Chapter 1

A Step Forward

Going to the psychologist isn't something Harry really thought he was doing when he arrived for his 10 o'clock appointment on Saturday morning. It's been a year of this, so he basically just considers it another part of his sane life. Which just so happens to be 'proving he's not mental.' Taking in a deep breath he tried to keep his nerves calm and stop his heart from pounding too much when he opened the dull grey door and entered the equally dull yellow room. Yes, this is the place he has spent most of his Saturdays.

"You've come a long way." Ms. Patil said fondly as he sat down in front of her. She has been helping the mental state of her patients for ten years now, but her face is light and friendly, with wrinkles from her job, not age. Her hair is a fading black sort of color and her eyes a gentle caramel. She always sits opposite of him on an old fashioned wooden chair that most would think had to be uncomfortable but in all the times he's been here, never once has Harry seen her squirm or shift. Ms. Patil is wearing a nice white blouse and a long dark pink skirt today, but Harry wasn't looking at her shoes or stockings or even her clothing. Instead he focused on his breathing and hoping beyond hope that he will pass this exam once again. But once that got old he began to focus on something else, and it still wasn't the woman in front of him.

No, he is too busy looking along the walls and ceilings to notice her more formal attire. "Harry, I want to attempt to end this early today." She said abruptly in her silky sweet voice. He blinked in surprise and stared, his hands sweating as he clung to his knees tightly and waited for the bad news. But Ms. Patil simply laughed softly at him. "I'm not kicking you to the curb! Don't worry so much, Harry!" She beamed and then took in a deep breath before continuing with her hands on her knees. "We have been going in circles for a while and now I believe it's about time we begin to take action. There is only so much time we can spend analyzing the bigger situations in your life. So let's look at the smaller."

Harry stared at the way she held her eyes then slowly unclenched his hands. "So what do you want me to do, Ms. Patil?" He asked gently as she gave him a disapproving look, it was still soft though, more like a mother's scold than actual annoyance.

"You can't seem to call me Parvati, but there's someone else you don't call by first name." His psychologist said with a frown. Harry just looked at her in confusion, hating how the light yellow walls are being incredibly deceptive. This room is not a place for children and sunshine… it's the one place he can keep himself sane in and no amount of yellow will make this place an innocent playground for children to roam. No, this place needs gray walls and no windows with fans at each corner. "You need to write to Draco Malfoy, the one you grew up with who always bullied you in school."

Green eyes widened in shock but Ms. Patil had already stood from her chair. "He was just a strange boy who hated me in school. I'm sorry but Ms. Patil, there were much worse people-" He wasn't cut off, but her wise eyes told him he needs to shut up and trust her.

"I know, but you were a child, as was he. Children hold grudges and hatred for life, start there and then you will learn a bit more about the rest. Send him a letter and next week let me know if he responds to you and what the letter says." She explained then kicked him out of her office. To be honest, she has a hair coloring appointment and it's a thirty minute drive to get there. Glancing at the clock she realized she probably should have kicked him out sooner. Harry, on the other hand, had nothing to do but leave in shock as he tried to figure out how to find Malfoy's address and then what to say… "Wait…" He paused then smiled bitterly, "summer's here." This of course means that he'll have more time and not many excuses when it comes to sending this out. Hermione can probably help him find Malfoy… Harry groaned lightly in annoyance knowing there's no way out. Walking outside the sliding doors and into the outside world, the place full of sane people living their sane little lives and once again, like every Saturday, he breathed a sigh of relief that he is still one of them.

The gray sky seemed to fit his mood today, dark and foreboding. His childhood was boring at best and these trips to the psychologist were mandatory for three months thanks to Harry having killed a man out of self-defense. His life has been crazy and something out of a horror novel, but it's his life and he's fine. He's just fine. The idea of being anything but fine disturbed him more than his past actually, which he's sure contacting Malfoy would do nothing to help him overcome the urge to be anything less than normal.

Taking out his cell, he then called his best friend Ron. Harry needs to call Hermione but she always picks up and he's not in the mod to talk about this. That's why he's calling her boyfriend and his best friend who happens to never pick up his phone. Ron's voicemail came on making Harry purse his lips in disdain as he tried to think of a way to phrase this. "Can you ask Hermione if she'll look into getting Malfoy's address?" Instantly he hung up.

Harry has never liked being on the phone with people, he hasn't mastered being normal in that regard yet and he hates showing weakness to his friends who have done several apparently ridiculous things for his supposed obsession with being normal. Hermione has made him four different flow charts, and Ron has bought him an extremely large white board on wheels where he takes notes on what normal people do. Harry had always assumed that these things were normal to request from friends but that was one of his first lessons on how to be normal... don't ask for advice on it from friends or demand them to buy and make things that can take over an hour to do just to satisfy your hobby.

Regardless, Harry has several notebooks full of things he's seen from just sitting on park benches watching people. Moving slowly outside, he focused on the gray sky of the spring, and the knowledge that there's a park just a block away from the psychologist's office. The outside world is much brighter than he thought it would be, even though it's dark out there's still this odd light that burns his eyes.

He knows this walk better than anyone though. He is one of the few who knows that the sidewalk with many oil spills on it is thanks to some children playing with mini racecars last week. The cars don't need oil but one kid thought they do like the real ones; all that resulted is the oil stains all over the sidewalk and how it carries for two blocks thanks to a leak on the oil container. Harry was just leaving his appointment last week when he witnessed this last week, but he didn't deem it to be of any importance, even when an ambulance rushed past him to get to the kids once he had neared the park. If they were his kids then he would have interfered but they're strangers and their parents might not care. It's none of his business. But this week there is no one so he's free to step on the oil stains as much as he wants, even as it mixes with some blood stains from the accident that happened because of the other stains.

"I love the way you talk." A man laughed nearby, his arm wrapped around a plain looking blond girl. She just frowned and then tried to tell him more earnestly how the American health system is one of the worst in the world but just smiled and nodded while watching the birds in the trees and after a while... she seemed to understand that and fell into silence where she would smile softly and let him point out the simplicities of life around her. Her eyes though, they look as though they've just died. Harry pulled out his notebook and wrote down this incident before moving on. They were at the beginning of the path that twists and turns around the park. It's a little walk surrounded by trees and yet the grass is mostly green here with few specks of tan decaying blades.

He kept walking until he got to a bench that faces a construction site. There used to be a pond with ducks and a nice little bridge across it but it was destroyed a few months ago and soon construction workers began building apartments. It's an awkward place for it to go but Harry is sure that with the view of the park it won't take long for people to come rushing in. That's when his phone began to ring. "How could you call Ron with something like this?" Hermione shouted as soon as he answered, but Harry knows her well enough to where the phone wasn't near his ear when he picked it up.

"I called Ron because I knew he wouldn't answer." He replied honestly, holding the phone in front of his face before pulling it back again.

"You're unbelievable! Why should I even bother to help someone as ungrateful and ridiculous as you! Go rot in a hole and die, Harry!" She shouted before breathing loud ragged breaths, trying to calm herself down. "Is this for your psychologist?" She asked much softer, but he knew she's going to be calm again as soon as she begins breathing in that odd way so the phone lay against his ear once more.

"Yes, she thinks I should begin focusing on the smaller problems now since we've exhausted the larger." He nodded and waited for her to continue as a ladybug landed on his knee. Harry watched it in rapt interest, unable to believe that this beautiful little insect picked him as a place to rest.

"That makes sense... I really like this woman. She always seems to give you great advice." Hermione said approvingly. Harry began to toy with his black hair, his fingers pulling on the ends as he waited for her to continue. "I'll find it; God knows you don't need to owe Luna another favor." She added then waited.

"Thanks." He said swiftly with a frown and a hard look of concentration.

"Good! Just remember, normal people always thank others for doing things for them, even if it's easy and would take no time at all. You're getting so much better!" Hermione cheered causing Harry to smile softly, his face beginning to change colors just as she hung up.

"I did it..." He whispered softly in amazement as his fingers moved from his hair and back down to his lap. The ladybug has left him alone it seems.

If Hermione had been too upset to do this for him then Harry would have had to call Luna which is never a good thing. Luna is a beautiful young woman, she's just in her mid-twenties and she has short straight blond hair with incredibly bright poison green eyes. She's short and has a beautiful smile which always shows her teeth unless she's planning something. She is also very possibly the most dangerous woman the world has ever seen. One glance in your direction and she knows exactly what you need and is willing to give it to you... for a price. She collects debts, which is her favorite collection. Now, her favorite clients are sushi chefs but she deals with regular people too.

Luna met Harry in high school and since then they've contacted each other about once a month to talk and usually Harry gives in to owing her a favor. The only problem is that she calculates just how much the debt are worth, and has a way of tallying it up. You may start out owing her a piece of candy, but then it can add up until you owe her a candy store. She's very good at what she does. That's how Luna can survive without working a day in her life. She merely gets you what you need; usually pulling other favors to do it, and then walks on her way having another hefty debt in her pocket. It's almost like a game. Harry would study this fascinating woman if it weren't for the fact that she's not normal which means he doesn't want to be anything like her. Normal, that's what he wants.

A man jogged past wearing everything a jogger typically wears including the sweat band, jersey, sweats, and tennis shoes, which caused Harry to immediately pull out his phone and take a picture before taking even more notes in his notebook. One day... Harry is going to be normal and it'll be thanks to his extensive notes and pictures, along with the benefit of being forced to have normal friends.

Hermione texted him then letting him know that they're heading to his house with the address and are going to help him write the letter. Harry smiled; if it's anything to help him become normal... then his friends are all ears. In high school there was a project where two students from each homeroom would be sent to "become friends" with some of the more troubled or socially retarded students in school. Harry wasn't surprised when Ron and Hermione came and told him that he's the lucky social reject who got them as friends. In a way... he kind of was. They never made fun of him for his inability to act as average people do and over time they discovered that it really bothers him so that's when Harry finally started to try to act like the other kids in school. It's taken a few years but people have stopped looking at him oddly when he walks down the streets. Maybe... if he works on it for a few more years, he'll finally accomplish his goal.

The walk home isn't so bad. Harry could never pass the driving tests, no matter how hard he tried or how much he studied, he just... always found himself taking notes on other people while he was driving... which is never a good thing. It's fine though, he lives in the city and everything is just a few minutes' walk away. On the sidewalk he watched as children ran past with mischievous looks in their eyes with their pockets practically bursting. Adults seemed to hunch in on themselves, walking swiftly to wherever it is that they're going. Some people sat at the bus stops looking bored and dirty but seemed content with the normalcy of everything. Harry noted that he would probably feel the same if he were like them.

Buildings stretch high above him as though trying to reach for the heavens, but with the twin tower terrorist attack a few years back, he figured that none of them would ever dare. There are rumors though that a World Take Over building is being made that will be one floor taller than the twin towers. But since Harry doesn't even recall where he heard such a thing, he disregarded the thought and walked into a graffiti covered building with a soft smile. The passcode into the building is 1313 as though no one would ever guess such a thing. But breaking into one of the many rooms inside is much trickier. There is a 6 digit number involved. The woman who owns the building and runs the system doesn't even know the numbers and it's difficult for her to find them. If someone lost their card or forgot their number then the door would have to be broken in and the system would have to delete the room from its records before setting it up again, only then is she reminded of the number. She only knows the room id numbers of the ones that aren't being used since she holds the card with the number. But everyone else is screwed if they forget or lose the card.

Harry told Hermione about this as soon as he moved in and she made sure that she had two copies of his password and even sent an email to Ron with it. Now they can intrude whenever they please like welcomed guests while devouring all his food. But it has helped him more than once when he's forgotten the password.

He headed into his apartment and was stunned to see that they had bought Chinese food for him while hovering around his computer talking animatedly. Hermione and Ron have been dating for three years now and she expects him to pop the question soon, but Harry knows that Ron is too nervous to move quickly. He's always admired that quality, but not many others to do with the idiotic man. He's not really an idiot either, but there are many things that Harry believes about Ron that no one else does.

Hermione's soft brown hair is wavy unlike most in her family. She had it done along with dying it a light shade of brown. She likes to refer to herself as one of those pretty air heads she would see on Japanese dramas but she was one of the top students in her class and always makes straight A's without even trying. She's a Chemistry Professor at the local University. The class is hard to get into because it's highly popular, not just because the teacher is pretty but also because it's the hardest course the school offers. This is all that Hermione has told him though, it may be one big lie... people have lied about less and have lied about much more. So Harry tends to never believe in anything unless it comes from him.

"This guy got rich!" Ron cried, looking up with wide average brown eyes. His hair is stringy and rough, more like fur than actual hair, but Hermione says he has a nice look about him that makes Ron attractive when he really shouldn't be. Any man that still cries over spiders... should not be anywhere near Hermione, but he must be discreet enough around her so that she wouldn't notice. Harry smirked softly at that thought then moved closer and looked at the screen that Hermione is beaming at.

Draco Malfoy... an ordinary man... a normal man... the kind of man that Harry has always wanted to be but hasn't been able to, well it looks as though the jealousy is over with. Draco took a desk job, the lowest in a company and has worked himself up to the Executives in just three years. The company website brags about him and his accomplishments before finally showing a picture of him... with no ring on his left hand. "He isn't married. Why isn't he married? Something is wrong with him. I shouldn't send a letter." Harry said abruptly and took a step back, his eyes slightly wide as he stared at the small smile on those all too familiar features.

"Grow up." Hermione growled in response and tucked some of her hair behind an ear as she scanned through the page. "Got the address of his work, so now we just have to figure out what on earth you're going to write." She smiled and then looked up, her bright brown eyes looking especially intimidating today.

"You should write about how freaking dull today is outside... did you see those clouds?" Ron complained and began to head towards the counter just outside the kitchen where the Chinese food was tossed. He opened up the fried rice container and grabbed some chopsticks before eating. Hermione glanced over at him, saw his use of the chopsticks, and then made no comment. She may be intelligent but she can't use them to save her life and although she's tried often for the past few years, it's just an art she can't handle.

Grabbing a sheet of paper from his desk drawer and a bright blue pen, Harry started out his letter discussing the weather in full detail. He described the swirl of the clouds and the way that it brought down a slight humidity to everyone who stays outside for longer than five minutes. He continued to write about how he doesn't think any rain will fall down, regardless of how dark it's getting and how the clouds are moving northeast. Hermione read over his shoulder and soon Ron was on the other. It only took five seconds before his eyes began to glaze, but by that time Harry had finished. "I think it's ready to be sent now." Harry said with a soft confident smile on his face.

His fingers traced the infinity symbol on his wooden desk, barely paying attention to the dark red color of it, almost blood like. The feeling of satisfaction is something that he rarely gets the chance to feel, but looking at the stack of plain papers and the cup full of pens, the lack of clutter helped keep his mind free to roam through this moment through the many different perspectives it offered. He did good… he's done good.

"Trash it, Ron, and watch the tears that fill this poor misguided man's eyes as you do so. You complete and absolute dumbass! Why would you tell him to write that?" Hermione demanded as he slowly crumpled the paper up and threw it away. Harry just stared in dumb shock and waited for an explanation. His friends do this from time to time, and although it's confusing at first, they always explain afterwards. He even tends to learn quite a bit about normal people from these experiences.

"Sorry, Harry... I was joking around. People get bored about stuff like this. Only the weird ones find it interesting. Draco isn't going to reply to you at this rate, and you need more friends." Ron said swiftly and began to scratch the back of his neck while balancing his container and chopsticks. "Talk about some sports, food, or what's going on right now. Weather could work, sure, but it can't be a few paragraphs about it, and not the entire letter for sure." He stated blandly then went back to eating after he was done putting the crumpled letter in the shredder. Hermione hates it when he does that, she's convinced it will break the thing but it always works regardless.

Her hands smoothed over the yellow sundress she's wearing before she placed her hands on her hips. "This needs an explanation in it. Draco won't understand why Harry is mailing him otherwise and he may just trash it. He needs friends and Draco has long since deserved to be thrown under the bus, so let's make a pretty convincing letter, something mysterious and interesting that'll make sure Draco falls for it and replies... then we'll slowly ensnare him into our circle of friends." She smiled and then folded her arms as her eyes began to glaze, obviously thinking about what they should write.

"I should probably mention Ms. Patil." Harry stated abruptly as he grabbed yet another sheet of paper. Sitting patiently he looked at the clock and his eyes widened before he stood up and abruptly rushed to the living room to turn on the television. Sure enough his favorite show is on. He leaned forward with his hands gripping his knees, while his gray eyes stayed glued to the television.

"Seriously, Harry? You have a problem." Hermione called but her voice barely registered as the main character of his favorite show began inspecting a crime scene with a bored look on his face. He said two sentences and left, already identifying the killer and the proof. But of course, it's too soon for the show to be over so Harry leaned ever so slightly toward the television as though the closer he gets the more likely it'll be that he can join this man on his hunt for criminal masterminds.

It didn't take long for the show to get to commercial break but by the time it did Hermione had a plate of the Chinese food for him along with a fork, there is no way she would allow Harry to use chopsticks when it would just further damage her delicate pride. He took the plate and set it down in front of him to watch the ads in interest. "You should buy one of those television providers that lets you record shows, that way you can skip through these things." Ron informed him through a mouth full of eggroll. He's never been well mannered but that doesn't seem to matter to Hermione who chose him anyway. Sometimes Ron thinks he's dreaming whenever she goes out to dinner or a movie with him, but other times he's just too grateful to care.

"Mention this television show then, and how much you love commercials. Talk about how you don't care that he bullied you in school and that you're just curious about how he's doing. Write that down and you'll be fine." Hermione stated then grabbed his paper and special pen from the desk before getting a tray and setting it down in front of him, as though Harry is just a child. He paused, looked away from the bright ads, and then frowned. He doesn't want to do it now but he knows that if he doesn't she'll only interrupt again but then it will be during the show which would be much worse. He uncapped the pen and began to write, carefully mulling over what she said while listening to advice as she spoke over his shoulder. Ron didn't seem to care but whenever the show turned on he got hold of Harry's attention. Apparently letter writing is only meant for during commercials, because she didn't bother him during the actual show.

When the show finished, Harry was also finished with his letter, and Hermione and Ron were editing off to the side, their fingers touching and eyebrows furrowed in concentration. It was nice... to just sit there and watch them together; they seem to fit so much better when he's not around. This knowledge doesn't hurt him, but it does put things in perspective. They hang around him because they feel superior. But that's fine because Harry is with them, in turn, because they are normal human beings who have offered to help share their secrets. It doesn't matter that he gets lonely or that they don't really like him.

Because he just wants to be fine.