Harry Potter was an outcast to his family, his neighborhood, his peers and now the mutant community too.
Set after X-men movie 1 and Harry's 5th year.
It was eleven o'clock, on the day of Harry's return from his fifth year at Hogwarts.
After the warning to his relatives, Harry had expected one of two things.
a) The warning would serve to hold his family back - much like compressing air into a canister, or
b) The warning would first compress his family, but ultimately fail to hold them.
Warning: Contents under pressure.
Incredibly, though, no such thing had happened. Uncle Vernon scowled to himself in the car, but it was much more like the mild irritation he used to display, rather than the apoplexy he'd engaged in when Harry had started going to Hogwarts.
When he'd arrived home, his Uncle had taken his trunk from the car without a word. Harry, carrying Hedwig's cage warily in his arms, followed.
Once the front door had been closed behind the family his Aunt and Uncle had escorted him up to Dudley's second bedroom.
Which was now, apparently, Dudley's new 'Rock Room'.
A sound-insulation layer, about a hand or two in thickness, had been installed around all walls. The window no longer existed. A huge, gleaming drum set had place of pride in the center of the room, with a large reinforced chair behind it.
A mini fridge was in one corner of the room, a bin in the other and a very low couch squished in against the far wall.
The first thing that Harry thought, was No way Dudley'll let me be here. Followed closely by a resigned Guess it's the cupboard again then.
Then his Aunt handed him a brand new, waterproof backpack and started talking.
"We've had enough." She said simply, as though talking about Mrs-Next-Door's tendency to let her tree grow into their yard. "We can't stand having you here another day. Put everything of yours you want to keep into that backpack. Anything you leave out, we will get rid of."
Harry just stared at her. Flashes of Dumbledore's dire warnings and complicated protections flashed through his mind.
But it wasn't enough.
So soon after loosing Sirius.. So soon after discovering his own death was all but fated.. Having his last living family tell him to his face that they couldn't stand him any longer and wanted him out...
He just didn't care any more. Even if Voldemort was standing on the footpath outside, wand raised to cast the killing curse, he would still walk out.
His Aunt was still talking, Vernon standing besides her - so far remaining silent.
"The only reason we put up with your.. abnormality.. for so long was because of the protection it gave Dudley." She informed him, with icy disassociation. As though it weren't her fifteen year old nephew she was tossing into the street. "But we've discussed it, and I've found another option. So long as you stay with a blood relative, your m... ma... your freak stuff will keep us all protected from that revolting creature stalking you."
Harry frowned, confusion, grief, deadened acceptance and the faintest twist of painful hope all assaulting him at once.
"What... what relative?" He asked, voice breaking slightly. Aunt Petunia's lips drew painfully tight.
"Your Mother's Father." She snapped brusquely. "He's normal, but he..." The lips pursed further, contempt and distaste dripping from her. "..he was inclined to believe your sister was something more than the freak she really was. Even when your kind killed my mother and crippled him, he still defended them."
Harry reeled from the new information. His Mother's Father... He had a grandfather... after so many years of hatred and abuse and neglect... he found out he had a grandfather.
Who apparently didn't think wizard-kind was so bad.
"He sounds nice.." He volunteered, for lack of anything else to say. Now he was starting to wonder why a wizard-amiable grandfather had never bothered to talk to him his whole life. Had never cared. Probably still didn't.
"He was a fool." Petunia hissed venomously. "He never seemed to understand that these freaks were dangerous! That we needed to protect ourselves from them! I tried to tell him, again and again, but he just kept brushing me off with his stupid words and his stupid beliefs..." His Aunt was breathing heavily now, face pinched and pale, with two red spots of anger on her cheeks. The last time he'd seen her this worked up was when Harry had first discovered his Mother was a witch.
And somehow, this was worse. This wasn't just hate or resentment. There was pure fury and rage in his Aunt now, at the mere thought of her father.
Hang on.. he thought.
Uncle Vernon had placed a soothing hand on his wife's back and was stroking her gently. Aunt Petunia had her eyes closed as she fought to get herself under control. Self restraint like this would have been great, say, for the last ten years.
"You said... you said my Mother's Father..." He started, confusion plain to hear in his voice. His Aunt stiffened, but Harry pressed on, regardless. "Why wouldn't he be-"
His Aunt slapped him.
Harry's head jerked to the side, eyes widening with shock. His fingers clenched around the bag in his arms and he felt his magic leap to life under his skin. Like an echo, he sensed - for the first time - an answering magic in the walls of the house reacting, smothering his own magic until he could no longer feel it.
Anti Accidental-Magic enchantments? It would explain a lot.. Like why years of physical and emotional abuse had so rarely resulted in explosions or, say, protective - defensive - magic.
When he next saw Albus Dumbledore, he was going to punch the old man right in the nose.
"You will not say another word." His Aunt all but snarled at him. Never prone to much physical violence, ignoring the hair-grabbing and needlessly rough hands for anything that involved touching him, a slap from his Aunt carried twice the shock value of a blow from his Uncle.
Harry eyed his Aunt warily. Strangely enough, he felt no fear of her.. only a lingering, dangerous contempt.
Petunia seemed to spend a few seconds warring with herself over what to say.
"I was the first child in the family." She finally bit out. "When my father.. passed away, my mother remarried and they had Lily. That is all you need to know, you insolent brat."
She huffed a forced breath in an attempt to calm. Harry's eyes merely widened. He hadn't known his Mum and Aunt were only half-sisters!
"Inside the front pocket of that bag, you will find a passport, a one-way ticket to Westchester County and a further ticket to Devon. Both are non-refundable, and the flight staff have promised to escort you to your second flight, so don't get any clever ideas."
That instruction was driven home with a glare from both of his guardians.
"There is a piece of paper with your Grandfather's address written on it, inside your passport. Do not loose it, unless you want to die on the streets. How you get from Devon to.. to.." His Aunt's mouth twisted again, horribly, as though she'd just bitten into a chunk of lemon. "New Salem." She finished gutturally, as though trying not to say the words.
"How you get from there to your Grandfather's is your own concern. We've already spent a fortune on these tickets, so don't think you'll be getting a penny more. Now, your plane leaves tomorrow morning at 1 am. We'll be leaving the house at 11pm, to make sure we get there in time, so be sure you have everything you're bringing. You'll not be leaving this room until tonight."
She paused and drew herself up.
"You may take something from Dudley's mini-fridge to tide you over till then." She allowed.
Harry watched his Aunt and Uncle leave the room, the door closing behind them, the numerous locks clicking into place.
Then, slowly and with the jerky motions of someone only barely hanging onto their sense of reality, he opened his trunk and his new backpack and began transferring only the most important items across.
Summer in America was nothing like Summer in England.
He wasn't quite sure why that was, but at this point – with sweat plastering his hair to his skull and his lungs straining in the dry, harsh air – he didn't particularly care, either.
Because he was lost. Completely, utterly, miserably lost.
He hadn't thought about trying to hitch a lift, not at first. With no money for a bus or a taxi, he'd done his best to track down the address on maps found in the airport bookshop. It hadn't been too difficult, once he'd worked out that most maps came with an index on the back.
Getting there, though... He'd borrowed a pen and written directions onto the piece of paper that contained his Grandfather's address. Then he'd tightened the ratty laces on Dudley's old cast offs and started walking.
The amount of times he got turned around, he wished he'd just stolen a damn map.
Barely two hours into his trek, a car had pulled over next to him. A tired-looking man had asked him if he wanted a lift… and Harry – Harry who'd been tortured and hunted by more killers than he had years alive – had barely given it a thought before accepting.
It wasn't until the fourth guy locked the doors and stopped the car that Harry learned what most kids learn from early childhood.
Stay away from strangers.
The man wasn't violent, but he also wasn't shy. Not a moment after the engine had been switched off, he'd crowded Harry against the door, heavy weight pressing into him, lips closing against the skin of his throat, his tongue rough and wet and demanding.
His hands slammed against the man's chest, pushing him away desperately. His under-nourished, over-exhausted strength didn't achieve much, but the parallel reaction of his magic fortunately did.
The man went flying, smashing backwards out of his cab and propelled through a shower of glass a good twenty meters down the road. The door behind Harry had buckled, but remained locked in place, so the shaking youth grabbed his bag and scrambled out over the front of the car.
He gave one long, nervous look at the un-moving body on the road.
Then he ran.
By some fluke of luck, he eventually stumbled over one of the roads listed in his hastily scrawled directions. He walked back and forth along it – wasting hours of fading daylight – as he'd struggled to find the intersecting road he should have entered it from. Once he found it he almost cried with relief.
Finally re-orientated, he'd shifted the straps of his backpack away from the indentations they were making in his shoulders and carried on.
Night had fallen before he estimated himself to be halfway.
Twice more he had panicked about being lost – sometimes the roads he passed by weren't signposted. Sometimes he just felt like he'd been walking so long he had to have missed it and then wasted yet more time backtracking to check.
Exhausted, bone-weary and aching from sunburn and dehydration both, he wanted little more than to curl up and go to sleep. Common sense said that he shouldn't stay by the road but he also didn't know what kind of dangerous creatures lived in America. Didn't they have... scorpions and bears? And buffalo? (He couldn't quite remember if buffalo were just extra-hairy cows or not, but he didn't want to risk it, either.)
He thought about climbing one of the trees that lined the road – they were getting older and larger the further he walked – but right before he touched one his poor night vision managed to pick out the fact that it was covered in a mass of thick little ant bodies – saving him some rather painful bites. Now he couldn't even contemplate sleeping anywhere but on the nice, safe, human-made bitumen. It was probably still warm...
"Ok, get a grip, Harry." He muttered to himself, shaking his head sharply for good measure. "No matter how nice and warm the road is, if you sleep on it you will get splattered by a lorry."
He looked up at the dark sky visible through the thick, ominous-looking tree cover.
"You're almost there." He told himself, trying to sound firm even as his ears heard how alone and quiet his voice sounded in the great silence of night.
He'd passed the massive lake already – it had been a major enough landmark that he'd written it down – and had managed to not be horribly murdered and thrown into it. That was clearly a good omen.
Now he was passing through an intersection containing a couple of large buildings, zero streetlights and a very creepy-looking church. Once more, the idea of spending the night raised its head. He could find somewhere around these buildings, surely? There was a jeep he could easily fit underneath parked across the road. Even the building it sat next to – it had a porch with a roof over it. And weren't priests supposed to help... No. No, not even he was stupid enough to go poking around churches that looked that spooky.He spotted the little red street sign and squinted at it. The sky was clear enough here for moonlight to illuminate the words.
"June road." He murmured to himself, a little afraid of making too much noise. Sure enough 'Cross June rd' was scrawled up against the margin of his notes. He looked at his path ahead, where it vanished into a gnarled mess of trees, defiantly striking away from civilisation.
"Right. Just keep following this road into that.. creepy.. narrow road of death." He grumbled. "The creepy road that would probably look quite nice under full sunshine. I bet the church here has a bake sale every weekend. Suck it up, Potter."
Grimly, he drew a deep breath. He was tired and aching and cold. But he was also a Griffindor. And besides, after staring Voldemort down, how bad could a forest-strangled road in the dead of night be?
"Even if it's home to hundreds of werewolves." He half joked, half moaned. A nervous glance at the sky at least assured him that he probably hadn't just jinxed himself.
Unless American werewolves went furry during the half-moon or something contrary like that..
Stop it! He scolded himself harshly, forcing leaden feet to keep walking.
Thankfully, nothing lunged out of the foliage to tear him limb from limb. His nervous adrenaline kept fading away into bored exhaustion, only to be renewed every time the wind gusted suddenly or some feral cat ohmerlinpleaseletitbeacat stirred the lower bushes.
He walked and walked and walked, past isolated houses (each one obviously home to a serial murderer) and blearily ducked out of sight each time approaching lights heralded another car. He worried that his shoes – never tough to begin with – would simply fall apart as the worn material shifted around. He felt the blisters on his feet pop with a release of pressure and tried to ignore the pain as they continued to be rubbed raw.
When he reached a T-Junction and saw the sign 'Vox' hanging next to the road, his eyes teared up and he hunched down against the ground, quite unable to stop himself whimpering in despair.
Vox had been marked on the map with the little symbol that meant 'food is here'. Harry had originally made a note of it because it was as good a landmark as any to tell him if he'd gone too far. And now, he knew he had. Somewhere in the night, he'd missed his turnoff.
I'm close, though, I'm close. He tried to comfort himself, the way he had tried his entire life. It's alright. It's ok. I'm almost there. He sniffled and looked up, eyes latching on to the rapidly pinking sky like a dying man desperate for hope.
"See?" He whispered miserably to himself. "It's getting lighter. Things will get better. If worst comes to worse, I can just wait till this place opens and then ask for directions."
Vox wasn't just some roadside cafe, but an actual restaurant. It made him feel better to know that in just a few hours it would be filled with people doing their jobs and if he needed to, he could find them and ask for help. They'd be 'safe' in a way some stranger's house or car could never be.
With that nugget of hope – and a glimmer of a fallback plan – bolstering his determination, he stood back up and turned around. Obviously the road he needed was somewhere before him – and he knew it wasn't very far.
"Old Center Salem Road, then turn left onto Graymalkin Lane." He said to himself, louder this time – almost a normal speaking voice. He fanned the little flame of excitement within him. He was only two (long) streets away, technically speaking, from his Grandfather's house! He was really almost there, at last. He could do this!
He didn't have to walk far back before he realised that the little dirt road – more of a track, really – branching off to the right was the road he was looking for. Fresh, excited adrenaline surged, helping to wash away – or subdue – most of his exhaustion. He didn't even feel much pain in his feet any longer!
The sun rose steadily as he followed the long road and the creepy forested landscape of the night became a beautiful, tranquil country landscape by day. He wasn't sure what time it was but the heat was building quickly and the sound of human activity steadily rose. Cars were humming almost constantly off to his right, behind the trees where another road ran parallel to this one.
Sooner than he expected, his eyes came across a new-looking sign that pointed the way to 'Graymalkin Lane'.
He swallowed and followed it, now starting to think of what he would say to his Grandfather. He knew his Aunt wouldn't have called ahead – just in case he would refuse to take Harry in.
The clear, still air was broken by the sounds of youthful calls and shouts – it sounded a little like waking up late on a Saturday morning to the sounds of Hogwarts students enjoying themselves in the air or on the grounds outside their tower window.
Had his Grandfather remarried and had lots of kids? Or maybe it was just some neighbors.
A tall hedge ran the full length of the road on the right and suddenly he realised that at some point it had become a creamy stone wall covered in vines. That wall was broken by tall iron gates which stood mostly closed – only a slip of space between them.
Set into the wall beside them was a plaque.
"Xavier's school for gifted youngsters" Harry read aloud.
He glanced up, looking down the long drive of immaculate stone and garden to the manor at the end.
For one wild second, he wondered if his Grandfather really was a Wizard and Aunt Petunia just didn't know.. was this an American version of Hogwarts?
Then he saw the obviously electronic video cameras mounted over the gates.. not to mention the electronic locks and the clearly muggle lights on the building visible even from here. The place didn't have that sense of stepping into a magic, like Hogwarts did, either.
He'd have to be careful. The last thing he wanted was to expose himself – and his grandfather and these kids here – to the dangerously infiltrated and corrupt magical ministry out to inflict their laws on him and anything associated with him.
His feet throbbed sharply and his muscles gave the flat threat that if he didn't keep moving, they would see to it he wouldn't move for the next few weeks. Drawing a shaking, steadying breath, he slipped through the open gates and walked towards his Grandfather's home.
Harry's first impression of the place was...
In a small, normal way.. this place was kinda cool. Less showy than Hogwarts, but five years at that place had shown him that Wizards favoured glittering, peacock exteriors with rotten, ugly interiors.
This place was.. calm. Classy, almost. Quietly reassuring.
Harry swallowed and tugged the straps of his backpack up over his aching shoulders. He was suddenly acutely aware of how grimy and sweaty he was – probably smelly too.
Can't turn back now. He thought firmly, shoring up his courage and walking up to the front door.
He knocked just as a soft-toned bell rung out within the school. Frowning, he stepped back. Should he knock again? Probably no-one heard the first knock over the bell.
There was a low noise that came rapidly closer and louder. The door in front of him abruptly slammed open – causing Harry to flinch back – and a mass of noisy teenagers flowed out and around him. Unlike in the Wizarding World, most of them didn't even seem to notice him, merely moving around the stationary obstruction on instinct alone. One or two sent him a curiously appraising look and one boy shot him an easy, welcoming smile.
None of them paused, however. Most were complaining about homework set for the weekend and a couple of girls were giggling shrilly over a magazine as they walked.
After only a few moments the tide had vanished off onto the grounds, leaving the door wide open and the hallway behind it empty.
Cautiously, Harry stepped inside. He looked around nervously, taking in the richly coloured wood and fixtures of the building. A large umbrella stand to his left held a mismatch of umbrellas, hockey sticks and collapsed sunshades. There were a scattering of different-sized sports balls lined up against the wall underneath a printed sign that read 'Please return ALL sports equipment to the shed!'. Someone or someones had scribbled 'Sorry!' and ''I'll sorry you!' on it in different coloured inks.
He kept walking, looking through open doorways to see empty rooms full of desks – singular and grouped, straight and curved. There were whiteboards – he remembered them from primary school – on movable stands and most were covered in writing.
So, definitely some kind of school. One that ran through the summer, apparently.
He had just reached some kind of foyer with a dual staircase to his left, another hallway ahead of him and a double-door to his right when he heard footsteps from above him. He stopped and turned towards the stairs, unsure as to whether he should go upstairs and find someone or if that would be some kind of creepy line-crossing.
Luckily, the footsteps were coming down to him. A second later, two women were breaking off their conversation with a sort of surprised understanding on their faces.
"Hello." The redheaded woman smiled at him. Despite her hair colour, she didn't look at all like the Weasleys. In fact, even though her eyes were kind, there seemed to be an authoritarian edge just waiting to get him – much like McGonagall.
Harry shuffled his feet and thought again about how absolutely grotty he must look.
The other woman who had white hair and dusky skin stepped slowly towards him.
"Can we help you?" She asked quietly, exchanging a look with the redheaded woman.
"Ah, yes, sorry." Harry started. "I, er.. I knocked but then these kids came out and the door was open, so, er..."
The women seemed a little surprised, but not unhappy at all.
"It's fine." Smiled the redhead. "I'm glad you did – it can get pretty hectic around here. You, uh, look like you've had quite a trip to get here. Can I get you a drink of something?"
Harry coughed, abruptly reminded of how very thirsty he was. "Uh, thank you. Maybe some water, please?" He asked politely, feeling himself blush a little.
"Right this way." Redhead replied, striding briskly down the corridor opposite them. Harry followed quickly with the other woman bringing up the rear.
He waited silently as they entered a kitchen, white-haired lady directing him to sit at the island table whilst Redhead opened a violently purple fridge and withdrew a jug of chilled water. She poured the three of them a glass each, then left the jug on the table as she joined them.
Harry had just raised his glass for a grateful sip when three teenagers entered the room and stopped short at the sight of the three of them already there.
"Whoops." One said quietly. "Hi Mrs Cyclops, Hi Professor Storm!" Another chirruped.
Redhead gave them an exasperated look. "Don't you have a study period now?" She asked pointedly.
"Yeah! We do – we are!" A skinny girl with spiky hair fell over herself to assure them. "We're just, like, getting brain fuel!"
"Yeah, and then we're going.. to.. wherever we left our books.." Finished a short boy with an unconvincing but very sincere grin.
"Uh huh." Redhead remarked disbelievingly. The third teen, another girl with long brown hair and odd little white stripes glanced around the room and fixed her gaze on the stranger.
"So, uh, we gotta newbie?" She asked brightly, clearly trying to change the subject but directing a genuinely friendly smile at the short, skinny boy.
"We don't know yet, Rogue." White-haired woman rolled her eyes. "Someone just interrupted us."
"Like, that is so rude of us!" Yelped the short-haired girl. She darted forward and took the seat across from Harry, stabbing one hand forward and snatching Harry's free hand up in an enthusiastic hand shake.
Harry coughed on the water he'd just drunk and put the glass down to smile back at the insane girl shaking his hand rather more vigorously than needed.
Great, not a school. A mental asylum.
Redheaded lady suddenly blurted a laugh which she turned into a cough and Harry shot her a perplexed look.
"My name is Kitty!" Short-haired girl introduced herself, still shaking his hand. She waved a hand over her shoulder. "Those two losers are Jake and Rogue – I'm shaking your hand for Rogue because she spilled coke all over her gloves this morning."
Harry glanced over at the other girl and saw that she wasn't actually wearing gloves at all.
Maybe this was some kind of weird American joke?
Deciding to err on the side of politeness, he pretended he understood and smiled a bit more genuinely.
"Hello, it's nice to meet you. I'm Harry."
He'd barely finished speaking before both girls let out an ear-piercing shriek and Rogue lunged over to join her friend at the table.
"Oh my GOD, you're British!" They squealed in unison. Harry leaned back with slightly wide eyes and glanced first at the women – who just looked amused – and then at the other boy who was standing with his arms crossed looking bored.
"Er. Yes." He replied at length.
"What're you doin' way over here?" Rogue asked, her accent a little stronger than Kitty's. To Harry, who had been raised by xenophobic muggles and attended a very exclusive European school, they both sounded wonderfully exotic.
"Oh! Uhm." Harry reached down to where his backpack was sitting at his feet. He opened the zipper and rummaged in it for his crumpled sheet of directions, which still had his grandfather's name and address on it.
"I, uh, might be in the wrong place." He admitted reluctantly. He was half-certain he must be – this was some kind of school, not a house, after all. "But I'm looking for my Grandfather." He opened the paper, re-reading the name for the hundredth time. "Uhm, Charles Xavier?"
There was a round of shocked gasps. Harry looked up, surprised to see that every other person in the room was gaping at him.
"...What?" He asked warily.
Almost twenty teenagers gaped at three others, gathered together at one long dining room table. Students sitting at other tables near-by had twisted around to listen in, their eyes equally wide.
"The professor has a kid?" Bobby asked, shocked – perhaps unreasonably – at the idea of their calm, powerful headmaster having some kind of social life beyond world-saving.
"Had, I think." Rogue corrected. "Otherwise why would his grandson be here looking for him?"
"Butbutbut that's not the best bit!" Kitty interrupted eagerly. Jake, on her other side, rolled his eyes.
"You don't know anything, Kitty." He said sharply. "You're just guessing and spreading stupid rumours – like usual."
Kitty barely paused to glare at him.
"Shut up, I know I'm right." She bitched lightly. "I am so right." She turned back to their curious crowd.
"I think the Professor's grandkid is a norm." She finished ominously, the juicy topic making her grin as she said it.
There was a round of shocked and – in some cases, angry – gasps.
Rogue bit her lip. "Now, I reckon Jake is right, Kits. You don't know that. He might be a mutant and not even know it, yet – not everyone does. Especially if his power is something mental, like the Professor."
Jake scoffed. "You mean he thinks everyone hears what other people are thinking?" He joked harshly. "Hasn't quite caught on to the fact that people are thinking at him and not talking?"
"Don't be stupid, you ass." Kitty unexpectedly came to Rogue's defence. "Just because they're related doesn't mean the guy will have the same power as the Professor! And even if he did, it might be like, a lot weaker or something."
Jake snorted. "So now you're saying he's not a norm anymore?" He mocked, grinning a little.
Kitty sniffed and turned back to her dinner.
"Nah, I stand by what I said. He's such a norm. I mean, I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but..."
This time Jake laughed. "You liked him fine before. 'Oh my gawd, you're British!'" He mimicked the girls' reaction in a squeaky voice.
Kitty backhanded his arm.
"Shuddup." She advised through a mouthful of potato.
"So, where is he?" Bobby asked curiously. Kitty, Rogue and Jake shrugged.
"Dunno." Jake didn't look like he cared much either. "We got hustled out, double-quick. I guess they took him to see the Professor."
They were quiet for a time, the normal sounds of the evening meal slowly picking up again. Many a glance was sent towards the table normally used by their teachers. It wasn't uncommon for it to be empty from time to time, but now it suddenly seemed more interesting.
"I think it's sweet." Rogue said a few minutes later. "He.. he looked really tired. And kinda sad. I think he probably needs the Professor, like, really bad. So, I'm glad he found him, even if he is a norm."
There was a general air of agreement and the subject got changed to what was on cable that night. Bobby looked thoughtfully at Rogue and nudged her leg under the table. Rogue looked up and Bobby smiled. Rogue smiled gratefully back and re-joined the conversation. Bobby looked over at the empty teacher's table. He thought he knew what was really worrying his girlfriend.
Rogue knew first hand how ruthless Magneto and his lot could be in the pursuit of their goals. Professor Xavier was their strongest opponent. A grandson would be a prime weapon against him, especially if the kid was a norm. He'd be viewed as less than an animal by Magneto and have no chance at protecting himself.
It was weird, to think of a norm being amongst them... and feeling sorry for him.
The redhead (Mrs Cyclops, and wasn't that some kind of omen?) had hustled him into a long room at the back of the building shortly after she'd chased the three gawping teenagers away.
Smiling a little awkwardly, she'd assured him that he'd come to the right place except that his Grandfather wasn't there at the moment. White-haired lady – Storm, apparently – had made noises about calling him and had slipped away. Mrs Cyclops took that moment to remember how disgusting he looked and had promptly snatched up the jug and his glass of water and ordered him to follow her.
Upon arrival in the long room that bore an unpleasant resemblance to the Hogwarts' hospital wing done in wood instead of stone, she'd gently bullied him onto a bed and had the glass in his hand within seconds. Under her fixed stare he'd gulped the glass of water down and instantly refilled it – earning an approving look.
"It will probably be a few hours before the Professor gets back." Mrs Cyclops explained as she moved about a large built-in-cupboard at the end of the room. "So why don't you grab a shower and a nap whilst you wait? You look absolutely exhausted. Whereabouts have you come from?"
The last question was asked as she found what she was looking for and walked over to him. In her hands were a set of pajamas, soft-looking but clearly brand new and a nice deep blue colour. Harry took them from her and remembered to answer her question. It wasn't easy – with the water and the lack of movement, his exhaustion was settling down like a heavy blanket and his mind was shutting happily down.
"Uh, England." He muttered after a beat. "My aunt sent me."
He thought Mrs Cyclops frowned, but he may have been mistaken. The room was getting dimmer and he couldn't take his eyes off the soft PJs in his hand. He wondered if she'd mind if he just leant back and...
"If she'd called, we could have picked you up from the airport. Saved you a cab fare."
"No cab." Harry admitted, too tired to pretend – or care enough to pretend – otherwise. "I didn't have any money. Just.. checked a map and walked. Walked forever. Got lost.."
He was mumbling now and only realised he had started to tip over when a slender – but a strong – hand caught him and righted him.
"Sorry." He muttered, rubbing at his face.
"It's alright." Mrs Cyclops was speaking even softer now. Unfortunately, she didn't seem inclined to let him sleep. The hand was tugging him off the bed and he winced as weight settled on his blistered, raw feet again. They hurt more now after having had a brief rest.
He was led down the row of beds to the showers and found himself standing alone in a wide cubicle which had a separated dressing area and a shower area. The shower was already on – steam rising from it.
Only a desire to feel that gorgeous warm water had him moving enough to strip his stained and ill-fitting clothing off. Getting his feet out of Dudley's ratty trainers was a more ginger affair and he bit his lip when he saw that the insides were caked with slimy blood.
He hissed as he stepped into the shower and his feet stung but it was also a good thing – had they not hurt so much, he would surely have just passed right out into the delicious warmth.
As it was he kept half-dozing off, only to startle awake as he kept feeling like someone was putting a hand to his elbow to help him stay upright. It was creepy enough to get him to pull himself together long enough to wash himself and get out. Drying was half-hearted and soon enough he was in his Pjs and holding his revolting clothes and shoes in a ball.
He shuffled out and paused, unwilling to stain the floor with his blood.
Jean looked over to him from a desk where she'd been reading a magazine, a curious look on her face.
Her eyes flickered down to his feet and understanding coupled with something more unpleasant flickered over her expression. Still, her smile was kind enough as she offered him some simple flip-flops to wear to get back to the bed, whereupon he sank under the heavy blankets with relieved delight and promptly passed out, not even rousing as the woman properly treated and wrapped his feet.
The address for Xavier's Manor was taken mostly from the plaque on the wall at the end of the X-men movie but 'adjusted' a little to fit into both geography and conflicting reports. For example, there IS no 'Graymalkin Lane' so when picking a random place for it to be, I decided on shoving it a little East of Salem Center where the area was a bit more developed and picked 'Old Center Salem Road' as a nod to the original address.
The idea for this story was for Harry to experience exclusion/people different from himself in a new way. He's found a relation that actually likes him, but also found a whole bunch of people who regard him with disdain or dislike for an entirely new reason - being 'normal'. I wanted there to be a bit of personal growth on both sides of the equation, with an eye to social development on behalf of all three species.
I toyed with the idea of Harry having some small amount of psychic ability – maybe a heightened awareness. Dumbledore saw Harry's open mind – spying on Voldemort was Harry's ability in action – but saw it as a weakness to be protected and removed – hence Snape. If Harry couldn't learn to shield sufficiently, his ability was intended to be destroyed – like forcing a cave-in to MAKE a barrier. However, this idea conflicted with a movie-fact of 'The male carries the X gene' so I wasn't sure if it was feasible. Even if it was in the story, it wouldn't have been an issue because his mind had been deliberately sealed off.
This has been hanging around for a long time with very little progress so it's posted here!