Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoat Books, Warner Bros., Inc. and Sony (Pottermore). No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
More than Meets the Eye
Somewhere in Wiltshire, England, August 2nd 1995.
Twin Apparitions disturbed the sultry summer night, but the tall wizard sitting in his study on the first floor did not look out of the partly opened window, he just glanced at an antique clock on the wall. Twenty-five minutes past nine.
This was a wizard home, a mansion of an old pure-blood family, so a person Apparating or Disapparating nearby was nothing uncommon. The wards hid the country house amidst woodland, parkland and large gardens from Muggles and repelled magical visitors to outside the high yew hedge and wrought iron gate, so there was no reason to be alarmed at the noise. Through his connection to their Dark Marks he felt Malfoy and Avery returning.
Hm, hadn't they left less than twenty minutes ago? He absently wondered. Oh well, if they have any news, they will come and report.
The pale, snake-like man focused his attention back on a blueprint of a large building and an open journal, the pages covered in neat columns of figures and runes, continuing his planning and Arithmancy calculations of possible infiltration scenarios.
On the right side of the room was an unlit fireplace, with a simple, but elegant Italian style mantelpiece. Opposite the desk was a door, leading out into the hallway, and another door was in the sidewall. High, dark wooden bookshelves and cabinets connected by light oak wall panels covered most of the original yellow-grey Corsham stone walls.
In the corner behind the desk, to the side of the mullioned window lay a large, curled up form, snoring and hissing very softly, upon a stack of soft rugs. Large maps of the British Isles and of Europe decorated the upper wall next to the window. Both looked realistic like a detailed satellite photo shot, but were obviously magical, because of glowing markers for magical buildings, areas, villages or mixed Muggle - Wizard settlements, like the Ministry of Magic, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, Ottery St. Catchpole, Godric's Hollow, Tinworth, Upper Flagley, also Dragon preserves or Werewolf clan or Giant territories.
Lord Voldemort looked up from the clutter of files, plans and notes on his heavy cherry wood desk when he heard someone knocking.
What now? He grumbled in his mind, frustrated that he didn't make any progress with his Arithmancy calculations. He had worked out several different plans to achieve his goals, plans that had appeared to be solid, reasonable and well structured. Nevertheless the probability of overall success was still so fickle, so random, so uncertain that it was inacceptable. It drove him up the wall!
One variable eluded him. One variable in the complex Arithmancy matrix had to be wrong from the start; something about the rune it represented, the properties, the effects, and the probable negation. He was making a grievous error somehow. He just couldn't figure out how to approach this problem from the right angle. From his decades of experience he supposed that the solution lurked right around the corner. It would be something glaringly obvious in hindsight, but he just couldn't grasp it - yet.
He raised his hands to briefly massage his temples, trying to ease the headache that pestered him this sweltering, stifling evening, despite the cooling charm on the room, before snarling, "Yes?"
"My Lord." Malfoy's silky drawl sounded somewhat strained through the heavy, dark brown wooden door. "I'm very sorry to disturb you sir, but most urgent business has come up."
Leaning back in his ornamentally carved, high-backed chair, his right hand flicking to cast the unlocking charm, Voldemort spoke curtly, "Come."
The opening door revealed two wizards in dark robes, Lucius Malfoy, with Garrick Avery hovering behind him. This in itself was nothing unexpected.
What had the Dark Lord blinking in surprise was the dishevelled state of Malfoy – the platinum blond aristocrat almost always looked impeccable, cool and collected, but now his grey eyes were blazing in agitation, fear and worry, his silky mane was in disarray, his face paler than normal, his breathing rushed as if he had run a mile, and what he held bridal style in his arms.
A limp, thin teenager, deathly pale, eyes closed, hidden behind ugly glasses, sweaty, dirty black hair covering part of his features, but Voldemort recognized him instantly.
Earlier on the same evening:
Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, England.
The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. Cars that were usually gleaming stood dusty in their drives and lawns that were once emerald green lay parched and yellowing; the use of hosepipes had been banned due to drought.
Harry lay on his stomach in a hot, dusty flowerbed amongst dying begonias outside number four, concealed behind the hydrangea bush. He watched Mrs. Figg, a batty cat-loving old lady from nearby Wisteria Walk, mosey along the road.
He listened to the seven o'clock evening news through the open living room window, but it was nothing interesting. No sudden terror attack, no death and destruction, only holidaymakers stranded in Spain due to a strike and a frolicking bloody bird.
He raised himself on to his knees and elbows, preparing to crawl out from under the window. He had moved about two inches when several things happened in very quick succession.
A loud, echoing crack broke the sleepy silence like a gunshot; a cat streaked out from under a parked car and flew out of sight; a shriek, a bellowed oath and the sound of breaking china came from the Dursleys' living room, and as though this was the signal Harry had been waiting for he jumped to his feet, at the same time pulling from the waistband of his jeans a thin wooden wand as if he were unsheathing a sword - but before he could draw himself up to full height, the top of his head collided with the Dursleys' open window.
The resultant crash made Aunt Petunia scream even louder.
Harry felt as though his head had been split in two. Eyes streaming, he swayed, trying to focus on the street to spot the source of the noise, but he had barely staggered upright when two large purple hands reached through the open window and closed tightly around his throat.
"Put - it-away!" Uncle Vernon snarled into Harry's ear. "Now! Before- anyone – sees!"
"Get - off - me!" Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncle's sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wand.
Vernon tightened his meaty fists and shook Harry like a disobedient puppy. "How dare you make such a racket right under our window? I told you, I will not tolerate any more of your abnormality. Drop – that - thing! Now, you disgusting freak!"
Harry's face and neck turned purple, his eyes rolled back into his head, his mouth was wide open, but he couldn't speak or scream anymore due to lack of air. Fierce pain lanced through him, his chest felt as if would explode any second. He needed to breathe! His body convulsed. Dropping the wand, he frantically clawed with both hands upward, trying to pry his uncle's fingers loose before he succumbed to the blackness encroaching upon him.
Suddenly, a livid Petunia appeared at the window and grabbed her husband's arm. She hissed, "Vernon! The neighbours! You can't kill him! Let him go!"
Reluctantly Vernon obeyed the voice of reason, throwing his freak of a nephew away from the window.
Harry fell over the hydrangea bush, coughing and spluttering, wheezing for breath. His neck hurt something fierce, swallowing was agony. That had been close. This time Vernon had almost throttled him to unconsciousness, or almost killed him with the shaking. It was a wonder his neck hadn't snapped.
With tremendous effort Harry managed to rise to his hands and knees, heaving in lungful's of dusty air, that sent him into another coughing fit. Flight or fight, adrenalin was pumping through his emaciated, exhausted body like fire. His instincts screamed at him to flee, because he couldn't fight Vernon Dursley. If he used magic to defend himself, the fucking Ministry would know. He didn't want to risk another warning, or expulsion from Hogwarts.
But he needed his wand, just to know it was still there. His hands danced around on the hot, dried earth amidst the wilted flowers. Where was his wand?
"Wh-a-and, ne-e-ed hw-a-nd. Ach-ch-io wh-a-and!" he rasped, concentrating with all his might on his wand – and he felt it slapping into his palm. That was great, but he couldn't speak clearly, oh shit! Vernon's grip must have damaged something in his throat, in his larynx most likely. Bugger it!
Harry's vision was blurry, black spots danced around like a swarm of angry mosquitos, but he forced himself to crawl away alongside the flowerbed as fast as he could. He had to get away before Vernon had time to waddle out of the door or he would be manhandled into the house, where the neighbours couldn't watch the show any more. His shoulders, back and ribs still smarted from the last leathering.
Gulping in more air, Harry somehow managed to reach the corner of the house, where he shakily pulled himself to his feet. He couldn't see straight, there were still black spots in his field of sight, but he felt along the low garden wall as he stumbled forward until he reached the pavement. Move! He screamed at his legs, keep moving, down Privet Drive and on, I must get away, to the park. Vernon will not run after me when all the neighbours are watching, wouldn't be good for his image.
He heard some angry shouts from behind, but didn't head them as he trudged along the pavement on autopilot. No, Uncle Vernon, I will not come back right away, he growled in his mind. Consequences be damned.
After reaching the corner of the road, he looked back over his shoulder. That cracking noise, it had sounded like someone Apparating or Disapparating. Some wizard, or maybe a house elf, had been near him as he lay among Aunt Petunia's wilting flowers. Who was it? Why hadn't they secretly spoken to him? Why hadn't they brought him a real letter with information from Sirius, or his friends?
The big question was: Was that person a friend or a foe?
No, not an enemy, Harry mused. If that had been a Death Eater, one of Voldemort's men, who had found his house despite Dumbledore's protection and the no-post-for-security-rule, they would have attacked and kidnapped him as soon as he left the garden, stepping outside the wards surrounding the property. He wouldn't have noticed until it was too late; he was too busy keeping himself upright, gasping for breath and putting one foot in front of the other.
But if it wasn't an enemy, then why did that person not at least greet him? Or was it a coincidence? Was some random wizard travelling around, and they didn't know the famous Harry Potter was there at number four? Not bloody likely, why should any wizard or witch come to this Merlin forsaken Muggle suburb, if they didn't have business here involving the bloody Boy Who Lived?
How Harry hated his fame and this situation, being stuck at Privet Drive for his own good. Ha, if Dumbledore could see him now, ruddy fantastic this safety at his relatives, wasn't it? Harry snarled under his breath. He couldn't think straight anymore, it was just too much, too much anger, pain and riddles and not enough news and real information.
Harry eventually found his way along Magnolia Crescent, turning into Magnolia Road he headed towards the play park, which lay empty and desolate in the humid evening. He clambered carefully over the closed park gate and collapsed onto the only swing still usable, the others had been all vandalized by Dudley and his gang.
Another day gone by without news of the wizarding world, nothing worthwhile in the Daily Prophet or the Muggle news, let alone any information from his so called friends or absent godfather. It was maddening!
On top of that his uncle and aunt were in a nark, hell, no, they were spitting mad at him! They had already been in a nark when he returned for the summer about a month ago. The Dursleys loathed and hated him more than ever; because of that idiotic prank the Weasley twins played on Dudley the previous summer and how Mr Weasley had first destroyed and later fixed their living room with magic, all because those "freaks", the Weasleys, could not pick Harry up for that trip to the Quidditch World Cup like "decent, normal" people, with their car driving on the road and politely knocking on the front door!
The Dursleys hated - and feared - magic on principle, so in conclusion they hated Harry and had done their utmost to beat and starve the freakishness out of him. Last summer, he had thought the prank of the twins on Dudley to be very funny. Now he wished Mr Weasley had picked him up in a different way and without his sons. That had backfired so spectacularly, like a firework cracker blowing up right into his face. The Weasleys did not seem to have thought anything about what they had done or that Harry could possibly get into trouble for something completely out of his control.
During the rest of that summer and the following school year so much had happened, that Harry had completely forgotten the incident in the Dursleys' living room. After all, it was rather insignificant compared to fighting a dragon, dancing at the Yule ball, diving into the Black lake, navigating a dangerous maze or witnessing Lord Voldemort return and Cedric getting murdered just because he was in the way, wasn't needed for the ritual.
However, the Dursleys hadn't forgotten Dudley's ruined birthday outing to the zoo, or Harry's eleventh birthday and Dudley's pig tail, or the summer before second year with that ruined business dinner courtesy of Dobby, or the summer of the year previously, when he had blown up Aunt Marge and ran away. The catastrophe of the Weasleys' visit before his fourth year fuelled their hatred of him to new heights and they had waited for him to return, so that he could be adequately punished for the "unnatural, revolting freakishness" as they called it, that he had brought into their lives.
Now, tonight, Uncle Vernon was way beyond furious. He would never believe Harry that he didn't make that loud noise at all and that it was probably caused by some other magic user, which would only incense his temper more. Harry shuddered in fear of the punishment that was waiting for him, Gryffindor bravery and courage be damned.
Oh shit, oh fucking, buggering deep black hole shit, Harry cursed in his mind. He didn't know what he should do. He dearly wanted to run away, Dumblefu- ,
'Professor Dumbledore, Harry,' chided Hermione's voice in his head,
and his barmy notions of Security be damned, but how should he manage that?
If he hailed the Knight Bus and travelled to The Burrow or the Leaky Cauldron, Dumbledore would know where he was in a jiffy and probably drag him back to Privet Drive for his own good, of course! Or send someone to do just that, like probably - Snape. A most wonderful prospect.
Harry scowled and punched the air. Oh no, that would not help him, at all. And, his money pouch, broom and Invisibility cloak were in the house, inside his trunk locked in the cupboard under the stairs. Vernon had made sure that all of his "freaky" things were locked up securely, right after arriving at the start of summer.
Maybe Vernon would cool down again in a few hours, go to sleep after Dudley had come home, so that Harry could sneak back into the house again, and pick the lock on the cupboard door to retrieve his most important things? And then, fly somehow to London or somewhere else under his cloak? But where could he hide safely and recover? How? He was in no condition for a journey like this; hurt, exhausted, weak from hunger and thirst. On top of that he couldn't speak properly, only croak like Trevor. Fuck.
His future looked darker than the inkiest black, more dreadful than Snape's robes, eyes and hair. Harry didn't want this life that was no real life anymore. Lost in the mire of hopelessness and pain, the young raven sat on the swing, staring into nothing as the crickets started their evening concert in the burned yellow grass of the darkening play park.
To start this fic, I quoted some original sentences in Italics from Chapter 1 - Dudley Demented of HP and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling in the second part of this first chapter.
Setting / Time-line: AU as of the summer after Goblet of Fire = Chapter one of Order of the Phoenix = 5th HP book, beginning of August 1995 according to the fabulous online hp-lexicon . org. Minimal changes towards the end of GOF have happened, which shall be explained in due course...
Inspired by the great fan art of Flayu on Deviant Art, especially the picture titled "HP and LV." What happened to get Harry and Lord Voldemort to the moment and mood shown in this work of art and where do they go from here?
Genres: Drama, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Adventure, Mystery. If you squint, there is also Humour/Parody lurking around. Not much Romance, if any at all.
Warnings (edited): This fic is rated 'M' to be on the safe side because of language, dark or adult themes, although I guess most of the story is more like 'T'.
Because some reviewers in 2011 asked about probable pairings:
No later HP/GiW or HG/RW planned, or anything fluffy like 'Tom and Harry fall in love and live happily ever after'.
In due course there might be possible mentions of, or allusions to sexual relations of various characters of all kind, Het, Slash, Bi, Bestiality, Underage, Dominance/submission, certainly manipulation / power plays; whatever ;-) we shall see.
Very slow-paced story and planed as a novel length WIP, covering years. I cannot promise you regular monthly updates due to other commitments and real life trouble. Sorry, you have to be really patient.
If this is not your cup of tea, then please leave and read something else. Otherwise, welcome on the Dark side and enjoy!
AN concerning Avery: In canon, there are two men with this surname; both are Death Eaters, probably father and son or uncle and nephew. I gave the younger Avery, of the same age as Snape (= Marauder Era, they went to Hogwarts together), the name Garrick. It could mean spear-ruler, a strong name for a warrior or from Old French: A place covered by oaks. I felt Garrick fit well with Avery, a surname which also has roots in Old or Middle English and Old French, like Alfred, aelf, meaning elf, and raed, meaning counsel, like in modern German Rat, a city council, or Rat = good advice. I really didn't know the information about Olivander from Pottermore when I wrote this first chapter in 2011, so it's pure coincidence that Mr Olivander's first name is also Garrick!