Hari looked around her, her eyes widening at the desolate landscape in front of her. Ice. Snow. Three… no… Four trees. Lots of rocks lined with cold snow. No home. No cities. No towns. A cold breeze tore her breath away, making her cough at the coldest air that she had ever been in. She reached into her trunk, stepped into it and put on warmer clothes, throwing on a black cloak, a long-sleeve shirt and sturdy boots. She cast a warming charm on herself before she ventured back out into the country that she had appeared in, took a deep, chilling breath and walked up and out of the trunk.
“Of all the places that I landed in, it had to be a frozen wasteland,” Hari muttered, pulling her hair back into a tail when another cold gust of wind bracketed her. “Must be the Potter luck.”
She snorted at the thought, thankful that at least there was a sun in the sky, however ineffective it was. Her fingers wrapped around her holly wand as she continued to look around, looking for any sign of civilization. Howls started up in the distance and she stilled, imagining a ferocious pack of wolves running throughout the snow. She was fairly sure she could defend herself against a pack of wolves but better safe than sorry. Hari drew out her quidditch goggles, strapped them on, before taking out her Firebolt and mounting.
She could have just shifted into her animagus form and traveled that way but she didn’t know how her form would be accepted here. It was a form that would be uniquely suited to this area but… Flying on a broomstick would probably be less threatening. Probably. She sighed and flew into the air and kept under the few clouds in the sky as she looked for homes or buildings that meant people lived here.
It took several hours for her to reach any town or village and she slowed down when she saw children walking between small one story homes. One of the kids was a boy, his head of ginger hair a bright spot amongst the snow and ice. There was a big fire pit in the middle of the five or six small wooden homes and two women tending it.
The men that Hari could see were clothed in thick winter clothing that did not leave any skin showing. They held spears and axes in their hands and the look in their eyes was threatening, intimidating. There was a woman with a sword in her hands as well and Hari grinned slightly as she lowered down to the ground.
The kids yelled at her appearance and the ginger haired boy’s eyes widened.
“What the fuck are you?” The warrior woman turned to look at her, her blue eyes widening.
Hari’s eyes widened a little at the language but then again… She should have expected it. Anyone who lived here, in this climate and landscape, were hard people. The woman’s hand went to her sword as Hari put away her broom, miniaturizing it and tucking it away.
“Hari. I’m Hari. I’m not going to harm you.”
Their words and the shouting of the children had drawn more people to her, crowding around her in a half circle. Her magic sparked at the potential threat and she took a deep breath again, aiming for no instinctual magic getting loose.
“What’s with the broom? And how the fuck were you flying?”
“Who’s the leader of this village?” Hari questioned, peering down at the boy with ginger hair. He had snuck up on her as she was talking with the warrior woman. The boy stared up at her with wide blue eyes and she grinned at him.
“I’m going to steal you when I get older,” the boy said, smiling widely at her. “We’re going to have beautiful babies.”
Hari blinked. “Alright… How old are you?”
“I’m ten and two. Mother said I should steal a strong woman.”
“Tormund, get over here!”
“Aye, mother! I found my girl!”
Hari watched in bemusement as the ginger-haired boy, Tormund, ran off, back through the crowd. His mother stood at the corner home and tugged him inside when he reached her.
“Are you a witch woman?”
Hari turned back to the first warrior, a woman who looked to be ten or twenty years older than herself. “Yes? You’re the leader of the village?”
“Name’s Joanna. What are you doing here?”
“I just landed here myself. Where is… here?”
The woman stared at her, her dark blonde hair pulled back in a tight braid, and Hari stared back. They were both of the same height, around six feet tall.
“You’re in the Frostfangs,” Joanna answered finally, gesturing to the homes around them and to the great hall at the north end of it. “That’s Ruddy Hall.”
Hari nodded, pulling her cloak tighter around her shoulders. More howling filled the air and a few of the men cursed under their breath.
“Direwolves, again. Thought they stayed away last time.”
“Might be one of Haggon’s,” Joanna called over to the person speaking. “You have a home around here?”
Hari shook her head. “Direwolves?”
“You’re not from around here.”
“Come. I shall introduce you to the folk around here,” Joanna offered, gesturing around the small village. “It’s not usual to not know where one is. Be mindful of the wolves, snow bears and shadowcats.”
Hari’s eyes widened as she followed the woman, passing through the crowd as they walked through the snow. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her and shrugged it off, as used to the Ministry and the whole population of the wizarding world looking at her. At least these people weren’t staring at her scar, like they knew her. She wasn’t the Girl-Who-Lived here.
“Torik and I offer you a bed,” Joanna said as they walked back into her home an hour later. “You’re not a kneeler so no one will look down on you for that.”
“Folk who kneel to kings and lords,” Joanna explained in a quiet but firm voice. “Those are south of the Wall.”
“You spoke of the Night’s Watch. What’s that?” Hari questioned, as Joanna closed the door behind them. Two kids ran about the hall and stopped to look at her, their eyes widening.
“Men who guard the Wall. They forbid us from passing through it,” Joanna offered. “Hari, I would not recommend joining them. They do not allow women to fight unlike us free folk.”
Joanna grinned, showing off a toothy smile.
“People like us don’t need dragons to tell us what to do,” Torik called out, from the far corner of the home. It was a small thing, a small cabin, but Hari wasn’t going to complain. It wasn’t like it was smaller than the cupboard.
“Did you say dragons?” Hari echoed, her heart skipping a beat at the thought of it.
“Aye. The kneelers have the dragons as their king,” Torik said, grimacing.
“Dragons… as in fire breathing creatures?” Hari asked.
“They like to call themselves that but no one’s become a dragon. Or so I’ve heard,” Joanna said, rolling her eyes. “Few have tried, drinking wildfire and the like. They all died stupidly.”
Hari stayed at Joanna and Torik’s home for a week, helping out whenever possible. She met the villagers, none of whom stared at her awkwardly. Tormund, the ginger haired boy, stuck to her like glue, always joining her when she helped the women and three of the men get water from the nearest stream.
The first time she used her magic everyone’s eyes widened in awe. There had been a rockslide a month after she had arrived, three miles away from Ruddy Hall. The cliff that bordered the village to the north had been set off by something, no one knew. A few of the spearwives had gone hunting and had taken her, on Joanna’s suggestion, and Hari had caught the rocks in the air.
Lennora, one of the spearwives, had been the first to see what Hari was doing, her brown eyes widening so much. The rocks were suspended in the air above them, with Hari glaring at them like they had done her wrong. Her green eyes were glowing and that stick of hers was in held tightly in her hand. Snow flakes threaded through the witch girl’s black hair as it spread out against her back.
Lennora and the other spearwomen of the village all moved out from under the rocks, letting Hari have space for her craft. They watched her tap the wand against her leg, her fingers curling around it, and the rocks moved in the air, slowly floating to the left.
When all was done, Hari stood amongst the snow and trees alone. The witch girl wasn’t even breathing heavily, her shoulders lose under the fur cloak that she had been granted by Joanna.
Hari startled a little at the words, turning to look at Lennora and then rolled her eyes. “I told you folk my name. I don’t need another.”
“Aye, you did. We wildlings give each other names,” Lennora remarked, grinning and wrapping her fingers around her spear again. “That’s yours.”
“Fine. I’ll be Hariel Potter, the Girl-Who-Lived, the Woman Who Conquered and Lady Gryffindor. I’ll be Hariel Winterscar. That’s enough names for me,” Hari muttered, dropping her hand to the blade at her waist. None of the wildlings had seen her use the sword but everyone knew Hari could defend herself just as well with her craft.
The first attack on Ruddy Hall came not four months later while Hari had gone off with Tormund and the younger children on a hunt. Hari had learned about where the other clans were over the last few months but she supposed word had spread of her talents. Just like Tormund had said when she had first arrived, men wanted to steal her away to be their bride. Others just wanted a look at her, their eyes widening as they saw her do magic.
Tormund had turned 13 just a few days ago and was the eldest of them, fighting with an axe. Tormund gathered the children together, keeping them between him and Hari as they fought off the men. Hari whispered spell after spell, a few blasting charms and a hex or two, casting to injure, not to kill.
“Where are these men and women from?” Hari shouted over the icy winds of the day, snatching the arm of one of the kids as they ventured too far out of their tiny circle. The boy looked up at her with a chagrined expression and then kept close to her for the rest of the fight. Tormund grinned as he hit the last man standing, his axe pushing through the man’s body and going out the other side.
“They’re of the Frozen shore,” Tormund replied, checking over his friends. “Everyone good?”
“Aye. We’re fine,” Dorrell said, a boy of eight. He lived next door to Tormund. “We should get home. This could have been…”
Hari stared at the boy and then nodded. “A diversion.”
Tormund’s eyes widened before shouting to the others to get going. Hari took up the rear, magic curling around her as she looked around for any other men or women that were still standing. They quickened their pace as they came upon their home, seeing a dead reindeer at the first home. Tormund raced away, heading to his home while the children did the same.
The little village was surrounded by trees, unlike where she had first landed, and further south was the Frozen Shore, where another clan of free folk lived. And then there was the cannibal clan of the ice river. A few of the ice-river clansmen had ambushed the spearwives of Ruddy Hall and the warrior men, leaving three injured and two dead.
A fourth, younger woman was taken, dragged away unconscious to be a wife for one of their own men.
Tormund refused to leave Hari’s side as she drew her wand and began to heal the injured men and women, his blue eyes wide as he looked on. His hand was on his axe, with a white knuckled grip.
“Tormund, I’m too old for you,” Hari muttered, spelling her hair into a tight braid and pressing her hands down on the arrow wound in the man’s thigh. The man, a friend of Torik’s, grimaced but stayed still, having seen her heal others before.
“Aye. But we don’t want you taken or hurt.”
Hari glanced at her little shadow, seeing the 13 year old boy stare at her in determination. All of the children learned to fight at a young age and learned survival skills north of the Wall. Though Hari had yet to see this Wall, she imagined something big, some big stone thing covered in snow.
“I’m the only warrior who isn’t injured,” Tormund added, glaring at her like she was going to argue with him.
“Fine. Stay.” Hari sighed and whispered spells to clean the wound and knit the skin together under her hands. “Where does this ice-river clan live?”
“South. But not too south, Hari.”
Hari blinked again. “Who was killed?”
Her eyes widened, her heart aching at the thought of losing the blunt warrior woman. “She was the leader of this village! Who… The ice-river clans are cannibals, aren’t they?”
“Aye. The men of the Frozen Shore are at the deep south while the ice-river clans are between us and them. Before you came, I always wanted to steal a girl from the Frozen shore clan. They have reindeer there and dogs as big as direwolves!”
Hari laughed shakily under her breath, finishing up with Orlaf and seeing him dip his head in thanks. “Who’s the next leader? Is anyone going after the woman who was taken?”
“I am.” Tormund looked out over the big hall, seeing the many people crowded into the main room. “We must burn the bodies.”
Nods of assent were given and people filed out, their heads bowed. Hari could see no tears though, no long expressions of grief on these people’s faces. It was the way of the world for these people, the wildlings. No one grieved long for lost people.