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The Race for Immortality

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Chapter 1: The Golden Trio

              The moment Harry entered platform nine and three quarters everyone’s eyes were on him. Harry had expected it, considering, but growing up with the Dursleys who treated him like he was invisible made him unused to the attention. Besides his coming out party, there had never been so many eyes focused on him.

              Either way, Harry ignored the eyes, and tried to ignore the voices that seemed to follow him as he walked to the Hogwarts express. His falcon Vito, on the other hand, seemed to tense in his cage.

              Uncle Marius had bought Vito from the Magical Menagerie, after being given explicit directions from Harry himself. After Marius had mentioned to Harry that many students had animal companions, Harry had known immediately what his should be. He remembered reading in a book at school that falcons were one of the fiercest birds of prey with a much sharper beak than hawks, even managing to cut through the spinal cords of their victims. He’d left his uncle with the simple of instructions of getting “the fiercest falcon there was.” His uncle, surprisingly, hadn’t disappointed.

              The full name of Harry’s falcon was Vito Corleone, after Don Corleone from the Godfather. It was a favorite of Vernon Dursley, and he played it so much it eventually became a favorite of Harry’s too, grudgingly. The ending especially filled Harry with a vicious sort of pleasure, the way Don Corleone’s son managed to give everyone just exactly what they deserved. He’d been filled with reverence for the movie ever since. Harry thought it only fitting the most dangerous animal from the menagerie be given the name of the most dangerous gangster in movie history.

              According to the owner of the menagerie, however, Vito was still pretty young and had a long ways to go before he was cutting through spinal cords. Harry wasn’t really disappointed with that either, though: even Don Corleone had to start somewhere.

              Still, no matter how much he and Vito tried to ignore the whispers, Harry wasn’t deaf, and he could hear most of them quite clearly.

              “Is that Black’s son?”

              “Mad Black’s son?”

              “The one who gave up the Potters?”

              “The one who killed thirteen people with a single curse?”

              “Wait…who was his mother then?”

              “Regina Malfoy.”

              “Squib Malfoy? Die hard death eater Sirius Black married a squib?”

              “Marry?” A scoff here. “More like raped- “

              Harry was inside the Hogwarts express before whoever it was could finish their sentence, trying to calm the sickness that was growing in his stomach, trying to crawl up through his throat.

              This is the man I’m supposed to call my father. Harry thought to himself. Supposed to be proud of. A person everyone thinks is a rapist. A madman. Someone who killed my true family.

              It was disgusting.

              Vito chirped in his cage and Harry slowly cleared his thoughts, hoping to find an empty carriage where he could stew in his bad mood alone. Where he wouldn’t have any chance of snapping at anyone or even worse picking at fight. He was on thin ice after his birthday party, after attacking Theodore Nott, and Harry didn’t think his mind could take any more nagging and disappointment from his aunt and uncle.

              When he finally found one, he heaved a great sigh of relief, until Vito started chirping again.

              Harry rolled his eyes. “What now, Vito?”

              Vito started biting at his cage, until Harry finally got the message that Vito wanted to go out for some flying time. The owner of the Menagerie had said that it was totally fine to release Vito, as he knew who his master was, and that Harry didn’t need to worry about Vito flying away and never coming back. Magical Menagerie falcons were trained to submit to a certain smell, though it was up to them if they choose to submit to it. Luckily for Harry, Vito had chosen to submit to Harry’s scent, and was now bound to him for the rest of his days.

              Harry let Vito walk onto his hand, before opening the window to the carriage and letting him fly away. He stuck his head out the window for a minute, wishing he could fly away as well, and it was at that precise moment that the door to his carriage opened.

              Harry turned his head only to catch sight of a boy his age with flaming red hair and millions of freckles on his face.

              “Oh,” the boy said, quite obviously startled, “I’m sorry. All the other carriages were full. D’you mind if I take a seat?”

              Inwardly, Harry sighed. Outwardly, however, he gave a polite smile. “No worries. I don’t mind.”

              The boy gave a relieved smile in return. “Brill, thanks mate.” He made to sit down across from Harry and held out a freckled hand. “Name’s Ron Weasley.”

              Harry reached out a hand in return. “Aries Black.”

              Immediately, the boy’s face went as pale as a sheet, his freckles now very prominent on his face.

              “Aries B-Black?” He stuttered out. “As in, the son of Sirius Black?”

              The smile disappeared from Harry’s face. His expression went cold.

              “Yeah, why? Got a problem with that?”

              Ron Weasley colored, obviously not liking Harry’s tone. “And if I did?” He spat out.

              Harry smiled coolly. “Then that means I have a problem with you.”

              The two of them were locked in a stare down, the air thick with tension, when the door to Harry’s carriage opened again.

              He had to stifle the urge to growl. What now?

              Ron and Harry both turned to see a round faced boy enter their carriage. It looked like he’d been crying.

              “Sorry,” he said, “but have you seen a toad by any chance?”

              Harry rolled his eyes. What a baby. “No, sorry.”

              The round-faced boy turned to look at Ron, who shook his face as well. “Me neither, mate.”

              The round-faced boy looked as if he was going to cry again, but thankfully closed the door before he could do so.

              Ron turned to face Harry again, and was obviously going to say something, but he let out a yelp instead.

              Weasley pulled something out of his pocket, a pitiful looking rat. “Scabbers, you dung faced idiot, you bit me!”

              Harry couldn’t help but let out a snigger. “That’s your pet? A rat of all things, and such a pathetic looking one at that?”

              Weasley glared at him. “Scabbers has a heart of gold, mind you.” Scabbers then proceeded to bite Weasley again, Weasley letting out another yelp. Harry sniggered as Ron cradled his finger.

              “Well, he might not have a heart of gold,” Ron bit out poisonously, “but I can turn him gold.”

              “Oh really?” Harry drawled, not believing a single word the red-haired boy said.

              “Yes, really.” The boy replied mockingly in turn, digging through his rupsack. “Let me just find my wand- “

              Ron Weasley’s wand was a sad looking thing, chipped in some places, and looking like the slightest wind could tear it apart. Harry couldn’t help himself; he didn’t snigger this time, he full on laughed.

              “What in Merlin’s name—you call that a wand?”

              Weasley’s ears turned pink, and he was obviously working himself into quite a snit, but before he could unleash its full force on Harry (who was wheezing at this point, so string was his laughter), yet another person entered their carriage.

              “Excuse me,” the girl interrupted in a snooty tone, bushy brown hair flying everywhere, “but have you seen Neville’s toad?”

              Harry didn’t bother answering, he was still laughing from the pathetic sight of Weasley’s wand and couldn’t manage a response even if he tried. Ron on the other hand seemed too upset to answer. In the end though, it didn’t matter: the bushy haired girl seemed to latch on to Ron’s wand as well.

              “Oh are you doing magic?” She asked. “Let’s see it then.”

              Ron seemed taken aback at her command (Harry was too), yet strangely still obeyed, probably mostly to spite Harry.

              He cleared his throat quite importantly, and Harry barely kept from rolling his eyes.

“Galleons, trinkets, broomsticks sold,

“Turn this stupid, fat rat gold.”

              Ron pointed his wand but nothing happened. Harry let out a snort.

              The girl on the other hand responded seriously. “Are you sure that’s a real spell?” She asked, somewhat condescendingly if you asked Harry, and by the looks of it if you asked Ron as well. “Or, at least, are you sure that rat’s alive? He looks quite dead if you ask me.”

              Ron looked at her, completely stunned. “You think I keep a dead rat for a pet?” He asked angrily. “Who do you think I am? Some kind of loon?”

              The girl sighed quite exasperatedly, as if Ron was a child that needed explaining. Harry quite agreed with her. “I don’t think anything about you. I just think that maybe you should get your rat checked out, you know, for its health.” She paused then as if something had completely crossed her mind. “Cricket! I forgot to introduce myself. My name’s Hermione Granger.”

              Ron watched her sulkily. “Name’s Ron Weasley.” He then pointed to Harry. “That over there’s Aries Black.”

              Granger’s eyes quickly focused to Harry’s. “Are you really?” She asked suspiciously. “You know, I read all about you - or rather - your father in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century - light background reading of course. It never mentioned that Sirius Black had a wife, or even a child.”

              Harry ignored her question, gave a little hmm. “My father’s in a book?”

              Granger still regarded him suspiciously. “You didn’t know? I’d have found out everything I could about my father if I was you. A terrible man, if you don’t mind me saying so,” she said with the air of a person who really didn’t care if he minded her saying so. “Strange, really, that he was in Gryffindor. I’ve been asking around and it sound by far the best. I hear Dumbledore himself was in it. Do either of you know what house you’ll be in?”

              Harry answered easily. “Slytherin of course.”

              Ron’s eyes narrowed at his response. “There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was in Slytherin.” Ron paused after this, obviously choosing his next words carefully. “Though, I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering who your father is.”

              Harry knew this was a ploy to upset him, but he was rather confused by some of what Ron said.

              “You-Know-Who?” He asked.

              Ron stared at him as if he were playing crazy, then snorted as if he just realized something. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said acidly, “you may refer to him as the Dark Lord.”

              Harry’s eyes hardened. “The Dark Lord? You mean Voldemort?” Ron flinched back at his words. “He’s no lord of mine.”

              Ron blinked, obviously surprised at Harry’s vehement response. He looked away uneasily from Harry and prattled on as if nothing had unsettled him.

              “Either way,” Ron said quite superiorly, “everyone knows Gryffindor is the best house,” Harry snorted at that, “and I’m bound to be in it. I mean, all of my brothers have been sorted there. Imagine how it would look if I wasn’t…” He trailed off awkwardly, obviously now unsettled by the thought.

              Granger, not noticing Ron’s discomfort, continued on obliviously. “Oh yes, it would be quite horribly embarrassing if you weren’t sorted into Gryffindor. I mean, if I were your mother, I’d probably cry and cast you out in shame.” She added, not noticing how pale Ron how turned. “…Anyway, I’d better go look for Neville’s toad some more. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon.”

              The girl – Hermione - turned in a flurry of bushy hair, leaving Harry and Ron alone once again.

              "Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it," said Ron, and Harry couldn’t help but snort in agreement. They had settled into a fragile sort of silence when a pecking came from the carriage window.

              “What in the bloody hell is that?” Asked Ron in horror.

              And Harry could only grin in response, the first true smile in a while. “That, Mr. Weasel, is a real pet.”

              Ron was obviously so gone in his fear that he didn’t even register Harry’s insult. “That’s a pet?” He asked faintly.

              Harry opened the window and in flew Vito, landing on Harry’s shoulder. There was something sticking out of his mouth.

              “Oh. I guess that solves the mystery of where Neville’s toad went.”

              Ron looked like he was going to throw up. “That thing - it ate Neville’s toad?”

              Harry smiled with all his teeth. “That’s not the only thing Vito eats.” He added mysteriously, and right as he said it, Vito’s eyes focused on Scabbers who was sleeping on Ron’s lap.

              Ron, noticing Vito’s attention, quickly scooped Scabbers into his pocket.

              Harry couldn’t help but laugh again - that is - until the door opened and Shafiq and Malfoy strolled in as if they didn’t have a care in the world.

              Aamir gave him that cool and disinterested smile that Harry could never quite perfect. “”lo, Black.”

              But Harry didn’t care about Aamir. His attention was focused solely on Draco who hovered behind Aamir like a coward, eyes flicking every which way except at Harry.

              Harry felt himself burn at the way Draco ignored him, recalled the events of his birthday as if they’d occurred just yesterday, his explicit warning.

              Apparently Draco had been too stupid to listen to him.

              “Malfoy.” He growled.

              Guess it’s time for you to pay now.