"Is that him?"
"Could it be; oh Merlin!"
"I can't see him!"
Was the main gist in the fervent whispers that followed Neville Longbotton; the acclaimed Boy-Who-Lived. He held himself with a certain confidence, strutting on the olden cobblestones of Diagon Alley. Kids of all ages looked upon him with hungry eyes, each trying to catch a glance of the fabled boy that had been their hero since most of them could remember.
Normally, Neville wouldn't be out and about in public unless it had something to do with the media. His grandmother, Augusta Longbottom, had been setting such events up since he was a mere six-years-old. For countless hours, his grandmother drilled in him a warped tale of the night the Dark Lord had fallen, and from that tale he told the mass public.
Of course, Neville couldn't hope to recant the events that transpired – he rubbed at T-shaped scar hidden under the layers of robes he wore. His Gran had told him, time and time again that was where the Dark Lord shot, and it rebounded killing the greatest evil of the century. Sometimes, Neville dared to transverse down the rocky pathways in his mind. His skin prickled like a thousand tiny needles poking at his skin; sometimes… he doubted his personal epic. Did he really kill the Dark Lord?
"Neville!" barked his gran, jolting him from his thoughts. He ran straight into his grandmother's imposing form. He bounced back, rubbing his pudgy nose. "Neville, stop dawdling, you must put up a front in public! You are the example." She sniffed at him, only choosing to walk into the now noticed dilapidated Ollivander's when he bit out a meager;
He proceeded in her footsteps inside Ollivander's. The wand store was one that every kid in Great Britain stopped by before they headed to the great wizarding school of Hogwarts Witchcraft and Wizardry. Inside, he felt a peculiar chill in his innards, but it was gone before he had a chance to question it. His grandmother sat in the one wooden rickety chair, zapping his behind to move him along to the raised pedestal.
"Ah, so, you're the hero everyone's been chattering about in these parts," said a mystic voice. Neville fought to control his bodily functions and not tense up. An elderly man with watery light grey hues came from the shadows of the shop. He sent Neville a smile that seemed to hold many untold secrets before shifting his glance to his grandmother.
"Dear Augusta, it's been quite a while since I last bonded you with your wand, laurel wood, core of dragon heartstring, strong and unyielding, if I remember correctly. I presume it still works?" the strange man said with a hint of amusement, raising a fuzzy white eyebrow.
"Just try and win her allegiance, Ollivander," smirked his grandmother. She whipped out the buttercup tinted wand from her sleeve holster, a spark of deadly lightning lit from the tip.
Ollivander chuckled although it sounded more like a drawn-out wheeze like those muggle toys made when their squeaker was broken. He regained his composure, poking and prodding at Neville asking him tons of miscellaneous questions. At long last, he asked a question that he could actually answer. "Which arm is your wand arm?"
"L-left," Neville stuttered, detecting his grandmother's vicious snort. She'd never liked that he was left-handed, she came from a time where left-handers were a sign of a Dark wizard, or one who would eventually dabble become believer in the dark arts. He held out his left arm shyly for Ollivander to measure.
"Remarkable, Mr. Longbottom," said Ollivander. Neville blushed. Imagine that; his left hand remarkable.
"Stop indulging the boy," admonished his grandmother. "Nothing but trouble has come from a left-handed wizard!" And just like Neville plummeted down to an all-time low. His grandmother never approved of anything he did lest it had to do with Boy-Who-Lived business.
"Maybe," hummed Ollivander boosting Neville's feelings of inferiority further. "However, amazing people have also come out… like Godric of Gryffindor or the great Merlin."
His grandmother clearly showed her thoughts on the matter if her harrumphs were anything to go by. Neville, meanwhile, swelled in happiness. Ollivander disappeared back into the shadows of his shop, coming back out with his arms laden with dusty old boxes. He summoned a table, placing all the boxes onto the solid service; the tops of the containers flew off revealing shiny multicolored wands.
Ollivander pointed a black wand to his farthest right. "Go on, my boy. Just wave it around," he wheedled. Neville hesitantly picked it up, waving it as Ollivander said, only for the wand to grow unbearably hot. He dropped it with a yelp, apologizing over and over again. "Try again," Ollivander pointed to a stark white one. He waved it, only for a light bulb to blow out. The pudgy boy set it down back in its spot.
"No sad faces, Longbottom. Wands are temperamental beings that choose the wizard!" Ollivander crowed. "Choose another!" Neville tentatively tried a lustrous, tall, and thin brown one. A tingle shot up his arm, he waved it around and created a flurry of glowing lights, but Neville felt like it didn't belong to him. He felt a connection, but it wasn't a profound or special one; he set it down.
Next to the brown one sat a much smaller floral pink wand cushioned around pink petals of the cherry blossom tree. His fingers only skimmed the wand, the effect being almost immediate. He picked it up with more confidence, a charm falling from his lips, "Flora," he said with vigor. Beautiful, colorful vibrant flowers sprouted from the dusty shop floors— warmth cocooned him.
"Fantastic!" said Ollivander. His grey eyes misty. "Cherry wood with a core of dragon heartstring, 9 1/2 inches." He offered no more moving passed the table to the front desk. His grandmother grabbed him by the shoulder, her sharp fingernails digging into his skin. She marched up to the register, fishing out the money from her purse.
His grandmother was angry. He could already read the signs on her pinched face, her manicured eyebrows almost, but not quite knitting together, and her aquamarine irises a tumultuous arctic blue. His grandmother would not express her displeasure until they arrived in the privacy of the Longbottom Manor.
Ollivander handed Neville his wand and a wand holster (his grandmother paid an extra five sickles for it). "I hope to see you again, Mr. Longbottom. Have a nice day."
"Thank you," Neville returned meekly. His grandmother led him outside and apparated them to the Longbottom Manor.
Once at home, his grandmother barely glanced at him. She went down their main hallway, her walk rigid and tight, most likely on her way to the floo, she had to fabricate a wondrous story for the press that he had chosen his wand and gotten his school supplies, he was eager for Hogwarts. Neville stared after her sadly, waving off all the bustling house-elves that surrounded him. He hoped that when he finally got to Hogwarts he'd someone end up as a regular boy in his grandmother's eyes. Perhaps, she'd finally acknowledge him for something else other than his title.
Harry blew a piece of black hair from his face, pouting petulantly. He walked along the cracked sidewalks of Greater New York with Peter Parker at his side. The eleven-year-olds wore the uniform of the Avenger Academy: a pair of brown slacks, a white t-shirt with the Avenger logo and a class hoodie or coat. The slacks were seen as optional depending on what season it was. Both Peter and Harry knew they looked stupid in these outfits, but it was a requirement they both had to follow especially since they were doing Outside Citizen Aid.
Harry thought that meant they'd see all sorts of crimes and whatnots, and he would have to stop all the bad guys and be hailed as some type of hero. He was quickly disillusioned. Nothing happened on their patrol duty. The worse they had to deal was two teenaged guys robbing a convenience store with two fake guns. He sucked in a breath.
"Cheer up, Harry," Peter said, trying to be optimistic. Harry glared at the mini-hero that reminded him of Captain America. He had a feeling the guy would be great with kids one day, and girls would flock to him like nobody's business. "At least we don't have to deal with Professor X's tactic-math class," he said happily.
Despite himself, Harry perked up a little. Peter was right. No homework from Professor X's meant no agonizing stress over five problems that took three hours to do. It also meant no brush-up quiz the next time he had the class. Harry added a spring into his step. "I guess—," he started to say only for it to die in his throat.
Up ahead he saw a group of guys and girls, most likely middle or early high school students, were in a taut circle. Harry could only spot a slim crack in crowd, from the crack he saw a young boy lying on the ground, curled up in a fetal position, rocks and other items thrown at him. It wasn't hard to deduce what was going on, they were beating the boy up, and no one moved to help him.
Red spectacled his vision, Harry ran toward the crowd full-force with Peter on his heels. He barreled his way through the circle, finding himself in the middle of the previously rowdy teens. Harry stood in front of bruised boy, his arms stretched out wide. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" his small voice was laced with power. "Tell me," he prompted dangerously, "unless each and every one of you wants to spend a night in prison."
A tall, caramel-skinned boy stepped from the crowd, pushing his glasses up on his acne-riddled nose. "You can't do that!" he said. "Only the police can, and you're nothing but a kid."
Harry grinned benignly at him although his glare spelt pain. "Step back in line. That's not the answer I want. Anyone else willingly to take a shot before you all go downtown?"
This time a girl stepped forward, a bored look painted on her milky face. She smacked her gum loudly, crossing her arms. "The unnatural faggot turned our football captain gay," she sneered. The crowd followed suit, once again becoming throwing slurs and rocks at the poor boy. The boy on the ground curled up even further. Harry's anger grew; he was like a bubbling volcano just waiting to explode. He waved a hand over the boy, creating an invisible shield over him to protect him from the items, and to isolate him from the jeers mindlessly given.
"He turned your football captain gay?" Harry repeated incredulous. His magic crackled around him, yearning to be free and show these kids a lesson but he stopped. It wasn't his place. "Peter," he said through gritted teeth. "Tie the group of assholes up. We'll call the school to get further instructions."
The group of kids paled, beginning to run away, but Peter's web-shooters were too fast. In a mere minute, fifteen students were glued to the closest wall, a solid white splattered across through their lips. Seeing the problem temporarily solved, Harry crouched down to inspect the boy. The shield he placed, disappearing. He took care to remember personal boundaries as he approached him inch by inch.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Harry said softly, holding up his hands. He tried to keep his temper in check when he saw the dirty jockstrap used as a gag, the puddle of mysterious liquid surrounding the guy's black hair and the black spot in the front of the guy's jeans. Not to mention, he couldn't even protect himself with arms and legs bound.
Just what in the Sam's heck were the numbskulls trying to accomplish? He had half a mind to do the same to the boy's bullies. The boy certainly deserved retribution. He breathed through his nose, muttering a rudimentary releasing spell. The boy gasped, scrambling away from his attachments, keeping his stare on Harry.
"What do you want with me?" the boy fired off, suspicious.
"Nothing," Harry said. "Are you okay?"
The boy scooted back, shaking his head. Harry moved in closer, spotting the bruises on the boy's pale skin and the cuts on his lips and forehead. He needed medical attention right away. Wait, Harry took that back. The guy was healing rapidly right before his eyes, and exuding a lot of magical power, a little bit more than he, actually.
The boy was a mutant like he.
"Who are you?" Harry asked.
"Billy," he said, backing up another three inches.
Harry nodded. "I'm Harry," he said, whistling afterward. He was calling his broomstick, Rocket. Hopefully within the next five minutes before he and Peter were due to leave to continue their patrol duty, they were able to convince the boy to join the Academy, or at the very least train with them. Harry's gut twisted, he knew that Billy was integral to the future. He just wasn't sure how.
Harry's thirteen when he starts to dream of a big black dog and those shadowy monsters from his childhood that sucked and sucked all of the possible joy from a person. He dreamed of a sprawling castle filled with ghosts and jovial kids. He dreamed of a man with a long, long bone-white beard and twinkling blue eyes.
He also dreamed of a terribly handsome, but lonely boy with dark brown hair and intelligent brown eyes. Through his dreams he can feel the loneliness powering the darkness within the boy to become something dark, to become something feared; to be someone.
But, behind that boy, Harry can see a shadow of a smile, a glimmer of emerald green and a shimmer of winter blue.
At thirteen Harry dreamed, and from his dream he awoke with a hand full of mistletoe.