A Welcome Darkness
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I do not own any part of the Harry Potter franchise or universe, all rights belong to J.K Rowling and affiliated companies.
Rating: K+ (may change at a later date).
Plot: Begins Summer holidays after Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter has gotten over his depression faster than he thought possible, and moves to increase his knowledge base and fitness. On one of his runs a 'chance' meeting changes his life as he knows it.
Dedication: The love of this pairing came from 'jeconais' who posts on fanficauthors. His story 'Hope' was a truly wonderful read, and anybody who enjoys this pairing should definitely give it a go! Also, DZ2 created the format for this 'top' part (disclaimer and all).
Tags: Part-CreatureHarry; Weasley Bashing (minus Twins); Smart Neville; Powerful Harry; Nosey and Irritable Hermione; ManipulativeDumbledore; PoliticalHarry
Harry Potter's godfather had died. Harry had watched him fall through the veil with a sense of detached horror as the stunner hit him in the chest, and then he had cast the Cruciatus curse only to be ridiculed by the woman he cast it at. He had watched through tear-filled eyes as Dumbledore fought Voldemort to a standstill, and then it had happened. The pain roared through him without a hint of mercy as Voldemort's consciousness fought to possess him, and at that moment he would have very much preferred dying to what he had been feeling. Somehow, through some incredible feat of magic, luck, or whatever they were calling it these days, he had managed to break free of the evil influence; had managed to snap their connection and force him out of his mind. And then in a rush he had found himself in Dumbledore's office as he was told that he knew of the horrific abuse he had suffered at the hands of his relatives, and that he, a mere fifteen year old boy was supposed to kill the world's most evil and powerful wizard or be killed himself.
He felt that the outburst that followed was quite justified, and indeed, as he lay on his bed reminiscing, he found himself quite proud of ruining a substantial portion of Dumbledore's trinkets and monitors beyond any hope of repair whatsoever. He turned his head slightly and sighed at the numbers 5:24 blinking back at him. He'd been awoken again by the nightmare that had been haunting him ever since he had seen Sirius fall through the Veil of Death, and knew through experience that he would not be getting back to sleep in an awful hurry, and last night had been the first time in three days that he had actually managed to fall asleep. He sat up and placed his glasses over his eyes before yawning widely and then pulling a notebook from his bedside table. Opening up to the last page he looked over his schedule for the day and decided that it was best to start early so that he would actually get a hot shower after his run instead of the ice-cold ones he was used to because his fat whale of a cousin seemed to think that turning a shower into a makeshift sauna was a good idea. That, and he wouldn't have to navigate around his more…alert Order guards; the idiotic and comatose Mundungus Fletcher he'd take over deceiving Mad-Eye any day.
Since arriving back at the Dursleys a week ago he had found himself swamped with chores. Vernon's temper was clearly quite volatile, as shown by the purple face on the drive back to Privet, and so he hadn't put up a single argument, deciding that Sirius would've smacked him over the head for getting himself beaten to a pulp because of his grief. Mowing the lawns, painting fences, doing the laundry, dusting the house, cooking the meals; it wasn't much of a deviation from the normal structure of his holidays saves the frequency with which he was ordered to do things, but in a way he found it somewhat therapeutic. It allowed him to take his mind off the sadness he felt; the anger at lost opportunities, and the hate he now held for the Headmaster. In a way it was due to all the work the Dursleys that had allowed him to work through his grief; accepted that it wasn't his fault; and realized that the headmaster was as manipulative as he was a good actor.
He pried up his floorboard with a sigh and quickly tied his runners before slipping into his exercise clothes and sneaking from the house with the liberal help of a wandless silencing charm on the stairs. He smirked as he exited the front door – another good thing that had come of the outburst in Dumbledore's office had been the knowledge of what his magic felt like, and how to draw on it. After sulking and grieving for the first two days he had put that to use, and could now manage a few minor hexes and spells without the use of his wand. The fact that his repertoire of wandless magic was limited to a basic silencing spell, lumos, and scourgify did worry him slightly, as they were hardly anything that he could use in a duel, but the latter helped him do the cleaning in a jiffy to free up time for his intensive studies.
Setting a brutal pace he began his run, and breathed in the early morning air deep into his lungs, smiling as his feet pounded against the pavement. After nearly half an hour he reached the park and his stopped to catch his breath for a moment. His eyes, alert and clear, swept over the small manmade lake as the sun rose, and his breathing began slowing after several minutes signalling that he should begin running again. Just as he was about to do so however he caught sight of a flash of white from the corner of his eye, and in an instant his wand was out and pointed at the offending object. Seeing that the object was in fact the back of a woman's head he quickly stowed it away, but then froze when a memory stirred within him. He searched for it, digging for where he had seen that light blonde hair before, and when it hit him his eyebrows raised up underneath his fringe. He slowly walked in an arch so that he could get a glimpse of the young woman's face, and when he did his jaw dropped slightly. The woman in front of him was stunningly beautiful; easily the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his entire life in fact - and he knew her.
The young blonde turned her head in surprise; looking up from the piece of paper she had been drawing on, and her eyes widened when she saw Harry standing there looking at her in shock. After a moment a brilliant smile spread over her face, and she stood from the chair before making her way over to him, "Harry! I didn't expect to see you here of all places!" She pulled him into a hug, and Harry, having prepared himself for it, wrapped his arms lightly around her and gave her a squeeze before taking a step back and looking her over as she did the same to him.
"You've grown a lot since I last saw you!"
She smirked and put her hands on her hips. "When Fleur kissed you goodbye?"
He blushed, but managed to keep it to a minimum; a new, very welcome skill he had managed to acquire over the course of his chore-filled holiday so far. "Well, yeah – but I was trying to compliment you. You look amazing."
Her eyebrow quirked and a cheeky smile reached her lips. "Are you flirting with me Harry Potter?"
This time his blush sprung into full burst, and he lowered his head in embarrassment at her chuckle. "It seems like I'm not that confident yet," he muttered to himself, and then lifted his eyes back up to her where she was motioning to the seat she had just vacated. They both sat down and Harry peered over at the piece of paper that she had been working on before she had seen him. "Wow, that's really good Gabrielle – I didn't know that you could draw."
She raised another perfectly shaped eyebrow; her glittering blue eyes dancing back at him. "You don't know much about me Harry; we've barely ever talked." He blushed again, much to her amusement, and then waved his hand vaguely to cast a warming charm over them; the cold air was beginning to nip at him since he was cooling down. "You can do wandless magic?" she asked in surprise, and his eyebrows shot up as well.
"Yeah, but I've never done a warming charm before…" he smiled happily to himself, "Well there's another spell I can add to my achievement list."
"A warming spell?" she asked in amusement, "I thought that such spells were in the second year curriculum here, or am I giving this country's education system too much credit?"
He nodded seriously, "Definitely too much credit, we're still covering the levitating spell…what's it called again? Gimwadium Jevidosa or something like that." She laughed musically, and the grin that had been hiding split out onto his face as he too chuckled. "But in all seriousness, that's the fourth spell I can cast wandlessly."
She nodded, and then cocked her head to the side. "So what are you doing here?"
"I think I should be asking you that question," he shot back, but she grinned at him.
"I asked first."
He chuckled and nodded, "That you did. I live about an hour's walk from here; I run this route most mornings, now it's your turn."
She seemed to hesitate for a second, and he caught a flash of emotion in her eyes that deviated from her normal cheerfulness before she answered with her smile back in place. "I'm here for an exchange actually. There's a group of thirty witches and wizards who are offered it every year so that we can experience England's culture and language in more depth."
"Clearly your sister didn't take that option," he winked, and she chuckled with a nod of agreement.
"She thinks you are all barbarians, or at least she did before she met you and Bill. And she can speak very good English; she just likes the way her accent makes her sound sexy." Harry buried his head in his hands as he blushed beet-red, and Gabrielle smirked at him. "You're so easy to tease."
He snorted and met her eyes, once more fighting down his blush. "You think this is bad? You should've seen me in my third year; I was probably the most emotionally stunted thirteen year old wizard in England. If you had've told me half-way through last year even that I'd be able to tell a pretty young woman like yourself that she looked amazing…" she blushed herself at the compliment, and he smiled lightly, "I wouldn't sent you straight to the long-term ward at St Mungos. It's just in the past week that I've managed to get a grip on my insecurity, and this is the first time I've really gotten to test it."
"So I'm your…" she searched for the word, and then smirked at him. "Guinea pig?"
He fought against the stutters that would normally accompany teasing by such a stunning woman, and nodded easily with a shrug, "Sure."
He managed to hold it in for several seconds before bursting into laughter at the look on her face, and a moment later she joined him. "I can definitely see that you have changed. I like it."
He blushed slightly and nodded to her with a smile, "Thanks, so do I." He stared out over the lake and leant back; refreshing the warming charm on them both. She sent him a thankful smile. "So how long are you here for?"
"'Till the end of the holidays, and then I go back to Beauxbatons." He nodded and she scratched away at her pad once more. "I heard about Sirius Black, your godfather."
She saw him stiffen, and then slump slightly as he nodded. "Yeah, and do you know the sad thing? He didn't even betray my parents." Gabrielle stopped drawing and looked at him in shock as he gave a humourless chuckle, "Yeah, tell me about it. Hermione and I broke Sirius out of Hogwarts' tower before he could be kissed; it turns out that the man he was charged with murdering was in fact the traitor, and that he is now a Death Eater."
He jolted when he felt a warmth cover his hand, and looked down to see her fingers covering his. He looked up to meet her eyes and she gave him a sad smile in return. "Then I am sorry."
For the next three hours they sat on the bench and talked, and both of them found themselves becoming quite comfortable around each other. When Harry realized the time however, he shot up from the chair; Gabrielle's hand slipping off his, and shot her an apologetic but slightly frantic smile. "I've got to go, shit I didn't realize it was this time already! Look, ummm…" he thought for several moments before his eyes lit up. He pointed at a small but upscale café on the corner, "Would you like to meet up for coffee later on today maybe?" She nodded, her surprise turning into a warm smile, and he smiled back. "Okay, how about one o'clock? Is that okay with you?"
She nodded and stood herself, the smile still on her lips. "That would be nice, I will see you then?"
He nodded, and with one last hurried hug took off at a dead sprint. He missed the worried look on her face as he disappeared around the corner; too intent on getting back to number four as fast as humanly possible to turn and look behind. In just fifteen minutes he made it back, and he tumbled through the front door before racing down to the basement to use the old, scummy shower so that he could avoid his relatives for as long as possible. Five minutes later and he was scrambling for a towel, before groaning when he realized that he had forgotten one. After a moment an idea popped into his head and he cast another wandless warming charm on himself, but this time overpowered it.
He yelped as the heat engulfed him, and quickly regulated the output until he was steaming quite nicely as the water evaporated off him. He ran up the stairs still steaming, and then bolted into his room before changing hurriedly into his hand-me-downs from Dudley. He looked down in disgust and made a mental note to go to a clothing store before meeting with Gabrielle. "BOY!" came the roar from the bottom of the stairs, and he groaned before racing down the stairs and past his silently fuming uncle. In the past he would likely have been beaten for being late, but he silently thanked the powers that be for small wonders…like Mad-Eye threatening the prudes. Breakfast was on the go within seconds; Harry heating up the pans faster than normally possible with wandless magic; cleaning up his mess in the same manner as he worked. Vernon walked in a moment later, scowling suspiciously when he saw the eggs and bacon already cooking, but considering that Harry clearly didn't have his wand on him, couldn't make a scene.
Harry slammed down onto his bed after he had made it out of that situation alive, and patted his surprisingly full stomach contentedly as it grumbled in satisfaction. The events of the day had already been a whirlwind; from misery to happiness to distress to content, and to his surprise, now excitement. He sat up after several minutes and wondered about the young woman he had met that morning. He hadn't seen her in over a year, and the once-eleven year old girl now looked more like a sixteen year old young woman, and a very beautiful young woman at that. It was almost unbelievable that she was only twelve years old with the way she acted and looked, and yet Harry found that unbelievable wasn't really that much of a deal to him anymore.
For the rest of the morning he worked his proverbial arse off to get his chores done so that he had time to shop and meet with Gabrielle, and although Petunia gave him an odd look he found himself free at just after eleven o'clock. Racing up to his room he once again pried up his floorboard, but this time withdrew a roll of one hundred pound bills that he had converted from Galleons over a year ago. He pulled out ten of the notes and stuffed them in his pocket before looking at himself in the mirror, and he sighed at his morbid appearance. The clothes contributed to about ninety percent of the overall look, and he blamed the other ten percent on the fact that he was in the same house as the abusive little pricks. Making sure to silence his steps he crept out once more and released a deep breath he hadn't been aware he'd been holding when he rounded the corner and headed towards the shopping district.
When he stopped outside the fanciest looking store he could find he looked at his watch and quickly rushed inside…where he was immediately met by a disapproving salesman. His eyes looked over Harry like he was little more than an insignificant insect, and Harry swallowed before managing to construct a rather – in his opinion – brilliant excuse for his slovenly state of dress. "Good afternoon sir. My family's manner was burnt down in a fire yesterevening and I find myself in need of some very quick assistance in outfitting. I was told that you were the people to see about high-quality, comfortable clothing."
The man's demeanour immediately changed from repulsed to very, very friendly, and Harry almost winced – if this carried on he'd get whiplash from the mood swings. "Yes of course sir, you've come to the right place!"
Harry smiled in what he hoped to be a genuine manner and pulled eight hundred pounds out of his pocket. The man's eyes widened and Harry continued. "I am in need of a single outfit; smart casual, most certainly not formal. I'm going for a look of understated wealth; confident but not arrogant; comfortable and friendly seeming."
"Shoes as well sir?" bumbled the excited man, and Harry nodded as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Harry was then subjected to half an hour of complete mayhem, which became even more hectic when he told the man that he was on a time limit. He left the store seven hundred and fifty two pounds poorer, with every single piece of clothing he had been wearing before in a bin, but looking every bit like a fine young man – precisely the look he had been going for. He had even tipped the salesman thirty pounds for his help. He peered at his new watch as the café came into view, and then sighed in relief and smiled when he saw that he was ten minutes early. Ducking into a store on his left he quickly scheduled an appointment to see the optometrist the following day, and then made his way into the small but quite busy café.
He managed not to smirk when he was served before another group of teenagers despite his later arrival. He snagged a table for two outside by one of the fireplaces and ordered an assortment of small cakes and slices while he waited. Exactly ten minutes past one he caught sight of Gabrielle, and his jaw slackened…along with virtually every other male in the immediate vicinity. Her long blonde hair blew out behind her, and she was dressed in an expensive looking crème outfit that hugged her body in all the right places without being tarty. He managed to keep his mouth closed however, while the others did not…nor did he drool as they were in some cases, and in both instances he was proud of his control. She spotted him and waved, and Harry couldn't help but chuckle when nearly the entire café populace waved back. She made a beeline right for him, and then sat down with a beaming smile as he ignore the looks of jealousy and envy on the other men's faces…or the enamoured looks of others as they stared blatantly at her. "Gabrielle, I know we've only just gotten knowing each other, but I'm going to say what I think because it would be a crime not to. You look positively stunning; you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen – and I'm not affected by your allure as you well know."
She blushed prettily and lowered her head in embarrassment, and Harry smiled slightly; it was about time he made her blush instead of the other way around. "You look very handsome yourself Harry." He blushed, and then cursed under his breath when she followed up with, "And you're the only man I've ever met but my father that doesn't let that go to your head. That's a very attractive trait."
She chuckled, but once more leant over and brushed her hand over his. "But it is the truth Harry." She took her hand back after a moment, and he took in several deep breaths to force his blush down. When he looked up again he groaned and immediately slammed his head into the table while Gabrielle laughed happily as she continued to lick the cream from her finger. After several moments he lifted his head cautiously, and sighed in relief when no other form of torture seemed forthcoming. He was wrong, but this time he didn't look away when she spoke. "I think the saying goes…but all jokes aside?" He nodded and she continued. "But all jokes aside, Harry, you saying such things without my allure affecting you…it makes me feel very special. Thank you."
He blushed, but shook his head as he smiled. "There's no need to thank me; it's the truth." She blushed again, and Harry leant forwards so that others wouldn't hear. "Can you control your allure?"
She blushed in embarrassment, "I am controlling it as much as I can right now. I cannot suppress it like Fleur can yet."
Harry nodded with a reassuring smile, "Right then, do you have your wand in case there's trouble?" She nodded and he smiled at her, "I'll go and order our coffee then. How do you like yours?"
She shook her head with a thankful smile, "I would like a Chai Latte please."
Harry raised an eyebrow in interest. "A Chai Latte? I've never had one before, what are they like?"
She smiled warmly at him, "They smell like Christmas."
He chuckled and shrugged his shoulders, "That's good enough for me so long as we discount the first eleven years of my life." He missed the worried look once more when he stood, and she marshalled her face back into a smile when he looked to her and leant down to say, "Be safe while I'm gone; the other men here are not immune to you."
She nodded to him, and he patted her hand once before walking inside with a confidence she had never before seen in him, and she smiled. Harry approached the counter, and frowned when he saw the hostile expression on the waiter's face. Moving down a little further he caught the eye of a waitress and motioned to her. "Two Chai Lattes thank you."
She nodded and began making them, and then gave him an odd look as she worked behind the counter. "Why is every male glaring at you?"
He looked around and found that she was in fact right, and turned to her with a lopsided smile. "Because I'm so handsome?"
She snorted with a grin, "And modest to boot."
He laughed and shook his head, "No, it's because I'm sitting with the most beautiful woman in the entire world, and they're insanely jealous. I'm not inclined to care because she's sitting with me, but…" he shrugged, "you can never be too careful, which is why I asked you to serve me. Your buddy there," he tilted his head to the still-glaring waiter, "would probably slap some dish-washing powder into my drink and happily watch as I was poisoned."
She looked to her workmate and recoiled slightly at the look of anger and hate on his face. "Good God, I've never seen Henry so riled before…what did you do?"
Harry turned around and grinned, "Bring our drinks out to us and you'll see just what I mean by beautiful." She nodded and he walked back outside, before freezing when he saw three men crowded around Gabrielle; one of them with her arm in a firm grip – all of their expressions lusting. He could see the fear of Gabrielle's face, and he was moving before his conscious mind even caught up. "Let. Her. Go."
The three men looked up from Gabrielle with matching sneers, but their superior expressions didn't last long when they caught sight of the furious look in his eyes. Even though muggles couldn't see magic, they could still feel its effects, and every single ounce of his bubbling fury was focussed exclusively on them. The man holding Gabrielle's arm immediately let her go, and the two others edged nervously away; their eyes no longer holding confidence. Harry stalked up to the ringleader and – even though he was at least three inches shorter – bunched up his shirt and slammed him into the brick surround of the small area. "I suggest you get the hell out of here before I show you just how much pain I can inflict on you."
He was angry, yes, but he knew that that alone wouldn't be enough to ward off enthralled hormonal males, and so he had brought forth the picture of Bellatrix's taunting face to the front of his mind. It was more than enough to scare the absolute living daylights and lust out of the three men, and the moment Harry released their leader they scurried from the café and ducked out of sight as soon as humanly possible. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath before practicing Occlumency to calm himself, and then opened them again before returning to his seat opposite Gabrielle, who was looking at him with wide eyes. He was surprised but happy to see no fear, but instead curiosity burning in her clear azure orbs, and he cracked his famous lopsided smile once more. "I forced myself to anger to that level; it was the only way I could avoid physical violence."
She nodded in understanding, but still looked a little awed, and Harry blushed – until a voice exclaimed, "Good Lord you weren't kidding!"
Harry looked up at the waitress, and smiled when he saw her gaping at Gabrielle. The young blonde looked at Harry with a question in his eyes and he shrugged with a smile. "I told her that I was sitting with the most beautiful woman in the entire world." She blushed a deep red and ducked her head as the waitress placed their Lattes in front of them, still looking astonished, and so it was only Harry that caught her pointing furiously at Gabrielle while mouthing 'SHE'S A KEEPER!' he chuckled and waved her off with a grin, and then smiled at Gabrielle who burst back into a full blush when she met his eyes once more. He smiled benignly back at her and shrugged, "I'm just telling the truth."
Reviews would be much appreciated; I do so love looking in my inbox and finding some. Now my writing has been put on the proverbial back-burner until November 20th (three days after my final exams are finished) - but not to fear. I have 4 chapters done, so you'll get them by that point, and then I'll post more regularly after school is over and done with.