Author's Note: For those who keep an eye on my profile, you will have noted that I mentioned revising the stories I have so I can get a general idea on what I have written, and the progress I have made. While doing this, changes will be made, so it is best to keep an eye on everything. I also mentioned that, to know if I have updated a story, keep an eye on my profile. That is where I'll list the date of revisions, and the chapter revised.
On another note; 'When Darkness Sings' is the main story I will be working on. It was the one I started first, so it is on the top of my list. So this will be the one I will work on the most, and what you are reading now is the revised Chapter One. As always, everyone's input is loved. I honestly find the chapters I have revised to be better, and to flow far smoother than before. I hope you, my faithful readers, like them just as much - if not more.
Without further ado,
Read, Enjoy, and Review!
There were two things in life Hadrian was certain of. As he sat crouched in the shadows under an old tree, thin arms crossed over his knees, he knew it was something that was never going to change. They always reminded him of that.
He despised the Dursleys.
That was the first thing he was sure of. When he saw them, the air turned sour. It turned rotten. It was a sickly green flavor, and smelled just as bad. In the soft light of morning, with the rough bark of a tree against his back, he was able to reflect on the scents of bad colors that came to him when the Dursleys were around him.
He was hungry.
Even his dislike for them could not negate that fact. His stomach curled upon itself, empty, as he watched the mist curl across the ground. He could hear the soft song of the bright green hues of warmth, and smell the scent of health in the soil under him. It was good planting scents, healthy and eager to forge a new path. He liked nice weather.
Hadrian glanced at the house across from him, watching as his aunt, Petunia Dursley, passed in front of a window on the second floor. She vanished out of sight, and he counted the minutes in his head. Three passed when she came back into his sight.
Rising to his feet, Hadrian crossed the yard and entered the house through the back door. He could hear the wood groaning as someone walked down the stairs, and he could smell the faint scents of perfume. Hadrian closed and latched the door to the yard, and stumbled to the counter as Petunia entered the kitchen. He could feel her staring at him, her gaze on his back as he rinsed off his feet.
"Up already, are you?" She pushed a footstool in front of the counters, and Hadrian hopped on it as Petunia opened the refrigerator. He waited as she gathered what was needed for breakfast, and took them from her as she passed them to him. "Cook this here. Don't mess it up."
Hadrian watched as she left, and heard the front door open. She was getting the milk, he knew. A quick glance at the clock, the long and short hand barely past the fifth notch on the clock, confirmed this. It would some time before Vernon woke, he mused as he turned on the stove. A moment passed before his aunt was back in the kitchen, and he watched as she started the coffee.
I'm not old enough to do that. He cocked his head to the side, a light frown marring his brow as he watched her pour the water in the back of the machine. But how old is old enough?
He worked in the quite hours of morning, the scent of breakfast drawling out hungry murmurs from his stomach, as his aunt worked to set the table. The bacon sizzled in the bottom of the pan, the air curling around him with the scent of browned, cooked meat. His stomach grumbled in complaint, but he ignored it.
When the food finished, he set the burners on the lowest notch to keep them warm. A soft smile curled at his mouth as he rocked back on his heels, his hair swaying around his face like a shadowy veil ruffled by a gentle breeze, with a curious gleam to his eyes. Today was a good day. An important day.
Dudley Dursley was starting kindergarten. He was shy of six years, a strong boy with a mop of blond hair. Another glance at the clock hinted he was still sleeping, and would be for another turn of the hands. Hadrian idly wondered when he would turn five. He couldn't quite remember how many turns of the hand it was after his cousin. He was sure it was the day after, though Petunia had, on rare occasions, given him a small cupcake late at night on Dudley's birthday.
He was in the middle of a routine cleaning when he heard it. The heavy steps of his uncle on the floor upstairs, the wood groaning in pain as he waddled down the steps, was a sound he was accustomed to. Hadrian paused with the duster in hand, and his gaze snapped to his aunt. Petunia held his gaze for a moment before hissing, "Into the kitchen. Get the food ready, and unfold his paper."
Hadrian stumbled away from the bookshelf, duster in hand, and darted into the kitchen. He quickly set the table, and placed a glass of orange liquid next to the table. He sat the paper next, flat with the big bold words staring at the ceiling, and moved to the rest of the food just as Petunia and Vernon entered the kitchen.
"Of course I'm fine, Pet." Vernon was saying, a laugh in his voice. "Today is a big day! Thought it best to be awake, you see. The little tyke is getting so big. Can't have the brat messing things up, can we? I won't stand for anything ruining today! Hear that, boy?!"
Shoulders stiff, Hadrian nodded. He knew Vernon was staring at him, dark beady eyes narrowed in concentration. It wasn't long until he heard his cousin's footsteps, heavy but lighter than Vernon's, coming down the stairs.
It was a relief. Hadrian let the breath he held loose, and his shoulders relaxed as he breathed out the tension. He set out a plate for his cousin, and then his aunt. Neither looked at him as he worked, eyes downcast, and then he silently slipped out of the kitchen as they set into their food. He moved to the living room, and swept his gaze across the room with a critical eye.
It was clean. He knelt in a corner, arms looped around his knees, as he rested his check against his legs. His stomach grumbled, limbs quivering, and Hadrian nearly came out of his skin when someone knocked on the door. He blinked, confusion filling him, as he stared at the entrance to the Dursley household.
He rose to his feet, and turned on his heel. Hadrian swept into the kitchen, and grabbed the hem of his aunt's blouse. Petunia's gaze shifted to him, and Hadrian pointed at the door in the living room at the same moment the knock resounded. It was louder than the last, and his aunt's gaze shifted to her husband as she asked, "Are you expecting company, dear?"
Vernon grunted in the negative. Petunia patted her mouth clean before standing, and left the table. Hadrian followed on her heel, keeping slightly behind her as he grasped the couch's cloth surface in small hands, and watched as she opened the door.
He watched with interest as her frame stiffened, and her voice drifted to him as she spoke. "Yes, sir, this is the Dursley household. What can I do for you?"
A moment passed, and then Vernon was standing next to him. Hadrian glanced at him, and was relieved that his gaze was directed forward instead of on him, and the smaller of the two turned his gaze back to the door as Dudley brushed against his side. He listened to the thick silence in the room as his aunt stepped aside, allowing the strangest big person Hadrian had ever laid eyes on to step inside the house, and stared.
The big person was wearing a dress. Hadrian's eyes widened, disbelief surging through him as he shifted from foot-to-foot. Questions overflowed in his mind, but one stuck out above the rest as he watched the big person fold his arms inside the billowing sleeves of his dress.
What sort of big person wears a dress when they're not a girl?
Hadrian saw this big person was an old man, one which dipped his head in greeting as he took note of the family staring at him in the living room, and swept the pointed hat off his head. His hat came to his chest, blue eyes twinkling in a frame of browned skin and starlight hair. "Do pardon my visit, Mr. Dursley. I am here only to check up on our young Hadrian there."
He knows my name?
Hadrian's gaze narrowed, and he shifted to hide partly behind his uncle's leg. Strange, odd, or abnormal people weren't allowed in the house. And this man was big, strange, odd, and dressed wrong. His grip tightened on his uncle's pants, and, as if sensing his thoughts, his uncle snapped, "As you can see, Hadrian is fine. Now, if you don't mind, excuse yourself from my home."
The white-haired man frowned. Hadrian felt a shudder swept down his spine, and then Vernon's hand was on his shoulder. Dudley stood at his side as the old man spoke, voice calm. "There are some things I wish to talk to you about, Mr. Dursley. Perhaps the boys would like to go upstairs to play while we have a quick chat?"
Hadrian looked at his uncle, and then his aunt. Both nodded, and he grasped Dudley's hand in his. It was larger than his, but he easily tugged his cousin out from the shadow of his father and past the strange man in the purple and yellow dress. Dudley protested on the way upstairs, and Hadrian's grip tightened. They stopped just beyond the cover of the wall, and knelt next to the stairs as his uncle growled, "Well, what do you want to know?"
"The boys get along rather well, don't there." Hadrian frowned, and stilled his cousin with a finger over his lips as the old man added, "How much older is young Hadrian. I have not seen him in quite some time."
"He's younger." Petunia replied, and Hadrian envisioned a red-faced Vernon Dursley as she continued with a clipped tone. "By a year, actually, and they share the same birthday. They get along well enough. As well as can be expected, but that can only be expected with them being the age they are. They go through phases."
There was a spell of silence before the strange man said, "Forgive me, Mrs. Dursley. I often forget things. I had believed the boys to be roughly the same age."
"It's fine." His aunt's voice was strained, and Hadrian knew what it meant. It wasn't alright, he knew. It meant tension. She was forcing civility, and he also knew it was why Vernon was keeping quite. It was a moment longer before the old man asked, "I do wonder how Hadrian has adjusted to life in Privet Drive. He was rather quite."
"He's shy." Petunia was in full control of the conversation, Hadrian knew, due to his uncle's temper. Dudley, who was framing Hadrian's smaller frame with his own, was still and silent as his mother continued, "Painfully shy, to be honest. He doesn't talk either, but he is very well-mannered if that's what you're about to ask."
"Pet," Vernon's voice emerged for the first time, loud and no happy, as he cut in, "I do not want this man in our home! We don't even know who he is!"
Hadrian shrunk, and shuddered. Uncle Vernon was mad.
"My apologies," Hadrian heard the soft whisper of cloth against cloth, and knew the old man was standing. "My name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, and I am the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the magical guardian of Hadrian James Potter. I do hope it would not be too much to ask for some tea?"
Hadrian knelt there, dumbfounded, at the title. Behind him, his cousin whispered, "What a stupid name."
Inwardly, Hadrian agreed. On the outside, he made a motion for his cousin to stay quiet as the old man continued, "I am surprised to hear that young Hadrian is mute."
Hadrian frowned. He talks as if he knows me.
"He isn't." Petunia countered. "He's been to a doctor. They found nothing wrong with his voice. He understands us, but he prefers his silence. The doctors believe his unwillingness to talk is linked to the event."
There was another moment of silence before the old man asked, "And what of young Hadrian's hobbies? Being so young, he must have found a way to express himself due to his silent nature."
"Hadrian has several hobbies." Petunia replied. Her tone was brisk, and her words left no room for interruption as she said, "He likes to be outside, and often plays in the garden. In the evening, he looks through many of the picture books. He doesn't interact with others, and often avoids it when possible. Painfully shy, as I said."
"What else could you possibly want to know?" Vernon cut in a second time, voice near a growl as he snapped, "We have fed him, put a roof over his head, made sure he has clothes. We take care of him. Isn't that the deal?!"
Beside him, Dudley stiffened. Hadrian could feel his cousin's hand brush against his before fat fingers curled around his hand, and then he was tugged away from the hallway into his cousin's second bedroom. Dudley sat on the floor, a stack of blocks in front of him, and began building with them. He paused halfway through, and Hadrian met his bleary blue eyes with mossy green as his cousin said, "Take care of you, pa said."
Confusion danced in his cousin's eyes, and Hadrian crouched on the other side of the blocks and wrapped his arms around his knees. Propping his chin on his folded arms, he watched his cousin stack blocks for a few minutes before handing the last block to Harry. "Put it on the top."
Hadrian did as his cousin ordered, and leaned back to eye the tower with a frown. The few times he touched the blocks was not to stack them. He had picked them up in the front room a year ago when his cousin left them scattered on the ground, one item on his list of chores to complete each day. Dudley was looking at the tower, the green block on the top, with a light frown on his face as if seeing it for the first time. Hadrian didn't know what was going on in the older boy's mind, though he did keep an eye on his cousin.
"Hadrian." Dudley suddenly said, though Harry knew he wasn't speaking to him. It was as if he tasted the name, getting a feeling for it before he said, almost to himself, "Take care. Protect."
Hadrian heard movement downstairs, followed by the sound of the front-door opening, and then someone was walking up the stairs. The door opened, and Petunia stood in the doorway as Hadrian took another block from his cousin's hand. He turned it over, and placed it in the spot he was told to put it: the blocks colored the same color. Hadrian thought that block was red, like the color of his blood when he accidentally cuts himself or when he skins his knees. He took another block, a soft hue like the sky without the fluffy things in it, and placed it in its group. He heard the door shut as his cousin said each block's color as he handed it to him. They were left up there for the rest of the day.
In the two weeks that passed since the Headmaster had visited her home, Petunia Dursley was left in an uncertain haze. She wanted to chalk the visit to a dream, a nightmare, yet, no matter how hard she tried, the subtle change which occurred refused to depart her mind. It was easy to recall her son, her lovely Duddikins, playing with his younger cousin in his second bedroom. It was easy to picture the even in her head. It was easy to revisit the memory of Dudley handing his young cousin a block of a certain color. Petunia couldn't recall a time before then that the two interacted as children toward one another, nor actively playing together.
The raven-haired child had crouched there, wordlessly taking the blocks and putting them wherever Dudley told him to, and waited for an order. Her sweet little Dudley had the strangest look on his face, not one of anger but he hadn't been happy either. She knew that look. When Dudley was picking up on something, if it was something good or bad, he always had that look. Sometimes it would take a few days for him to work it out, or a few months. She was hoping whatever questions the Man-Whose-Name-Was-To-Be-Forgotten visit sparked, about the man himself and his cousin, would settle and leave. She had a feeling that the two of them had overheard a part of the conversation she and her husband had with the headmaster, though she could not be certain.
Dudley could be quiet if the situation suited him, and Hadrian was, by nature, a very silent child. Eyeing the list in her hand, several gifts for her son added, she paused. Perhaps she could get Hadrian something, not a toy exactly, but something which would keep him out of the way when others came by. Dudley had his toys, and they kept him quiet when they had visitors she didn't want in the house. Yet, the small raven-haired, green-eyed child inspired a mental image of a laughing, redheaded girl on a swing-set holding a younger version of herself's hand. Fiddling with the pendant she wore around her neck, she wondered how she managed to come into possession of her younger sister's son after all these years.
And why, for the love of God, did the boy make her chest clinch every time she looked him in the eye.
Pushing the thought from her mind, Petunia continued her route. She had five stores left to stop in, nine more gifts to by. Ten, she reminded herself. Hadrian's birthday came with Dudley's, and she would need to get him something to settle down whatever instincts may cut in. She remembered Lily was roughly five when her first accident happened. Hadrian was turning five, Dudley six, and she knew things in her household were about to change. She could feel it, a subtle shift in the air she couldn't explain, something which scared her, and stopped in a secondhand gift-shop when she collected everything on her list. Clutching her bag to her side, hair penned upon her head in a severe bun, she eyed the books and small knickknacks in the room before sweeping down one aisle. It was towards the end, at the very back, when she spied a small, black sketchbook resting on the table, innocent and completely blank, when she made her choice. Hadrian was a growing boy, and nothing could go wrong with some innocent drawings in a book.
She took it to the front after gathering some pencils, a sharpener, and colored pencils. She set them on the counter, and the man at the desk paused as he picked up the book. He looked at her, a dark eyebrow arching into his hairline, as he said, "Sure you want this book, ma'am? I've had it here for some time now."
She gave the man a dark look, and said, "If I didn't want it, I wouldn't have brought it up here to buy."
"Suit yourself, lady." He checked out the items, told her the price, and Petunia handed over the money. Five pounds less than what she said she would need would go unnoticed. Vernon would simply assume she got something to eat, or a drink for herself as she shopped.
Eyeing the small bundle, the drawing book nestled within in a soft cloth, she smiled. It was just what she needed, and, in the end, everyone would be thankful for her mindfulness. It was for the greater good of the family, and even Hadrian could be happy with something like this.
The Headmaster of Hogwarts marked a change she could not name, but she knew that, with whatever changes that began, she would meet them head-on.
AN: There were some major changes in this chapter. I switched around the beginning of the chapter so it was more active than passive. One thing of importance I have deemed necessary to add here. I also changed how the sections are changed (I used a horizontal line the first time around.) I think the small triangle of zeros is a bit easier to spot, and it also leaves a larger gap between the sections. So it should be easier to spot a POV shift and time shift.
I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter's new look, and I look forward to see what everyone thinks.