The Firebird's Son
A Harry Potter Story
By Darth Marrs
I had a really long author's note here, but then I realized nobody reads these. However, I did want to establish some expectations and dash others, so you'll find a brief discussion of this story in my forums. Review responses will also fall in that forum as well to streamline the actual reading text.
What you will find… A radical AU of characters, settings, history and circumstances. Possible OOCness; some gender switching (according to set rules established above); Seer Harry (for good reason); Seer Luna (also for good reason); Truly Long Lifespans; NO HORCRUXES as described in the book; SEX BUT NO LEMONS; violence; a pot-smoking Sybil Trelawney; and Elemental magical leanings (Not A:TLA, but Greek Classical references).
Disclaimer…Yep, you guessed it. I don't own Harry Potter.
Chapter One: The Eyes of a Witch
Petunia Dursley would never admit to any of the neighbours how very much her nephew frightened her. They would never understand, not really. "He's just a boy," Mrs Pettis next door would say with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Just take him under your thumb and shorten his leash."
"The boy will only act out only as much as you let him," Mrs Polkiss would say, which was ironic given the way her own children acted out.
They could never understand, but Petunia knew what they did not. She remembered what it was like growing up with a witch-born; she still bore the mental scars even if her skin was unblemished. It wasn't just the way Harry looked at her with those witch-green eyes of his. It was if he were looking not through her, but deeper inside her than was proper. It wasn't the fact that he did not cry when he should, and often cried when he shouldn't. Nor was it the way he seemed to watch things in the air with rapturous attention that were not there at all.
No, it was the way he made her feel when she got too close to him. Not just her, but anyone. The first time she picked him up from the basket Vernon found on the front step of their house, she felt as if she were holding an electrical wire. The hair stood up on the back of her neck and on her arms, and her stomach twisted and cramped. Vernon did not try to hold the boy—the one time he reached out to him, he jerked his hand back.
"One of them," he snarled. He started a diatribe about how he would not have one of them in his house. However, when Petunia read aloud the letter that accompanied the babe Vernon's face at first reddened, and then paled. "They wouldn't," he finally sputtered.
"They would," Petunia told him surely. "You don't know what it was like, Vernon, when they came for his mum; or what happened right after. They wouldn't think twice to steal our minds and make us slaves, and if they didn't come, the boy would become too dangerous. You remember what happened to my mum and me!"
She placed the toddler back into his basket, but he immediately climbed out and walked with much, much steadier legs than Dudley had at fifteen months, straight toward her. "Green light!" he said in a babyish lisp. "Where Mummy go? Green light!"
He was only fifteen months. They were proud of Dudley saying "Ball!" at fifteen months.
"We may have to take him in," Vernon finally said, "but the letter says nothing about how we treat him. He'll be no son of mine, and I won't tolerate any of his foolishness."
Almost instantly, the family cat, Mittens, came tearing down the stairs from the first floor as if her tail were on fire. Petunia watched in shock as the cat ran to Harry, and then into him, knocking the toddler onto his nappy covered bottom. "Mittens!" he said, giggling as the cat licked him.
There was no possible way he could have known what the cat was called.
Vernon got rid of the animal the next day. He did not take it to a shelter; he took it into the back garden and broke its neck before burying it in the shrubberies. More disturbing was the way Harry cried over the following week, asking for "Mittens" and saying, again, "Green light! Mittens!" until Vernon lost all semblance of his temper and threw the boy into the cupboard under the stairs.
And there he remained.
Harry started school before Dudley did, but not because Aunt Petunia thought he was smarter or more capable—but because at age three he was entitled to five two and half hour sessions a week at the local nursery school for free, and she wanted him out of the house.
The teacher, Miss Jacoby, knelt down to greet Harry when Aunt Petunia pushed him into the class, smiling. "Hello…Harry," she said, her smile faltering mid-sentence as she caught herself staring into the most unnaturally green eyes she had ever seen. "My, what bright eyes you have!"
He started to smile shyly, but said nothing. "I'll pick him up in two and a half hours," Petunia said curtly before she turned and left the boy. Ms Jacoby frowned a little at the woman's abrupt manner before looking back down at Harry, who was peering about the room with interest. Other kids were playing in their centres—the girls around the kitchen, the boys and a few other girls at the blocks.
The other kids ignored him, absorbed as they were in their own games, and he simply stood as if frozen, staring at them. "Harry," Jacoby asked, "would you like to play at a centre?"
He shook his head.
"Well, at least let me show you around?" She offered her hand; he stared at it for the longest time as if it would strike him, before he slowly reached up to place his small hand in hers. Miss Jacoby tried to hide her startled jerk as the almost hot, electrical feeling of his hand settled in hers. It took every ounce of restraint she had to keep from jerking her hand away from him. After the initial shock wore off, she looked down to see him staring up at her with those impossible eyes, weeping without a sound.
Alarmed, she knelt down beside him and said, "Are you alright, sweetie?"
How could a three-year-old, even a witch-born, explain how wonderful it was to have anyone actually hold his hand after a year and a half of isolation? The only way he knew how was to rush forward and hug her. Miss Jacoby felt as if she were being electrocuted, but again she consciously fought against her initial reaction and after a moment, the shocking feeling changed from one bordering on pain to a wonderful, soothing warmth unlike anything she ever felt before, and she found herself not just returning the hug, but actually lifting the small boy in her arms. She carried him on and off for the rest of the day, allowing her assistants to handle the other kids for the two and a half hours she had him.
When Petunia Dursley returned with her large, blonde-haired boy in tow, she seemed surprised and even alarmed when she saw Miss Jacoby holding Harry.
The next day, when Harry did not return, Miss Jacoby made an inquiry with the front office and learned that Harry's guardian had transferred him to a different school. The teacher of four years could not understand why the news made her eyes water, or her heart sink.
Harry and Dudley started Reception Year at the same time. Being relatives, the helpful school officials placed them in the same class, and almost immediately Dudley began informing his classmates that Harry Potter was a freak.
Soon enough, Harry knew beyond doubt that no one in the school liked him. Dudley's gang beat him up occasionally, but the beatings never lasted because Dudley's friends always felt uncomfortable when they kicked him, as if they were playing in a swimming pool during a lightning storm.
However, Dudley's gang was not the sole reason for Harry's isolation in school. No one talked to him because it was so distracting when he looked at them with those eyes of his. The green was brighter than it should have been for any normal person, as if somehow there was a light shining out from behind them. Even adults looked away from him after just a few moments.
Harry cried after that first day of school as he walked home (Aunt Petunia made him walk, though she gave Dudley a ride). He really thought that with a new year he could make friends—he so wanted to play with the other kids. His excitement at going made the reality all that much harder to bear. Just as he could not understand why they seemed not to like him, they could not understand that when he looked past them, he was actually seeing their very souls, and that he truly thought they were beautiful.
Though they were far too young to rationalize that, the other kids felt the instinctive fear that humans had always felt when faced with the eyes of a witch-born. When he asked to play with them the first few times, they refused and turned their backs on him, as much from fear as spite. Harry learned quickly to stop asking, and usually returned to his desk while the others played their games. The teacher watched, but when he looked at her, she looked away with a visible shudder and said nothing.
Dudley's gang did their utmost in school to ensure his isolation was complete, though even those attempts stopped altogether four weeks into school when Piers Polkiss cocked back his right foot for an especially strong kick against Harry one day, only for the entire school yard to hear a cringe-inducing snap when his foot struck Harry's back. The snap was followed a moment later by a blood-curdling scream as Piers fell to the ground, clutching a leg that was not only broken, but broken so badly, that a shard of bone stuck out clearly from his shin.
Dudley and the other gang members backed away in horror, while Harry picked himself, scuffed but otherwise unharmed. He walked closer to Piers and stared down at the bloody, broken leg.
"I hope it hurts," he whispered.
"You freak!" Polkiss screamed through his tears.
Harry shrugged and walked away; Dudley's friends backed out of his way to let him go, and that was the last of the beatings he got at school. Soon word spread, and the other kids became even more frightened. Harry Potter was truly, undoubtedly, a freak.
By Year 1, Harry no longer tried to make friends, even with the new kids. They learned quickly enough to leave the freak alone. Instead, he read his books and spoke with the animals that would occasionally come visit—ravens or large striped cats, mainly, although he also met several friendly garden snakes.
He made sure not to speak to his animal friends where anyone could see him, since he knew the other kids would not understand. Over time he gained a reputation of someone who liked to lurk in corners and shun human company. The fact that it was the other way around made no difference to the end result of Harry being alone. At least he was able to eat more at school.
Near the end of that first year of school, Harry sat in his customary place on the edge of the school yard when a stranger stepped through the gate of the playground and started striding across the grounds.
To seven year-old Harry, the man looked tall and gaunt, though he was actually not much taller than Ms Chattara, the minder for that recess. He wore a long, odd black shirt that hung to his knees, and black trousers under that. His hair was thin, but his eyes gleamed with a terrible, brown light, as if he had flashlights behind his eyes. More than that, though, his chest gleamed with an odd, watery…something. Harry wasn't sure if he was seeing something inside the man, or feeling something, but the man felt dark, damp and cold despite the warmth of the day.
He pulled out a knife as long as Harry's arm as he walked, his burning eyes locked on Harry's.
Harry stood up and backed up a step, only for his back to come against the gate. He tried to call for Ms Chattara, but his voice came out only as a terrified, closed off croak. The man moved closer, and hefted the knife in his hand. Harry desperately looked about the school yard, desperate for someone—anyone—to notice what was happening.
The man growled like an animal as he rushed forward, only to stop a foot from Harry. His eyes widened, and within the coil of cold blue that resided in his chest, a spark of bright red appeared. He gurgled and dropped the knife—it fell with a dull thud against the packed dirt of the play area.
The red in his chest expanded rapidly, until it became a raging flame that boiled away the wet. The man reared his head back and tried to scream, but only a gurgle came out, before his entire body burst into flames. A moment later, a cloud of ash floated gently to the dirt.
Harry took a deep, stunned breath. Around him, kids continued to play as if nothing had happened at all. He jumped again when two people appeared from the air with a pair of Pops, both wearing red robes.
"Blimey, is that…?" a youngish woman said.
"Aye," the man said. It was, in fact, the ugliest man Harry had ever seen, with a strangely spinning false eye and scars enough for twenty faces, much less just the one. "The headmaster knows his blood wards, I'll give him that. Go on now, Emmy. I'll take care of the lad."
The woman removed a stick and waved it around the cloud of ash. It rose up into the air, collected itself into a ball, and disappeared into a large glass phial. She disappeared as quickly as she came.
The ugly man knelt down in front of Harry with a grunt. "What did you see, lad?"
"A man with wet in his chest had…had…a knife," Harry stuttered.
The ugly man grabbed the knife from the ground, nodded to himself, and tucked it into his odd red cloak. "Right scary, I bet. But don't worry lad, you won't remember it. Promise.'
"What do you mean?"
On Dudley's ninth birthday, Aunt Petunia walked Harry across the street by the sleeve of his shirt to make sure she did not touch him. With a sharp rap on the door, Petunia stepped back and waited impatiently.
The door opened to reveal a wide-faced woman of indeterminate age dressed in a terry-cloth robe. Her mousy brown hair was done up in rollers. "Yes?"
"Ms Arabella Figg?" Petunia asked. Without waiting for affirmation, she said, "I understand from the neighbours that you are agreeable to watching children for a fee?"
"Well, yes," Figg said, smiling suddenly. "I love children, but unfortunately I never…"
"I'd like you to watch my nephew for the day. Will thirty pounds be sufficient?"
"Well, I do normally charge…"
"Forty then," Petunia snapped.
"That would be fine," Arabella said, giving up all pretence at trying to speak.
"Thank you," Petunia said, shoving two twenty pound notes over before she turned and walked away.
"Well, what a pleasant woman," Arabella said in a conversational tone. "Might as well come in, Harry."
"She never said my name," Harry said.
"No, but I've heard of you from the neighbours," she smiled.
He stepped in and paused just inside. "What's wrong with your chest?"
Blinking, she pulled her robe tighter. "Pardon?"
"Do you have a light in there? It looks like something's trying to shine through, like a light in a paper bag."
Arabella chuckled. "No, lad, just my undershirt. I wasn't expecting company. Have a seat—you're welcome to watch the telly if you want. I need to finish getting ready."
When she returned half an hour later, Harry was on his stomach in the middle of the floor playing with what he thought were cats. Arabella kept half a dozen of the creatures, who were family to her. She was about to warn him to be gentle with them when he turned and meowed at one of the kittens who was trying to claw her way up the side of Arabella's second-hand sofa. It was a shockingly realistic sound.
More shocking still, the kitten's mother came running from the kitchen and caught the kitten by the scruff of her neck, with which she carried her to Harry, deposited her, and returned to her milk in the kitchen. With a sly smile, Arabella stepped out of the hall and said, "What was Percival doing?"
"That was Morgana," Harry said without missing a beat. He pointed to another kitten and said, "That's Percival, though he doesn't like the name. He'd rather be Rufus."
"He says he heard it in a show or song. Kind of hard to tell."
"I never knew kneazles were so talkative," Arabella said.
Harry looked up at her with narrow, suspicious eyes. "You think I'm lying."
"No, I know for a fact that kneazles are much more intelligent than normal housecats. They can sometimes even understand what I'm saying, though I believe it is more in terms of tone and body language than words. I don't speak kneazle, you know."
"I've never heard of that breed of cat before," he said, relaxing a little because of her tone. "I read about cats in the library."
"It's a unique breed," she said with a reassuring smile as she settled into the sofa, "and not widely talked about. Do you think you could ask Samantha to come sit with me? She warms my lap quite nicely."
Harry meowed, and the mother kneazle walked back in at a more sedate pace than before, hopped up onto Arabella's lap, and curled into a warm, purring ball of contentment. "Thank you, Harry," she said. "Would you like to see something interesting?"
"Sure," Harry said, pushing himself up to his knees.
"Well, on the console table there in front of you is a porcelain box. Within the box is a crystal that you might like to look at. It's really quite extraordinary."
Shrugging, Harry opened the box, reached in and pulled out a golf-ball-sized polished crystal. "Hey, there's something inside it!" Harry said excitedly. He peered deep into the crystal, his tongue sticking out as he concentrated.
Although he could not see it, the air around his head shimmered before taking on a faint glow, as if he were surrounded in a halo of golden mist. Harry's eyes dilated so wide his irises looked black, and his jaw hung slack.
"Harry, do you ever have odd dreams?" she asked, still in a conversational tone.
"Yes." His voice was distant and low, as if he were on the verge of sleep.
"What do you dream about?"
"A bad man came to my school last year. He had a knife in his hand and was going to hurt me with it."
"He burned up."
Arabella nodded. "What else do you dream of?"
"Oh? What does she look like?"
"I don't know. I never see her face. All I ever see is a weird shape."
"Describe it, please."
"Crescent facing left, circle, crescent facing right," Harry said.
"How do you know it's a girl?" Arabella asked, fighting now to maintain her calm tone.
"She's holding my hand. We're running from something."
"Do you know what?"
Arabella nodded. "Do you dream of anything else?"
"Green light … and a voice saying 'No, not Harry.'"
Arabella tensed. "Tell me, Harry, does the voice sound frightened?"
"No, or not really, I guess. She sounds determined, I think. Strong. She talks to me, sometimes at night, when I'm sad or lonely. She's my angel. She holds back the Green Light."
"Yes, she does," Arabella whispered just to herself. "Harry, when I count to three, you're going to wake up and not remember any of what we talked about. One, two, three."
The light in the stone went out. Harry blinked, closed his mouth, and rubbed his eyes. "Huh, I was wrong, there's nothing in it. Guess it's just a crack. Very pretty, though. Thanks for showing me."
"You're welcome," Arabella said. "Now, what would you like to watch?"
Later that night—much later than Arabella thought appropriate—Petunia knocked on the door to take the sleepy Harry back home. When he was gone, Arabella closed the door and walked back into her living room. She lit a fire despite the warm summer weather, and when it was going strongly threw blue power into the flame. Kneeling down, she stuck her head into the resulting green fire.
Through the wall of green flame she saw a figure silhouetted against a bright light. "He has visions. He saw a girl, but instead of her face, he saw the three-phased moon. He also has memories of the last attack on his school, despite Alastor's obliviation attempt."
The silhouette said nothing at first, until, with a magically altered voice, it said, "Do you think the child is an Aether?"
"Yes," Arabella said. "I think he saw my magic despite my charmed camisole. He set the crystal ablaze—he's just as powerful as she said he would be."
The silhouette said, "Everything else she said has come true, why not this? It just confirms our plans. Keep watching him, and let me know if those wards change in any way."
"I will," Arabella promised.
She pulled back out of the fireplace and sighed. Poor, poor Harry Potter.
Author's Note: Very special thanks to Teufel1987, JR and Miles for additional beta reading. They were kind enough (and masochistic enough) to agree to beta read yet another of my fics. Feel free to check out Teufel's profile for his own stories!