Someone noticed… the woman who dragged a boy behind her like a pack mule, the man at the office who only spoke of one child when he had the taxes saying two. Someone noticed the little boy that limped, twisted, and cushioned himself from the bruises left by violent hands, the fear, and the abuse he took with steely reverence and razor wit. It took years, it took longer than it ever should have for someone to notice Harry James Potter.
The one who did, had him pointed out her by a tour guide. His sweat about the secrecy of magic spiking to a masculine musk that repelled her, the coffee shop so tightly packed with other customers -mostly other students and professors - she couldn’t escape it permeating into her clothing. He stage whispered, as if anyone would understand or care about what two particular scholars would be chatting about, the little boy there, trailing behind a family set, close enough to keep track but out of arms reach. She read up on the wizarding history of her new home country, but she really didn’t care about the passing life of a figure still in his early years portion of his history book. He deserved some space to experience his youth, something so often withheld from people of note. She didn't know a lot of things, he was sure to not know many things, he should be allowed that... it's often not.
"Oh, does he study magic yet?" is all she responded.
"No, no, not yet that doesn't begin until year seven. Got some time yet-he does, not that he'll need much, eh?" the chicken wing nudge to her bicep wafted perspiration into her nostrils, ringing them dry and leaving them begging for a sneeze.
"Is there no help for young accidental magic? Primary schools equipped to handle that?" her voice raising a feathers' width from loud, scandal dripping from the spikes of judgment, like hot blood.
The man panicked, darted his eyes like he was a shitty double-O-seven, and she had blown their cover. She peered back at the boy, would exposure to magic early enough -like his- affect his accidental magic? Or even his magic in general?
OOH, now there's a research question!
His shoulders slumped into a giant question mark, a slightly distended stomach sticking to the front of his shirt, sloppily draped around him. He took quick steps, yet still fell behind, having to look in front with his head pointed at the ground, gravity pulling the bent, wiry frames of glasses that do not suit his face down and almost off his straight, but bumped nose. She suspected a nose fracture at the least, maybe broken but overlooked, like hers just after her 18th birthday.
"No, no, families can handle that, when non-magical parents get an explanation about their child attending Hogwarts is their introduction to the... new world."
"That seems irresponsible and risky for the statute of secrecy." she worked hard to raise her eyebrows as high on her forehead as possible, trying to act as comically as possible, push him to think about it beyond an explanation by the society that told him these rules.
She hopes his curiosity is piqued, but she sips the London fog tea mixture in her biodegradable cup thinking that might be the end of this conversation. She felt a stone fill her stomach, then empty out like she was emulating Harry's own reality.
Hunger, it was a reality for her at one point, sometimes she falls into it again, just as she falls into gluttony. Has he ever been gluttonous? as every child should at some point. Suddenly she saw every action of the quartet as dangerous, the swing of arms the snappy words, nails digging into flesh. Was this just her survivor brain? Honestly she didn't have enough time to truly unpack that, she was up and out of the vinyl seat with her bag swinging around her hips.
Hand reaching into her bag, "Apparentia" a business card being formed from the molecules around her fingers, held between the index and middle.
I want to help, I want to help, I want to help
hear me hear me hear me
She prayed, to powers that patronage was in thievery, love, mothering, protection.
The pace of her walk faltered into step for the drop, it was in the boy's hands now.
Now was her penance for butting into something that doesn't have to be about her. Circling back to where she came from.
"What did you do?!?!" Jeffery was gripping the table as she sat back down.
"Just left a connection is all." as she used the warm cup to calm herself down again.
Harry didn't recognize the woman, he never recognized the people who came up to him oddly. She dressed normally, if a little alternative, but not the mismatch bomb that the odd people usually wore.
She said no words and had bent around him just as he was bending around her in the crowded street. The Dursley's dragged him along with only the promise that being homeless would be worse.
The strange people prove that, with their wide smiles and the hands brushing his arms. There are worse things, he knows that it could be his reality if he leaves the Dursley's. If they think he's locked away, he can rest, not be on guard for attacks. What is a life with any more dangers than his beatings? He doesn't want to experience it, he can survive this.
The card merely said, Meave Dubhan in what could be a slightly bigger font that let the smaller type underneath go a little more unnoticed.
Rip up card, Put under plant-based anything.
He left the card on his pillow. For three days he stared this sliver of card stock before going to bed and waking up. What could he lose, nothing could get so bad that he could deal with it right?
He ripped it up.
Placed it under the floorboard beside his pillow.
He went about his day.
Harry meets a new friend and makes decisions no child should have to.
Something was growing beside Harry's bed. Not mold or insect eggs like other times, he didn't sneak some bleach from Aunt Petunia's cleaning cupboard to get it gone. It smelled like wet earth, or rain, like blooming flowers and green vines, well it was a green vine so that was a little stupid, Harry thinks to himself. He liked it. Loosely rooted to the ground, reaching for a sky that didn't seem to exist in the dank cupboard of Harry's.
It brought good dreams... Strong, memorable dreams. Set in a cozy little living room, of a well-sized loft. The fading light lasting with the new summer schedule turning into a barley starlit sky, the city made up for the rest of the light that would illuminate the conversations with the woman.
The same one who gave him a card would always have a strong tea and the same hand-knit forest green blanket on the chair he would occupy for a few hours while he slept.
The dream-scape was homely. The conversations were far-fetched and intelligent. It felt different, but Harry awoke so calmly that he didn't care what they really were. Meave asked him about his life, shared her own, there was a line he refused to cross. He couldn't tell her everything about the Dursley's, it could get him in trouble.
"Ba! Dumb-ass teachers confronting an abuser without an exit strategy. I know she's a young teacher, but it seems like incredibly simple logic to be a hundred and ten percent sure the kids not going home with the monster before you say fuck-all about calling the cops on their ass."
He liked her cursing... So American, with some Irish-like tendencies. "I'm Canadian from Irish immigrants," She has said, "what else ya want from meh?" It was just like her accent-all over the place- a total crapshoot.
Meave was different tonight, like ropes of stone straining to hold back pulsing lava. Her anger being shoved down, controlled, dangerous.
"I'm not feeling too hot today bud, sorry about that."
"that's okay." he wanted to wake up, she felt powerful like this, dangerous like this
"no it's not, I had an argument and I should not let that steep in our conversation." she sunk into her couch, letting her head fall into her hands, before pushing back to pull at the roots of her hair.
"I can tell your uncomfortable, so unless you tell me it's not my bad mood then I'm going to assume it's me. I get it, I was super aware of peoples emotions too, and I'm not going to say that I'm fine because I know you're not in a good situation and I want to help."
"What? no, everything's fine." It's fine, it's fine, it's fine. Harry thought, she'll go away and he'll wake up and the hope crushing his chest like his stomach was an inflating balloon would pop.
"Look I think you deserve more than the Dursley's, I was wondering if you wanted to come stay with me for a bit... just get out of there and then you can make some choices, your still pretty young, a bunch of laws still apply to 8-year-olds. I want to give you your best choices?"
"I'm fine, it's okay." Harry didn't know what else to say, it sounded hollow, echoing around his head like it was the room.
"Would you like to come to stay with me?" She looked intensely into his eyes for a second, shifting away like she was afraid of it herself.
"what?!" Harry suddenly felt queasy, "These are more than dreams?!"
"Yes, I've been using magic." the rubbing of her hands, like spreading lotion, making enough noise to distract him.
"I was worried about you, that day. I remember how isolating it can be."
"what can be? can I do magic?" Hope bubbled up in Harry, the watched pot finally giving hint of a boil.
"I should think so, I can feel it in you, smell it."
That was not what Harry expected, did he stink? Dudley usually did, he hated that.
"I notice how you move here, how you avoid things. I don't think that house is the best place for you. I want to create that for you here. I have my job at the uni, and I am not totally in or out of the magical and no-maj worlds so it's not a huge thing."
Harry woke up. Aunt Petunia was banging on the door to his cupboard and turning the handle. He threw his blanket over the vine, the door opened.
Harry had a pit in his stomach all day, someone knew.
The day progressed, Dudley throwing things at him with piss poor aim, taking after Petunia and Vernon who were admittedly more practiced and true to their intended targets.
Harry was hit twice more than usual because he was thinking over Meave's offer, he could be gone, could stay in that flat with her. With the good tea, warm blankets, and surrounded by books. She had a nice chess set, had been teaching him a card game called Tarocchi or Tarot. He could like it there very much, and really anywhere was better than here.
Locking himself in his cupboard was a relief after sprinting away from Dudley's chubby attack to get his head in the boiling shower that Aunt Petunia was running for steaming her crinoline skirt for Uncle Vernon's business party. He was content to listen to the pattering of Dudley's Halloween costume being made, with the video game blasting from in front of the larger cousin.
"Alright, I'll come home with you," he whispered in his hands into the flower, a thought that sat at the back of his mind, guilty with indecision for the last week as he continued his dreaming. Meave hadn't changed at all, as if she never offered at all, but it had. She kept accepting him back and pouring tea.
When he entered their shared dream that night, it felt more like a dream. The floor was swaying like a seesaw, out the window the world was spinning like a top and the room was the axis.
"I would like to come live with you." Harry felt like his stomach was bungee-jumping in his ribs.
"Okay," She placed her hands on his shoulders, "I'm excited for that if you're ready."
She was taking a deep breath, her waving arms drew sigils and the world stopped shaking.
"I have to tell you something, but I need you to know that I'm going to take you here and you can do and be anything." Harry didn't mind the sound of that but the worry in her voice scared him.
"What do you know about your parents?"
The topic stung a bit but left Harry more confused than he'd been in a long time.
"Not much, they weren't working when they got into a car accident and were killed on impact, I escaped with my scar and was left with Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon."
"Okay sweetheart, I need you to understand that you have magic because your parents had magic."
Harry inflated, A beautiful connection, he wasn't a freak he was his parent's child.
"In the magical world, there was a war, your parents fought in it and died for it. They supported freedom and liberty and equity." Harry's parents were good people, he was so proud.
"And they were targeted because sometimes magical people are born to non-magical people and that threatens some groups in our world. They hate them, want them dead like they want non-magical people dead or at least slaves beneath them."
"That's terrible!" Harry was horrified, were the magical people no better than the ones on the street who hated his skin, called him names like the schoolkids did?
"Your mother was a muggle-born, that's why your aunt doesn't have abilities. Your parents were targeted and went into hiding, they were betrayed and killed, because of a prophecy that many believed was about you."
It was all his fault, he did deserve punishment, his parents had died because of him. His shock must have shown on his face.
"Your parents died for you because they wanted you to have the best world they could give you. You are not to blame, you cannot carry that sin because it doesn't exist for you. Do you hear me?"
"yes, I understand." But he just felt numb.
"You are seen as an amazing wizard, a celebrity may be too many of the magical folks. But many still support the ideals of racism and xenophobia and segregation, so you have to be careful just like you would in the muggle world, Okay?"
"of course, I was hoping they might be better though." He felt dejected, and let down, but why should he have hoped for more.
"People are still people and we can still try and create a beautiful, accepting world. It's just not here yet" Meave gathered him up in her arms, he was still small enough, and the Dursley's had made sure he wasn't too heavy.
"A man that your parents trusted, named Albus Dumbledore, decided to leave you with your aunt for the magical protection of not being around magic I supposed?" Her hands shook just as much as he did, rubbing his back and sinking into her armchair with him.
"He left you there, and want you to continue to be there. I got into a fight with him about it. So I was wondering if you still want to come to live with me? Because I would gladly claim you so that he can't."
He knew as he looked into her eyes, all he saw was protection and fearful anger. She was angry for him, he could love her as a friend, as an equal, whatever that looks like.
"Yes, I want to be here."