Fahrenheit - Chapter 1 by HollyandHawthorn.
DISCLAIMER: I most indefinitely do not own anything, except perhaps my car and this laptop.
This story will get pretty rough, Violence, and Smut, of course.
A/N: People write Slytherin!Harry all the time, mostly basing it off that cutesy handshake that Draco offers in Philosophers Stone, but you know what, I'm not going to write one of those.
Hope you enjoy, and don't forget to review, they're like puppies.
There is nothing more empowering to Harry than the sound of his own breathing in the silence. The rhythm is calming, completely at his mercy.
It makes his skin tingle and his pupils dilate, until the intense green of his irises is little more than a fine ring of colour around the dark pits that seem to swallow him into his reflection in the bathroom mirror.
In, and out.
He can tell a lot about a person by the way that they breathe, what they truly think about a person, how they're going to react to something. His Uncle is the perfect example; his breathing is rough and unbalanced, his throat catches at the air on each exhalation, eliciting a growl that only Harry seems to be capable of hearing.
The growling is more intense when he speaks to Harry, and while he is barely intimidated by the sound, it determines just how far he can push from one day to the next.
Because he loves to push his Uncle to the edge, letting him teeter, and regain his balance all on his own. Balance is important.
Harry never used to be balanced, his breathing was once spontaneous, unmeasured, and the thought of such a thing now makes his chest tighten harshly against his lungs. He doesn't let himself think about those days.
There has only been one time since he first discovered his own balance, that Harry has let himself revel in the loss that assurance. It still rings in his ears like the final high note of some twisted song. The sound of Dudley's rattling wheezes as he inhales the dark smoke swirling around his head, the screaming of Aunt Petunia as her eyes glow a brilliant shade of fierce amber.
The memory is imprinted into his flesh, and his fingertips still ache with the sensation of the burning heat. He loves the heat more than anything else in the world, except perhaps his breathing.
Outside, steam fills the air thick and fast as the other students kiss their relatives goodbye. Harry doesn't look, the concept makes his stomach twist into knots that tear at his insides.
Family is very much a sore spot for him, and he isn't about to let a bunch of emotional mothers outside his window spark any kind of emotion inside himself, because that is very much dangerous territory. He doesn't let himself feel very often.
He turns his attention instead to the golden lettered ticket that rest on his lap, glinting softly in the sunlight seeping through the muddy skylights of the platform. He likes the ticket, the corners slightly frayed from being handled so often over the last few weeks, fingerprints coating it's surface and the scent of that musty hotel room he had stayed in after being returned from Diagon Alley.
He raised a hand to his hair, running his fingers through the mess subconsciously as he studies the ticket for what feels like the thousandth time.
The final whistle blows outside, and the train seems to thunder with the sound of hundreds of footsteps as students board in a rush, hands fly out of windows and mothers say their final tearful goodbyes. Harry measures his breathing.
The train eventually begins to move, the watch on Harry's boney wrist ticking over eleven o'clock, and his mouth twitches ever so slightly. He corrects his slip in composure barely a second later, dropping his face back into the impassive expression he wears almost constantly nowadays.
The door slides open.
"Mind if I sit in here with you?" He looks up at the lanky redheaded boy for a moment before returning to his ticket. "Everywhere else is full."
Harry keeps him waiting a moment too long before nodding curtly and listening to the sigh of relief. This boys breathing is uneven too. This train ride is going to drag out tortuously long.
When he feels that he's finally soaked in every detail of the ticket, he pushes it back into the pocket of his worn jeans and glares up at his trunk above his head. He can feel the other boys eyes on him, but he has absolutely no intention of making him feel any more comfortable. Harry thrives off the discomfort of others.
He stands, fiddles with the buckles of his trunk before popping it open and digging around inside it. His hand finds what he's looking for within moments, and slipping his hand from the unknown, he pulls out A History of Magic and sits himself resolutely back on his chair, crossing his legs beneath him and flipping the book open.
"I'm Ron by the way," comes a quiet voice opposite him. "Ron Weasley."
Harry keeps reading, sighing carefully, one, two, three, before answering the obvious attempt at politeness. Harry, of course, already knew precisely what was going to happen when he uttered his own name into the silence.
"I'm Harry Potter," he said, keeping his eyes on the text in front of him and listening closely to the sharp intake of breath, the awkward five seconds wait, and then the question. This was the only part of the greeting that really seemed to change from person to person, what it was they wanted to know.
"Is it true, then?"
Harry raises his eyes slowly, pressing a finger to his place and narrowing his eyes at the other boy, cocking his head to one side and taking in the wide eyes and the quiver of the bottom lip. He's intimidated. Good.
"The scar," Harry knows it isn't really a question but he asks it anyway, some people after all, do manage to surprise him occasionally. Ron nods, and Harry inwardly sighs. Just like everyone else.
He takes his free hand and pushes back the hair on his forehead.
"That's one way of putting it," Harry drops his fringe and returns to his book, flicking the page over and concentrating hard on the printed words. He doesn't like the attention, despises it in fact, and having people gawping at his forehead constantly was doing his head in.
His fingers tightened on the edges of the book, his teeth grinding together as he inhaled evenly. This was not the place.
Ron seemed to take the hint, leaving Harry to his business, shuffling uncomfortably in his chair and humming gently to himself.
Looking up from page seventy two half an hour later, Harry found Ron with his forehead pressed to the glass window, his eyes flicking across the landscape and his breath fogging up the glass every few moments.
Harry cracked his knuckles, continuing to stare unabashed at Ron when he twisted to look at him. People don't scare him.
Ron's eyes are an interesting shade of Periwinkle blue, with tiny flecks of bronze fanning from their centre. They're very trusting, and strangely innocent.
He looks away, it's too strange. Closing his eyes against the harsh sunlight shining through the window and heating his skin, it makes him shiver. He focuses on his breathing, balancing himself carefully until each breath is exact, before opening his eyes and glaring hard at the compartment door.
Outside, a small girl with brown plaits stares at him, her jaw slack and her nose pressed unattractively to the glass. He stares back at her for a moment, what the hell does she think she's doing? And on another note, how long has she been standing there?
He stands carefully, his book falling with a muffled thump, she doesn't move, because she trapped. He walks to the door in two easy strides, slamming the door open, hard, and letting the girl fall in a heap on the floor at his feet.
He drops his face down immediately, mere inches from her gleaming eyes. His lip curls and he whips a hand out to fist the front of her shirt and drag her shoulders from from the floor. It's sure to be uncomfortable, and she gasps against his touch.
"I am not an animal in a cage," he spits, "I am not going to play nice, because I am not. a. nice. person."
His voice is barely a whisper now, but she nods vigorously anyway, before being dropped back onto the floor and scrambling out the door with a frightened squeak.
He slams it closed, before turning back to look at a suddenly very pale Ron staring up at him. His face remains impassive as he picks the book from the floor and examines it's cover for any damage, running his fingers tentatively along the thick spine and dusting invisible lint from it's surface.
Exhaling heavily, he drops back into his chair, placing the book on his lap and scrubbing his face with his hands, sliding beneath the frames of his glasses until they sit precariously on the very tip of his nose, threatening to drop. He stops, pushing them up and looking at Ron.
"What?" He snaps, causing Ron to drop his eyes to his hands and the tips of his ears to shine a magnificent shade of pink.
It takes forty five minutes for Harry to be disturbed from his reading this time, the door opening quietly and the sound of stuttering breaths filling the compartment. He groans and drops his head back to stare at the roof, waiting for whoever has graced his doorway to speak up.
"Are you alright?" Ron's voice breaks the tension, and Harry feels slightly disappointed. He loves the tension, thrives off of it.
"Er - No, uhm, I'm looking for a toad, you haven't seen one by any chance?"
He bites his tongue hard enough to taste blood, it's all he can do to keep himself from opening his mouth, this Ron kid already thinks he's insane. The copper taste fills his mouth, running down the back of his throat and making his eyelids flicker closed. His hands begin to shake, and his heart stutters in his chest.
Oh God, that taste.
It scared people most when Harry bled, and he knew it, because every time it bloomed across his flesh, or filled his mouth, it seemed as though his body unhinged itself. He loved the feeling of losing it, but it wasn't something he could allow so easily.
He swallowed it down, opening his eyes and clenching his hands into tight fists. Breathe.
In, and out.
The door clicks shut, and the compartment goes back to the same intense silence that he prefers. Bloody boys and their toads.
He turns his head to look at the seat next to him, where Hedwig sits, head tucked below a snowy wing, though Harry doubted she would be asleep, she's definitely far smarter than that.
He doesn't know how he feels about her, but something stirs inside him, because she truly is the only beautiful thing he's seen of the world in the eleven years he's been here. She more beautiful than the bruises that flourished across his neck on his ninth birthday, more beautiful than the feeling of ice running along his back. She was everything, and he promised himself that nothing would ever dare to hurt her. Ever.
He manages thirty minutes this time around, practically slamming his book down at the sound of the door opening, turning his head a glaring fiercely at a bushy haired girl who seems to be looking down her nose at the pair of them. Harry takes her in for a moment, her hands clasped carefully to the frame of the door, her face an image of nonchalance and a single fine eyebrow quirked in expectation.
There's something very strange about her, and Harry can't quite put a finger on it. He holds onto his book, pressing it to his chest and inhaling.
"Have either of you seen a toad?" she asks briskly, glancing between Ron and himself. "A boy named Neville has lost one."
"No, sorry." Ron bristles, huffing to himself. Harry turns to look at him, the discomfort is different here. He still completely not himself, but it doesn't have the same quiver of fear when he speaks to Harry. It's an odd change of tone. "He's already asked us, actually."
"Oh, okay then..." she turns her attention to Harry, scrutinising him with narrowed eyes. "You're Harry Potter, aren't you."
It's more of a statement than a question, and Harry can see Ron stiffen out of the corner of his eye. Stupid boy. "Yes, I am," he considers pulling back his fringe, as is the standard with these people, but she doesn't need to seem the confirmation. "You are..."
"Hermione Granger," she puffs up her chest, and actually manages a smile. She's got a brave heart, that one. "You two ought to get into your robes, I expect we'll be arriving in a while."
Harry wrinkles his nose and turns his attention back to his book, he has no intention of moving anywhere until he finishes this damn chapter. The Goblin Revolution is definitely one of the most intriguing parts of this book, though he's certain the information is incredibly one sided. He taps a finger to his lip in thought, making a mental note to find himself more information when he arrives at school.
He's hoping beyond anything that the Library at Hogwarts has enough books to occupy him, because his fierce desire to read is almost as strong as his desire to push every person around him as far away from him as he can manage, and that includes this redheaded boy opposite him, the stupid girl pressing her nose against the compartment door, and Hermione Granger, who didn't seem to be scared of him at all.
He's a lone ranger, his childhood had taught him that he works better that way, friendship involves too much pain, and as much as Harry loved the spike in people eyes when they fear for their lives, he doesn't want to have to experience the pain of actually becoming close to somebody.
Too many emotions. Not worth it.
The door opens again, and Harry throws the book across the compartment, narrowly missing a shocked looking Ron, and climbs to his face. He's had enough of the constant prying.
He twists to the door, his eyes ablaze and heat radiating from his body, he hates being angry, but sometimes, he just has to draw that line.
"What do you want!" he snaps, scowling hard at the blonde boy framed in the doorway, who appears to have expected a far different reaction upon opening the door.
"You must be Harry Potter," he's attempting to sound unfazed, but the shake in his voice is palpable. Harry can feel the fear rolling off of him, just as he can hear the strange rhythm of his breathing. One long breath, two short, one long, two short.
"Again," he grinds out, attempting to keep his breathing even, "what do you want?"
"Oh, just to introduce myself," he glances down at his fingernails and smirks, "I'm Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."
Ron snorts behind him, but Harry doesn't flinch, keeping his eyes level with the boy who seems to have shied away from the eye contact. He's putting on an act, and that annoys Harry beyond anything else. This kid isn't as confident as he's making out, and Harry can see the cracks forming on the surface.
"Think my names funny," he calls over Harry's shoulder, "No need to ask you yours -"
"If you plan on waltzing into this compartment of your own accord, talk to him like you're better than him," he jabs a finger over his shoulder, "and not even work up the courage to look me in the damn eye, Draco. Then you can consider yourself removed." Harry takes a step forward, straight into the personal space of the slightly taller boy, "Get. Out."
He looks into Harry's eyes for a split second, steps back into the two heavy boys standing behind him, and stumbles slightly down the hallway without another word. The two boys stare at Harry stupidly, before he cracks his knuckles again and they get the hint. They remind him oddly of Dudley.
"Don't mention it." Harry turns his eyes to Ron briefly, breathing deeply before turning to pull his robes from the inside of his trunk.
"What house do you reckon you'll end up in?" The question is harmless, because he has no answer for it.
"I have no idea." He finds his robes and drops them onto the chair as he closes his trunk, he really doesn't want this conversation getting personal, so keeping his eyes to himself is deathly important.
"Fair enough, personally, I hope I get into Gryffindor, my whole family has been in Gryffindor for decades." Harry hears the click of Ron's trunk signalling that he, too, has decided to fish his robes out and change.
The conversation ends there, because Harry really doesn't want to get into a conversation with this boy. He pinches the bridge of his nose and listens to the sound of Ron's unbalanced, husky breathing. Definitely don't want to get into a conversation, he might get attached, and Harry is pretty certain that sound would have him ripping the hairs from his scalp if he had to put up with it endlessly.
The fabric of the robes is scratchy and thick, weighing heavily against his skin and billowing around his ankles as he steps from the train. The air here is crisp and sharp against the back of his throat, and the light breeze ruffles his already stupidly messy hair, teasing him for the rogue mop he's managed to inherit from god knows where.
He hates his hair most of the time, with the exception of the occasions in which Aunt Petunia would have turn about the state of it, that made heat curl lovingly in his chest, and a dark smile spread crookedly across his lips.
The booming voice of Hagrid, the overly friendly giant who had retrieved him from the hotel, rang out over the crowd of black clad students, flashes of brilliantly coloured ties surrounding him. Damn his height, it's a weakness he very much loathes about himself.
He manages to push the students aside, finding his way to the feet of the giant where a number of equally small students are waiting. They look scared. Harry almost lets himself smile, not quite.
The walk to the boats involves the buzz of excitable chatter, two people standing on his toes, to which he shoves them hard away from him without a second glance, and a lot of stargazing. The night is clear, and his breathing feels far easier than the usual labouring thought process it takes for him to keep it balanced. He almost forgets to breathe.
He finds himself in a boat with a boy who introduces himself as Blaise, and seems to be the only first year who isn't content with gaping openly at Harry as they cross the lake. He doesn't look at the water, he slows his breathing a fraction, and chooses to lock his eyes on the castle looming above him with such determination he feels his eyes begin to water.
The step onto the jetty could not be any more welcome and he exhales deeply as his knees gradually stop shaking. He follows behind the group with the boy named Blaise at his side, his eyebrows quirked slightly, though he doesn't see any need to scare this boy off, he seems like he'll leave Harry to himself.
Draco is only a few feet in front of him, bragging loudly about the fact that his father is a member of the school board, and has been for fifteen years. Harry wants to wring his neck. So, so badly.
He's never thought much of people that choose to brag, Dudley brags, Uncle Vernon brags, his year three teacher had bragged. Harry had put tacks on his chair.
The grass is damp, and it soaks through the bottom of his robes, chilling his ankles and causing him to grind his teeth loudly. He hates the feeling, it makes him uncomfortable.
The front doors open, and harsh golden light streams out across the lawn.
The ugly old hat finishes it's song to the rumble of applause, and Harry brings his hands together once or twice, concentrating hard on the words of the song. None of the houses sounded particularly terrible, though the descriptions were brief. He needed more information on them to possibly understand what he was getting himself into.
He stared at the teachers table, taking in the long line of oddly dressed Professors carefully while Professor McGonagall read from a scroll of yellowed parchment between boney fingers.
"Granger, Hermione," goes to Gryffindor after a few moments of silence, it's one of the only sortings he actually pays attention to. The ceiling truly is fascinating, and he had overheard her referencing it from a text he hadn't caught the name of, he must find out.
Draco's two dumb-looking friends go straight into Slytherin, and Harry is mildly surprised, the House had seemed more appealing to more calculating characters, they didn't look like they were capable of calculating anything. He snorts to himself and looks back at the tatty old hat.
Harry watches the blonde swagger up to the front and clenches his fists. This boy is so incredibly weak, and yet here he is, staking his claim. He wants to be top dog, and that annoys Harry, because there are far more deserving people of that position.
The hat barely touches his head, shouting "SLYTHERIN!" loudly to the cheers of the table to Harry's far left.
He isn't expecting it when his own name is called, and he snaps back to reality, pulling his eyes away from the candles floating about his head. The room is suddenly filled with the hum over whispered conversation, and Harry has to push down the temptation to tell them all to shut their mouths. He has to get used to this useless muttering, because there's no getting away from it.
He walks up the three stairs and swivels his eyes around to the room at large, every eye is on him, and he allows himself the subtle twitch of a lip as he sits himself down on the stool, because these people really have no idea.
The hat drops over his eyes, and he falls into darkness.
"Hmm." Harry blinks, slightly taken aback by the small voice in his ear. "Difficult, very difficult, plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, either. There's talent, oh my goodness, yes - and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting... But where to put you..."
Harry rested his hands blindly on his lap, before thinking quietly to himself. "Do your worst."
"Such cheek, Mr Potter. You will do great things, I do not doubt that for a moment. I know just what to do with you," and with that, the voice echoed loudly across the Hall, "SLYTHERIN!"
The hat left his head, and the bright light made him blink several times, before climbing from the stool and strolling towards the table that seemed to be clapping ridiculously, pointing at the other houses with sharp eyes and loud voices, "We got Potter!"
He sat himself next to a girl with a squashed looking face, her nose turned up and her eyes unusually far apart. As it turns out, Harry would come to regret this decision, as she had taken to clinging to his arm somewhere between shaking hands with a tall dark haired boy with an ornate 'HB' badge pinned to his chest, and having Blaise take up residence next to him, thumping him hard on the back and grinning broadly.
These people were a little too affectionate.
He managed to extract "Pansy, Pansy Parkinson, I'm sure you'll remember me," from his arm when the plates in front of him filled with a mountainous array of food, pushing her off unceremoniously and telling Blaise to shuffle along to give him some space. He seemed to get it.
He managed to get through half a plate of food under the scrutiny of the people around him, before slamming down his cutlery and glaring at them all in turn, including a rather surprised Draco, who immediately turned his attention back to an attempt at conversation with his dull friends.
Dinner seemed to drag on, and Harry spent a great deal of it telling Pansy to shove off and glaring at the rest of them angrily.
"Bloody hell, you lot!" he snapped at last, "Stop bloody staring at me, I'm not made of glass, and in case you hadn't noticed, I'm trying. To. Eat." At that, he stabbed his spoon into his pudding with contempt, growling softly and telling himself to breathe.
In, and out.