Chapter 1 - The Cupboard

Age 4

Number four Privet Drive was a very boring house on a very boring street perfect for very boring people. The inhabitants liked to think they were normal and, compared to the rest of the inhabitants of the rather bland street, they were. However they had a problem. There was one individual living in their house that refused to conform to their idea of what normal meant. A small boy that was nearly at school age and that was their problem. How could they hide him now?

"We have to send him to school Vernon. What will the neighbours think if they see him around during the weekday?"

Vernon Dursley just snorted. He didn't like the idea but he hadn't been able to think of any alternative. Why he hadn't dumped the boy at an orphanage first chance he had he couldn't understand. He had considered it many times since but, each time he had gone to look in the phonebook for orphanages, he'd been distracted by something else that had needed doing. This just added to his frustration.

His wife continued, "I'll pick up some notebooks at the seconds shop for the boy. We got plenty of other things that Dudders has worn out that he can use."

Vernon grunted. He decided it was best just to let Petunia deal with it, as long as the boy didn't end up costing him much it wasn't worth the effort to worry about it.

Meanwhile, the boy in question sat inside the cupboard under the stairs and played with some old tin soldiers. Back and forth he marched them as he listened to the faint sounds of battle from a war movie playing on the TV. He wished so much that he could see the movie, but the cupboard, the hall and the lounge room doors were all between him and it.

A moment of unusually loud and raucous laughter from his cousin Dudley and his friends drowned out the gunfire and screams of the dying and brought a frown to his face. Harry swiped his hand through the air and all the little soldiers fell over as if he had touched them.

'Harry...' The faint whisper contained the hint of chastisement.

"But it's not fair. You said you could have fun when you were five." Harry's whine was as quiet as he could manage but it still was audible unlike the other voice. A voice only he could hear.

'And what have I told you about things being fair?'

"Nothing is fair. If the sit... sit you.. sit you shun looks fair it means you don't understand it?"

'Situation. But yes, that's it. Well done Harry.'

Harry smiled in the near darkness. His Aunt and Uncle never said anything like that. It was nice to have someone that said pleasant things to him. He felt that there was once someone else that said nice things to him but he couldn't really remember that. The voice said he used to have people that loved him but wouldn't tell him much about them. Always said he would tell him more as he grew up and could understand it better. Still he was glad to have his one friend even though he did so wish he could see him.

"Thanks Tom. Can you tell me another story of Hogwarts?"

'Okay Harry, but first put the soldiers away... no, not like that, do it without touching them.'

So after Harry Potter concentrated and with a raised hand sent the little soldiers floating up to their hiding place, the quiet voice entertained him with tales of his adventures and lessons at Hogwarts.


Age 6

If anyone had seen what food his relatives let him eat, they would wonder how Harry could look so well fed. He was below average in height but had more muscle definition than is usual for a boy of his age. His tanned skin gave evidence that he spent a lot of time outside. His clothes looked a little rough and unusual though they fitted well enough. Looking closely, people could see that they had been resized and patched a great many times.

Each day, Harry would awake as the sun rose and the first glimpses of its light entered the hall and were visible through the crack in the cupboard door. He would next think to himself "Good morning Tom."

And the reply would come just as unheard to anyone else, 'Good morning Harry.'

Harry would open his cupboard, unlocking the unseen exterior locks with a wave of his hand and a thought. Quietly crawling out, he would enter the kitchen and prepare himself some toast, fruit and milk for breakfast. Some mornings Tom would quiz him as he ate, but usually the voice was silent. After breakfast he would quietly use the downstairs toilet, before crawling back into his cupboard to study his school books until his aunt came down to wake him. Then he would make them a rather unhealthy breakfast. If Harry was lucky, he would get a piece of toast or a single pancake but he didn't rightly care if he missed out.

He had long learned that doing his chores half heartedly was likely to end up with him missing meals, so he always made sure to eat enough whilst the Dursleys slept.

This morning started off no different. He had just finished reviewing the maths homework due Monday when Aunt Petunia descended the stairs – she at least didn't weigh as much as a hippo or purposefully stomp on each stair so no dust or spiders were dislodged. As she passed the cupboard she unlocked it, slapped the door and called out in her shrill voice "Wake up, boy. Stop dawdling, Dudley wants pancakes today."

'Dudley is well on his way to becoming a giant Pancake.'

Allowing himself a quick grin he called out in a carefully neutral voice, "Coming, Aunt Petunia."

Tom was always offering up little comments to cheer Harry up. Even though Harry was now quite practiced in keeping his emotions well concealed Tom still occasionally managed to get him to snigger or smile at inappropriate times. To Harry it was a fun game.

Vernon was next up, banging on Dudley's door and bellowing some inane saying about early birds before clomping his way down the stairs to sit heavily at the table. "Boy, get me the paper!"

Harry frowned at the half cooked pancake in front of him. If he finished cooking the pancake. Uncle Vernon would get angry for not doing what he was told quickly enough and he'd probably end up back in the cupboard for the rest of the day. Not how he wanted to spend such a nice day. However if he got the newspaper from the front yard right now, the pancake would burn and Aunt Petunia would be upset and would likely be the one to send him to the cupboard.

'Those are not your only two options. You could also cast the stasis spell.'

"But they might catch me doing magic..."

'True, but there is often some element of risk with every choice.'

"So which should I do?"

'That is your decision, but I do recommend you decide quickly.'

Harry took a deep breath and called out, "Okay, Uncle Vernon." He turned down the heat and as he turned towards the hall he made sure to have his back blocking the view from the dining area where his Uncle, Aunt and Cousin sat. He made a couple of very quick movements with his right hand, a circular wave and a gentle pat as he whispered the incantation.

He strode quickly into the hall and broke into a quiet sprint as soon as he was out of sight of the dining room. Of course the paper was in the middle of the rose bush again and, since there were neighbours around, he was forced to half climb into the bush to retrieve the rolled up paper. Still a few scratches were nothing if he could get away from the house today.

As he rushed to the table dropping off the paper next to Uncle Vernon's cup of thick black coffee his eyes happened to catch Dudley's. Instantly Harry was on the alert. Dudley was planning something.

'Look deeper, Harry.'

Harry focused and suddenly the world seemed first freeze then fade away. Dudley's thoughts were a mess, everything blurry and overlapping but there in the middle was a clear image of Harry tripping over Dudley's foot and Dudley pouring his glass of coke over Harry's head.

He withdrew and the world re-appeared and begun moving again. Harry skidded to a halt. Aunt Petunia's head rose up, suspicion evident in her eyes. Harry, thinking quickly, went around the other side of the table and picked up a few empty plates and took them into the Kitchen. "Hurry up boy. Don't you dare let any of that mixture burn."

A non-verbal finite and his stasis spell was gone. The pancake was saved.

'Well done Harry. You handled that masterfully.'

Harry wiped the smile from his face before serving the last pancakes. Aunt Petunia examined them carefully, frowning when she found nothing to complain about. She served out a few more to Dudley and Vernon before shoving the plate now holding just the smallest towards Harry, "That's yours, boy. Clean up and get out of here."

Uncle Vernon's head rose up at that and he was about to speak when Aunt Petunia explained, "Mrs Robert is coming over for lunch and I don't want the boy anywhere near."

"Right. You heard that, boy. Make yourself scarce and I'd better not see you anywhere near till dinner time, is that clear?"

Harry nodded and made sure his face showed no joy as cleaned up. He had cast his first spell in the presence of his relatives and they hadn't noticed.

An hour after leaving No. 4 Privet Drive, Harry was sitting cross legged in a hollow he had made amongst a few large bushes bordering the stream. His notice-me-not was very weak but since he was also well hidden he and Tom both thought it'd be good enough.

He had used some meditation techniques to calm his nerves. He suspected that the story he was going to learn was not going to be a happy one.

As always Tom spoke softly and clearly in his mind, though this time Harry picked up the very faint feeling of regret. It had taken Harry a long time to learn how to pick up on any emotion in Tom's voice, it was always so faint.

'Okay Harry. As I promised, it's time to fill in the gaps in the stories I have told you over the past few years. I am sorry that it is not a happy story for either of us.

I've already told you of how I, known then as Tom Riddle, grew up in an Orphanage and how until I went to Hogwarts I never knew real happiness. How, each time they sent me back there, I felt more and more betrayed by the magical world.

I have also told you of the individual who called himself Lord Voldemort and waged a war of terror on the wizarding world until the night he attacked you and was badly wounded.

I am sure you already suspect, but I am now going to confirm that Tom Riddle and Lord Voldemort were one and the same and that I am a part of that same soul. The person that attacked you as a baby and killed your parents.

I am sorry Harry. I cannot excuse what my past self did. It was wrong and it was only after my soul split that last time that I was able to understand that.'

Tom's voice went quiet as he let Harry absorb his words for a few minutes before continuing.

'Now, I will tell you more about what I think happened when Lord Voldemort attacked you. Your parents had unknowingly given you a form of positive magical protection through their love and subsequent self sacrifice. I believe that such magic is a form of magical blessing and would be powerful enough to temporarily protect a young child from mundane dangers such as a fire, wild beast or accident. Maybe even help a lost baby be found. You could label it love, light or positive magic.

However I don't think that such a magic shield can be a potent defence against wilful damage or magical threats, otherwise your circumstances wouldn't have been so unique. However another factor was at play by that time. Lord Voldemort had attempted time and time again to build his strength and ensure his immortality by the darkest of spells and rituals. The worst of these made him much less than human and weakened his defences against exactly that type of magic that was protecting you.

Now it gets even more confusing.

When Lord Voldemort used a killing curse fuelled by pure hate and fear, I believe it was that shield of positive magic that caused it to fail so spectacularly. The remaining part of Lord Voldemort's soul was very nearly destroyed at that time and he was only able to survive by redirecting most of the magical backlash into his physical body and Armando Dippet's silver walking stick, destroying them both in the process.

At the same time Lord Voldemort was fighting for his very existence, I was created. The fragment of soul that I am was already mostly divided from his soul through various dark rituals. I was the last remnant of Lord Voldemort's humanity and he wished to shed that and use me as one more anchor to this realm. The walking stick was supposed to be my home for the rest of eternity. However with the walking stick destroyed, it seemed that the ritual took hold of the next most suitable vessel and pushed me into it. You were that vessel, Harry.

Somewhere, Lord Voldemort's soul remains, likely still damaged but able to slowly rebuild itself and regain his magic. Faster, if he can find a willing magical host and allies. When he is strong enough he will return, he will seek dominance, and he will try to finish what he started.'

Harry's was having trouble taking it all in but he understood that well enough, "He will kill me?"

'No Harry, he will try to kill you. But you have advantages he knows not. For one thing, he won't believe that part of his soul could exist within you, and for any other fragment that would be true. But I am unlike the others and I will help you. I have only two desires now and they are to make amends for what I have done and to finally move on. I will teach you how to free all of us fragments of our bindings so that together with Lord Voldemort's soul we will depart. The others will not go willingly but you are strong Harry, and you will have friends. I know you may not believe me, but when you get to Hogwarts it will be different there. Even I, in my younger years at Hogwarts, had friends. It was only by the third year that there was no longer any that I would call friend, just followers. That was when he stopped being Tom Riddle and started becoming Lord Voldemort in his own mind.

Those were the last secrets I have kept from you, Harry. So, as promised, apart from spells that you are either not ready for or that no one should know, I will keep nothing from you. You may now ask any questions that you wish and I will do my best to answer honestly.'

Another long pause before Harry asked in a whisper, "I think I understand but why did he kill my parents?"

'He had heard of a prophecy about one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaching. Presuming that the Dark Lord mentioned was himself, he took the rest of what he heard to indicate yourself and decided to do his best to make sure the prophecy failed. Of course, as with most prophecies, putting stock in them gives them power and it was his own actions that led to his downfall.

Your parents, their friends and their allies learnt he was looking for you and did their best to protect you. Unfortunately, the one they entrusted with the secret to their most powerful protection was weak willed and easily swayed with promises of power. Your parents died because they loved and wanted to protect you. However unlike the many tens of thousand others that died in those dark years your parents' death was not in vain, and I am sure that they, wherever they are now, are happy that you lived.'

Harry thought long and hard before saying anything more, "Thank you, Tom, for telling me."

'You are welcome, Harry.'

"So, can you tell me about the bits of soul again?"

Update 13 July: Many thanks to Aletheya for proofreading this chapter and helping me overcome my fear of comma's.