AN – Wrote this while planning out the sequel to Change For Good which I'm writing the first chapter of soon. I may post this story as well, just keep it up there on my account so I can write it when I have time, Change for Good sequel – Twist of Fate – will have top priority and I've planned out quite a few chapters already. Hope you like!
Harry Potter looked dead. He was emotionless; seemed soulless. He was mute. Walked and obeyed commands like an Inferius. Did Dumbledore's plan of placing Harry with the Dursley's somehow go wrong?
Chapter 1 – The Sorting
"Potter, Harry!" Professor McGonagall called.
Immediately whispers sprung through the hall, excited, students standing and leaning over the table to get a look at the legendary Harry Potter. He was not what they expected.
He was pale; cheeks hollow with unblinking emerald eyes and black hair that hung limply to his shoulders. His robes were large on his tiny frame; two bone white hands peeked out of his sleeves, veins showing easily through his almost translucent skin.
Most of the first years had looked nervous when they approached and sat down on the stool, shifting every now and then.
Harry Potter showed no emotion.
Harry Potter didn't move.
Both teachers and students alike waited with great anticipation, giggling with excited smiles and whispering, but as the silence drew on and Harry didn't move and the Sorting Hat didn't speak, they frowned and grew confused.
"What's taking him so long?"
"What do you think they're talking about?"
"I wonder what house he'll be sorted into."
They talked as if he was not there, but he could hear them, as loud as if they were talking into his ear…
The sorting hat sighed into Harry's mind. "Mr Potter, I cannot sort you if you don't communicate with me, let me in, let me see what you are like!"
Harry didn't reply for a moment before his thoughts became readable for the dirty hat.
"I am worthless. I am a freak. I shall not contaminate Dudley. I shall do as I am told."
It was like a continuous loop in Harry's head; overlapping and completely sickening to the sorting hat as it watched snippets of memories fly by in Harry's mind. The boy was intelligent, marvellously so, but so damaged in both mind and body that it wondered whether Harry would ever be 'normal', well, as normal as a child like he could ever be.
The memories seemed unstoppable, like a torrent they came. Insults and smacks over the head with frying pans from a blonde, horse-faced woman, a rough shove from a chubby boy, eyes glinting with malicious enjoyment as the boy watched Harry slip and smack his head on the side of the kitchen worktop. Harry had been shouted at for bleeding over the kitchen floor. Each memory was similar in the way that Harry was neglected, and his guardians showed obvious favouritism to their own child.
Harry was denied food for days at a time; locked in his cupboard without a wash, light or warm enough clothes. He did chores inside the house, but was never allowed out, this showing in his very pale skin. And then the worst memory of Harry's life that left him with an incurable fear. How he became a mute.
It was a warm day and Petunia had ordered him to clean the house from top to bottom. He did, but received nothing but a slice of bread for his trouble. Well, it was more than he had been getting lately. Harry cooked lunch and finished serving just as Aunt Marge entered wrapping her fat arms around Dudley and kissing him with adoring pecks all over his sagging face. While Dudley's angry protests went unnoticed by his aunt as she continued to kiss him, his uncle was hauling her suitcase up the stairs and his aunt was hovering around the pair unsure whether to pry Dudley from Marge's massive arms, Ripper slipped through his collar and found his next target.
The bulldog charged towards Harry, snarling, practically foaming at the mouth as Harry ran as fast as he could away from the dog, through the back door and up a tree. Ripper's front paws scratched at the But he wasn't strong enough to hold on. The branch he had gripped slipped from his hands and he fell to the floor. Ripper was on him in an instant and started to bite into Harry's throat. He knew he was going to die. His relatives would probably breathe a sigh of relief and he would never have to look into their angry faces ever again.
Harry blocked out the pain, ready to die, but his magic wouldn't give up that easily. It was one of his most powerful bursts of accidental magic that managed to throw the dog from him and stem the blood pouring out of his neck. Harry's small hands pressed at his throat, shocked that the dog was gone, his eyes searching wildly for his saviour, but he could see no one. His magic was strong, but due to the years of neglect it wasn't as strong as it should have been and it couldn't completely stop the blood flow or heal the damage done. Harry's vision blackened and blurred at the edges, feeling lightheaded, the last bit of hope he harboured that someone would care enough and come and try to help, withered and died.
If Harry had held onto consciousness for just a moment longer he would have seen the panic that engulfed Number 4 Privet Drive.
Petunia had screamed loud enough to rouse even deaf Mr Wilkins two streets down; Dudley had exclaimed 'cool' but blanched when he saw all the blood, Vernon turned purple and white repeatedly in quick succession while Marge fussed over Ripper who was whining pitifully with several broken bones on the floor underneath the kitchen window, a sizeable crack in the bricks behind him. It was only due to the nosiness of the next door neighbour and her quick reactions that the ambulance arrived at all.
The next time he woke, he was in hospital and a sad doctor and sympathetic nurse all explained to him that he wouldn't be able to speak again. Apparently Harry had endured several highly dangerous operations to reconstruct his throat and put a skin graft over his neck where Ripper had bitten him. It hurt to breathe and swallow. As he lay in the hospital bed, sore and tired Harry could feel his weak magic, welling up and trying to heal his throat. It was slow going but the doctors were impressed with his progress clearly believing that he was recovering quickly like most children do.
When he was well enough Harry had to see another doctor who asked him to do various exercises, try to speak or make any noise at all. Harry couldn't. They taught him sign language, but he never tried to communicate. He stayed silent, and hasn't spoken since.
The sorting hat was appalled. "Mr Potter, I am…terribly sorry, if there is anything I can do—"
"Nothing. I am a freak and shall remain thus. It is what I deserve."
The sorting hat had seen accounts of abuse and neglect when he sorted the students and although he left hints for the headmasters and headmistresses it was very rare that they picked up on them, or that anything would be done. Of course he could not declare that the child was being abused outright, it went against the magic instilled in him by the Founders. They had believed the mind was sacred and only upon acceptance to be sorted should the hat have access to it, even afterwards secrets could not be spilt unless given permission by the wearer. That was even rarer.
"I am at a loss Mr Potter as to where you should be sorted, could you help me chose?"
"No. I haven't a right to make choices. They told me I don't deserve them."
The hat was saddened and infuriated all at the same time. Harry had never stood up to his relatives, he was incredibly smart but intentionally did poorly so Dudley would seem more intelligent. Harry had never been loyal and didn't know what it felt like. Slytherin seemed to be the best fit. The boy took all his punishments without batting an eyelid so he wouldn't have to face more, he had a strong sense of self-preservation and knew just what to say and do to keep out of harms way – although even if he did something right at Privet Drive, it was likely that he would be punished for it anyway. In Slytherin he would be able to learn, heal, to accept himself. Hopefully.
The students and staff all watched Mr Potter restlessly as he conversed with the hat in his mind. They were confused, worried. What was taking him so long? But none were more worried than Albus Dumbledore. He had looked at the boy, noticed his ragged skeletal appearance and seemingly emotionless approach to the sorting hat. He had been on the stool for almost ten minutes now. It was the longest recorded sorting in Hogwarts History.
As time dragged on the teachers and students looked to him, several stomachs growling loudly at having to wait for so long.
The headmaster stood and walked through the table as though it was nothing more than an illusion so he stood beside Harry. He was about to reach for the hat when it shifted and yelled it's decision.
At first there was silence, and then, everyone started talking at once.