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Coyote in the Cupboard

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Harry Potter was a very lonely and very isolated little boy. It wasn't his fault, he wasn’t shy or introverted, particularly. He didn’t prefer books to games, exactly. His loneliness and isolation stemmed from his family circumstances.

Harry’s parents were murdered by a psychopathic wizard when he was only fifteen months old. This was a tragedy but not one that would have definitely made him so lonely and isolated. But after their murders, an old man with lots of power and not a whole lot of empathy meddled, unlawfully, in Harry’s life. The old man treated the world around him and the people within like a giant chessboard and himself as the Grand Master. He positioned his pieces by using the power that he wielded from his many governmental positions and the reputation that he enjoyed among the magical populace.

The old man delivered the orphaned youngling to his maternal aunt, Petunia, and her husband, Vernon Dursley. They couple had a young son, Dudley, less than two months older than Harry. The woman and her son were Harry’s only remaining blood relations, on either side of his family tree, at least close enough to be counted as family.

It might be argued that the old man thought that this blood tie and the close age of the two boys would foster a loving family relationship to shelter the poor orphaned child. But that could only be argued by those who didn’t know that he understood the history between Petunia and Harry’s mother.

Petunia had been incredibly jealous of her younger sister and over time that jealousy had transformed into a seething hatred of not just her sister but of anything that wasn’t completely normal for a British citizen. Thus, when the toddler was dumped on her doorstep one night in November, she knew he was not going to be normal. He would grow up to be like his mother and she transferred all of her hatred of the abnormal onto the little boy now in her care. And the old man understood this was the reaction his actions would engender in the woman and her husband.

Petunia wasn’t evil but she felt that Harry wasn’t really human. When he was still a baby, she grit her teeth and cared for him as much as necessary. She changed his nappy, though not always with the alacrity that her own son’s messes caused; she fed him but it was almost entirely finger foods that he could feed himself; she bathed him enough that he wasn’t caked with filth; she put clothes on him, but only the bare necessities; she even gave him a cot to sleep in, though she placed it in the cupboard under the stairs so his night terrors wouldn’t disturb the house.

This attitude, of separation, of isolation from the family he lived with, was what the old man counted on for his plans to work. He anticipated that when the boy was rescued from the Dursley’s home for ten months of the year to attend the magical boarding school the old man ran, he would feel gratitude and would attach himself to the man who made it possible. And it likely would have mostly worked.

Harry would have been guided by the old man and his many minions even to the point of letting himself be killed for the old man’s cause but for one small change in his circumstances. A change the old man couldn’t have foreseen or anticipated that led to the undoing of every one of his plans and the smashing of the entire chessboard.

Harry was four years old and sitting in the cupboard that he considered to be his. He had been in the small space, locked up, for over fifteen hours. He was being punished for a strange occurrence that caused his cousin Dudley to break out in spots, though he was only four, as well. Vernon Dursley was on a weekend business trip and Petunia had locked Harry in with a covered bucket until Vernon was due home. The young boy was terrified of what the man would do to him upon his return.

Everyone knows that long term isolation added to high stress can trigger a specific transformation in certain people. Most usually in adults, or at least, teens. But young Harry was isolated so often and under stress from his family so much, that the change triggered in a child barely out of toddlerhood.

--

Harry wrapped his arms around his legs and shivered in fear, unable to control the tremors. He had no clock in his cupboard, no way to tell the time and very little light, but he could hear Petunia and Dudley moving around outside, Petunia had just exited the kitchen and given Dudley his late afternoon snack, which Harry knew meant Vernon would be home very soon.

Vernon always punished him the worst and Harry’s punishments were always given by Vernon rather than Petunia when the problem was caused by freakishness or where Dudley was hurt (or claimed to be hurt, the more usual case). This was a combination of both of them.

Dudley had been tormenting Harry and pinching him, bruising his arms and legs, and then had punched Harry hard in the back of his head and as the younger boy fell, he had gotten angry and caught a glimpse of a commercial on the telly about medication for spots. When Harry had picked himself up and turned to look at his cousin, the boy looked like he could use the entire tube of Clearasil and still need two or three more.

Dudley wasn’t really physically hurt but it was freaky and abnormal and Petunia blamed Harry for it and promptly dragged him to his cupboard, thrust him inside, grabbed a covered bucket from the garden shed and put it on the floor in the corner of the small room, and filled an empty pop bottle with water, putting it on the shelf above Harry’s head along with an apple that was going bad and two crackers. She informed him tightly that Vernon would deal with him when he got home, slammed the door and slid the lock across the exit.

That had been the afternoon before and now Harry strained to hear his uncle’s car drive up, wanting as much warning as he could get. As he tried his best to listen, past the television show his cousin was watching in the living room and it’s loud sound effects, past the noises Petunia was making in the kitchen as she prepared dinner, a dinner that Harry knew he wouldn’t get to eat, past the sound of the lawn mower running at Number Two, past the radio playing in the drive of Number Five while he washed his car, past the sounds of the hose hitting the metal of the car, Harry heard the sound he was waiting for. It sounded close but as Harry waited, and waited, and waited, it was several minutes before the sound changed as the car downshifted and came to a stop, the engine turning off and the car door slamming shut.

Harry heard the man come into the house, greet his son and wife and then a conversation wherein the man was informed about the happenings the previous day. He had noticed nothing amiss with Dudley because as Petunia informed him, the spots had been gone when their son woke up this morning. Harry heard the man approaching the door and the loud scrape of the deadbolt being pulled back and winced in more pain than usual when the man grabbed his arm to drag him into the bright hallway. The man started shaking the little boy and Dudley turned from the television to watch the live show instead. Vernon was yelling and Harry suddenly couldn’t hear at all, the hallway felt like he was outside at noon in the middle of summer with the bright sun shining on him, he could smell the spices in the roast in the oven, Vernon’s grip on his shoulders felt like hot pokers. Harry screamed in agony and lost consciousness.

When Harry awoke he was in his cupboard and it was comfortingly dark, there were few sounds outside his cupboard and Harry felt a warm sensation across his legs. He looked down and could see an odd looking animal sprawled across him. It looked a bit like a kitten but also sort of reminded him of a dog. Harry didn’t know what it was or why it was in his cupboard. The Dursleys, especially Petunia, didn’t like animals, not even plushie ones. Unlike most of the toys that Dudley grew tired of or broke in some way, plushies were always thrown out as soon as the boy didn’t want them anymore.

Petunia not only letting this animal into the house but letting it cuddle up with Harry made no sense to the child. Harry could see the kitten puppy perfectly clearly as if the light was on with a brand new bulb. It was odd, but Harry was used to odd happening around him and didn’t really dwell on the oddity part of it. The animal was small, Harry could likely hold it it his two hands, and it was grey and white all over with browner patches on its snout and ears. It had whiskers like a cat but overall looked more like a dog. It had bright green eyes, much like Harry’s own.

Harry sat up straight and reached his hand out to rub the kitten puppy’s ears. “Hello,” he whispered. “My name’s Harry. I think. Petunia and Vernon and Dudley usually call me ‘Freak’ or ‘Boy’ but I know the second one is just a word for male. I learned that from listening to Dudley’s educational program on the telly. And the first one, I thought it was my name for a long time but I got in such trouble when I told someone that when we were at the store and I heard Petunia telling the woman that I was such a difficult child and trying and she called me Harry when she said it. So, at least to people who aren’t in the house, my name must be Harry. And that is better than the others, so I say it is my name.”

The kitten puppy nosed his hand and whuffed into it and Harry smiled. “I don’t know why you’re here or how long the Dursley’s will let you stay but I’m gonna give you a name ‘cause everything deserves a name. I don’t know what you are, I haven’t seen enough animals when I’ve been able to sneak looks at the telly or magazines or books. The only books that Petunia doesn't mind me reading are cook books and magazines about keeping a house nice. She says that soon I’ll have more chores to do than just dusting and sweeping and weeding the garden like I do now. I need to earn my keep and the food and shelter they give me. I’m only a freak and don’t deserve what they are nice enough to provide and the money they have to waste on my existence. So, sorry, I don’t know what you are but you look more like a puppy then a kitten and you keep giving me these looks and you’re acting like you understand me, like that, you nodded. But animals don't understand people, not that much, and dogs only really know words like sit or stay or attack or food or walk. I know that from when Aunt Marge comes to visit with her dogs. But you’re acting more like a person. People understand full sentences.”

The animal had worked its way up Harry’s lap and now nuzzled against his chest, pulling itself up until it could reach his shoulder. It laid across his shoulder, (Harry wasn’t sure how it was staying in place or how the claws on its feet didn’t scratch him as it climbed) and licked his face. “Do you really understand everything I am saying?”

The animal licked. “Um, this is freaky. Okay. On the telly they do experiments. Like that show with the kids and the pop and the sweets. I got to see that one ‘cause Dudley loved the mess it caused and made Petunia buy it so he could watch it over and over. So, if you understand me totally, I want you to tap your nose on my nose three times and then lick my face once and tap my nose two more times. That wouldn’t be something you would do in that order without understanding. And you do. Okay. Wow. So, you’re like a kitten puppy people, but more puppy than kitten. So, I’ll call you Pupple.”

 

Pupple

--

 

Eight year old Harry Potter slid into his cupboard and the door slammed hard behind him, accompanied by his aunt’s disgusted muttering. He settled on his cot and leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes for a full minute. Then he breathed out hard, opened his eyes and saw his friend on the other end of the cot. When he started primary school, the first thing Harry did was to  go to the school library and look at pictures of animals until he found one that matched. His friend was a coyote.

“Hey, Pupple.”

The coyote raised a paw, no longer small enough to fit in Harry’s hands but nearly as large as the young boy himself, and smacked him on the knee.

Right. Sorry. I get excited and forget. Can’t let the Dursleys hear me talking to you or making any noise. ‘Specially after today. Petunia is really, really angry. I’m blocking out as much as I can. She’s still muttering and I know you don’t like me to listen when they’re being mean about me. But she says I’m an even bigger and worse freak than she knew. And that when I grow up people will hate me and I’ll never find someone to love me ‘cause I won’t stay with them and I’ll destroy any family I try to make.

The coyote laid across the boy’s lap and nuzzled into his chest. Harry pet his only friend and let the peace that the animal always brought soothe the hurts, emotional from Petunia and the physical aches caused by Vernon’s belt.

I was walking home from school and kept smelling this really odd, strong smell and it got worse the closer to the house I got and I realized it was coming from Number Two and Number Three and Number Five and here, too. But not inside, like underneath the ground. It smelled like when I first light the stove and the little burner turns on but it was really overpowering and I wasn’t even trying to smell something and I knew that was a bad thing but no one else was reacting and I came home and told Petunia ‘cause I knew it was a really, really bad thing. I’m not smart in school but I can’t be, not with my reports. I didn’t like having a broken hand that summer. I don’t want Vernon to do that again. Or worse. I can’t let the teachers know that I’m smarter than Dudley. But that doesn’t mean I’m not. I mean, you know that I am. I just keep quiet about it. I hate it but I learn lessons quick, at school and here at the Dursleys.

So, Petunia went to the door and walked out to the curb and came back and smacked me for lying and being stupid. But I knew what I smelled and I know what the smell, it's gas, smells a but like petrol but not really, more like the oven for cooking and stuff, and I know when I leave the light on too long before the flame catches that it gets big for a second. Well, the gas I smelled was like a few thousand times more strong than in the kitchen when I light the burners and if it caught a spark…

So, I told her I wasn’t lying and I could smell it blocks away and it was really strong here on Privet Drive but it was like under the ground. She frowned at me and asked me questions and I knew I shouldn’t answer truthfully but if she didn’t believe me it could be really bad and if she didn’t believe no one else would. They all believe Petunia and Vernon when they say what a bad seed I am. I could have let it go and called 999 but I wasn’t sure they would believe or get here soon enough based on a call by a kid. They might have thought it was a prank. And I had already made Petunia suspicious. So, I didn’t lie. I didn’t tell her the whole truth and I downplayed it but I told her I can smell things really good, like when Mrs Number Eight is making fish and chips or when Mister Number Ten is changing the oil on his car. That I could sometimes hear what Number Seven was playing on the telly and I could taste the different spices I used to cook with, separately.

She got a really pinched look on her face and tapped her foot while she was frowning at me. She went into the kitchen and in the junk drawer she pulled out a plain keychain ring and an old key to the shed lock that got broken when Dudley hit it with his cricket bat to see if he could find anything interesting in the shed. She put the key on the chain, handed it to me, said I should pretend to be on my way to the store and swinging it around  and told me to go drop it in the gutter drain in the street “by accident” and then scramble after it and try to get into the drain to get it. She told me to try for several minutes and if I could smell the gas like a normal person would, to come running to her.

So, I did. The key went down into the sewer and when I was down there I made my sense of smell go almost away like when Vernon stopped up the toilet after curry night three weeks ago and I could still smell the gas, it was more faint but it was strong enough to be scary. So I got up and ran back to the house, yelling for Aunt Petunia, and she called 999 and they came and evidently a gas pipe under the street had a leak and it was building up and likely would have exploded and destroyed the entire drive if not several streets and killed lots of people.

So, I saved the lives of everyone around here who treats me like dirt. Or worse. But after the bustle was over Petunia started in on her ranting at me. She said if she had known I was even more of a freak than my whore mother and deadbeat father, that I was like her grandfather, too, she would have put me out in the rubbish bin the day she found me, or drowned me like an unwanted puppy like Marge suggested.

I saved her life, and Vernon’s, and her precious Duddikins, and lots more but she makes me regret it. And she told Vernon all about it when he got home from work and I didn’t get dinner and he gave me twenty smacks with the belt, five with the buckle end, and kept saying “Turn them off, boy. You better turn them the fuck off, you freak.”

I think he means how well I can see and hear and smell and all. I won’t do it though. I won’t let the - bastard - Harry bit his lip and darted his eyes around at his use of the swear, as if anyone other than Pupple would have heard him. I won’t let him beat me, he can thrash me all he likes and I’ll pretend and not mention it but I won’t make them go away. I like them. And I know you’re here because of them. I don’t really remember much from before you came to me but I know you’re connected somehow to how different my senses are. So, Vernon and Petunia can go hang! His eyes darted again, almost involuntarily, at his lack of gratefulness to his relatives. They make me sorry I told anyone about the gas. I could have just gone to the park and stayed there and waited. Or I could have taunted Dudley or Piers or Dennis or Malcolm about being too afraid to throw a lit matchbook down the gutter. I could have. I didn’t. I think that I wouldn’t , but part of me wishes that I had. I hate them. Vernon and Petunia and Dudley and Piers and Dennis and Malcolm and Mrs Figg and her smelly house and stinkier cats, and Mr Number Five and his BMW, and Mrs Number Two and her love of Pavarotti, and Mr and Mrs Number Ten and their fights and loud making up! I hate them! But - Pupple, I hate them, but I need to protect them. I wish I could have just let them die but I just couldn’t . I knew what Vernon would do and no one would stop him but I couldn’t not tell. Dudley would have just let everyone blow up and laugh about it. So would his friends, in my situation. But I saved them. Stupid me. Saving people who don’t deserve it or appreciate it.

I really am a freak.

 

--

 

Harry slid into his cupboard and pulled the door closed behind him. The ten year old was home from a normal day at school and done his afternoon chores. Dinner was in the oven and needed nothing done to it until it was ready to be served which wouldn’t be for another hour. Harry felt that it was best for him to wait out that hour in his cupboard for several reasons, avoiding his family and spending time with Pupple being the most prominent.

He closed himself into his cupboard and took off the hated glasses, placing them on the shelf above his bed. Petunia had gotten them from a charity bin the summer after the gas leak. They were black and had round lenses and were much too big for him and swallowed up half his face. And of course, he could see perfectly well without them. But she told him that noone would even think to question his extra freakishness if he was wearing glasses. It would hide it. Harry knew he wouldn’t get away with only wearing them when Petunia or Vernon could see him. They made things blurry and often gave him a headache by the end of the day but if he kept them in his backpack or desk at school rather than wearing them, Dudley would tell and Harry would get a lovely thrashing. He hated the things but decided to treat them like he was Clark Kent. He had read all about Superman in the library and so his glasses were his secret identity keeper. After all, Harry didn’t want anyone to know about his differences anymore than Petunia did.

As he sat on his cot and blinked his eyes, the coyote appeared at the foot of his bed. Pupple had grown significantly over the years. Harry could recall, vaguely, being able to hold him in his two hands when he was really little and more recently, Pupple needing to move in order to reach his face when laying across Harry’s legs. Now, Harry could extrapolate that if he was able to spend time with Pupple outside of his cupboard, where Harry and the coyote could both stand upright, his friend's head would be equal to his shoulders. Harry knew that in reality coyotes never grew this large but Pupple wasn’t exactly a normal coyote, or in any way natural.

As the coyote took visible form, the boy gazed at him in amusement and shook his head. I know now that you know what I know and saw what I saw and are always there. I know now what you are and what I am and it is redundant to talk to you about the events of my day and what I did or learned but, Pupple, I’ve done this for so long that I don’t see the point in stopping now. Even though I know what I know, you’re my only friend and I certainly am not going to stop talking to you. And I figure, you’re kind of like my therapist, too. Like you keep me steady. And talking stuff out helps even though you already know it. You’ve never stopped me before or made it known that I was boring you, so unless that changes, ‘cause I know you can’t talk in words but you've never had a problem communicating without them.

So, in history class today the teacher was talking about the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes. And she mentioned that the reason the plot failed was because of a Sentinel. He smelled the gunpowder when he was walking by the Parliament building and he heard two of the conspirators talking as they unloaded it. He alerted the authorities and they found the stuff and everyone was saved.

I had no idea what a Sentinel was and I wasn’t the only one and the teacher could tell. So, she explained that there were people in the world who were different. There were two kinds: Sentinels and Guides. Sentinels were people with really advanced senses. They could hear heartbeats, they could smell what you had for breakfast hours later, they could see miles away, they could taste the smallest difference in flavors, they could feel fingerprints left behind.

And the Sentinels always tried to find Guides. Guides were like empaths and could feel emotions and broadcast them, too and they helped keep the Sentinel steady and stopped them from getting lost in the sensory input they get everyday.

Sentinels and Guides have a mystical connection to each other through what have been described as animal guides by former pairs. The animals are different and represent the inner soul of the Sentinel or Guide and they are always there for them and they connect to the other of the pair when they bond.

It is an honor for a country to have a pair, they always help when needed, and they are honored and lauded when they live within a country or within a city. They are protected and cared for because they help keep the world, or as they call it, the tribe, safe. But Sentinel and Guide pairs are really, really rare. There are only five known pairs currently, one in Italy, one in Australia, one in the United States, one in Canada, and a pair that travels throughout South America. The teacher said that there were possibly more Sentinels and Guides out there but they could only bond as pairs with the perfect opposite. And Sentinels could end up in comas without a Guide and Guides could end up killing themselves if overwhelmed by emotions when they didn’t have a Sentinel to balance them.

Sentinels come online, that’s what they called it, when they spend time in isolation and are under stress, usually in times of war or disorder, but not always. And Guides just come online when they are needed or think they are. They think. There’s never been a case of a Sentinel under the age of 21 coming online.

But they don’t know about me. I don’t know how old I was when I came online. I can’t remember you not being here with me, Pupple. I must have been three? Four, maybe? Younger? ‘Cause of this damned cupboard and getting locked in and being afraid of Vernon, likely. It makes sense. I’m lucky that I haven’t slipped into a coma when using my senses before now but I think, I think you’re stopping that, aren’t you?

The coyote rubbed his muzzle across Harry’s cheek in affirmation. Harry hugged his spirit animal tight.

Thanks. The teacher said that the last time that Britain had a Sentinel and Guide pairing was several decades ago, Brian Corvin and Bellamy Graunt. Brian came online when he was on a hunting trip and met Graunt a few months later. The two of them bonded and stopped several terrorist bombings and attacks in the 1940s through the 1970s in the United Kingdom until they were killed in 1979 by a maniac in a mask, who shot them and got away somehow.

I went to the library to look up info on them. Brian was married before he met Graunt. He had a family and he left them after he bonded. I remember when Petunia found out about my senses. She talked about me growing up and abandoning my family. I think Brian Corvin was my great grandfather, Petunia’s grandfather. He left her mother when she was young and bonded with Graunt who never married.

Will I do that if I have a family before I find my Guide? I - That is horrible. I understand how Petunia feels about it. To just walk away from your children, no, I could never. All I’ve ever wanted was a family to love and to love me. Now, I know I can never have that. Not unless I get really lucky and find a woman as my perfect Guide. Which isn’t likely. When I was researching in the library about Sentinels and Guides, over 98% of them throughout history have been men. So, unless I want to be an ass like my great grandfather, I can’t get married. I’d be a monster if I did. After all, he didn’t come online until after he had his family. So, at least he didn’t know. But I do. I’ll never have a family ‘cause I would never abandon them even if I found my Guide. But if I did, I’d have to or something, so that means I can’t have kids. I’ll never be a dad.

I hate being a Sentinel.

Harry laid his head against the broad shoulder of his animal companion and let the tears soak into Pupple’s fur. The young boy shook with his quiet sobs, the slight sounds he was making muffled by the coyote’s fur and body, even in his despair, Harry knew he couldn’t make noise and disturb Petunia or Dudley.

After several minutes, the boy gained control and wiped his face on his overgrown sweatshirt. He laid back on the bed and sighed, soundlessly.

Sorry, Pupple. I know I’ll always have you. And you are my magical friend. I looked that up, too, the meaning of the different animals, at least what the speculation is and a coyote is “the magic of Merlin awaits you”. So, you’re my magic spirit animal who keeps me safe from myself.

What I wonder, should I tell someone that I’m a Sentinel? Petunia and Vernon know but they hate it and Vernon thinks he thrashed it out of me ‘cause I don’t flaunt it. I’m pretty sure Petunia knows I still am a Sentinel, she smells like she did after the gas leak thing not like she did before. The hatred and dislike is stronger than when I was just a freak like my parents.

But I could tell someone at school, but I don’t know that they’d believe me. They all eat up Petunia’s rants about me with a spoon and always have, just like the rest of this blasted neighborhood. I mean, this is something I could prove, my advanced senses, but what would it change other than making my life more difficult. It isn’t like there are Centers where young Sentinels and Guides can go and be taken care of. There aren’t enough Sentinels and Guides for that. There are no laws about underage Sentinels protection, they’ve never even found one my age or anywhere near it. And I don't have a Guide. And it isn’t like there’s a test to find my Guide through like DNA or something.

So, I’d live here with the Dursleys but everyone would know I was a Sentinel and Vernon and Petunia would hate the notoriety for something so - abnormal. And I’d get thrashed nightly rather than the weekly or fortnightly it is now. I’d get locked in constantly and worked harder than I am now when I wasn’t locked in. No. Being a Sentinel without a Guide already, I couldn’t protect the tribe. Not that anyone would let me try until I was grown anyway, even if I did have a Guide.

So, it isn’t worth the hassle. No one has stopped the Dursleys from hurting me up until now. Why would they stop them if they knew I was a Sentinel, one without a Guide, one who couldn’t help them?

Even though I did help them already, saved their ungrateful lives from getting blown up by a gas leak under most of the neighborhood. Turned out there was some corrosive getting in the supply and if one pipe had blown it wouldn’t have been contained to Privet Drive, it would have taken out most of Little Whining. Remember when we heard them talking on the news on the telly about that? And they said that a neighborhood boy who had lost his keys had smelled the gas when trying to get them from the sewer grate? That was me, not that they talked to me, not the telly people or even the gas people. They talked to Petunia, the gas people, that is. But not to me directly. I’m just a kid.

Which is another reason not to come forward as a Sentinel. They’d listen to Petunia about how she takes care of me and coddles me and helps me deal with my senses by keeping them off as much as possible. Lying liar that my darling aunt is and stupid sheep that the world is populated by.

No. I just have to keep on like I have. Next year, I’ll start Stonewall High and Dudley will be gone most of the year at Smeltings and that will relieve some of the pressure on me and maybe I’ll meet my Guide at Stonewall. After all, it is a bigger school than my primary and several primaries send their graduates there so maybe that will work.

And even if I don’t, I’ll keep looking and until then I have you. And now that I know what I am and what you are and that regular people can’t see you unless you want them to, you don’t have to just be my coyote in the cupboard. You can be with me so that I can see you out in the world. I’m old enough not to give it away now. And smart enough to know why I shouldn’t. I don’t want to end up in the loony bin ‘cause I’m talking or reacting to an animal no one else can see.

 

--

 

Harry sat in the cart waiting for Griphook to get back in and return them to the surface of Diagon Alley. His hand was buried in the invisible to all but Harry fur on Pupple’s head. Luckily, the coyote was intangible to everyone else and everything else but Harry as well, he thought, or they would need an extra cart. In the past year, Pupple hadn’t grown very much but estimating his size while in the cupboard had been an off estimate. When Harry had finally seen his spirit animal standing upright next to him, all four paws on the ground, the coyote’s head had reached, not his mid-chest like he had thought, but rather was able to bump Harry’s chin without stretching. Harry knew that real coyotes never grew this big but he assumed it was because he was a spirit animal from the psionic plane and not a normal one from the wild.

He had learned, through some trial and error that had brought both swats and teasing from members of the Dursley family and others, how to subtly touch his spirit animal when in public and not in the cupboard. Pupple kept him grounded and made it easier to access his senses when inundated with stimuli in the world beyond Number 4 Privet Drive. Keeping in contact with Pupple enabled Harry to listen for the plans of Dudley and his gang of schoolyard bullies and avoid them before they could put their plans of that day’s Harry Hunting into practice. In the past, Harry was too afraid to do this because the first time he tried, he had a zone and ended up with a concussion when both Dudley and Dennis had tackled him to the ground because he hadn’t run.

Right now, Harry just wanted to crawl into his cupboard and bury himself in Pupple’s side for hours. The past week had been more than a bit insane, from the moment that first letter had come in the post. From moving into Dudley’s second bedroom and away from the security and prison represented by his cupboard to the cross country attempt to escape the onslaught of letters to the arrival at the hut by Hagrid and the revelations he brought with him about Harry’s past and future. And now, the overwhelming experience that was Diagon Alley. The mob of people touching him, the sights and sounds and smells of this odd place, the wild ride on the cart in the darkness punctuated by torches and the sight of an actual dragon down one of the tunnels as they passed by at high speed, and just the actual feel of what Harry could only assume was magic on his skin. Harry was shaking and trying to keep a lock on his senses and not zone. Pupple was the only thing keeping him sane in this place.

Hagrid climbed back into the cart after retrieving a grubby little package that felt like the pressure of a tsunami on his skin and smelled strongly like blood and iron and nearly sent Harry into his first feral episode before Hagrid slid it into the inner pockets of his coat. He patted Harry on the shoulder, feeling to Harry like a hammer on his skin, “You are a nervous one. Told ya before, relax, ain’t nothin’ gonna hurt ya.”

Harry smiled weakly and tried his best to calm the shaking, wrapping his legs around the anchor of his spirit animal as the cart took off for the surface. Harry closed his eyes and breathed deeply and evenly, pushing away the unfamiliar smells and sounds that echoed through the tunnels. He was actually very worried about the future and Hogwarts. From Hagrid’s reaction to his struggles, which would have triggered worry and tests in the muggle world who knew about Sentinels even though they were exceedingly rare, it appeared that the magical world had no idea that some people could have advanced senses that might be overwhelmed by new experiences all at once. Harry currently hated Diagon Alley. It could change if he became more familiar with everything as time went on but today, his birthday, was shaping up to be as bad as all of his birthdays in years past. If Hogwarts was as overwhelming or more so, Harry feared that Pupple’s assistance would be insufficient and he would enter a never-ending zone that the magicals wouldn’t understand.

By the time they reached the surface, Harry was a bit more centered and able to walk without many visible jitters in his step. Hagrid on the other hand was staggering and looking very green. The giant man led Harry to the nearest shop to the bank and gave him a push towards the door, telling him he needed a drink after the cart ride.

As Harry approached the door to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, he reflected that while he appreciated Hagrid’s actions in making the Dursleys tell him of his past and of his magical nature, he didn’t appreciate the man’s lack of appropriate adult behavior. His current duty was to care for Harry during his first trip to the magical world that he could recall but instead, he announced to an entire pub full of strangers that Harry was there, didn’t stop them from mobbing his charge, misread Harry’s struggles as shyness and fear, and finally abandoned him entirely to have an alcoholic drink in a pub.

Harry opened the door to the shop and as he entered, his shaking and the goosebumps on his skin subsided. Harry’s forehead lowered in confusion before he was approached by a woman and led to the rear of the shop where they placed him on a stool to begin to take his measurements.

Harry gazed at the other stool in the room, currently occupied by a small blond boy with a sharp chin about Harry’s own age. The boy was beautiful and radiated an aura of calm that soothed Harry even further. The boy was currently faced away from Harry and the Sentinel took the opportunity to extend his senses towards the young wizard. And when he smelled the boy’s scent, Harry nearly fell off of his stool. It was the most wonderful scent Harry had ever smelled in his life, like silk and herbs and wood. Then, Harry realized why he was fascinated by the bond boy, and it had nothing to do with being the first wizarding child he had met. Harry tilted his head and listened to the thumping on the boy’s heartbeat, a rhythm that was musical and light. He began to get lost in the lovely sound, not even Pupple able to stop the zone, when the boy was turned around by the seamstress.

“Oh, I didn’t even realize someone else had come in. Are you starting Hogwarts, as well?”

The sound of the boy’s voice jolted Harry immediately from his zone and he smiled, knowing that he had found his other half, his Guide. He wouldn’t tell the other boy that, magicals didn’t seem to know about Sentinels and he didn’t want to scare him off.

“Yes. It’s my first year.”

The boy smiled. “Mine as well. My father is at the bookstore and my mother is at the wand shop. I’ll meet her there later, of course. I need to be present to be properly matched to my wand but she needed a new arm holster and Mr Ollivander is distantly related to my mother on her mother’s side and they often talk about family matters. Do you know him? He’s absolutely brilliant at his job, of course, but I think he spends too much time alone with his ingredients. He comes across as a bit mad and more than a bit creepy. He’s the best wand maker in the British Isles by far. And famous even in Europe, though they do prefer Gregorovich over there, at least those attending Durmstrang do. But that only makes sense. You wouldn’t want to travel to another country to get your wand. Oh,” the boy trailed off. “I’ve been dominating the conversation, do forgive me. Are you here with your parents?”

Harry shook his head, not caring about the other boy’s rattling on, his voice was lovely. “No. One of the workers from Hogwarts brought me. My parents died when I was a baby.”

The boy paled. “Oh. I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to - well, my condolences. Were they - your parents, I don’t wish to be - were they like us?”

“Like us? Oh, magical? Yeah. They went to Hogwarts. My name’s been down since I was born apparently.”

The boy’s tense shoulders relaxed a tad. “Well, I’m glad you were able to come today. It is nice to meet someone new. I know many of our yearmates, even if just in passing, so I was - well, it is nice.” The boy’s eyes looked beyond Harry to the window of the shop. “Oh, I say, who is that?”

Harry turned his head and saw Hagrid waving an ice cream cone at him. “That’s Rubeus Hagrid. He’s the Keeper of Keys and Ground at Hogwarts. He’s the one escorting me.”

The boy nodded. “My father has mentioned him. He’s infamous for getting drunk and trying to do magic and setting his cabin on fire. I’m surprised that he’s the one escorting you. It doesn’t qute seem like his job description. Did you know him before? Is that why? I don’t mean to pry…”

Harry smiled. “He does like to drink. I’ve picked up on that and I’ve only really known him since midnight. He evidently knew my parents pretty well and knew me as a baby but I haven’t seen him since then. It’s a bit of a long story but my family - “

The seamstress interrupted him. “That’s you done, dear.”

Harry paused. “Oh, I should go, I suppose. This was the first stop after the bank and I need to get my other things.”

The other boy nodded. “I understand. I'll look for you on the train on September 1st and you can tell me the whole story.”

Harry nodded. “Gladly. September 1st.”

Harry stepped down from the stool and after paying for his robes, he slowly made his way from the shop, steps dragging as he listened to the boy, his Guide, whose name he never got as he interacted with the seamstress. “Nearly done, Mr Malfoy. Just a few more measurements for your dress robes.”

Malfoy. Malfoy. Nice.

As Harry stepped into the alley an adult who looked very much like his Guide swept by him and entered the sop. Before the door closed and cut off all sound from inside (something Harry had picked up on with surprise earlier), Harry heard the man exclaim, “Draco! Aren't you done yet? Grooming is important but -”

Draco Malfoy. My Guide’s name is Draco Malfoy and he’s a wizard.

Pupple nudged his side and huffed in pleasure.

---

With the assistance of a briefly, fully corporeal Pupple, Harry slid his trunk onto the luggage rack above the train seat. Pupple then shimmered back into his preferred state of near invisibility and near intangibility to all but his Sentinel. Harry took off the strap of the book bag he had managed to buy at the luggage store and laid the bag on the floor at his feet after removing his Charms text to read. Harry had attempted to buy several books, mostly modern history and muggleborn guidebooks, while in Diagon Alley but Hagrid had removed them from the stack and told him he didn’t need anything that wasn’t on his list. Dumbledore told him so before sending him to get Harry.

The only way he had been able to get the book bag was that he had pointed out that the supply list didn’t have a trunk listed on it either. He asked if he was supposed to carry everything on his head to get to school? The supply list listed the uniform, the required books for class, the potions and astronomy equipment, the pet list, the wand, and a prohibition against brooms for first years. And frankly the uniform list was a bit light in scope, as well, to Harry. Only three robes for at a minimum of five days of school in the week and that was assuming that they didn’t need to wear a robe during the weekends. As Hogwarts was a boarding school they may be given that time off from uniforms but not necessarily, Harry wasn’t sure how a magical boarding school would differ from a muggle one in that respect. Regardless, only three robes were on the list, but no underclothes, no pants, no shirts, no socks, or shoes, or jumpers, or slacks. So, by Dumbledore’s instructions to Hagrid, Harry should be carrying all of his supplies in his potion’s cauldron and be barefoot and naked under his robes.

Harry didn’t like the control that the headmaster of his new school was asserting over his life from before term even began. But he convinced Hagrid that if a trunk was required but left off of the list then a book bag must be in the same category since Harry couldn’t very well carry all of his books and quills and parchment and other supplies in his arms everyday. And that was another stop that Hagrid made that wasn’t on the list: quills, ink, parchment and other such supplies. Dumbledore was a fool and Hagrid more so for not thinking about the instructions for himself. To Harry, it was obvious that the instruction had been meant to be: Don’t let him buy any materials that may tell him things I don’t want him to know, specifically books or pamphlets.

So, over the past month, Harry had read his eight required text books several times each as he had been - encouraged - to remain unseen in his room by the Dursleys. He had chosen a name - Hedwig - from the history text for the owl that Hagrid had bought for him. Harry liked the snowy owl but thought that it was rather short sighted of the man to buy him an owl when he should have known that he and the Dursleys wouldn’t want to correspond, and certainly not by owl post. And Harry had no one else to write to outside of school. And even if he had friends from primary, he couldn’t have sent them an owl with a letter. Hagrid had told him all about the Statute of Secrecy and that would have been a major breach, to regularly send a snowy owl with letters to muggle children who had no connection to the magical world.

Granted, Harry wouldn’t have wanted a toad but a cat might have been a better choice if Hagrid felt that he needed to have a pet. To choose an owl for Harry because Hagrid was allergic implied that Harry would be living with the man but Draco had mentioned that he lived in a hut. The illogic of it all baffled Harry. But at least Hedwig was mostly able to look after herself. Harry had gotten owl treats for her but otherwise he let her hunt for herself. And he had asked her if she wanted to ride the train in her cage or if she would rather fly to Hogwarts on her own. She had made it clear, smarter owl than some of the wizards he had met so far, that she would fly, so her cage was in his trunk.

And while Harry really, truly was grateful for Hagrid delivering his letter, though it was at someone else’s behest, the man wasn’t the best guide. Between the mess on Diagon Alley with needing a drink after Gringotts, the strict adherence to Dumbledore’s orders about supplies that was incredibly dense, the buying of an unnecessary pet that he himself would have preferred rather than asking Harry’s preference, and then just giving him his ticket without instructions, Hagrid did a poor job of his job. If the train left from a regular platform, it wouldn’t have been an issue but Platform 9 ¾?

After Vernon had dropped him off between platforms 9 and 10 with evil chuckles about the lack of a ¾, Harry had been briefly worried. But as he slowly wandered the area, he had felt the sting of magic on his skin and followed the sensation to a pillar between the two muggle platforms and then felt a difference in air pressure as he drew close to it. He leaned on the bricks and when his shoulder just went through without resistance, Harry had realized the wall was an illusion or something and walked through the pillar, landing on Platform 9 ¾ where the red steam engine driven Hogwart’s Express waited.

Harry was fairly early in his arrival and very few others were on board yet so Harry had his pick of compartments. He was now awaiting the arrival of Draco, his Guide. Hopefully the other boy would come looking for him right away and they could spend the journey together. But since Draco said that he knew many of their yearmates and likely other years as well, that might be wishful thinking on Harry’s part. But he could only hope that Draco felt inexplicably drawn to him since he wouldn’t know about Sentinels and Guides.

Harry sat near the window overlooking the platform, re-reading parts of The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 for the fifth time since his birthday while his hearing was scanning the arrivals to the station for his Guide’s heartbeat. It was about twenty minutes until the train was due to depart that he finally heard the beautiful sound. He put the book back into his satchel and pulled his hearing back enough to not intrude as his Guide said farewell to his family. And then he heard it getting louder as his guide approached the compartment, with no hesitation at all. The door slid open, revealing Draco, flanked by two large (for eleven year olds) boys at his back. Proceeding before him, Harry saw a huge Siberian tiger, in orange and black and white but the entire animal was tinged deep blue.

“Finally. There you are. Sentinel.” Draco spoke as he advanced into the compartment, the two boys standing in the doorway but not advancing.

Harry stood, Pupple jumped down to the floor and became fully visible, and the confused but happy boy grinned and replied, “Guide.”

--

Astrum

 

Harry sat with his back to the window of the train car, turned sideways on the seat, one leg drawn up under his outer thigh, the other leg hanging off the seat, his foot swinging as it barely brushed the floor. Draco sat facing him in a mirror pose to his own, except his foot reached the floor. It wasn’t flat against it, his Guide wasn’t that tall compared to him but at least the ball of his foot could rest against the floor. Pupple - What, I was like barely old enough to talk when I named him! - and Astrum - It means star, my mother’s family are all named for stars and constellations, like I am, and I wanted to give a nod to family, and he only appeared this summer - were lounging on the seat opposite of theirs, heads pressed together. Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, essentially Draco’s bodyguards, were standing in the hallway in front of the closed door to head off anyone who wanted to come into the compartment and had declared they would remain there until the train was moving and everyone was settled into their seats.

Upon his initial entrance, Draco had firmly introduced himself by name, “Scion Draco Malfoy. Son and heir of Lord Lucius Malfoy and Lady Narcissa Malfoy. Guide. And my spirit companion, Astrum. To my left is Vincent Crabbe and to my right, Gregory Goyle. Their fathers are vassals of my father.”

Harry had smiled nervously. “Okay. Um. My name is Harry James Potter. Sentinel. And this is my spirit companion Pupple.”

Draco had stared, wide eyed and shocked and his friends had literally dropped their jaws open. Upon overcoming the first moment of shock, Goyle had murmured, “Well, that set the pixies among the doxies. Changes the blowing wind, for definite, Draco.”

Draco had nodded and after a few minutes casual conversation the two boys had taken up their guard posts, against all Harry’s protests over the idea. He was happy to be alone with his Guide but it seemed excessive, bodyguards at eleven.

Now he sat and stared at his Guide, drinking in the sight of his face, his hair, his bearing, all of him, imprinting a sense, knowing others would follow, as hearing had already been imprinted, fairly involuntarily on first meeting in Diagon Alley.

Draco sighed. “I awakened, fully that is, Astrum appeared to me when I had been home from Diagon for about ten minutes. But after you left Madam Malkin’s, I began to awaken in a gradual way. I could feel that Madam Malkin disliked the way my father spoke to her. At first, I thought I was reading the body language, but it kept happening, even from perfect strangers in stores. I could tell what they were feeling, even from behind when they weren’t speaking or moving, so I had over an hour to realize what had happened. And to pinpoint the likely cause - you. When I told my father about the boy I had met that must be my Sentinel and described what I knew of you - he - well, my father wasn’t pleased. Father was pleased that I had awakened. To be a Sentinel or Guide is very prestigious. But my description of you - the poorly fitting muggle clothing, the lack of a proper escort, the taped glasses - and I want to know about them later - it all pointed to a muggleborn - or well, not exactly a muggleborn because that isn’t possible. Sentinels and Guides are never muggle. I know that there are some that live there but they aren’t muggles, not technically . Sentinelism and Guidism are magical gifts. To manifest, the holder must have a magical core. The Sentinels and Guides in the muggle world are actually squibs. Squibs are children born to a magical family that don’t have access to their magical core. They have a core, they just don’t have channels to access it, it is essentially locked up. Many families place their squib children into the muggle world. It is considered a - kinder - fate than living in a world they can’t fully access, surrounded by peers who can do things that they never can. It leads to deep bitterness, those that stay, most of the time. So, father wasn’t pleased that you were likely born of squibs. But then I recalled that you said you were an orphan and your parents had attended Hogwarts. That made you slightly more palatable to him. We assumed you were raised in the muggle world but your pedigree was less - muddy.”

“Your father’s a bit of a snob, huh?” Harry raised his eyebrows.

“My father - he is what is known as a blood purist. I - this is - difficult. I was raised - the last month has been - I’m - I don’t think the boy that I was on July 30 would even recognize more than the physical appearance of the boy I am now, and it has only been a month. But the need - the compulsion - I had heard about it, of course. Sentinels and Guides are drawn to protect one another and to protect the Tribe. And the way I was raised, my father's politics - or at least the way they manifested in him and the recent family members, were not - I couldn’t spout his rhetoric, not anymore. The thoughts were making me physically ill, the emotions I felt from him when he was on a roll, I nearly went catatonic the first time until Astrum helped me block it out. Brief history lesson: in the 1960s and 1970s there was a wizard who was very charismatic. He drew people to him and his platform of protecting the wizarding world from muggle influence. The ideas aren’t even bad ones but somewhere along the way, something changed within him or the way he did things and the political enemies of his movement began dying, at first in accidents or seeming illness, but soon, they were being blatantly murdered. And then horrible murders were happening at his hands and the hands of his group in the muggle world as well. He was taking over our world, it was a war but the government was losing, badly. The books say it was likely that within a year, he would have overcome the last of the obstacles in his way and overthrown the government.”

Harry cocked his head to the side. “You’re talking about that Voldemort guy. The one who killed my parents and made me famous. Hagrid told me about him. A bit. Basically, what I just said.”

Draco nodded. “It was so bad that people feared to even speak his name. They were convinced that he would hear and come to kill them. So, even the newspapers and books began to call him You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Even now people will flinch and even scream if you say his name. No one really knows what happened the night he came to kill your family. The investigation into the event by the Unspeakables was released to the public in 1984 but it was murky and they weren’t sure about some things. Your father was - I - do you want to go into this? Really? You feel curious but unsure.”

“That’s because I am. It’s morbid, I guess, but I know next to nothing about them, you know. I didn’t even know their names until I met Hagrid. I’ve never even seen a picture. My aunt, my mother’s sister, hated her and transferred that emotion to me when I was dumped on their doorstep like a bottle of milk. They didn’t want me, but they were terrified of what the people who left me there would do to them if they got rid of me. So, I suppose I seem off somehow, wanting to hear a forensic analysis of my parents’ deaths but I don’t remember them. I miss the idea of them more than the people, you know.”

Draco nodded. “I suppose I can understand the idea behind your curiosity but if you need me to stop, we can, at any point. And don’t try to lie. I’ve got my shield around you and I’ll feel it if you get overwhelmed.”

Harry nodded and agreed, grinning at his Guide.

“Fine. Then, back to where I was - your father was found - just to make this clear, I only know so much off the top of my head because my father and his - associates - would often rant over the whole thing and examine all of the theories and things behind it.”

“They wanted to bring him back, huh?”

Draco looked shocked. “What?”

Harry smiled lightly, a sarcastic tilt to his lips. “Hagrid told me that most people think - can I call him by name or will you freak out? I want to call him by name, spit in his face like, but if it bothers you, I won’t.”

“I - Sometimes, I guess. I think I’ll have to get used to it, I suspect. But, if you could use an alias, at least today, I’d appreciate it.”

Harry nodded. “Okay. But I won’t use the idiotic hyphenated crap you were talking about. So, Hagrid told me that most people think that the Dark Git died the night he orphaned me but Hagrid wasn’t sure there was enough human in him to properly die by then. He thinks he’s out there still, trying to recover, biding his time. And understanding Hagrid as I do, based on my interactions with him, that means that Dumbledore thinks those things. And since Dumbledore has all of those titles and political handles and all, I’m guessing he knows something that he isn’t telling people to make him think the Dark Git isn’t really dead.”

Draco huffed a laugh. “Okay. Yes. My father was one of the Dark Git’s followers. But he didn’t go to jail because he convinced those in power that he was under the Imperius Curse, which is a mind control curse. Between us, he wasn’t , of course, but he paid enough in bribes to have it believed by the general public. So, alright, your father was found near the bottom of the stairs on the ground floor. His wand was on the sofa across the room. He had been killed by the Killing Curse. Your nursery door was blown in and your mother was found on the floor in front of your crib which was in the exact center of the room. Her wand was on the floor under the remains of the crib but there were no offensive or defensive spells on it. She didn’t put up a fight. Your crib was on its side and the clothing you were wearing was torn. The ceiling of the room was collapsed in one corner and the window was blown out. The furniture in the room was arranged oddly, making a pentagram with the crib in the middle. The only thing found of the Dark Git was his robes. His body and his wand were both missing. Your mother was confirmed to have been killed by the Killing Curse and there was spell residue in the room that pointed to more than one Killing Curse having been cast in the room. Your mother being unarmed leads to the speculation that you were hit and survived the curse. But only you and the Dark Git know for sure and neither of you are talking. Him because he’s banished and missing and likely disembodied. You because you could barely form words at the time and can’t recall now. But by the day after your parent’s deaths, you were being hailed as The Boy Who Lived. At first just because the Dark Git didn’t kill you but within a week, everyone knew you had survived the unsurvivable. That’s the tale as I know it. My father and his crowd think your mother did some ritual and her death powered it. The shape of the scar on your head is a fair indicator of something of that sort. It’s a rune, you know. So, any questions?”

Harry rubbed his scar. “Loads. But none you could likely answer. Based on everything I know or have figured out, I bet Dumbledore was the one to spread the idea of me surviving not just an attack but the Killing Curse. He’s been involved in everything in my life since that night, and before for all I know. Hagrid said he was there the night Dumbledore left me with a letter on the doorstep. And I’ll tell you that did not endear him to me. But he sent Hagrid to escort me to Diagon Alley and instructed him to not let me purchase anything not on my supply list. I was lucky to get a satchel for my books. It isn’t on the list, you see. But, as I pointed out, neither is a trunk or shoes, so unless I was supposed to be barefoot at Hogwarts…”

Draco laughed aloud. “Brilliant! You are so sarcastic. I really like it.”

“Thanks. I had to develop that trait to survive my relatives, especially my cousin. He’s fairly dim and using big words and confusing phrasing made it hard for him to figure out how I was insulting him.”

“You use it well.”

“Thanks. So, um, to change the subject but still ask a question, how common are Sentinels and Guides? In the muggle world they are really rare. Well known. But really rare.”

“It isn’t a common gift but we aren't likely to be the only ones among our yearmates. Well, no, that’s probably inaccurate. By the time we leave Hogwarts there will probably be at least three to five others awakened. I don’t think it is likely any are awake in our year group at this point. The only reason I’m awakened is because you are. And why is that by the way?”

Harry sighed and reached his hand forward to grasp Draco’s hand in his. “I can’t recall not being online - or as you call it - awakened. I didn’t know about Sentinels as such until a year or so ago when it came up in history class in primary. But Pupple has been with me as long as I can really remember. I know - I have some vague memories of being alone but they are so vague and old that I know I came on - awakened around age three or four. My relatives - I told you that they hated me. They kept me - my bedroom was a cupboard under the stairs. They locked me in there, often, and punished me, harshly, physically, for what they called freakishness, what I now know was magic. They also punished me just because they were having a bad day or because my cousin lied about me or if I made their son look bad by doing better than him at something other than the chores they made me do. The isolation and the stress of living with them brought me - awakened me, I’ll get it right, soon, early and Pupple helped me stay stable and sane.”

Draco gripped Harry’s hand hard and slid his other arm around his shoulders, pulling their foreheads together. “I’m so sorry, Harry.”

“Not your fault. And you asked earlier, about the glasses I was wearing in Diagon Alley, I have them in my bag, when my aunt realized I was a Sentinel, she got me a pair of glasses to keep anyone from guessing the truth. She hated Sentinels and Guide even more than magic. So, I was really, truly the worst thing ever in her mind.”

Draco nodded. “Bitch.”

Harry slid closer to his Guide, their knees touching and slid his head down to the crook of Draco’s neck, breathing deeply. “Draco! Language!” Harry giggled.

Draco ran his hand through Harry’s hair. “Alright, one more thing. I don’t know how much you know about Hogwarts and the Houses there. I brought you some books from him about various things since I was fairly sure you grew up in the muggle world. But Hogwarts has four Houses. We’ll be sorted when we get to school this evening. They are Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. Before I awakened, I was definitely headed to Slytherin, home of the sly and cunning and ambitious. Now, I’m not so sure. It also tends to be the home of the worst of the pureblood bigots. Not the entire House, no matter what some say. But a fair percentage. Gryffindor is the home of the brave and daring and headstrong. There is a fierce rivalry between them and Slytherin. Ravenclaw is the House of the intelligent and wise. They have a private library. Hufflepuff is the House of the loyal and hard workers. It also takes the leftovers. Any who don’t fit into the other Houses. Most consider them duffers. Most people assume the Boy Who Lived is automatically destined for Gryffindor but having met you, I’m not sure. As awakened Sentinel and Guide pair, we’ll be sorted like everyone else but arrangements will be made for our needs. If we are sorted into the same House, things will be easiest. I did my research and Father brought me the bylaws and rules for the situation. He’s on the Board of Governors. If in the same House, we’ll simply be given our own bedroom - with two beds though we can share if needed - and bathroom with Sentinel bathing products. If in different Houses, we will be given a small suite of our own with magical doors that will let us into our own House’s common room but not the other’s. As I said, we can share a bed if needed for our stability and sanity but it is illegal for us to fully bond, that is - um - you know, sexually - until we are both sixteen.”

Harry nodded. “I’m not - I - I’m eleven. I don’t even - I know all about it, I’m a Sentinel and can’t always block out what I hear and stuff, especially when I was little but I - I haven’t even started puberty yet, not really.”

“Me either. Don’t be silly. I’m just telling you the rule. Though in this case, it is the law. Now, can you sit up? The train started moving about twenty minutes ago. Everyone should have seats by now. We need to let Greg and Vince come sit down.”

Harry took one more deep breath of his guide’s scent and sat up nodding his head. “Okay.”

Draco stood, straightened his clothing and turned toward the door. He placed his hand on the handle when he stopped and turned back around. “Oh and for future reference, your proper introduction would be: Lordling Harry James Potter, son of the late Lord James and Lady Lily Potter, Scion Black, Dukeling Peverell, Prince Gryffindor. We’ll talk more about that and what it means later. Lots later. You are in overload and need to not be a Sentinel or Lordling right now. Just enjoy our first ride on the Hogwarts Express, make friends and eat sweets, relax. We have plenty of time for everything, I promise.”

Draco opened the door to let his friends in and Harry sat back against the window once more, smiling at the thought of just being a regular kid. He rather liked that idea. His Guide already knew him well.

 

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