November of 1986
Loki was used to prayers. Sure, he didn’t get them as often as some gods did, but he had a few loyal followers who were daring enough to invoke his name in their prayers-- not to mention his other self, but Loki didn’t like to mention that much. He had just enough prayers to keep himself sustained, but few enough that it was no hardship to look into and address each one.
Prayers were generally precluded by a little tickle, and the vague impression that someone had called your name. Which someone had, generally. Funny thing, that. This one came with the scent of chocolate-- an offering.
The trickster instantly focused in on the voice. A hop across the pond-- ah, England. Had to be Remus Lupin, then. The werewolf was one of the very few that still kept up contact.
Granted, several of the others had their reasons for losing contact with their dear old Patron God.
“I, well. I apologize if I am disturbing you. It’s Remus, and I was just… Just thinking.” It was strange how old his voice sounded. Wasn’t he still in his twenties? Those were supposed to be the young and vibrant years. The war hadn’t taken them only from the young casualties it seemed. “I don’t know where she is-- James’ daughter, little Alexandrite. Dumbledore won’t tell me. He only tells me she is safe, but I still worry for her. I just want her to be safe and happy. Can you look after her where I, James, and Lily can’t? Please? She’s all I-- all I have left.”
How could Loki deny such an earnest request? There was a please and everything! Remus was always such a polite and respectful boy, something many of Loki’s followers tended to lack. Not that he minded much, bless all of their little crooked hearts.
Besides, Remus’ request happened to echo the last wish of a dear follower. Loki didn’t forget anything. He remembered the words with perfect clarity.
“He’s here, oh, Merlin, he’s here and-- please, Loki, my wife and daughter-- he’s after my daughter, don’t let him hurt them.”
Loki had failed on account of Lily Potter. There hadn’t been much he could do without making a big splash and drawing attention to himself. He’d rather his brothers upstairs not get the memo that he was hiding out on Earth. However, Lily Potter’s sacrifice had given him the opportunity to pull off a neat trick that saved the kiddo and dealt with crazy on a power trip in one fell swoop. He was rather proud of that one.
Eh, why not look in on Alexandrite Haven Potter?
Alexandrite Haven Potter
New York City, New York, USA
November of 1986
It was cold. Dudley’s old jacket didn’t do nearly enough to keep Alexandrite warm. The wind was biting, but she dared not stay inside anywhere for long.
Something was after her. She didn’t know what. Alexandrite had to keep running. It would get her.
She was used to running from Dudley and his friends. This was different. There was no cupboard to hide in. There was no guarantee of a tisk from Aunt Petunia and a, “Remember, not too visible, the neighbors might see,” or maybe a “Vernon, we don’t want to have to waste money on dragging the Freak to the Hospital again.”
Alexandrite was alone. She didn’t know where the Dursleys were anymore. Had it been long enough that their week’s holiday was up and they had gone back to Number 4, Privet Drive? She couldn’t tell. She had lost track. She was cold, so cold, and more hungry than she’d ever been before. She couldn’t sneak to the refrigerator in the middle of the night. There was no refrigerator. There were no scraps from the kitchen.
The girl was freezing and starving and weak and shaking and so, so scared, she just wanted to curl up and cry but she couldn’t. It would catch her. It would hurt her. She needed to run. She couldn’t help the few tears that snuck out as she ran, though. The little tears froze on her cheeks.
On and on, the constant beat of her feet against the icy roads and alleys. She slipped and slid in the ice and snow, but didn’t let it slow her down. Alexandrite just kept running. She couldn’t look back. Then she would see and she didn’t want to see. Not again.
Her legs hurt. Her chest hurt. Her sides stung. Her gut ached. Her head felt fuzzy. She wanted more than anything to stop.
She couldn’t stop. If she did it would catch her. She didn’t want it to catch her. She couldn’t let it. She had to get away.
Alexandrite was just so tired. So sleepy. She wanted to rest. She wanted to eat. She was thirsty. How long could she run anyway? Not forever.
But if she stopped it would catch her it would have her she would hurt and have to look at it again.
Her feet slipped again, and she fell.
Alexandrite couldn’t get up. Her legs shook and wouldn’t let her. Her arms shook. The little girl cried out, terrified but exhausted and weak. She shut her eyes tight. She wouldn’t have to see. This was just a dream. Just a dream, just a dream, just a dream. Alexandrite curled up on the ground, hiding her head and keeping her eyes closed. She didn’t even peek.
There was a shriek. She jumped, but she was so tired. Alexandrite didn’t open her eyes. She didn’t move. It was just a dream. She was going to wake up at Number 4 Privet Drive and this would all just be a dream.
Suddenly she felt warm and safe. It was like how she imagined being wrapped in a hug would feel. The pain faded.
“You’re safe,” the voice was gentle, barely more than a whisper on the wind, “It won’t get you.”
She felt even weaker from relief. Alexandrite didn’t have to run anymore. She could rest. She could sleep.
Tired as she was, it didn’t cross her mind to doubt the voice.
“Not quite yet. Wait.” The voice sounded amused in her ear. With great effort, she opened her eyes and looked around. It was dark, the alley lit only by dim lights from the main street. She could see a shape walking towards her. Her first instinct was to cower, raising her trembling arms to protect her face.
No hit came.
“Hello?” This voice was different than the one on the wind. It was a man’s voice. “You can come out. It’s gone.”
She felt something like a gentle nudge that helped her to stand on her legs. Alexandrite swayed, but didn’t fall over. “Hello?”
The man’s arms lowered as he turned to look at her. He was holding a gun. She took a few wary steps closer, but kept her distance. She couldn’t see his features well in the dark, but he didn’t sound angry. Even so. She couldn’t trust him.
His voice softened a little as he spoke, “What happened to your parents? Were they with you, or...?”
“They’re dead,” Alexandrite replied. She kept silent about the car crash, and that Aunt Petunia always said it was their fault because her father had been a drunken hooligan. People always looked at her strange after they were told, so she didn’t like to tell. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon liked telling the neighbors or anyone who would listen about how awful her parents had been and how she’d be just like them.
“Is there anyone, like family or a family friend, who can take care of you, then?” the man asked. “Do you know how I can find them?”
Alexandrite froze. He wanted to know how to find the Dursleys. She could tell him. She could say Number 4, Privet Drive and he would take her back. But then it would be back in the cupboard for her, probably for a month or worse, for getting lost and making someone take her home. If you get lost, then stay lost. We should never have taken you in after your no-good parents died. We should have dropped you off at an orphanage where children like you belong.
Slowly, she shook her head. She didn’t want to go back. She didn’t want to stay lost, either, though. Alexandrite wanted food, and sleep, and no cupboard. She wanted not to hurt, not to ache.
“No,” she said at last, her voice weak. But she had to say it, or he might not believe her. He might still say that she was lying and demand to know where they lived. Demand that she go back. But she wouldn’t go, she decided tiredly. She’d fight and scream if she had to. She’d run. Even if she was tired. She would run again before going back.
“Alright. Alright.” The man tucked the gun into his jacket. “Look. Will you come with me? I need to get you somewhere safe before it comes back for you.”
Alexandrite began to shake again, “I-- It’s co-- coming back?” Her voice squeaked.
“We’ll get you to safety before that happens. I’ll deal with it, so it won’t hurt you again. Come on.” The man knelt down and offered a hand. She didn’t have to look up anymore. She met his eyes. He wasn’t making her go back. But that didn’t mean she could trust him. Even if the voice said she was safe. What did it know about safe, anyway? The thing was still out there.
But eventually, she reached her hand out and slowly took his. What else could she do? The man said he’d deal with it.
She had to walk fast to keep up with him, but she didn’t mind, not if the thing was going to come back. She didn’t want to see it again.
Speaking of. “How are you going to deal with it?” she asked doubtfully. He was tall and bulky, sure, but what could he do?
The man sighed, “I’m working on it.”
“So you don’t know,” she replied, “How are you going to deal with it if you don’t even know how?”
“I’m going to figure it out.”
She snorted. Sure he would. Alexandrite eyed him critically. He probably wouldn’t be able to do anything. But the thought of leaving him, and the only shred of safety from the thing, was scary. She was tired, anyway. So tired. She didn’t want to run off on her own again if she didn’t have to. Not yet.
The man brought her to a car and gestured for her to get inside. She hesitated, giving the man a searching look. At last she decided to get inside. It would take her away from the thing. She was doubtful of the man, but she couldn’t pass up the chance to get just a little farther away that much faster.
Alexandrite slept hard on the way to wherever it was the man was taking her. She was rather sore about him making her wake up when they reached wherever it was they were going.
Grumbling, she followed after him as he led her towards a building. Alexandrite took several moments to puzzle out that he’d taken her to some sort of hotel, or was it motel? People changed them up, it was confusing. Which was it?
She was brought to one of the rooms, which really wasn’t a bad option. Even if she had to take the floor like when she’d been staying at that hotel with the Dursleys at the start of the trip.
“Dad?” a voice called. It was a boy. Alexandrite frowned at him. He was bigger than her. People who were bigger than her were mean to her, mostly. Like Dudley and his friends.
The boy ran up to get a hug from the man, but then caught her eye and stared back at her. “Who’s she, dad?”
The man went to answer, but stopped. He looked at her, then asked, “What’s your name, kid?”
She almost said ‘Alexandrite’. Then she thought. Alexandrite was a freak. If she was Alexandrite, she’d be the daughter of criminals and hated and beat up and locked away. She wanted, more than anything, to be strong. Then Dudley would never be able to hurt her again.
So she couldn’t be Alexandrite. That girl was weak. But… she could be…
“Haven. I’m Haven.”
John left her in the room with the boy, who she learned was named Dean.
Haven stared at Dean, who stared back. He didn’t seem to know what to do. She held her head high. She was tired and hungry and sore and cold. But that didn’t matter. That was weak and Haven was going to be strong. She wasn’t going to let this boy push her around.
“How old are you?” the boy finally asked. He wasn’t looking away. He stuck his hands in his pockets.
“Six,” she replied, straightening her back like her Aunt and Uncle did when they wanted to impress someone. She wasn’t a baby anymore. Six was old enough to be strong.
Dean nodded, “Well, I’m seven.” She tried not to show her surprise. Seven? Seven was old. She tried not to shiver. It didn’t matter. He could be seven and she six. Haven was strong. Haven wasn’t going to be a freak. She wasn’t going to get hurt.
“So why’re you here?” Dean asked suspiciously.
Haven shrugged. “Cause the man said he’d do something about the thing. I don’t believe him, though.”
“My dad can do anything!” Dean protested.
She scoffed, “Can not.”
Haven rolled her eyes. “Of course he can’t. No one can do anything.”
“Well, my dad can,” Dean argued, crossing his arms. “He’ll show you.”
Haven shrugged. It would be sort of nice if the man actually could do something about the thing. But she wasn’t counting on it. “You’re stupid.”
“Well--” Dean paused, struggling to find something as his face turned red. She had made Dudley turn that kind of red a few times. She’d never regretted it afterwards, even if he hit her really badly. It was funny when he got mad. “Your voice is weird!”
“So’s yours,” Haven replied, hands on her hips.
“Well, I think you’re too small to be six! You’re just a baby,” Dean yelled.
“No I’m not!” Haven shouted, “Take it back! I’m not a baby!”
Haven screamed and dove for him. She didn’t care if she was tired and hungry. She didn’t care. Haven was strong and she wouldn’t be called names.
She tackled him to the ground. Both of them tried to hit each other wherever they could-- arms, face, chest. She screamed wordlessly at him, not caring when she got hit. She wasn’t weak. Haven wouldn’t be called names. She wasn’t a baby!
They fought only moments before there was another voice. “Dean? What’s going on?”
Both of them stopped immediately, looking at each other. The voice sounded like it was someone little. Littler than her. Dean sat up, and then she did.
There was a boy at the door to another room. He was small. He looked scared. Instantly, Haven felt bad. She didn’t mean to scare someone so little. He was tiny. He couldn’t hurt her.
“It’s alright, Sammy,” said Dean. He looked at her and smiled. “Sammy, this is Haven. Haven, this is Sammy. He’s my little brother. He’s three. How about I make some breakfast?”
She frowned at him suspiciously, but nodded. He got up and offered her a hand up. Haven hesitated, but took it and let him help her up. Haven yawned as Dean went to the kitchen. Sammy, arms around a small, worn stuffed animal, ran for Dean and hid behind his legs. She watched as he peeked around at her with big brown eyes.
“It’s alright, Sammy. Dad says Haven is staying with us for a few days until he takes care of something at work,” Dean said as he rummaged through cabinets. “Why don’t you sit down and color while you wait?”
Sammy slowly walked away to a corner near the kitchen, where a coloring book and crayons sat. He gave her several glances, but he began to color in the picture. Haven hovered, unsure of what to do. She wasn’t mad at Dean anymore. She decided to sit at the small table next to the kitchen.
She frowned at Dean. “Do you even know how to cook?” Dudley was big and he didn’t know. Dean wasn’t quite that kind of big, though. Maybe he did know.
“Kinda. Do you?” Dean asked.
“Cool,” Dean replied. “Do you have any brothers?”
Haven said, “No.” She didn’t bother mentioning her cousin Dudley. She didn’t like him.
“What’s your favorite tv show?” Dean asked.
“I can’t watch tv.”
“I’m not allowed.”
“Oh,” Dean said. He set out three bowls and began to pour cereal into each, and then milk. “What about favorite color?”
Haven shrugged. “Red, maybe.”
“I like green.”
That was reasonable, she thought. Green was okay, too. She kicked her feet, trying not to let her eyes close. They kept trying to do it on their own. She was sleepy. She yawned again as Dean walked over to put the bowl in front of her. He set the other two bowls at the table before picking up Sammy and setting him in a chair.
Then they began to eat. Haven was so hungry that it was gone almost as soon as she started.
“Do you want more?” Dean asked.
She shook her head and yawned again. She was normally given smaller bowls than that. It was nice to have a bigger bowl for once, but she didn’t think she could eat any more.
“I guess you can sleep on the couch. Do you need pj’s?” Dean asked. She nodded again. He ran off to one of the rooms and returned with sweatpants and a shirt. He pointed her to the bathroom and she went to change.
The clothes were too big on her, but they fit much better than Dudley’s old things ever did. She didn’t really care. She returned to the main room and fell onto the couch. She was awake only long enough to remember Dean throwing a blanket over her.