The Inbetween - by Slytherin's Dragon
4/3/13: After major thinking,I am doing a rewrite of this story. I have the first chapter posted. It's going to be a little different, but based on the same concept. I am going to keep this up for now. It's titled The Inbetween - Reimagined - SD
First HP fanfic attempt! Reviews motivate me and I will take thoughts/criticism into account. And off we go.
2/7/13: This is not a Harry/Ginny story, nor will there be explicit slash.
Note: I don't own Harry Potter. All I own is university debt :(
Chapter I - Dumbledore's First Mistake
October 31, 1981
"Albus! You can't be serious about leaving Harry with those muggles!" Minerva McGonagall exclaimed worriedly as Dumbledore, Hagrid and herself walked in the quiet neighbourhood of Little Whinging.
"It's for the best, Minerva." Dumbledore spoke gravely.
The odd threesome walked turned towards an ordinary house with a perfectly manicured lawn. Hagrid still had tears coursing down his cheek. He had baby Harry cradled lovingly in his big arms.
"But Lily's sister hates magic! Abhors it, Albus!"
"Harry will be safe here." Dumbledore deflected.
He raised his wand and began building up a complex series of wards. His mental cogs churned as he thought about his plans. Dumbledore knew that Tom was still alive and would one day come back and with the knowledge of the prophecy, he knew he would have to groom Harry to be the hero of the wizarding world. Giving Harry a humble start will make him easier to move on his chessboard later. Plus, family was family, and there's no way that the Dursleys would abuse their nephew.
When little Harry was placed on the doorstep along with a letter there was a subtle pop of Apparition and all was normal again on Privet Drive.
Harry flinched when Vernon's leather belt struck his bare back. He was in trouble after his whale of a cousin Dudley had tripped him. The resulting trip resulted in the breakage of Petunia's favourite horribly flowered plate and the ruining of bacon that Harry had laboured over this morning.
"You ungrateful bastard!" Vernon's curses could be heard throughout the house. "We brought you in after your freaks got themselves killed in a car crash and you break your Aunt's favourite plate! Is this how you show gratitude, boy!"
A succession of lashes whistled through the air. Harry broke after the seventh lash in tears, his uncle's tirade getting louder with each inflicted mark. Before he knew it, Uncle Vernon had picked him up and thrown him back into his closet. Harry hit the wall.
"Stay in the closet for a week, freak." Harry blacked out shortly after.
An uncertain amount of time later, Harry felt himself come to. It was dark in the closet and it stank of fecal matter and blood. It was cold. The only thing that he had for warmth was a baggy old shirt and overly large sweatpants that had belonged to Dudley and a pile of rags on the floor.
He felt pain. But that was a state that Harry was familiar with. His uncle had beaten him up over the smallest infractions including "violations" such as looking at his Dudley the wrong way over the past years that he had lived with them. The worst beatings occurred when Harry did non explainable things, such as levitating and animating some of Dudley's unwanted toys when he was barely two, and when his hair grew back after his Aunt had shaved his hair to Dudley's merriment in an attempt to tame the unruliness.
Harry used to cry every time he was punished but as the beatings continued, he found himself growing increasingly emotionally apathetic. He used to feel hatred and anger towards his relatives, but that was being replaced with indifference. Sometimes, he would look at wounds inflicted by his uncle and watch the rich red blood ooze. Blood fascinated him. But this time, seeing as most of the damage was done to his back, he was denied the pleasure.
Huddled under the putrid blankets, Harry shivered. He tried to think of the warmth of summer, when Dudley got to eat ice cream while he got none. When that failed, Harry pictured fire. Harry remembered his first clear memory of fire. It had been Dudley's birthday and there were flames flickering, fueled by candles. The flame flickers reminded Harry of a living thing and for some unknown reason; Harry was drawn to the energy of fire. Mrs. Figgs next door had a real fireplace and during Harry's visits, he found himself staring at the flames, while innumerable cats meowed around him.
A silver flame flared upwards, causing Harry to yelp. The flame was immediately extinguished and Harry listened at the door, hoping that none of the Dursleys heard. But after a brief moment of silence with adrenaline coursing through his body, Harry returned to his rags. He returned to his thoughts of fire and suddenly the cupboard was re-illuminated.
The flames started a centimeter above his palm and Harry could feel his goosebumps and shivers going away. He was also aware of energy of the fire and the energy that he was feeding it. He spent the next minutes varying that energy, causing the fire to grow or shrink at his whim. Finally he clenched his fist and the flames vanished.
He opened his palm again and visualized the silver flame in his mind. The flame returned and Harry spent the rest of his week in the cupboard, with the occasional bottle of water and scraps thrown in by his aunt, playing with fire.
Harry found himself sitting at a desk, his art teacher talking on and on about the assignment. Harry liked class time best, where Dudley couldn't beat him up. His teacher stopped talking, and Harry picked up a paintbrush on his table and turned his attention to the blank canvas on the easel to his right. Painting soothed him in a way almost nothing can.
After working on his painting for thirty minutes, Harry was startled by a gasp from his teacher. She was staring and gawping at the red bird of paradise in flight that he had painted. It was very rich in detail and the bird looked like it was going to lift off the material and fly away.
"That's very good... Harry,"
Harry nodded his thanks before she went away. She did not realize that the material makeup of the bird was blood, and that the beautiful and elegant tail of the bird dissolved into droplets of the life-giving substance.
It was summer again, and Harry found himself weeding in the garden out at the back of the house. Dudley had gone off to Piers Polkiss's house and his aunt and uncle had gone off somewhere. Harry was sweating and his pale skin was already blistered from similar days.
:You need help?:
Harry almost died of a heart attack. He took a deep breath and looked around.
There was nobody there.
:Over here!: Harry could hear the sound of amusement coming from his left. He turned around and a small black snake with a white underbelly slither up towards him.
:You can talk?: Harry almost bowled over in shock for the second time.
:You speak the tongue of the snakes, my boy.: The snake curled up next to Harry.
Harry looked curiously at the snake. :But all I hear is the human tongue. What kind of snake are you?:
:I am a black mamba. One of the most feared species of snake to have existed in this world. I have travelled far to find you.:
:Find me?: Harry was very confused. Why on earth would a snake travel to find him?
The snake gave Harry what he perceived was a surprised look.
:I am your familiar. I can feel your magic call me continents away.:
:Magic? You are pulling my leg!:
The snake hissed in a snort-like fashion but after realizing that the boy wasn't kidding, he continued. :Magic exists everywhere. Very powerful wizards are capable of drawing out magical creatures to bond with. These creatures are known as familiars.:
:You are magical?:
:Yes. And you are?:
Harry looked surprised at that question. The snake seemed to know everything. :Harry Potter.:
:Zaliss: The snake uncurled itself from the coil it made and extended his tail towards Harry. Harry shook it in bewilderment.
:One more thing. The bonding ritual.: Zaliss flicked his tongue out.
:I just need a bit of your blood.:
:Aren't you poisonous?:
:I won't use it.:
Harry reluctantly offered his hand to Zaliss. The snake's beady but jewel-like dark eye gazed at the offered appendage and sank one of his fangs into Harry's flesh. Harry didn't flinch. The snake and boy spent the rest of the afternoon, pulling weeds.
It was July 31st and Harry found himself stuck in the old cupboard again. Earlier in the month, Harry seized an opportunity to clean out the old prison hole and his Aunt had thrown a few more hand-me-downs at Harry a week ago. He now possessed a warmer raggedy blanket, an old beaten up pillow and some of Dudley and Vernon's old shirts.
Zaliss, being a very young snake, was easy to hide and possessed the capability of squeezing himself through holes that one would perceive to be too small for him. Harry suspected that this was a magical skill that Zaliss possessed. Said snake was currently taking a snooze in the corner of the cupboard and Harry had nicked a large candle that the Dursleys keep in case of emergency blackouts. A cheery silver flame courtesy of his fire had been lit to give the room a warmer environment. Harry had persuaded Zaliss to not kill his relatives despite the maltreatment and Zaliss had half-heartedly agreed due to complications. Plus Harry knew that he would have to practice his magic a bit more before being able to live by himself.
It was his birthday today. He was seven. Harry sure didn't look seven though. He was thin and malnourished. He looked older than his age. His skin was tanned and rough from the summer of doing gardening chores but it was a lot easier with Zaliss around.
One of the floorboards of his cupboard was lose, and Harry used it to stash stuff that he didn't want found. So far, he had placed all his tests with A pluses in there and his art. Harry had learned the hard way that his aunt and uncle hated Harry getting better grades than their buffoon of a son and would deliberately do poorly as a method of self-preservation.
Harry had picked up another useful skill a few days ago. He was able to use his abilities to sense the energy around him and concentrate it to fill the lock of the cupboard. He pictured a hard metallic material in his mind and was able to open the door by using this temporary solid. He had developed the idea from his fire-play after spending many days manipulating the flames into various shapes. And it took a month of failed attempts before he could get it right.
Silver was the only colour of fire that he could manage though, despite his best attempts.
Harry found himself running again. Dudley and his gang were playing their favourite game of "Harry Hunting". Years of torment from Dudley had enabled Harry to develop endurance beyond his age but his history of malnourishment was catching up with him. Panting, and feeling the iron taste of blood at his throat, he sensed that the hunters were close behind him.
Before they could even throw a punch, Harry found himself up on the roof of a nearby building. He collapsed immediately in exhaustion.
Below him, a very puzzled gang of bullies searched high and low for him.
When Harry awoke hours later, it was pitch dark. He got up weakly and realized that he was on a sloped surface of some kind. It didn't take him long to realize that he was on the roof of a neighbour's house.
Remembering the events that led up to this predicament, Harry realized that he had somehow managed to teleport. He began to replicate his actions before his collapse in an attempt to get down but with no success. Harry was sure that if it was daytime, everyone would think he was a lunatic with all the spinning movements he was trying to do to get off the roof. A freak, Harry thought in his relatives' words.
He decided to stop and sit down on the roof. Today, the sky was so clear that one could see stars – a rare sight and Harry decided to relax a bit. It was also late enough that most of the lights in the neighbourhood were off.
He eventually got off the roof when he applied the same principles of conjuring fire and performing a simple spin. When he successfully got off the roof, he pictured his little cupboard under the stairs at the Dursleys and spun. He shook off the queasy sensation and was greeted by Zaliss who didn't look too surprised by Harry's appearance.
Harry had learned how to Apparate consciously.
Harry soon found himself enjoying the merits of apparition as long as he managed to keep out of sight from his relatives and other people around him. He found himself visiting the local library very often, especially during the days where he was sentenced to the cupboard. He read voraciously and indiscriminately. He read books on artistic styles, politics, science and etcetera. He never bothered borrowing books because he didn't want anyone to recognize him and also, his uncle would probably burn them and he would have to pay for them.
He discovered that he could collect spare change from the streets by summoning money from hidden places in the streets. Summoning things was another skill that Harry had acquired sometime after his roof incident. He was careful to perform this bit of magic away from prying eyes. It was also nice not having to starve all the time.
He bought a hot dog from a vendor at the corner of the street and savoured it. This was followed by a quick trip to the local ice cream shop and an apparate back to his home-sweet-cupboard where Zaliss waited for him.
The cupboard was illuminated with three candles. A squat red one, a thin green one and a white one located in strategic places for optimal lighting. Harry had bought the candles using his newly acquired stash of money. Zaliss had gone out hunting for meat and Harry had pulled out a bag of crisps and a banana from his secret storage. Harry no longer ate the scraps that Petunia left for him every day since his scheme with summoning money was surprisingly profitable. It was amazing how much money was lost out on the streets. He had also managed to learn how to clean and dry money by magic since some of the money he summoned was not always in pristine condition. The latter was perfect for rainy and snowy days.
It was Christmas, which was why Harry had his three particular candles. It was in Harry's opinion, the best Christmas he has ever had up to date. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley had gone off visiting Aunt Marge for two days and he had the house to himself. Of course, they had locked the cupboard before they left but thanks to Harry's newfound skills, he had taken a shower, made a rich English breakfast from groceries he had bought in anticipation for these two days. He was always careful to tidy things up so that they would have no suspicion when they came back.
He had spent the afternoon watching the telly, playing games on Dudley's new computer and sketching at the dining table. Zaliss took the advantage to explore the house, looking for new hidey-holes and nooks.
He returned to the cupboard at night to practice his skills with Zaliss as his lone audience member. Today, he practiced immersing his arms in the silver fire with care because slips in concentration could lead to burns. This was a discovery from a previous mishap. His goal was to see if he could immerse his whole body in flames without damage.
Of course, Harry and Zaliss were safely locked up in the cupboard two days later when his relatives came home, no more the wiser to Harry's activities.
Harry concentrated on the flow of energy fuelling the orb of flames in front of him. He had sculpted the flames in a perfect sphere and was testing his levels of endurance. He felt a constant stream of energy from both of his palms. Out of curiosity, Harry traced the energy radiating from his palms to his wrists, up his arms, to his shoulders and into some part deep within him. His orb of fire burst and vanished as he gasped. He had found a large reservoir of magical energy within him.
It seemed to be endless and expansive, this sea of energy within him. He wondered if there were other pathways that this energy could be channeled through, besides his hands. He took a deep breath and focused on the core of his magic and visualized it going downwards, to his thighs, through his legs and to his feet. The same silver flames flared from the tips of toes.
"Wow," Harry mused, "I can cast magic with my feet!"
:Ah. Master Harry has grown much in magical strength.: Zaliss observed as he was curled up beside the sink as Harry showed his familiar how he could wash the dishes without manual labour.
It had just occurred to Harry that he could use his cleaning magic on the dishes as well as the money he collected out on the streets. Of course, this luxury could only be employed when the Dursleys were out; in this case, out buying Dudley a new computer after a recent temper tantrum resulting in his old, or rather his month old computer being tossed out the window.
Of course, sustaining the cleaning magic was tiring since Harry had to use his energies to scrape the plates of food particles and to get the water and soap to rinse the plates. Halfway through process, Harry halted his magic and returned to washing by hand.
Harry did realize that his magic reserves were growing with frequent use.
Harry found himself reading books on concentration and meditation in the library after school. He had a feeling that meditation would go a long way in improving his skills. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon no longer bothered Harry too much ever since he came home every from school and immediately headed for his cupboard. He had overheard them talking a few days ago that the boy had finally learned his place as a freak. This comment would have irked Harry in his younger days, but the repeated beatings, insults and pain that he had endured had effectively stunted any emotion the younger Harry had felt.
Harry sometimes wondered what it would be like to feel emotion. Magic and art were the only two things that were able to elevate has spirits and make him feel alive. In fact, Harry had bought a beautiful silver knife a year ago and would at least once a month cut to see the crimson liquid flow. It was a reminder that he was alive.
As soon as he reached his cupboard, he visualized the alleyway next to the library and would apparate behind the dustbins which was the usual route he would take. He would do his homework and read until the library closed at six before apparating back. Usually, Petunia had finished making dinner by then and Harry would get leftovers and wash the dishes. Dinner was the only meal of the day that Petunia cooked. Harry was responsible for breakfast and lunch.
After the dishes, Harry went back to his cupboard, and lit his candles with a subtle flick of his index finger. Zaliss wasn't there, so Harry sat down, cross-legged, closed his eyes and meditated. He found himself focusing on his magic core and found himself exploring the reservoir. Suddenly he gasped when he felt a tinge of darkness at one edge of the core. Touching the dark thing polluting his core with his mind caused him to shiver uncontrollably and made him feel nauseous.
"What the bloody hell was that," Harry swore to himself, teeth still chattering, struggling not to vomit.