Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling has sole ownership of Harry Potter, despite my best efforts. All I own is the plot.

Prologue

She flits through the darkness on fleeting toes, jumping from one shadow to another like a child in the rain.

However, there are no knights to lay their cloaks upon the puddles so she could simply walk across sedately. She knows that. She has accepted that long ago. She has no use for knights and cloaks, anyway.

She had a cloak once.

It was a nice cloak, she supposed. It looked rather plain, and smelt rather funny too, but it had its uses.

She had a cloak once. She had to give it away.

If only she could remember why.

She was fractured, here, there, everywhere at once. She had long since given up trying to keep track of who she was, and only cared about what she had to do. It was so hard to keep track, anyway.

And so she was.

Just was.

She had been whole once. Long, long ago, she had been whole.

All she remembered of that time was a man with a scythe who ate children, fields full of golden crops, and happiness.

She wished she knew what happiness was.

All she could remember now was jumping through the shadows, leaping upon the suspecting and unsuspecting.

There was one incident that stood out, though.

It was a Friday. She was at a small, sleepy village, waiting to strike.

She went about her task as usual. For a brief second, she felt a tug at her heart as she saw the unmoving body of the young man on the floor, his hazel eyes dull behind his glasses.

She gently picked him up, and was gone. At the same time, she was ascending the stairs to the room above.

Her heart twisted as she saw the scene before her, the fire-haired woman desperately trying to shield her baby from the splinter-soul wizard before her.

She shook her head. What was a heart?

And then she was gone with the redhead, who felt strangely familiar; and she was waiting for the snake-man to strike. He raised his wand, and spoke the words which opened the doors to her realm...

She reached out for the baby...

And the world fractured, dissolving into chaos. Everything vanished into the non-being, while the non-being came into existence. Magic spread her arms, and she was timeless, despite being old, so old. Windows shattered, vines crept up the wall, roses burst into bloom and grass grew beneath her feet. She swore a fish swam by her through the air. Its name was Nemo.

And she reached forward, because she had to find nobody. But then her world shattered, and then rearranged itself, shattered, and then rearranged itself, shattered, and then rearranged itself...

It was a Friday. She was at a small, sleepy village, waiting to strike.

She went about her task as usual. For a brief second, she felt a tug at her heart as she saw the unmoving body of the young man on the floor, his hazel eyes dull behind his glasses.

She gently picked him up, and was gone. At the same time, she was ascending the stairs to the room above.

Her heart twisted as she saw the scene before her, the fire-haired woman desperately trying to shield her baby from the splinter-soul wizard before her.

She shook her head. What was a heart?

And then she was gone with the redhead, who felt strangely familiar; and she was waiting for the snake-man to strike. He raised his wand, and spoke the words which opened the doors to her realm...

She reached out for the baby...

And the world fractured, dissolving into chaos. Everything vanished into the non-being, while the non-being came into existence. Magic spread her arms, and she was timeless, despite being old, so old. Windows shattered, vines crept up the wall, roses burst into bloom and grass grew beneath her feet. She swore a fish swam by her through the air. Its name was Nemo.

And she reached forward, because she had to find nobody. But then her world shattered, and then rearranged itself, shattered, and then rearranged itself, shattered, and then rearranged itself...

It was a Friday. She was at a small, sleepy village, waiting to strike.

It was several Fridays before she realized that something was terribly wrong.

October 31st, 1981. It was a Friday.

She collected the redhead, who gave her a strange sense of Déjà vu. She shook her head again.

Such a strange notion, Déjà vu. It gave her pause for a second.

A second was all it took for a legend to be born.

The curse sailed out before she could reach for the baby. And the world fractured, dissolving into chaos. Everything vanished into the non-being, while the non-being came into existence. Magic spread her arms, and she was timeless, despite being old, so old. Windows shattered, vines crept up the wall, roses burst into bloom and grass grew beneath her feet. She swore a fish swam by her through the air. Its name was Nemo.

And Nemo winked at her, before he swam into the baby's forehead.

She giggled. There was Nobody living in the child's head. A hero, who lived long ago, would like the joke.

If only she could remember his name.

And there was lightning everywhere, in the sky outside, in the rebounding curse, on the child's forehead.

She reached out for the snake-man...

And found nothing.

Her eyes narrowed as she recognized old magic. Foolish magic.

She turned around, but Magic was already gone. Her laughter remained though, dark and haunting.

Taunting, taunting her.

She drew herself up to full height. Two brothers, joined by Destiny, who'd cheated her.

It reminded her of brothers from long ago, and a bridge over a river. Was it named Kwai?

Was it the river Kwai that mattered, or the three brothers?

The three brothers, the third brother...

She shivered, suddenly wishing she had her old cloak.

Somebody was coming. She jerked her head up, shaking off the feeling that the baby was somehow looking at her. She gave it a long, searching look, and something within her stirred.

She would be keeping an eye on this boy.


She waited atop a rooftop, swinging her legs and enjoying the sight of the city suburbs sprawling around her.

She rarely found the time to relax. She closed her eyes for a second, letting the wind blow through her hair.

She opened her eyes. Old men lay on hospital beds before her, waiting for her to come restore their youth.

She blinked. A solitary baby wailing, waiting for her to come sooth it.

Blink. An old lady crossing the street.

Blink. Ah. She was back where she had started.

Blink. Finally, she was on the rooftop again. It was rare for her to be where she did not need to be, but something was about to happen.

Besides, she was everywhere. And nowhere.

After all, seeing is believing.

A second...then another...And then –

Crack!

A small child appeared on the rooftop, his emerald eyes wild. He looked around, chest heaving, before his eyes widened in disbelief. He looked down and gave a gasp, before sitting down on the roof heavily; he was clearly in shock.

Next to him, the image of a pale old man appeared.

A smile graced the curve of her cherry lips.

Well, this should be interesting.


Of all the places Harry Potter thought he would end up in his career as a student, he had never counted on the school roof.

Yet here he was, defying all logic, sitting bang on the middle of it.

What was going on?

He had the strangest feeling it was to do with a fish called Nemo.

He yelped as an old man suddenly appeared next to him.

The man looked pale, like a shade, a fragment of a dream. He looked quite handsome despite his old age, and his eyes were deep wellsprings of power and knowledge.

"Harry Potter," he said in a whisper, his quiet voice sending chills down Harry's spines.

"Who are you?!" demanded Harry, putting on a brave front despite not feeling very brave.

The old man sighed, a nostalgic look appearing on his face, as it normally did on the faces of old men.

"Tom Riddle," he finally said, "I've been many things in my life, but Tom Riddle sums it all up."

Harry relaxed slightly. How dangerous could a man be with as common a name as Tom? The villains in Dudley's television all had exotic names like Sauron or Darth Vader. Tom Riddle didn't sound like an evil man.

The old man smiled gently, like he knew what Harry was thinking. Harry had a niggling feeling he did.

"Harry Potter," said the old man again, smiling. "You're a wizard."

I'm a what? Harry backed away quickly, clearly this man was crazy. What was he, anyway? He had a feeling it would be rude to ask.

"I'm a spirit, and you're a wizard," said Tom Riddle good-naturedly, lifting his arms up and stretching tightly. "Though I wasn't always a spirit, and you weren't always a wizard."

"What do you mean?" asked Harry, thoroughly confused.

"Well, who were you before I told you that you were a wizard?"

"Harry," said Harry, as if he was stating the obvious. "I wa- am Harry. Just Harry."

"Well, just Harry, do Harrys normally turn their teacher's hair blue, or teleport to the top of their school roofs?"

Harry hesitated. There was a Harry on TV who did that, but his speciality was escaping from locks and chains.

"I could help you escape from your chains, you know?" mused the old man, "it would be the least I could do before I left."

"Left?" asked Harry, now utterly bamboozled. This man – spirit – had appeared out of nowhere, told him he was a wizard (which made frightening sense). "What do you mean?"

It was not so much 'What do you mean by left?' or 'What do you mean by chains?' but 'What the hell do you mean?!'

"The Dursleys," began the old man slowly, "don't like magic."

Harry had to agree with the strange old man.

"And you...are a wizard."

Harry didn't really agree with this, but he nodded anyway. The old man chuckled.

"So why go home to them?"

Harry was stunned. Run away from the Dursleys?

"I'm a child!" he protested. I'm a child, how on earth do you expect me to survive in the big bad world?!

The old man smiled wider. "And the world is truly magical to the young and the innocent."

Was this man seriously suggesting he run away?

"You could do it, you know. You would survive, too."

"How do you know?" enquired the little boy suspiciously.

The next question caught him off guard. "If you could see Death, what would it be like?"

He was shocked. The old man understood, and smiled. Death is a foreign concept to children, after all. Harry couldn't visualise Death, now or in the future at all.

So he turned left and laughed lightly, like he was sharing a small joke with somebody. "I suppose you aren't ready," he said mysteriously, turning back. "For now, suffice to say, a little birdie told me."

Birds can't talk.

"No, they can't." Riddle was dead serious. "Not beyond the occasional mimicry, no."

"Are you reading my mind?" asked Harry, suspicious again.

"Naturally," said the Riddle, like there was nothing wrong with reading minds. "I've been part of your mind for so long."

"Then why am I seeing you just now?" asked Harry, a bit miffed.

His question gave the man some pause. "The mind of a child is a wonderful, pure thing. It makes everything it experiences so much brighter, lighter. I – I was not always like this."

"And it was my mind that changed you?"

Riddle gave a delighted laugh. "Oh, you are a bright one, aren't you? I wish I could stay with you and see how you turned out!"

"You'll really be gone, then?" asked Harry. Despite the sheer madness of it all, a small measure of him found a strange measure of normality in the conversation.

Riddle nodded, the smile still playing on his face. "But I'll leave a bit of me behind for you. After all, you have hosted me for so long, and shown me how beautiful the world can be."

There was a moment's pause, and then Riddle said, "Did you know there's a fish called Nemo you need to find?"

Harry started, the sentence jogging a part of his brain. He blinked rapidly, and suddenly, there was blank space before him where Tom Riddle had been. He was gone.

Had he even been there to begin with?

Harry said the only curse word he knew, and felt the guilty thrill of doing the prohibited.

"Damn."


"Do you think he really won't return home?" asked Death interestedly, as Riddle put his hands in his pocket and walked up to her, whistling a careless tune.

"That's up to him. I helped him all I could in my short time."

"You really didn't tell him much," she replied a bit doubtfully.

"I told him that birds couldn't speak. That should be enough."

Death laughed. Here was a man after her own heart.

It was almost a shame that he would be punished, even after his change. Despite the fact that he wouldn't torment the boy like he could have, his past crimes remained.

So she took him along with her.

And what the hell was a heart anyway?


"Damn." Harry swore again, but this time it was out of desperation. Evening had descended, and no one had come to rescue him yet. He was pretty sure he was in for hefty punishment when he returned to the Dursleys, too.

If he returned to the Dursleys.

An idea, it would be said one day, is like a virus.

Harry was a wizard.

Dursleys hated magic.

It was elementary, really.

He sighed, feeling tired. This had been the most bizarre day of his life, which had been quite unimpressive so far, anyway. To the extent of his knowledge.

But was he really a wizard?

The cold night air blew over the suburbs, and Harry shivered violently. He was sure the November wind wouldn't do him any good.

Closing his eyes, he wished that he could be taken somewhere warmer, anywhere that was not here.

There was a crack, and suddenly Harry found out that he was half-melted ice cream.

That was being pulled through a very thin straw.

He was deposited unceremoniously on a mattress. He lay on it for a good few moments, before he stopped feeling like half-melted ice cream, and more like a boy.

No, more like a wizard. He had no more doubts.

He, Harry Potter, was a seven year old wizard.

Who knew birds couldn't talk, except for a bit of mimicry here and there.


Months passed, and though he wasn't punished, Harry grew increasingly discontent with his life at the Dursleys. He never forgot the encounter on the roof – who would, to be honest?

And soon, Winter fled, reluctantly removing her cloak of white from the world and giving way to gentle Summer. Or was it ruthless?

And as he basked in the warmth of sunlight, Harry Potter was sure of some things.

He was a wizard, though he really couldn't control his magic much.

He really, really wanted to run away from the Dursleys and just...just explore the magical world around him.

And birds couldn't talk, except for a bit of mimicry here and there.

And as he walked home from school, avoiding Dudley and his gang, he kicked a soda can in frustration.

"Birds can't talk," he huffed, "fat lot of good that did. What can? Elephants? Spiders? Snakes?"

"I'd say snakes." A voice behind him laughed, and he whirled around. His eyes widened as he beheld a grey-green grass snake lounging on the garden of Number 7, Privet Drive.

Well, what do you know?


Author's Note: Will be slow updating. This idea has been nagging me for a long, long time.

Now, to the question which will undoubtedly be asked. The pairing is...

Wait for it. Wait for it -

Nah, I won't really tell you. Wait for it.

Or find Nemo. He'll tell you. Nemo literally means "No man", and I think that's an apt description for Harry's Horcrux, don't you?

Intrigued? I'd hope so.