"Do y'wish t' be free?"
Harry was in pain. His sides ached, his breathing was shallow, his eyes were cloudy, and felt painfully itchy. His eight year old mind could not comprehend what was going on- Dudley had never hurt him this badly before, Vernon had never joined his son either though so that accounted for a great many of his injuries. He lay curled in on himself and raised his head weakly as he heard the question.
The outline of the woman was blurry but close to his face were a pair of pointy shoes. The woman squatted down near him and stroked his bloody hair out of his face. His eyes dimmed farther and she made a slight sound in the back of her throat.
Apparently she decided on her own what his answer would be seeing as he couldn't speak. She picked up his hand gently and quickly drew her nail down the back. Harry let out a whimper and the woman licked the cut, which healed into a scar immediately. She hushed him and pet his hair again, "It's alright little Xavier I won't never hurt ye again, I just needed t'claim ya. You'll find companionship when y'wake little one." She pressed something into his slack hand and he instinctively clenched it into his fist.
"Trust Amin, he'll never lead ye wrong. You'll come across a girl, calls herself Alice, pointy shoes, big skirt- don' trust her. It's the lad with'r you'd best trust." She leaned down and kissed his temple and whispered the final something in his ear, "Yer name'll be Xavier Hartwood." With that his eyes flickered shut.
There was something trickling down his forehead. It was cool to his hot skin; soothing. He opened his eyes to find himself under a small waterfall, propped gently against a rock with his naked body submerged under the spring. A pile of clothes lay folded at the edge of the water and he gingerly moved his aching body. He raised a hand to his head and pulled it away with flecks of dried blood.
He submerged himself completely, scrubbing his hair furiously. He remembered that Aunt Petunia would do that whenever he had to go to school because there was a girl who liked to play with his hair and she found blood in it once. Once he was sure he had gotten all of the blood out of his hair he came up for air. As he did he caught sight of his hand. There was a long gash down the back of his left hand, as though it had recently stopped scabbing and left the dark scar. He fingered it for a moment before half swimming half wading to the waterfall and sitting under it for a while longer.
There was a sound from his side and he turned. It was a boy who looked about twelve or so. He had long dark hair that fell to a little below his shoulder blades. His skin was pale and his lips were dark but it was his eyes that caught Xavier's attention, they were a startlingly clear white-blue with slip pupils. He held out a hand to Xavier and the younger boy's eyes widened at the lightly scaled bluish webbed hand in front of him. He looked back at the boy's eyes. He seemed to understand because he smiled, revealing sharp teeth but in a way that made him look unthreatening. The mystery boy dunked himself under the water and swam out a bit farther than where Xavier was sitting and beckoned from under the water.
Xavier hesitated then ducked under the water and opened his eyes. The boy smiled again and motioned for him to follow. 'I am Amin little one, what are you called?' the voice seemed to echo through the water but Xavier knew it was coming from the older boy. They were approaching the edge where his clothes lay.
"Fr-" he paused in the process of saying Freak. If anything Amin was freakier than him but there was something nagging him… the woman! She had said his name was Xavier. "Xavier Hartwood." Amin smiled at him and emerged from the water, pointing to the clothing.
Xavier blushed. He had been playing with someone without wearing any clothes! Amin seemed to catch the drift of his thoughts and laughed silently, turning his back on Xavier so he could change in privacy- not that Amin himself was wearing anything other than a pair of worn shorts that he suspected were only for his comfort. Xavier himself was starting to realize that Amin couldn't speak outside of the water as he changed. It was… strange to say the least, his eyes, his hands, his lack of a voice… "You aren't a human are you?"
He turned back around wearing a pair of shorts and a loose shirt. Amin turned as well and looked at him for a moment before shaking his head. He beckoned for Xavier to come into the water and he hesitated before shrugging and slipping in- his clothes would dry. They both submerged and Amin took his hand and led him away from the waterfall.
'I am a water nymph Xavier. I used to be able to speak above water like most nymphs but I was cursed by a witch and left to die. I survived but I can only speak telepathically now.' They swam on in silence, Xavier realizing rather quickly that he wasn't having any trouble breathing.
'Why is that?' Amin turned his head slightly.
Xavier shook his head, 'I didn't know I thought that… er out loud… do you know why I can breath underwater?'
'It must be the magic in your blood. Look at your left hand, that cut is the symbol of a witch's claim, and on your right hand that ring holds a powerful magic core that can be drawn upon in a time of need.' There was silence for a moment then Amin asked, 'Why was a child in my spring covered in blood?'
Xavier shifted uncomfortably, 'After Dudley and Uncle Vernon punished me I was lying on the ground and the lady who cut my hand found me. She told me to keep the ring and to trust someone named Amin. I must have fallen asleep. I woke up under the waterfall.'
Amin was silent for a bit, 'How often are you punished?'
Xavier shrugged and felt the hand tighten on his, 'Sometimes if he's in a good mood he'll give me food in the cupboard.' Amin stayed silent.
'Follow me carefully; I don't want you getting hurt.' Xavier looked at where they were swimming and noticed a narrow entrance to what he assumed was a cave. The spring was definitely deeper than he'd thought it was- more like a lake with a shallow area. They carefully slipped between the rocks into the darkness of the cave beyond.
It was pitch black other than the small bit of light coming from the narrow entrance. 'Don't be afraid I just need to light this place up. Stay where you are.' Xavier's eyes fixed on the measly light, determined not to show his slight fear- anyways, he told himself, this couldn't be worse than the cupboard, it was even bigger.
There was a 'swish' and a strange inhuman melody and greenish light lit the small cave. Xavier turned to Amin who was facing away from him towards the brightest of the plants which was pulsing. Xavier swam closer to Amin- close enough to see that he was singing. His face was peaceful and his eyes were closed but his song was so soothing Xavier wanted it to never end.
Slowly the melody faded and Amin turned to Xavier- who was gaping at him. 'I take it you liked my singing?' Xavier nodded enthusiastically. Amin smiled at him then pointed up, 'There's air up there and a ledge for when you want to get out of the water. You are staying right?' Xavier nodded at once then hesitated.
'That's alright isn't it?' Amin rolled his eyes.
'I wouldn't have offered otherwise.' Xavier's eyes lit up and he eagerly swam upwards towards the air Amin had spoken of. He shook his hair as he breached the top of the water. There were no glowing plants out of the water but the glowing from the water lit up the small cave. Amin emerged half-way from the water and looked at him questioningly.
"It's great!" Xavier replied enthusiastically, smiling widely and Amin smiled back. He looked critically around the empty room, "Hmm… I will need a bed… maybe things to start a fire with." He trailed off then got back in the water. 'Amin, are there any villages nearby?'
Amin contemplated then nodded, 'There is one only a few minutes walk from here. Why?'
'I can't sleep underwater and I'm going to need to find someone in the future so I might as well meet them.' Amin looked a bit troubled but nodded and beckoned Xavier to follow him as he swam down to the narrow entrance, dragging his fingers along the bright water-plants and making their light extinguish as he did so.
'You will need something to trade with the humans there. It is not right to steal so I will find you something to trade- follow me.' Xavier remembered the old lady that used to come and sell flowers to Aunt Petunia and wondered if it was something like that. Amin began rooting around the weeds on the wall, swimming deeper when he couldn't find what he was looking for. 'Here, look Xavier.' Xavier looked closer and saw him holding an oyster. He cracked it open easily but Xavier suspected that if it was anyone but his friend it would have been harder. He rooted around until he found what he was looking for and plucked them out of the oyster. He held one out to Xavier. 'Pearls! Humans love shiny rocks and pearls.'
Xavier was a bit skeptical about that but helped his first friend all the same. When they had enough it would certainly be enough to buy what he needed- some clothes, flint, bedding and maybe some small things.
They emerged near the waterfall but before they could get closer Amin put his arm out and motioned towards a spot across the lake.
There was an old woman with her washing on her hip. She began washing her things and Amin tugged Xavier underwater slowly 'She comes here often. I think she's deaf. I don't usually have problems with humans but she's the only one who won't leave. She might be a nice person but the soap she uses is dangerous for the fish in this river.'
'Haven't you ever asked her to stop?' Amin gave him a look that asked if he was stupid and he scratched his head sheepishly as he realized he had just asked why a mute guy hadn't asked a deaf woman to leave. 'Umm… This magic… what does it do?'
Amin frowned in thought 'I am not entirely sure as your powers are different than most witches but many can move objects or affect the direction they fly or fall, they can perform rituals-'
'Could they scare the woman? You know… like make her feel afraid?' Amin cocked his head to the side.
'I've never seen it done but it's worth a try.' Xavier nodded then emerged from the water. Concealed from behind a rock he stared at the woman concentrating on the feeling he got whenever the bright light used to heal him in the cupboard would come. He concentrated on creating the fear that something was coming, something was in the water.
He heard a yelp and the woman was wrenching her laundry out of the water and putting it back into the basket wet. She cast a frightened glance at the water again then hobbled away. Amin grinned when he turned back and gave him a thumbs-up.
Xavier got out of the water, dripping wet. He didn't particularly like that and an idea popped into his head. He willed himself dry and laughed when his clothing and hair was completely dry. Amin smiled and handed over the pearls which he put in his pockets. Amin looked like he wanted to say something but just looked down at himself hesitantly before hauling himself out of the water. His hands immediately faded into normal human hands.
"Are… are you coming with me?" Amin nodded firmly. A smirk appeared on his lips as he motioned up and down Xavier's body. "I am not too skinny to protect myself!" Amin just smirked.
Xavier sighed than began walking the way the woman had gone, "She is from the village you were talking about right?" Amin nodded in confirmation and they began their walk.
After a while they lost sight of the woman and Xavier was almost ready to give up when Amin tapped his arm to get his attention. When Xavier looked at him Amin tapped his nose and mimed sniffing the air. Hesitantly Xavier drew in breath and suddenly he realized just how many scents were in the air. Was that… the smell of wet laundry. Xavier set off after the smell and Amin grinned to himself. This boy-witch was turning out to be a mix between a witch and something better, and he'd be there to see it all.
~#: First off, do you like it? I'd really love some feedback, but I'm not really expecting much considering there are only two other stories in this crossover currently. I really hope mine is as good as the others. I will be explaining who the witch is at the beginning and her comment about Alice- because I LOVE Alice and I didn't mean for her to be a traitor or whatever you might have thought. Below are some notes on the names and their meanings.
Hartwood: from the stag's forest*
Amin: honest trustworthy or faithful
*Concerning Hartwood and the meaning I found it appropriate considering his father's animagus was a stag.