Hey all! So, I said I wasn't going to post this until it was done. I decided that the first bit was long enough to be a fic of its own so here it is! I started writing this, oh, two or three or maybe even four years ago, I've lost track. I will be redoing the whole HP series but for now this is book one. The rest of the books won't be long enough to get their own fics, but I might put two or three in their own fics... but I digress.
This fic is a rewrite of the Harry Potter canon with Asch the Bloody cast in the role of Harry. However, due to the starting time of this fic, this makes the backstory for Asch in the game highly AU. This is also why, throughout this fic and all of the rest of them, Asch will call himself Luke. The Luke mentioned in this story is not the protagonist of the game, so I hope there won't be too much confusion because of that.
So, warnings. We have kidnapping, imprisonment, and an unhealthy level of anger in a poor ten-year-old. I guess there are spoilers for Tales of the Abyss, although really you have to have played the game to understand why. There are no pairings right now. I haven't decided which side of the fence to fall on, yaoi or het, and so I'll let Asch decide... when he's old enough to think about those things. That'll be many books in the future.
So, with all that said, I don't own Tales of the Abyss OR Harry Potter. I'm not making money off this. Really.
Thunder rolled above a fleeing figure as rain pounded down, muddying the soil protecting tree roots and shrubs. Sobbing tore through the forest, the small figure tripping over a sword as big as it was and stumbling to dirty black pants knees. Red hair caught in the wind, whipping into vibrant green eyes before being brushed back impatiently, revealing a jagged lighting bolt scar on a damp forehead.
The child, for it was a young boy clothed in red-edged black, stayed where he fell for a few brief moments, holding the sword close to him. His breath hitched slightly, twin trails of water down his cheeks having nothing to do with the rain meeting at his chin. He made a forlorn sight in the storm-torn forest, his small form blending into the darkness brought by the clouds overhead. The only spot of color lightening the whole scene was the chin-length red hair blowing in the sporadically violent wind.
It was only when the sound of hoofbeats made themselves known that the boy struggled to his feet, using the sword as leverage, and he took off running again, slipping in the muck between shrubbery and trees. The eyes that regarded the trail ahead of him weren't desperate eyes, however. They were cool and calculating, tinged with a despair that was held in check by a fierce will.
The boy made it out of the forest and took in a roiling ocean, white-capped waves pounding the cliffs ahead of him. Behind him the sound of horses grew louder, his pursuers catching up to him, and he took off running again, heading in the direction that he remembered should have a naval port. Once he got there, he could get passage back home, and he'd be safe again.
Hills stretched out to his left, the ocean to his right, and behind him Choral Castle fell away along with the hated room he'd been held, the man who'd held him hated more so. Once he got past the hills the border fortress should be near, and it wouldn't be much farther to Kaitzur, his destination.
But it was so far! And he'd been running for what seemed like hours already. His chest was burning from exertion, the arms holding the sword shaking from the weight of it. To make things worse, he could hear the hoofbeats behind him, so much closer now. If he'd dared to look back he would have seen the rider leaning forward into the wind, grimly chasing his young target, but the fugitive knew that to look back would end with him caught for sure. Thus he kept pressing forward, but each step became harder and harder.
The hoofbeats overtook him, the horse passing him and skidding to a stop bare feet in front of him. The child backed away, a fierce look on his face, even as he attempted to draw the sword that was so much bigger than he was.
"Luke, Luke, Luke," the man on the horse sighed, dismounting in one smooth motion and standing with one hand on his sword, the other holding the reigns of the mount. "You should have known better."
Luke bared his teeth at the man, drawn sword held shakily in weary arms. He hadn't had a good night's sleep in weeks, and the food hadn't been very much better. "You'll pay for this indignity, you Malkuth traitor!" he spat.
"Is that any way to talk to your sword instructor?" the man reprimanded. "Foolish child! There's nothing for you to return to. Your parents have given up and moved on! What more should you have to do with them?"
"Lies!" Luke screamed. "I'm the son of Duke Fabre, the nephew of King Ingobert. I'm the future ruler of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear. They won't give up on me that easily!"
The man dropped the horse's reigns and advanced on the child, drawing his sword with much more ease than Luke. "Is that what you believe? Foolish Luke. If you must go on, then fight me! Win your freedom back."
It was a foolish game, Luke knew. His teacher was much larger than him and more skilled at the sword. Fighting him would mean capture again, returning to that room in his old vacation home. He took a few steps back and nearly careened off the cliff, a few rocks displaced by his foot plunging down the steep fall into the still-roiling waters.
"There's nowhere to run, Luke. Give up and return with me. I promise I won't harm you." The man held out a hand in invitation, but it was more like a curse to the child.
"Never!" the young noble cried, glancing around him. There were only the storm-drenched hills, the forest a few miles back the way he'd come, and the cliffs barring his escape. A more thorough study of the cliffs had him quickly considering his options, and he glanced back at his former teacher. "I'd rather die."
With that, he jammed the sword back into its scabbard, clenched it in one arm, and turned away from the older man. The water reached up to slam him out of consciousness and swept him away from his bleak reality.
Days later, the sun was shining warmly, and a worse-for-wear child stumbled slightly on the cobblestones leading up to the elevator that would take him to his manor, and his family. It was odd to him, though, that the citizens, surely having been alerted to his disappearance, hadn't made a fuss over his return. It made him resentful but all the more determined to get to his home. The sword was the only thing that drew odd looks as he entered the elevator, falling gratefully to the ground as it started moving upwards. Since his fall into the water at Kaitzur he hadn't rested very well, even on the ferry here where he'd had to work his passage, and it felt to him that every step may be his last. But he was in the home stretch, and he was determined. Nothing would stop him now.
The elevator halted at the top and it was with an effort that he picked himself back up and began the last leg of his journey. It had been so long since he'd been kidnapped, he was tired, and he just wanted to sleep in his own bed and assure his mother that yes, he was all right.
There! The manor was in sight. His heart lifted, joy filling him for the first time in weeks. He was home! Without him seeming to realize it his feet moved faster, pounding in joy towards the inviting walls of his home.
His joy was short-lived. Something appeared in front of him and he barreled into it, knocking the something over in a tumble of red hair and black cloth. He jumped upright immediately, backing away from the person he'd knocked over. Common courtesy, he knew, meant that he should apologize, but he wasn't feeling very courteous at the moment. He glared at the stranger, even as a few mumbling words reached his ears, identifying the person as female. The words made no sense to him, he realized irritably, so any apology he'd have felt inclined to make would have just been useless anyway.
The woman straightened her robes, things unlike anything Luke had seen before, and cast about until she located the child noble. She grinned and spoke a few more words, gesturing warmly, but all Luke saw was an obstacle in between him and his home. After she'd finished her speech she looked at him and waited expectantly.
"Move," he bit out. After a moment, when the woman hadn't obeyed, he added, "Please."
Still nothing. Of course he shouldn't have expected anything, she didn't speak his language. With a sigh and an irritable glance at the woman, he turned and went around the large fountain that graced the courtyard housing the entrances to the Fabre household and the castle where the Kimlascan monarchy lived. This route brought his house out of his sight, and he picked up his pace. Home was only a few short feet away!
Again, something black appeared in front of him, and this time he was able to stop short before knocking it over. A middle-aged man regarded him with a look that the child couldn't place, and the man knelt down and held a hand out to him, saying a few words. He still didn't understand, and he shook his head to tell the man that. Who were these people? Desperately he glanced around the man, where he could just see a hint of white armor, the knight guarding his front door. The man in front of him looked confused and hurt, but stood, addressing someone behind him, and Luke turned to see that the woman from before had come up and was looking at him in confusion.
"Who are you?" the child demanded, drawing himself up to his full height (which wasn't very much) and holding the over-sized sword as threateningly as he could manage. "What do you want with me?"
Without meaning too he'd backed away from the both of them, and the edge of the fountain at his back stopped him short. The two strangers said something else to him, the woman's voice reminding him sharply of the tone his tutors sometimes used on him and the man's calling to mind how his Uncle sometimes talked to him in private. They were talking to him, but the words didn't make any sense, and desperately he ran, ducking past the man's grabbing hands. His home was only a few feet away, and if he could get there, everything would stop.
The woman's voice shouted behind them, and he could feel fonons gathering, the magic particles unusually volatile. He didn't have a chance to think of it, however. Blackness suddenly filled his vision.
Another locked door.
He wanted to scream at the indignity of it, the unfairness. Granted, the black-robed people had put him in a very nice room, with his own fireplace and bed, but they'd taken his sword from him, and he'd heard the lock click the moment he'd been left alone.
Luke had been kidnapped. Again. At least this time he was comfortable, and he could tell that his new captors didn't want to hurt him, but the fact was that he was a captive. It made him want to scream.
After spending hours scouring the room, searching for any hidden ways out that may have been overlooked, he'd flopped on the bed in defeat. The window was secure, he'd found, and somehow unbreakable, though he couldn't say the same for the chair he'd used to test that fact. He scowled at the offending pile of wood and turned his head away, glaring at the locked door that stood between him and his freedom.
Lying down on a soft bed was a luxury he'd grown to appreciate ever since his initial abduction, and he somewhat guiltily flipped over onto his stomach and buried his face in the pillow. After having little more than rags for a bed, and then a hard bench on a ferry, he felt justified in taking a break from looking for a way out to try and relax. He thought about what was going on at home, what his mother could be doing. He knew she was kind of frail when it came to her health, so he could only imagine what sort of toll his disappearance had taken on her. His father, he felt, was scouring the whole of Auldrant looking for him, but of course he wouldn't find anything. Luke was locked up someplace he didn't even know, the view outside his window anonymous and alien, and even if he could figure out where he was, how would he get out?
He was trapped, he knew, and he could feel the despair settling in, tears burning at the corners of his eyes. No matter how he tried he couldn't stop them from falling onto the pillows under his face, and he curled up into a ball on top of the covers, shoes and all, sobbing dejectedly. That was all he could do until he finally slipped into an exhausted sleep.
Luke awoke to the sun on his face and feeling much better than he had before, aside from the tears that had dried on his face. He sat up, stretched, and yawned, surprised to find that someone had come in during the night and settled him in under the covers. The surprise turned to annoyance when he realized that he'd let a good opportunity to escape slip through his fingers, and that he'd slept through having someone else in the room with him. He got up and went over to the window, surveying the view morosely. It was unchanged, a forest in the distance with a hut right on the border. Again trying the window, he found that it was still locked, and he turned away from it in a huff, heading for the door. Surprisingly, the knob turned, and he cracked the door open and peered out suspiciously. There was only the same hallway as when he'd come in, a large, echoing hallway decorated with numerous paintings.
Now that he knew he could leave the room, he was suspicious. What were his captors up to? Shutting the door again most of the way, he retreated back into his room and looked around for anything that he could use as a weapon. The chair he'd broken last night was nowhere to be found, but another chair had taken its place, sitting between the bed and the wall. Without thinking twice he took hold of the chair and slammed it against the floor, breaking it into slabs of wood with nails poking out. After surveying the results, he chose one of the chair legs with fairly straight nails sticking out of the end.
Satisfied that he was armed as he could be, he once again went to the door and peeked out, finding it the same as before. Easing out into the hallway, he shut the door behind him and started down it, towards the stairs he could now see at the end of the hall. He didn't pay any attention to the walls until he heard a sharp voice from right next to him, where he'd been certain there hadn't been anyone before. With a startled cry he jumped backwards, bringing his chair leg up in front of him just like his sword.
A painted man looked back at him, expression surprised. Luke thought he'd gone a bit mad, hearing a voice from a painting, until the man turned away from him towards something in his painting, then back, saying something else with a frown.
"Sorry," Luke said, shaking his head and lowering his weapon. "I don't understand you."
What could make paintings move? That question stuck in his mind even as he made it to the stairs and descended, moving quickly when he had gone down two floors and hadn't encountered anyone. When he rounded a turn where more stairs met in a grand staircase leading down to the first floor, he broke into a run, seeing the end just in sight. There was a large set of double doors directly opposite the base of the stairs, and he dashed down the stairs two and three at a time, boots skidding on the polished stone. He didn't even pause when he hit the ground, pelting towards the doors and his imminent freedom.
He heard a shout from behind him and didn't pay any attention, slamming into the doors and tugging on them hard, trying desperately to open them. He heard footsteps behind him, the voice saying something else, but he didn't pay them any mind, so focused was he on trying to open the doors and make his escape. It was only when he felt a hand on his shoulder that he reacted to it, knocking it away and slashing outwards with his chair leg. The nails tore long holes in a purple robe but left the wearer unharmed. Backing away, Luke sized up the other man.
He was a tall, elderly man, with a beard longer than any other the child had seen before. His silver hair was just as long, brushed back from an elderly face containing kind blue eyes behind gold glasses. He was dressed in purple robes, the sleeve of which he raised to examine the long rips caused by Luke's improvised weapon, but his voice was amused when he commented on it.
Luke glared at him. "Who are you?" he demanded harshly, not lowering the only weapon he had.
The older man tilted his head, studying him, before saying something else.
The child shook his head. "I don't understand!" He was getting frustrated now, and had already been angry.
The man raised his hands in a placating matter, speaking slower. It didn't make a difference to Luke, since it was the same gibberish from before, but this time he thought he could recognize individual words. The boy frowned.
"I still don't understand."
The man sighed visibly, then beckoned for Luke to follow him. Without seeming to care that the boy was armed and he was turning his back, the elder walked towards another door, another set of double doors embedded into the wall. Luke glared at him then turned away, once again focusing his attention on the doors he knew led outside. Grunting from exertion he tugged on the doors, alternately pushing and pulling on them, trying to get them open.
There was a chuckle behind him and the man walked up next to him, saying something else. Luke ignored him, standing back and remembering what little his teacher had taught him about fonic artes. He hadn't been taught much, since he figured his teacher didn't want him to learn too much and escape, but he had the theory in place.
Just like his teacher had taught him he felt for the fonons in the air, the particles of magic that formed the basis for fonic artes. There were plenty of them around, and he started drawing them in, focusing them and forming the spell he'd only read about in the books his teacher had given him.
The man, meanwhile, was saying something to him, but he wasn't paying any attention. Finally satisfied that he had formed the arte properly, he glared at the man, debating whether or not to warn him to move. After a second he decided that he wouldn't understand anyway.
The fireball was hotter than he'd expected but didn't singe him in the slightest, even as he directed the force at the latch on the doors. The man shouted in alarm and jumped back out of the way, but he ignored it, instead focusing on the last vestiges of flame still lingering on the doors. When they'd finally faded he reached for the door, throwing his weight on it to try and get it open. It didn't budge and he growled in frustration, pounding on the door with his fist. "Let me out!" he screamed.
The man cleared his throat, and Luke finally directed his attention towards him. He smiled at the child, then waved back towards the other set of double doors, saying something that once again went over the boy's head. Luke glared at him but, finding no other option, reluctantly followed the elder away from the doors into where he was wanted. What he saw made his jaw drop and, momentarily forgetting that he was there against his will, he stopped, totally enthralled. The ceiling was gone, replaced by an image of the sky outside. The closer he looked the more detail he saw, like birds flying back and forth and clouds drifting along, and it was absolutely stunning.
The man's amused voice brought him back to himself, and he fell into a ready stance, makeshift sword in front of him. The elder raised his hands again, clearly indicating that he meant no harm, but he didn't relax. A smell distracted him, though, trying to divert him from potential danger, but it was the most delicious food he'd smelled in weeks. His mouth started watering but he gulped and tried to stay steady. His stomach betrayed him, growling loudly in anticipation. The man chuckled and headed towards the smell, walking between two of the four tables that dominated the large room. Torn between the fact that he didn't want to be there and his stomach's protests, he stayed where he was for a long moment before reluctantly following behind the man.
Despite the fact that he obviously wasn't being understood the man rambled on, to the point that Luke tuned him out, looking ahead of them to another table, set up so that it was facing the other four. On it was set up a whole feast of food, some of which the boy recognized and some of which he didn't, but all of it looked delicious. When he got on the level of the table, he saw that he and the man weren't the only ones in the room. He recognized the two from before, the man and woman who had captured him in Baticul, and he was immediately on edge, his weapon once again jumping up. They followed the first man's lead, raising their hands to show their unarmed state, but he still sat down as far away from them as he could. The food smelled heavenly and it was so very tempting, but Luke didn't know who these people were. They could have been with Malkuth, wanting nothing more than to set up a situation where war was inevitable.
Despite all that, he was still so very hungry; his last meal had been on the ferry just before it had docked, who knew how long ago. So, he was cautious, watching the others carefully out of the corner of his eye, seeing which dishes they chose. Imitating them, he helped himself to the food that was before him, venturing close enough to them that he could help himself from their same dishes. There were some odd things on the table in front of them, though! Slightly unnerved, he decided to only choose dishes that he recognized. That limited him to eggs and bacon, and he didn't even touch the drinks as he nibbled, cautiously at first. Once he had had his fill of that he sniffed at the odd drink in front of him, smelling something deep and rich and slightly sweet. His hesitant sip brought an unpleasant explosion of flavors to his mouth and he not-so-subtly spit the concoction back out. Wasn't there any water in this place?
Farther down the table the adults seemed to ignore him, engaging in their own conversation, and after he'd finished his food Luke paid attention to them. He couldn't understand words, but he thought that maybe he could figure something out by their body language. He figured that if he could learn to understand them, then maybe he could get them to take him home. All he would need to learn was the phrase "Take me home, you bastards!"
Well, he could leave off that last part, he supposed.
Twenty minutes later he was ready to rip his hair out, but he kept that from showing on his face with great effort. He forced himself to keep listening, but ten minutes later he couldn't contain his impatience and got up. The others stopped talked to look at him.
"I know you can't understand me," he began. "I can't understand you either. So let's just start simple." He pointed at himself. "Luke."
They looked at him oddly. "Luke?" the elder man asked.
"Luke," he repeated, gesturing to himself. He then pointed at them. "Your names?"
They still looked confused, and he sighed. He was about to give up the whole thing as a lost cause when one of them spoke up. "Harry," the younger of the men said, pointing at him.
He looked at them oddly, then shook his head vehemently. "Luke!" he said viciously, clenching a hand at his chest. "You may have kidnapped me, you bastards, but you're not going to take my name from me."
The younger man looked like he was about to protest when the elder held up his hand, stopping him. "Albus," he said, gesturing to himself.
"Albus," Luke repeated, sounding out the odd pronunciation. The old man nodded. "So you're Albus, huh? Guess you're the leader around this place."
Albus only smiled and pointed at the other man. "Remus."
The other man perked up at the name, then realized he wasn't being addressed. "Remus," Luke said, sizing the other man up. He had faded brown hair, as well as worn-looking brown eyes set in a tired face. For being younger than Albus, he looked so much older, something that the child wondered at for a long moment. Then he remembered that these people were keeping him captive and he scowled briefly.
The woman looked at him with a measuring stare. "Minerva," she said, clearly enunciating her name.
She had a commanding presence, her silvery blonde hair done up in a severe bun and her stern hazel eyes reminding Luke of many of his tutors. He gave her a respectful nod out of habit.
"Minerva," he repeated, making sure to enunciate the syllables. She looked fairly pleased at him.
"So, Albus," Luke said, sitting back down in his chair, placing his chair leg in his lap, and leaning back with his arms behind his head. "What do you have in store for me? Am I a political prisoner until Kimlasca bows down to whatever twisted demands you have? Or do you just get your kicks out of kidnapping young boys?"
They couldn't understand him, but his tone was accusatory enough for them to get the gist of what he said, and Albus shook his head and said something gently. But of course the child couldn't understand, and he just glared hostilely at them. He couldn't escape, but that didn't mean he had to be entirely cooperative.
After repeating himself a few times to no effect, Albus sighed and stood, motioning for Luke to follow him. Luke, not having any other option with the only door to the outside he knew barred, stood up and trailed behind the old man, holding his chair leg in his right hand at ready. He was followed by Remus and Minerva, effectively blocking any escape he might have had. It was with a scowl that he noted that fact, even as they ascended the stairs and stopped in front of a statue. Albus said something to it, and Luke brought his weapon up when it jumped aside, revealing a set of stairs that lifted them to a wooden door. The older man opened the door and gestured for all of them to enter. Luke did so, chair leg at the ready, Remus, Minerva, and Albus following. The door swung shut behind them, Albus taking a seat at the desk set prominently amongst the clutter of bookshelves and tables full of odd gadgets. Minerva and Remus settled into chairs opposite the desk, leaving a third chair between them for Luke to sit. He didn't, preferring instead to stand behind them. He thought that maybe, if things still didn't go the way he wanted, he could make a dash for the door. The castle was large enough that maybe he could find an open window before they caught him.
Albus said something, which by now was getting annoying for Luke since he still didn't understand what he was saying, and pulled a long stick of wood out of his robe. The child raised his weapon, but the stick wasn't pointed at him. Rather, it was pointed at the top of a far bookshelf, and a tattered piece of cloth was pulled into view. Luke watched, very interested, as the cloth floated on air right over to him, and he reluctantly took it from the air and stared at it blankly. He looked up at the adults, not sure what exactly they wanted him to do with the cloth. Remus mimed putting something on his head, and Luke looked back at the piece of cloth until he figured out just what it was. It was a hat. A ratty, dirty old hat that looked like its best days had been seen years ago. With only a bit of hesitation, not seeing exactly what was so special about this hat, he pulled it over his head, keeping it from falling over his eyes.
"Some hat," he grumped. "It doesn't even fit."
I'm not just any hat, a voice said in his head.
He yelped, ripping the hat off his head with wide eyes. "It talked!" he spluttered, then scowled at their knowing looks. "You knew it too, didn't you?" Looking down at the hat, he glowered at it and put it back on.
Sorry to startle you, dear boy, but the Headmaster asked me to have this little chat with you since you don't know English.
Luke scowled. It'll be a short conversation. I want to go home.
Why don't you talk to the Headmaster about that? As long as you wear me, you'll be able to understand the Headmaster, since I'm currently rooting around your head.
The child rolled his eyes. Small problem. They can't understand me, either.
I'll take care of that. Just ask your question.
Luke rolled his eyes. "So what am I here for, anyway?"
To his surprise, he felt the hat on his head vibrating slightly, and a voice issued from somewhere on top of his head. You're just full of surprises.
Albus smiled, and as he spoke, the hat translated in Luke's head. "I see you figured out how to use the Sorting Hat. Well done."
"That does nothing to answer my question." Luke would have crossed his arms, but then the hat would have fallen over his eyes. He settled for placing a hand on his hip and glaring dangerously at the older man. "Why have you abducted me?"
"You're mistaken," Albus said, surprised. "You were abducted as an infant. I am merely returning you to your family."
Luke could only stare at the absolute insanity the old man had spouted. "What the heck are you talking about?" he sputtered. "You kidnapped me! I was on my way home, after I'd been kidnapped once thank you, and your lackeys Remus and Minerva nabbed me!" He pointed the chair leg accusingly at Albus. "I don't know what the heck you're talking about!"
Albus only smiled. "Seeing as you were abducted as an infant, it's really no surprise that you have no memory of your true family. However, I am a bit puzzled by your hair color." He waved his stick at Luke, and the red hairs obscuring the child's vision were suddenly jet black.
Lule brought his hair forward, aghast. "My hair's always been red!" he said, stroking the now-black strands. "How the heck did you do that? Change it back!" His chair leg clattered to the floor as he clutched his hair, tears threatening at the corner of his eyes. He could take being kidnapped, could take being held by others against his will. But the loss of the mark of his royal blood, the casual way that Albus had ripped that from him, was enough to make him feel helpless.
"This is your natural hair color," Albus said gently. "Perhaps you should give yourself time to get used to it-"
"No!" Luke yelled, stomping his foot for emphasis. He felt horribly like a petulant child and not the future king of a country, and that stung his pride a bit. He was, however, more upset about his hair color for reasons he was sure that Albus had to know. That was the only reason Albus would do that to him. He hadn't thought the older man could be so cruel. "My hair's red! It's always been red! Change it back!"
"- I know this is all a big change for you. Perhaps you should sit down."
"No." Luke wiped his eyes and drew himself to his full height, putting on as arrogant an air as he could manage while holding a hat out of his eyes. Maybe if he showed that he was worthy of the red hair Albus would change it back. "I am Luke fon Fabre, son of Duke Fabre, nephew of King Ingobert, and future heir to the kingdom of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear. I will not negotiate with people who kidnap me! Return me at once, and perhaps I'll ask my uncle to go easy on you."
"You were raised as a prince?" Remus spoke up, interested.
Luke huffed. "The son of a Duke, but I'm engaged to the princess. And, as if you don't know, the royal family of Kimlasca always has had red hair. I'm the heir! I need my hair to be red! And my hair's been red for as long as I can remember."
Remus looked a bit confused. "But if you're the son of the Duke, wouldn't that make the princess the heir?"
Luke rolled his eyes. "Seriously, have you been living under a rock? Princess Natalia has blonde hair, so she's pretty far down in the line of succession. I had red hair and I was the next closest relative to the King. So, I was made the heir."
Albus coughed. "I hate to contradict you," he said kindly. "But your name is Harry Potter. You're the son of Lily and James Potter, who were murdered ten years ago by a villain named Voldemort. On that night, your godfather, Sirius Black, spirited you off and it took us this long to track you down. Now we can reunite you with you family. Aren't you glad?"
Luke glared at him. "I've lived with Mother and Father for all of my life. You must have me mistaken for some other poor soul. Go find them and kidnap them. I just want to go home!"
They shared a heavy stare between them before Albus sighed. "I can see that we're not going anywhere with this. We'll return to that issue at a later time. Until then, would you like to know why else we've brought you here?"
"Not. Interested." Luke crossed his arms in a huff, forgetting for a moment that he was holding the hat, and it flopped into his eyes. He shoved the offending garment back up with a scowl. He was still tired from long days at sea and even longer days in a small hole in the wall and all he wanted was to go home, curl up in bed, and let his mother fawn over him.
"But surely the knowledge that you're a wizard is of some interest, wouldn't you say?" Albus asked, a kind smile on his face. Seeing that, and the lack of regret on Albus' face, made Luke wish he had his sword back. He fought his temper down, reminding himself that he would be a King, and Kings didn't give in to moments of anger. He did, however, retrieve his chair leg from the floor. Maybe they'd send him back if he tried to gore one of them, he considered morbidly.
"What's a wizard?" he asked instead. "Is that anything like a fonist?" Fonists could manipulate the fonons in the world around them and create different effects. He remembered how the first fonon, the element of darkness, had reacted before he'd been knocked unconscious that time. He knew that he himself was a seventh fonist, a rare individual that could control the fonon of sound to heal. He just had had minimal training, partly due to his young age and partly because Van had overseen his training.
"Wizards are able to use a wand to do spells," Albus explained, holding up his wand for emphasis. "It's nothing like that wandless magic you did earlier. Usually, when a young witch or wizard reaches eleven years old, they get sent a letter explaining about us and the school, but given the circumstances, I felt it best that we bring you to the school first."
"You mean kidnap me," Luke grumped.
Albus ignored the comment, instead rummaging around in a drawer that the boy couldn't see. "Let's see, where did I…? Ah, yes, here we are. I know you can't read it, but the Sorting Hat should be able to help you make sense of it." He held out an envelope to Luke, which the boy only hesitantly accepted, peering at the odd script at the front of it. In order to take the letter he had to stuff his chair leg under his arm. Obligingly, the Hat murmured the translation to him, loud enough to hear but not enough to be distracting.
"You got everything right but the name," he said accusingly, turning the envelope over and breaking the wax seal holding it shut. The contents turned out to be several sheets of paper, which he looked at in interest before the Hat told him which he should read first.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Term starts September 1st, and we await your reply by no later than July 31st. Please find enclosed a list of supplies, as well as information on how to get to the school. We look forward to seeing you there.
"The way you've presented the letter makes the invitation to the school seem optional," Luke noted. He was to be the ruler of a whole kingdom, so he was learning how to read between the lines. He might not have been the best at that yet, but the sense of "invitation" meant that it could be ignored. It was with this in mind that he looked up at Dumbledore and placed the letter on the desk. "I decline. Send me home."
"We can't do that, Harry. Your aunt and uncle on your mother's side are officially your guardians, and they've already given permission for you to attend this school, as long as they never have to see you." Albus looked bemused at that, but shrugged it off and continued. "Therefore, you will be attending this school starting in a little over a month."
"Stop calling me Harry!" Luke burst out, slamming his hands on the desk. The hat, somehow, stayed precariously perched on his head, and he clenched his hands into fists, once again struggling to keep his temper in check. "Even if Harry is, as you say, the name I was born with, it's not the name I know! I don't know what you people think you are or what you're doing, but nothing gives you the right to kidnap a Duke's son! Score, you people are more depraved than Van! At least he was up front about why he really wanted me!" His name had meaning, after all. He was the Light of the Sacred Flame, Kimlasca's beacon towards prosperity. Losing that, in conjunction with his red hair… it was too much.
"There's just one problem, Dumbledore," Minerva spoke up for the first time. "Harry can't wear the Sorting Hat all the time once the term starts, and he obviously can't communicate without it. What are we going to do?"
"Leave that to me. Even with only a month he should learn enough to get by on a day to day basis," Albus said. "Is there anything else you need to know before I take the hat back, Harry?"
Luke scowled and clenched his mouth shut, glaring spitefully at the elder man. He refused to answer to a name that wasn't his! He couldn't control if they changed his hair, and he couldn't control that he was a prisoner. He could at least make sure they knew that he wouldn't stand for everything. The silence stretched on for a few more moments before, of its own accord, the hat spoke up.
"Headmaster, if you will, perhaps you should address Mr. Fabre as Luke for the moment. He won't answer to anything else."
"Thank you!" Luke burst out, feeling like he could kiss the raggedy thing on his head. "At least someone's making sense!" Think you can help convince him to send me home? he asked the thing on his head.
Sadly, that is one thing I cannot do. Much as there is a Score in your world, there is a prophecy concerning you here, the hat said regretfully. The Headmaster does have your best interests at heart.
What does my hair have to do with my interests? Luke demanded. That's something that he has no right to change! It was a violation just as much as Van's cruel experiments had been.
I will do my best to convince him. I agree that he had no call to just do something like that. The hat, if it could have, would have sighed.
Then what's my Score? Luke wanted to know. Tell me that, at least! I have a right to know.
The Headmaster feels that you're not able to handle knowing that right now. The hat was regretful, but it felt like it agreed with the sentiment. Maybe in time.
Unknowing of this mental conversation Albus pursed his lips, looking seriously displeased, and Luke fought the urge to throw his chair leg at the man. He was going to be a king, he knew the merits of diplomacy, and one of the last things he'd been learning about was compromise. Sometimes in negotiations, he remembered, each side had to give in just a little bit before a deal could be reached.
"Let's do this, then, Headmaster," Luke began, repeating the foreign title carefully. "If you will call me Luke, return my hair to its natural color, and give me back my sword, I will cooperate with you. I'll go to this Score-forsaken school, and I'll learn whatever it is you want me to. But at the end, you must promise to return me to my home." He stood up as regally as he could manage in rumpled clothes, with a hat on his head, but the image was spoiled when the hat again slipped down over his eyes.
Albus tapped his chin thoughtfully, then waved his wand. Suspiciously, Luke pulled a lock of hair forward, then grinned when he saw his normal red. What he felt went beyond happiness; it was as if the sense of self that Albus had been trying to steal had been put back right again. "When school starts, however, I will ask that you once again allow your hair to be colored black. Additionally, once school starts, your teachers will address you as Harry Potter, as will your classmates. Please answer to it."
"What does my hair color have to do with anything?" Luke demanded. "My hair is as it is, and it's been red my whole life. You don't have a right to tell me that I have to change it!"
Albus shook his head. "When you were born you had black hair, and everyone will be expecting you to have black hair. No one will know who you are if you have red hair."
Why would Luke want people to know who he was? "I don't care about what other people expect!" he said vehemently. "My hair is mine! I don't care that you think it was black, I'm not this Harry Potter person anyway. You have no right to change it!"
Albus opened his mouth to protest, then shook his head with a sigh. "I don't expect you to understand now. Just please trust me on this."
Luke glared. "I won't! Compromising means that both sides have to be willing to give a little," he quoted his tutors. "I'm trying to compromise with you, I'll do what you want me to do at this school. But I want my red hair, and I want you to call me Luke. That's what compromise is, right?"
"He has a point there, Headmaster," Remus spoke up after a moment. "It'd be like someone telling me that I had to give up my wand. I could do it for a while, but I really wouldn't want to. What's the harm in him having red hair, anyway?"
Luke would have given the older man a hug if he was the sort of kid who gave out hugs on a whim. Instead he settled for smiling at Remus. "Thanks," he said, and he was sincere.
Albus shrugged. "I will think on it. Until then, allow me to see if our terms are correct. You say that you will attend school with no complaints if, for the moment, we call you Luke and allow your hair to remain red. What of your sword? I really can't allow a child your age to be running around with a dangerous weapon."
Luke clenched his fists, praying to Yulia to give him patience, please. He felt drained after the long arguments; he felt the chair leg rattling against his leg and realized that his hands were shaking. "That sword is important to me. I must continue my training with it."
"Perhaps in a few years, when you are older. Until then, I will arrange to have a less-dangerous weapon delivered in its place."
A practice sword would be better than nothing, but it still didn't make Luke happy. But as it was, it was the only agreement they'd reached, and it was progress. Luke sighed, his exhaustion suddenly dragging him down. One good night's rest couldn't completely heal the exhaustion he'd suffered in the three weeks prior, and suddenly he felt like he was two seconds from having his knees giving way on him. Rather than suffer the indignity of showing weakness to these people who were holding him captive, he settled into the chair he'd ignored previously, burying his head in his hands. The Sorting Hat tipped forward slowly, saved from hitting the floor by Minvera's quick reflexes. Albus was saying something, but without the hat on his head he couldn't understand the man. After the phrase was repeated a few times, there was a sigh, and a hand was suddenly pressing itself against his forehead. He jerked back from it, startled, but it was only Remus, and the older man looked sufficiently sheepish as he rambled out some explanation.
"I don't have a fever," he said irritably, biting back a yawn. "I just haven't slept in days, haven't eaten anything good in days… oh and I was held in a hole in the wall and tortured. I don't have a reason to be tired at all. Really." He didn't mean to be snarky, but he knew he got irritable when he was tired. Right now he was beyond tired into exhausted.
The sound of books thudding to the desk drew everyone's attention back to Albus, who had the Hat on his head and was concentrating. The man waved his wand again, and another book thudded out to join the two already on the desk. Albus started talking again, and this time the Hat was speaking aloud, translating for Luke's benefit.
"The hat lifted the knowledge of your language from your head and allowed me to create this," Albus explained, placing a hand on the books. "They will allow you to learn English. If you study hard until the term starts, you should get proficient enough to get by."
Luke stood a bit shakily and reached across for one of the books, leaning most of his weight on one equally-shaky hand on the desk. Writing: Ispanian to English greeted him, written once in the flowing script of his country, and again in English. His interest aroused, he reached for the next book: Ispanian – English Dictionary. And the last proved to be Learning English, written in familiar script. For the author, there was only the symbol of the Sorting Hat imprinted on the spines of all three books. Interested now, he opened Learning English, skimming the first few pages.
"He-" he said hesitantly, finger on one of the English words, the translation next to it in parenthesis. "Hello?" Glancing up, he saw Remus' grin, Minerva's proud smile, and Albus' amused expression. "I got it right, I guess," he mused to himself, trying to pick up the book. It slipped through his suddenly weak hands, thudding to the desk, and he leaned heavily against the desk. He hated his weakness, that he couldn't hide his exhaustion. He didn't want them to pity him, but at the same time he didn't want to pass out in front of them. That, he decided, was more humiliating than admitting his weakness. Albus asked him something, but his shook his head tiredly, glancing at the book to see if maybe it could help him, make Albus understand what was wrong with him. Ispanian – English Dictionary proved to be more helpful, as he searched for a single word.
"Tired," he said wearily, sitting back down heavily. "Tired," he repeated, this time in his own language, as his eyes drifted closed and he felt Remus' hand on his forehead again, just like his mother had done on more occasions than he'd have liked during his childhood. Just thinking that made tears well up in his eyes, and he whispered brokenly, "Mother…"
He was too tired. He mistook the arms around him for those of his mother, and just the feeling of being safe, loved, warm… He let that warmth embrace him, stopped fighting the exhaustion grabbing him down.
He awoke to a white ceiling, Remus, Albus, and a strange woman's voice talking quietly in the background. Sitting up, he rubbed his eyes and glanced at the window, surprised to find that the sun was headed towards the horizon, heralding nightfall. Getting up proved to be no great task, as it seemed he'd regained much of his strength with his day of sleep. He was by no means completely rested, but now it felt only as if he'd stayed up late practicing with his servant, not spent a week fleeing for his life.
He found himself in what he guessed was a sort of hospital, as there were a lot more beds in the pristine white room, and all of them were unoccupied, which he supposed was a good thing in any case. The voices were coming from what he thought was a small office, though he peeked in only briefly and ducked out of sight before anyone could catch sight of him.
This was as good an opportunity as any, he mused as he quietly left the infirmary, to go explore the castle. If he could find another way out of the place, he could find his way back home, and then he wouldn't have to worry about wizards or learning to speak another language or anything of the sort. After all, he reasoned, he hadn't agreed to not try to escape.
The halls grew progressively darker as Luke set himself to his search, running down empty hallways and opening every door he came across, the ones that would open, in any case. There were times, bounding up the next set of stairs, that he lost his footing when one of the steps proved to be false, and even mentally mapping his routes was futile. Several times he'd backtrack when he found a dead end, only to find himself in a completely different part of the castle. It was frustrating, to say the least, to think he was on the third floor only to find that somehow, without climbing any stairs or taking an elevator of any kind, he'd ended up on the seventh floor. After the sun dipped below the horizon he realized he had no idea where he'd ended up.
"I'm starting to hate this stupid castle," he grumbled, leaning up against a wall. He usually didn't talk to himself, but then again usually he was surrounded by people and talking to himself would have looked weird. "I wish I had my sword, practicing would be nice. Master Van would be mad…"
Thinking of his sword instructor, what the man had done to him, sent a flood of anger through him, and he clenched his fist with a growl. " 'Master' Van, huh?" he said to himself mockingly, turning and pacing towards one end of the hallway. "Some master he is, kidnapping me… I wish I had my sword! I'll get better than him, just watch! And he won't be able to kidnap me ever again!"
He turned and retraced his steps, still talking to himself. "Stupid Albus," he grumbled, stalking past the same expanse of wall as before. "If only I could practice my swordsmanship! I'd make him take me back home!"
Reaching the end of the hall, he turned around again and stalked back the way he'd come. "And if only I could cast fonic artes… that fireball spell earlier was weak! I've seen fonists cast much larger spells than that," he grumped. "But I doubt that this stupid place has anything about fonic artes. Albus didn't know what I'd done…"
He reached the other end of the hallway and turned, ready to retrace his steps, when something caught his eye and he stopped, curious. Conscious of the fact that he wasn't armed, he crept down the hallway, towards something that had appeared in the previously blank wall. There weren't even any paintings in this hallway, which was something he'd found odd, but nice. Solitude wasn't something he'd had very often in his short life.
Reaching his destination, he stared blankly at the door that had appeared out of blank stone. "What the heck?" he asked, poking the wood curiously. It was solid under his finger. "This wasn't here before… what kind of magic is there in this place? Trick steps, halls that lead different places…"
Unable to help himself, he turned the knob and stepped through the door into a dark room. It wasn't dark for very long, torches suddenly lighting themselves to reveal a room that it took Luke a few moments to fully take in.
Racks of weapons were set against one wall directly to the right of the child, while opposite were shelves of books stacked high. In front of Luke, training dummies were lined neatly up against the wall, obscuring a raging fireplace but somehow not catching fire. In front of the dummies, there were several fur mats on the floor, which the child, upon investigating, found were soft enough to cushion all but the hardest of falls. They were the same kind of mats Van had used, he recalled, and though the memory brought about another bout of anger, it was soon overshadowed with glee.
Somehow, the castle had heard him, and he had the perfect place to train. He didn't know if Albus knew this room existed, but he didn't care, as he perused the racks and found a sword, then retreated to the middle of one of the mats and took his basic stance. It had been many weeks since he'd last had the chance to practice like this, but it didn't take long for the exercises to come back to him, and he didn't have the chance to think as he dedicated every part of himself to practicing.
Time became immaterial as he simply moved, working his way through every exercise he'd ever been taught, moving from the basics of slashing and guarding to more advanced parries against enemies that he invented, most of them bearing Van's body and swordsmanship but Albus' annoyingly kind and superior face. He took great pleasure in defeating every enemy he set against himself, and it was only the sound of voices outside his sanctuary that drew him back to the present, panting and sweaty but thoroughly satisfied. He returned his sword to the rack and went to the door, though he didn't open it. Instead, he pressed his ear against the thick wood, trying to figure out what was going on outside.
From this position he could clearly hear Albus' concerned voice, though of course he couldn't understand what the old man was saying, shortly joined by Remus'. After a moment of just listening to the two talk, and hearing the name "Harry" passed back and forth, he could only presume that they were looking for him, and that made him angry. They still didn't acknowledge him as Luke! Fighting back his anger and remembering the deal he'd made earlier, he opened the door and slipped outside, trying to figure out some way to remind the two men that his name was Luke and he wasn't going to answer to Harry. The door shut behind him, and, driven by an urge he couldn't explain, he turned back around, not very surprised to find that the door was no longer there.
"Harry!" Albus' voice exclaimed and, remembering the reason he'd come out in the first place, Luke scowled and turned back to the older man.
"Luke," he corrected irritably. "Didn't you say you'd start calling me by my name?"
All they understood was his name, he could tell, and he sighed. Two minutes of skimming through a book didn't mean he could recall anything about it off the top of his head. All he could try to do, he thought, was pantomime. The thought made him scowl and he wondered if his uncle had ever had to play charades with negotiators.
Just then his train of thought derailed, his stomach reminding him that he hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast who knew how many hours ago. "I'm hungry," he said, patting his stomach and hoping that the wizards would understand. Remus looked at him oddly, then pulled a book from a pocket that shouldn't have held it and handed it to Luke wordlessly. The child found that it was his dictionary, and, giving the helpful man a satisfied grin, he flipped through the dictionary until the found the word he wanted.
"Hungry," he said, sounding out the odd word. Flipping through the dictionary, he found another word and took a guess at its pronunciation. "Food?" he asked hopefully, looking up at the men. He felt less like the son of a duke and more like a child than he had in weeks, but his meaning was apparently clear.
"Food," Remus agreed, offering Luke his hand and saying something that the child couldn't quite place. Luke ignored that hand, and after a moment it was withdrawn. Albus led the way to the Great Hall, and Luke made sure to keep track of where they were going. He wanted to be able to find his training room again.
The next two weeks, weeks that were shorter than Luke were used to, were full of simply learning. He woke up in the same room as he had at first, ate breakfast, and was escorted by either Minerva or Remus to a large, spacious library, where he studied the books the Sorting Hat had made for him. After several hours of this, he would eat lunch, then sneak out to the corridor on what he'd learned was the seventh floor. He made sure no one saw him as he made his way, skirting the places where portraits were congregated, and spent the rest of each day holed up in his secret room, either practicing with one of the swords or studying one of the books the room provided for him. They were, thankfully, written in his language, and the topics ranged from swordsmanship to fonic artes to theory. He didn't even want to know how the castle had gotten some of these texts, and decided that not knowing was less important that taking advantage of the opportunity. After he'd exhausted himself with training, he'd return to the Great Hall for dinner, then drag himself back to bed, ready for the next day to come around.
Each day at lunch and dinner Albus or Remus would insist on talking to Luke, putting his very tentative language skills to test and he struggled to keep track of what they were saying and answer them properly. His vocabulary was growing rapidly, but putting together the words in the proper order was a bit of a challenge on the fly, especially when he found himself getting annoyed at the men talking to him. To his great relief they'd started calling him Luke, but it was obvious that it was a struggle for them, and he could see them constantly reminding themselves of his name. However, the child grudgingly admitted after a few days, having to actually converse with the others in their native language was actually helping him, and after he realized it he stopped getting annoyed at them for talking to him. That still didn't stop his anger when they slipped and called him Harry, though.
Two weeks after his second abduction, Luke came down to breakfast, like usual, to find Albus talking to an owl. It wasn't the strangest thing the child had seen in the last two weeks, but he hadn't thought that wizards actually talked to animals. That was bordering on crazy, in his opinion, but he refrained from commenting as he took his place at the table.
"Good morning, Luke," Albus said cheerfully, and for once there was no hesitation in his use of the name. "I trust you slept well?"
"I guess." Luke didn't feel like talking very much, instead focusing his attention on the plate in front of him. The owl's hooting was distracting, though, and though he'd been determined to ignore it he found himself asking, "What's with the owl?" He glanced at the older man, surprised to see a long, thin package on the table. He hadn't seen it coming in.
"Owls deliver mail," Albus replied, sounding amused. It was such an odd sentence that it sent Luke into his books to make sure that yes, he had heard it right.
"Owls deliver… mail," he mused, still a bit baffled. "I don't think I understand."
Albus chuckled. "It's always a bit of a shock when people find out. This owl delivered this package today," he said, picking up the object and passing it over to Luke. "I believe it's addressed to you."
Despite only understanding a few words out of that phrase, the child took the package, turning it over to check the address label and finding that, sure enough, it was addressed to him. Not to Harry Potter, but to him, Luke fon Fabre, and he couldn't help the satisfied grin on his face as he tore open the paper enthusiastically. A sword rolled into his hands, and his grin grew into a truly pleased one. He wouldn't be satisfied until he had his own sword back, of course, but at least Albus was keeping his word. Standing up from the table, he grasped the hilt in his right hand, the scabbard in his left, and drew the sword.
His happiness fell slightly at the sight of a blade of wood, not metal, but even so, the blade was the right weight, and a few practice slashes told him that when he couldn't get to his secret room, this sword was more than enough for him to train with.
"Thank you," he said to Albus, sheathing the sword again and securing it to his side. Rolling his still-limited vocabulary around in his head, he said carefully, "But I want my sword back."
"In time," the older man said reassuringly, then changed the subject with ease. "Would you like to go out today?"
Luke consulted his books to make sure that he'd understood Albus properly, then glowered at the man. "Go out? The door's locked!" He flipped through his book, skimming to find the proper words. "It's been locked for two weeks. I haven't been able to leave."
He knew he'd gotten them right when Albus looked sheepish. "Well… I didn't want you to run away," was all the explanation he'd give.
"Because you kidnapped me," Luke muttered under his breath in Ispanian, taking a bite out of his toast with more force than was necessary. Reverting back to English, he asked, "Why now?"
"Why am I offering to take you out?"
Luke had to look up the words, then nodded.
Albus started on a long and involved explanation, but the child only caught one word in five and it was too much trouble for him to flip back and forth for the words in his dictionary. He gave up after a moment and tuned the older man out, returning to his breakfast.
"Did you understand?" Albus asked after seeing no reaction from Luke.
"I can't make it any simpler," the wizard sighed. "I will just say that you will be staying somewhere else for the next two weeks."
Having to hunt for words, Luke grumbled as he once again started flipping through his book, was getting annoying very quickly. But doing so was expanding his English vocabulary rapidly, he had to admit, even through his irritation. "Where will I be staying?" he asked once he'd puzzled out Albus' meaning.
"With a friend," Albus replied. "We will meet him in two hours in Diagon Alley."
"Diagon Alley?" The words seemed more like a name than something he'd have to look up, and Luke was suddenly interested. "What's there?"
"Stores," Albus replied. "We'll buy you school supplies, as well as more clothes."
That didn't sound too bad, Luke mused. He'd been wearing the same clothes for two weeks, though somehow they'd been taken off to get cleaned and returned every morning to him. All the same, he wouldn't mind having something different to wear. "Robes?" he asked, indicating what the older wizard was wearing.
"Among other things." Albus pulled a pocket watch from his robes and glanced at the face, then stood. "You can gather what things you need, and I'll meet you in the front hall in an hour. If there are any books you want from the library, be sure to let me know."
Luke nodded, then ran straight upstairs, reassured by the weight of the wooden sword at his waist. He knew, by now, the path to his hidden room by heart, and the room seemed to know what he had in mind, a bag resting on one of the bookshelves. The young noble grinned and opened the bag, noting that there were already two books in there, one about strike artes and the other about fonic artes.
"Why does it seem like you know exactly what I have in mind?" he asked one of the training dummies for lack of anything better to address. Of course there was no answer, and he spent the next forty minutes looking through the bookshelves, selecting texts he thought may help him and stashing them in the bag. He knew he was only going to be gone for two weeks, but he didn't plan to sit idle wherever Albus dumped him. His sword training was the most important thing to him at the moment, because he thought that if he could become a good swordsman, he'd be able to escape and return to Auldrant.
He decided on three other books aside from the ones that the room had given him, stacking them in the bag and slinging them over his shoulder. Surprisingly, even with the heavy texts in them, the bag wasn't any heavier than the weight of the first two books, leaving Luke to once again marvel at what magic could do. With ten minutes left to meet Albus in the entryway he went to the door of his room and surveyed it fondly. It was the only thing that had made his stay in the oppressive castle tolerable.
"Thank you," he said to it, because it seemed like it could hear him. It was a strange feeling to think that the castle around him was alive, but it seemed to have some kind of awareness. Therefore, it felt proper to Luke to thank the castle for helping him.
He didn't get an overt answer, but the fireplace burned just a little brighter, and he grinned before turning and leaving. The door clicked shut behind him, and he knew that if he turned around that the door would be gone, as it always was.
Despite everything that was happening, the fact that he was a prisoner and his fate was in another's hands, Luke made his way to the entrance hall in a cheerful mood. Maybe it was because he had an ally, as unusual as it was to think of. He'd never believed that a whole castle could be sentient and yet here this one was helping him, seemingly behind the back of the one who owned it. The inanity of it was enough to keep him sufficiently amused. After a quick stop by his room to pick up his three other books he made his way to the entrance hall.
Albys looked down at his satchel as he walked up, taking in the weight of it. "What books did you take?" he asked conversationally.
Luke shrugged. "Books about magic," he didn't quite lie, looking straight at the elder man. They locked gazes for just a moment before Albus smiled.
"Shall we go, then?" the elder asked.
To get to Diagon Alley, Luke found, required taking a carriage pulled by odd skeletal horses. Once they reached the gate several miles away Albus stuck out his wand and a fon machine Luke had never seen the likes of popped out of nowhere in front of them. Luke kept his questions to himself, instead looking out the window as the vehicle moved at blinding speeds.
Luke found his attention captured by the hidden city he realized was Diagon Alley. After getting off the thing he learned was called a bus he saw the strangest things for only a brief moment before being ushered inside a dingy pub whose name he didn't catch. There were more fon machines running around, seemingly not noticing the bus even as it sat across half of the road, and the buildings went up so high! He had to be ushered inside, so captivated by the sight was he. Once inside he found himself being introduced to a man named Arthur Weasley and his four sons Percy, Fred, George, and Ron. All five boys were lanky with red hair and a spattering of freckles covering their faces, dressed in threadbare clothes.
"It's nice to meet you," he greeted politely, bowing formally as well. "I am Luke fon Fabre, even though Albus," and he shot the man his dirtiest look, "says my name isn't."
Albus didn't seem contrite in the slightest. "Arthur, I'll leave him in your care. Mr. Potter, I'll see you in September." With that he walked to the fireplace and vanished into it, leaving the young noble to blink a bit before shaking his head.
"So, Harry," Arthur said with a smile, though it shrunk a bit at Luke's glare. "I'm sorry, but the Headmaster is insisting. I think you should be called whatever you'd like."
Luke's language skills really were improving, he mused, even as he purposely intensified his glare. "Albus doesn't have to know. And really, why does my name matter so much?"
Arthur shrugged. "I'll tell you when we get to my house, too many listening ears around here. So! We're here to get your supplies for the school year, so let's get going! Ron's starting this year too so it won't be a bother at all. First we'll go to your vault, Albus made sure to give me the key…"
Luke tried to stay at the end of the line, hoping for a chance to slip off, but Arthur insisted that he stay right by his side. Rolling his eyes he played along, one hand on the hilt of his wooden sword as he followed and ignored the two boys trying to get his attention.
They arrived at a white marble building and, after speaking to creatures Luke had never seen before, they delved into the massive depths that was Gringotts Bank's underground vaults. The noble didn't know what to think about the cart that flew at breakneck speeds, but he held on grimly and waited until they were at a vault to stagger out and catch his breath. It took all of his will not to throw up his breakfast and he was silently cursing the wizarding world's crazy transportation methods.
His vault was impressive, stacks of gold and silver coins piled nearly to the roof with some bronze thrown in for flavor. He scooped several handfuls of the coins into a pouch provided by the goblin who'd escorted them and climbed back into the cart without any fanfare, the coins jingling as they swung around on his waist.
Once they were back in sunlight and Luke stopped being dizzy he dutifully followed Arthur to a store called Ollivanders. Only he and Arthur went in, the four Weasley children taking five lists and splitting up after Luke gave them a handful of gold coins to cover the costs.
He stormed out of there what seemed like forever later, utterly irked at the elder wandmaker's insistence upon calling him by the name he hated. Arthur was left apologizing for the destruction that Luke had "accidentally" caused with the wands he'd tried while the young noble stalked down the block.
He was too angry to even contemplate sneaking away until he caught Ron coming out of a shop, a bundle of cloth in one arm and one of the lists in the other.
"Oh hey mate," Ron said distractedly, attempting to mark off something on the list with his burdened hand. "I've got Percy's robes, the rest of us get to use his old ones, but you should get yourself fitted too. You can't go around Hogwarts wearing that."
Luke didn't really care and wondered if he could be expelled from the school for not having the uniform. He didn't have a choice when Ron turned him around and shoved him inside, his arm immediately caught by a woman. He growled a bit at his sudden manhandling but she paid him no mind, instead ushering him up onto a stool and sweeping a long black garment over his head. Finding himself thoroughly trapped, he had no choice but to stand there and let the woman poke pins into the fabric. It wasn't something he was unused to, as he'd had several suits made up for him for special occasions back home, and the reminder had him thinking of his mother again.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't notice the blonde on the stool next to him until the other cleared his throat. "You're going to Hogwarts too, then?"
Luke shot the blonde a glance, weighing his options, before deciding what the heck. "Yes," he answered, voice not quite ice. It was the least hostile tone he'd used in the last two weeks.
"What House do you think you'll end up in, then?" the blonde wondered, tugging lightly at the sleeve of his robe. Luke looked at him more carefully, recognizing the tone of voice of one raised to nobility. The blonde was his age, with hair slicked back from his forehead and pale eyes, his slight build hinting that he might not have much muscle under his robes.
"House?" he asked curiously. He thought Remus might have talked about Houses during his stay but he didn't understand the context.
"Where are you from?" the blonde wondered. "You have a funny accent. You don't know what Houses are?"
Luke shrugged. "No one told me about them." He thought about telling the other that he had been kidnapped by a crazy old man and held against his will but the other was speaking again.
"I hope I end up in Slytherin," the blonde drawled, glancing out of the window and then at Luke. "Father says that it's the best House. I do think I'll have to run away if I end up in Gryffindor!"
"What's wrong with Gryffindor?" Luke wondered, his interest piqued now. Maybe he wouldn't end up in any House and Dumbledore would have no choice but to send him home.
The other boy snorted. "They're idiotic, stubborn, and a den of fools. Even Ravenclaw wouldn't be so bad."
"And Slytherin?" Luke prompted.
"Smart, cunning, and sly." The boy looked proud. "Father was of that House too." The woman working on his robes gestured for him to take them off and he shrugged out of them, hopping gracefully off of the stool. Straightening the muted blue robes he had on underneath he walked the few steps over to Luke's stool and held out his hand. "Draco Malfoy."
It took Luke a moment to realize that the other boy had introduced himself, but once he did he shook Draco's hand. "Luke fon Fabre."
"I must go, but I do hope we can be friends. I'll see you on the train to Hogwarts!"
Bemused, Luke watched Draco leave just as Arthur hurried in, looking worried until he caught sight of the noble. "There you are!" the man said, relief more than evident in his voice and face. "Don't wander off like that, Professor Dumbledore would have my head if I let you run off."
Luke scowled, shrugging out of the robe and stepping off of the stool. He didn't understand the odd phrase that Arthur had used but his tone of voice clearly indicated dire consequences. "So I'm still a prisoner."
"You're not!" Arthur insisted. "It's just dangerous for you to be wandering around on your own."
The noble said nothing for the rest of the day. After he paid for his robes he glowered at Arthur's back as they visited other stores, not really paying attention to the pile of purchases that he and the other four boys were accumulating. His stack was much greater than the others', he noticed as they finally left Diagon Alley for the Leaky Cauldron.
"Ah, Hagrid!" Arthur greeted, waving towards a giant of a man sitting at the bar. Dressed in hides and with his long hair wild and unruly Hagrid was the largest man Luke had ever seen. "What brings you out today?"
"A mission from Dumbledore," Hagrid answered, waving a cloth-wrapped bundle that he tucked carefully into his pocket. "He needed me to clear out a vault for him, an easy mission. What about you?"
"I'm escorting young Mr. Potter around," the elder Weasley replied, setting a hand on Luke's shoulder. The noble scowled and shrugged it off with a glare.
"Fabre," he enunciated clearly. "Not Potter."
"So this is Harry Potter," Hagrid whispered, looking him over with a critical eye. "I thought he had black hair?"
"A spell," Arthur sighed. "Professor Dumbledore will have it fixed by the school year."
"My hair's always been red!" Luke protested, his already frayed temped affecting something in the air around him. No one paid him any mind.
"I see." Hagrid grinned at him, brushing back the hair from the child noble's forehead with a surprisingly gentle touch. This brought Luke's scar into view and the giant looked at him oddly. "And there's the famous scar. Do you know how you got it?"
Luke waited a moment, expecting Arthur to answer. When the elder didn't he rolled his eyes. "So you'll finally listen to me, huh?" he asked, voice dripping with contempt.
"Don't be like that," Arthur admonished.
Luke gripped his sword, the act helping him keep a hold on his temper. "I will be 'like that'. No one's listening to me except when they want to. I have every right to be angry."
Only then did people notice the sword strapped to his waist, something that the child found odd. "Ha-Luke," Arthur sighed. "Let me get my children on their way home and we'll have a bite to eat. I promise I'll explain then."
Ten minutes later Luke, Arthur, and Hagrid were settled around a table tucked away in the corner of the pub, a plate of food in front of each. The adults were sipping from glasses that smelled strongly of alcohol while Luke settled for water.
"I'm surprised Dumbledore didn't tell you," Arthur sighed. "He said English isn't your first language but really, you've been doing fine today. He could have explained this to you."
Luke scowled. "I've been guessing," he admitted. "Some of the words I don't know, but I can figure them out from the context. Mother always said I was the brightest child she knew."
Arthur nodded. "Let me know if you don't understand something, then. I'm sure he's told you of your real name –"
"My name is Luke fon Fabre," the one named retorted. "Real or not. It is the name I know and the one my mother chose for me. I do not know anyone named Potter."
Arthur waved his hand. "When school starts the Headmaster is adamant about you being called Potter. I'm sorry, but you should get used to it. Anyway, what he didn't tell you is why it's so important. You see, Harry Potter is a famous figure in the wizarding world."
"Not like the son of a Duke?" Luke was well-known among Kimlascan royalty for being engaged to the princess.
Hagrid jumped in. "You're the only person to survive the Killing Curse!" the giant said enthusiastically. "Your parents were killed by You-Know-Who, everyone knows that. But when he tried to kill you something happened."
"The curse rebounded," Arthur continued. "You-Know-Who vanished, presumed dead, and your godfather spirited you off to who knows where. Only his testimony assured us that you were alive and for the last ten years we've been searching for you everywhere."
"And who is 'You-Know-Who'?" Luke wanted to know, even as he assured himself that his mother and father were alive and well.
"Only the most feared Dark Lord ever!" Hagrid blurted. "Anyone he wanted dead, died. Everyone except for you. That's how you got that scar, Black told us about it. When he found you in the ruins you had a cut on your forehead like a lightning bolt."
Luke fingered the scar, tracing its familiar shape. "Mother said I got it when I tripped and hit my head."
"Anyway, that's why you're famous. Stories have been told about you all over the wizarding world, about Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived. Dumbledore wants you to fit the image people have crafted of you, and the fact that you have black hair is very important. With your red hair no one will recognize you."
"I think I'd prefer that," Luke grumbled under his breath in Ispanian. "Why doesn't he ask me if I want to be famous?" he asked in English. "I've already argued with him about my hair, I hope he doesn't change it black again. People will have to know me for me."
Neither adult had an answer to that and he sighed, swallowing the last few bites of food and standing. "I'm finished. I have only one last request. I would like to know the name of the one who killed the Potters."
"We, er, don't speak his name," Arthur said uncomfortably, glancing at Hagrid. "It's considered bad luck."
Luke stared at them icily. "Then write it down. I've learned enough of your letters to understand it."
"Can't spell it," Hagrid sighed. "Listen close, I'll only say it once. His name was Voldemort."
Another odd name, Luke grumbled. "Voldemort," he repeated, testing the sound of it on his tongue.
Both men shuddered at the mention of the name. "Best to call him You-Know-Who around other folks," Arthur advised. "Even though he's dead people are still scared of him and even that name will make them uncomfortable."
There's more to come, don't fret! This fic will cover ALL of the first book. Reviews are loved and appreciated!