It was finally over.

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"Are you hurt?" Remus asked, marching up to Harry.

He nodded quickly.

"I'm fine, but they need help," he said, pointing to the stacks where the Creeveys had fled. Remus acknowledged his statement with a curt nod, before turning on his heel and marching over to the two Creeveys.

Following in Remus' wake, he peeks around the wooden stacks, to see that Colin, his skin deathly pale, had passed out. His younger brother stood protectively over him, eying the older man with wonder.

"Are you Remus?" he asked timidly.

"I am," he answered quickly. "Hold onto my arm," he ordered, holding it out. At once, Dennis shook his head.

"Take my brother, he's hurt worse."

"Both of you need help," Remus promptly replied, shaking his arm impatiently. Hesitantly, Dennis took hold. Reaching down, Remus clamped his free hand upon Colin's upper arm, before looking back up at Harry.

"I'll be right back," he reassured, before the three of them disappeared.

His mouth falling open in shock, Harry watched the recently vacated spot for a moment. Turning around, he caught glance of the soldier's still form. At once, the enormity of what had just occurred crashed down upon Harry, and tears of rage began to fill up in his eyes.

"What was the point?" Harry screamed angrily at the dead body. "Why is having three kids survive a problem for you arseholes?"

Letting out an incoherent scream, he kicked out at the dead body.

"Why kill us when we could have helped to find the cure? Are you all really that stupid?

Breathing heavily, his vision obscured, his thoughts turned to Remus. Had he not shown up right when he had, they would have all been dead.


Though he felt no sorrow at the soldier's death, the look in Remus' eyes haunted him. The blazing hatred was an emotion he couldn't reconcile with the kind-eyed man who he had been first introduced to.

What had happened over the past few days to change him?

Without warning, Remus popped back into existence, his arms empty.

"Are Colin and Dennis going to be okay?" asked Harry, fearfully.

"They'll be fine," Remus assured. "Healers are taking a look at them as we speak."


Remus eyed him speculatively, as if sizing him up. After a moment, seemingly coming to a decision, he silently curled a finger, imploring for Harry to follow him. He did as bidden, following the older man into a room adjacent to the main one. It was smaller, the centerpiece being a semi-circle of plush armchairs surrounding an unlit fireplace. Using his wand to point at a red armchair, Harry took a seat, watching as Remus took a seat in a large, green one.

Gazing at Remus, he can't help but notice that he seems to be using a different wand than he did during their first meeting. Maybe he had found a better one?

"Harry Potter," Remus began, breaking the uncomfortable silence. "How much do you know about me?"

"I never knew you were friends with my parents until yesterday," Harry carefully answered.

"Were you never told of the people who were closest to them?"

Harry shook his head sadly.

"I don't know anything about them. My relatives always told me they died in a car crash. They weren't telling the truth, were they?"

Remus sits back in the chair, a calculating expression upon his face.

"They were not," Remus confirmed, "And it is an insult to their memory that you were told as much. Would it be correct to assume that they told you nothing of their heritage?"

Harry nodded.

"Were – were they like…you?" he asked hesitantly.

"In some ways," Remus replied, as if holding something back. "What do you think I am?"

"Like me, able to do stuff most people can't."

"Indeed we can, Harry. We were both born with the gift of magic, as were your parents, and the generations of witches and wizards before them."

"So…there's more of us?"

Remus smiled thinly.

"We have our own world, existing within the fringes of this one, completely outside the notice of non-magical society."

"So what I can do…"

"Accidental magic," Remus finished for him. "Something that all young wizards display from a young age. Your magic is young, unfocused, crying out for usage. In due time, you'll be old enough to own one of these."

Remus raised his wand high, letting Harry inspect it. Up close, he was certain that it was different from the one he had first seen his parents' friend using.

"With this, your magic will become more powerful, more focused, capable of accomplishing more than you could ever imagine."

"Did you use that to find me?" Harry asked, motioning towards the wand.

Remus shook his head.

"No, the gunshots alerted me to your location. It was pure chance that the wind was blowing right, allowing me to hear their echoes."

Harry nodded, glancing back towards Remus' wand.

"What are wands made out of?"

"Many different things," Remus replied. "Each wand is individually made, and every wizard that purchases a wand must test for compatibility. They are all from different sizes, can be constructed of many different woods…but it is the cores that make the largest difference. Dragon heartstring, thestral hair, unicorn hair and countless other magical foci make up the cores of wands."

"Wait, dragons and unicorns are real?" Harry asked, astounded.

"Indeed," Remus confirmed, inclining his head slightly. "As are many other magical creatures that you've been told were nothing but a myth."

Harry nodded, enamored with the idea, before glancing down again to Remus' wand.

"What is yours made out of?"

Remus let out a small, almost secret smile.

"Yew, thirteen and a half inches, with a phoenix feather core," he answered, giving it a casual wave. At once, a shimmering silver shape leapt from it. It coalesced into a bright, shining serpent, which began to slither across the floor, trailing silver streams behind it.

"Wow!" Harry exclaimed, watching the magical construct climb up the chair, coiling itself around his arm. The magic was warm against his skin, feeling him with peace.

"This is but a glimpse of the world I come from," Remus stated. "If you wish, I can show it to you, teach you all about it."

Remus extended out his hand, inviting Harry to take it.

He took it without hesitation.

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Author Notes:

Yes, this is a one-shot. While it could serve as a springboard to an ambitious AU, which admittedly does appeal to me in some respects, and I have had several compelling ideas regarding how to continue it, in reality, I have too many other projects going to start an AU at this point in time.

The back-story was kept intentionally murky, as the reader only has Harry's limited view to work with. It's been interesting to hear people's view on what really happened. I suppose if you ask nicely, I could give the back story. Besides that, I'd appreciate any comments that you might have on the story, even a simple 'liked it' or 'it sucked' will suffice.

This story placed second in the March AU DLP contest. Upon submission, I was fairly confident the story would do well, so was glad to see it did. Congratulations to iLost for his first place finish in the contest.

Next chapter of Sitra Ahra is complete, I'm just waiting for my beta to get back to me.

Thanks to Grinning Lizard, scaryisntit and vikingfn0926 for their support throughout the writing process.

Thanks to my betas, the lovely Princess Serine, and the wise Liron-Aria.

Thanks to Swimdraconian, Shinysavage, Andromalius, T3t and Lindsey from DLP for their support. They inspired me to continue to write this and finish it up in under two weeks. Also, thanks to Nunuh for creating the 500 for 500 movement on DLP. Without his efforts, I doubt this would have been finished.

Thanks for reading.