Nine-year-old Harry Potter did not have an easy life. Actually, it was clearly obvious to anyone who looked that he had a very difficult and painful life. He had grown up in a house without love. In fact, he didn’t even know his name was Harry and not Freak or Boy until he started school and his teachers told him; that was a very interesting day. He was worked as a slave in his own home from the time he was woken up in the mornings until he was locked in his cupboard under the stairs in the evenings. More than anything, he just wanted a friend, someone he could talk to and who would understand him, but his cousin, Dudley made sure he never made friends at school or in the neighborhood by scaring off anyone who came close to him.
This day in particular was one of the worst. Dudley and his ‘gang’ had caught up to Harry and had beaten him severely when he was supposed to be working in the small garden outside the house. Because of his sore ribs, he had a hard time cooking for the family, which he knew very clearly he was not a part of, that evening and had burned dinner before he realized what was happening. This angered his Aunt Petunia enough that she had hit her nephew in the head with the frying pan before he could get away from her. So, not only were his ribs sore, he was bruised all over, he had burns on the side of his face, but his head also felt like it was heavy and extremely painful and fuzzy.
After he was thrown in his cupboard (freaks don't get bedrooms), his ears continued to ring, and he was very nauseous. He just wanted to go to sleep, but he was having a hard time concentrating. He wasn’t sure if it was the head injury or the lack of food, but he just wanted to curl up and never wake up again.
Don’t go to sleep! Stay awake! A frantic voice called out in the darkness.
Harry jerked up from where he had just laid down on the tiny cot in the cupboard. “Who’s there?” He asked, scared.
What?! You actually heard me!! I’ve be trying to talk to you for years! You actually heard me?! The voice sounded extremely excited at that.
“Er, yeah, who are you?” Harry asked the darkness around him.
I’m in your head. You don’t have to speak out loud. See if you can just think and I hear you.
Hello? Harry asked tentatively in his mind.
The voice gave a little shout of glee. Hi Harry, you can call me Tom. It’s great to finally meet you.
Hi Tom, am I going crazy?
No, Harry. I’m really here. You have to listen to me though. You can’t go to sleep. You have a concussion. If you go to sleep, you might not ever wake up again. Do you understand me?
I hate to break it to you Tom, but I can’t just stay awake for the rest of my life. I’m going to have to sleep at some point. It’s not like my relatives are going to take me to hospital. I might as well go to sleep now and get it over with.
I think I can help heal you. Will you at least try? Tom asked with a tone of desperation.
Harry shrugged even though no one could see him. Why do you care?
Harry heard a sigh in his head. First of all, I live inside you, Harry. Tom explained. If you die, then I die. So, I have a bit of a vested interest. There was a pause as the next bit was said with a very grudging tone. I also hate to admit, but I’ve been with you since you were 15 months old. I’ve come to maybe, possibly, care for you.
Harry frowned. He didn’t for one minute believe the voice in his head was real. He was certain he had finally lost it, but at least the voice seemed nice. You care for me?
Of course, child! Tom now indignantly replied. You are good, kind, caring, and horribly mistreated. I may be a monster, but even I can’t help caring for you!
You’re a monster? Harry asked in shock.
Somehow Harry knew that Tom was rolling his eyes (if he had them). I’m a bad person, Harry. However, since I’ve been stuck in you, well, I’ve been getting better. I don’t know if it’s just seeing all you’ve been through and knowing that you still have a good heart, or if you have actually been healing my soul all these years. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter because you aren’t going to make it through tonight if we don’t do something about your head.
At this point, Harry was absolutely certain that he didn’t care if he was going crazy or even that Tom insisted he was a bad person. Someone was actually talking to him; someone who actually said they cared. You said you could heal me, how?
I’m a wizard, or at least I was before I got stuck in your head. You are a wizard as well. You can do magic.
Harry snorted in disbelief.
You turned Ms. Harris’s hair blue and apparated to the roof of the school building. Tom reminded him.
It means you were on the ground one minute and on the roof the next. How do you explain that without magic?
Harry thought for a moment and then smiled. So, if I have magic, I can heal myself?
Well, you don’t have a wand… Tom seemed to be thinking very hard. You seem to have quite a bit of talent at wandless magic though. I’ve never known anyone to be able to apparate without a wand, even as accidental magic. See if you can feel your magic. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and search deep within yourself…See if you can feel the spark of your magic. It should be a flame within you, deep within your being. If you can feel it, then you can draw on it, and we might be able to make this work.
Harry closed his eyes and tried to follow his new friend’s instructions. He sat there for what seemed forever, willing himself not to fall asleep even sitting up. Finally, he felt something very faint deep within him, something that felt warm and comforting. I think I might feel something. Harry told Tom.
Yes, I’m in your head, I can feel what you do. Follow that, follow the feeling to your magic.
Harry followed the warmth to a what he could only describe as a bonfire within himself. It wasn’t scary or destructive, but warm and inviting.
Well, that’s unexpected… came a stunned reply from Tom.
What? That’s not my magic? Harry asked worriedly.
Um, yeah, that’s it all right. Tom laughed from within him. It should be a little candle though. You haven’t trained it for it to grow that big. Usually, for it to be that strong, you would have had years of training, like exercising a muscle. It seems that your magic has been working overtime to keep you alive and heal you all these years. I wondered how we survived when you were seven and your family didn’t feed you for so long. It must have been your magic keeping us alive. It’s beautiful!
Really? So, it’s strong.
More than strong. You are a very powerful, young wizard, Harry.
I’m not a freak?
Harry could feel the anger radiating from Tom’s consciousness. You are a miracle, Harry. You are a beautiful child. Never think you are a freak. Those relatives of yours are the freaks in this world!
Harry felt warmed by his new, and probably imaginary, friend’s praise. Thank you, Tom.
Now, we need to heal that concussion of yours. This is very pressing, Harry. I know you don’t feel well at all right now.
How do I do it?
Merlin! I wish I had learned more healing spells instead of just ones to torture and kill.
Harry was a little scared at this revelation of Tom’s, but he just filed it away as Tom’s past. He quickly decided that he’d just have to make sure his new friend stayed good. If he was only a figment of his imagination, then he should be able to imagine his friend as someone nice and kind. He wasn’t going to let this new friend go, his first and only friend, even if the voice in his head thought he had done bad things before. Not that he knew how he would get Tom out of his head anyway if he even wanted. Can I just say “heal” or something?
Actually, there is a very simple healing spell. The incantation is just “sana,” it’s Latin for “heal.” Normally, there would be a wand movement to go with it, but since you don’t have a wand, I guess you could try to just direct your magic to your head where the concussion is. It’s worth a try anyway.
Harry closed his eyes again and mentally walked himself back down to his bonfire of magic. He stayed there for a minute trying to figure out how to direct the fire. After a couple attempts, he learned he could push the flames when he thought about where he wanted them to go. He concentrated on the word “sana” in his mind as he pushed and then pulled the flames through his body to where he felt the pain in his head. After a minute, the pain receded, and the burn on the side of his face also stopped stinging. Wow, that felt great! Harry laughed.
There was a nervous chuckle from Tom. So, I forgot to tell you to say the word out loud. You realize you just did wandless and nonverbal magic.
Erm, was that not normal?
No, Harry. But it is wonderful!
Can I go to sleep now? I’m really tired.
Of course, Harry. You should be fine now.
Will you be here when I wake up?
I’ve been here since you were a baby. Tom replied. I don’t know why you can talk to me now, but even if you can’t talk to me in the morning, I’ll still be here.
Ok, Tom. Thank you.
Sleep well, Harry.
When Harry woke the next morning, he felt much better than he had the day before. He hadn’t healed all his bruises and sore muscles, but his head didn’t hurt, and his face was no longer burned.
Tom? You there?
Harry sighed when he didn’t get a response. He couldn’t hear Tom anymore. He knew it was too good to be true. It was all just in his imagination anyway. Harry decided to check to see if he could still find his bonfire though. He closed his eyes and reached within himself and smiled when he felt the welcome warmth of his magic within him. Maybe it wasn’t all his imagination; he thought with a smile.
Harry? Are you there? Can you hear me?
Tom? Harry sat up straighter in his cupboard several months later. You’re back!!
I never left. Tom sighed in relief when Harry answered. I’ve been trying to talk to you, but I couldn’t get through.
But you can now, why?
Harry, it’s been too long. It’s been too long since you’ve eaten. I think I can only talk to you when you are close to death…
Oh, Harry murmured in his mind. It hasn’t been that long since I ate, right?
Yes Harry; it’s been that long.
I’m sorry, Tom. I know you’re in here too. I’ve tried to take care of you.
Tom laughed. You should say that you’ve tried to take care of yourself.
Harry shrugged. Yeah, that.
I know, Harry, Tom said with a sigh. He unfortunately did know that Harry was trying to take care of Tom, going back and forth between believing he was completely imaginary and a real person, by staying out of trouble with his aunt and uncle and avoiding his cousin. Harry had long since stopped caring much about himself. Let’s get you some food.
How? I’m locked in here.
Magic, of course. Tom said, Harry could feel him smile even though he didn’t have a face.
Ok, I’ve been practicing reaching my magic, Harry explained.
I know, and you are doing excellently! Tom assured him. Frankly, he was amazed at the power and control of the small child. He was certain that Harry would be more powerful than himself by the time he was through with Hogwarts if he kept up as he had been. Focus on the locks outside your door and pull on your magic. This time the word is “alohamora.”
That’ll unlock the door?
Yes, Harry. Give it a try.
Harry focused on pulling the fire from within him through his hands and into the door. Alohamora he thought. A soft click sounded, and Harry pushed open his cupboard door. Tom, it worked!
Tom gave a happy shout within Harry’s mind. Now, food. Get something healthy. Make it something they won’t miss though.
After raiding the kitchen, Harry had taken just a little bit of a lot of the healthy food in the refrigerator. Luckily, he was the one that did most of the cooking, he didn’t think it would go noticed since he didn’t take much of any one thing. He sat in his cupboard after magically locking the door once more, eating as much as his stomach was able to hold. Now, promise me you won’t let it get this bad again, Tom chided. You know the spells. Take care of yourself.
Yeah, Tom. I’ll do that. Harry nodded as he nibbled on some cheese.
No, take care of yourself. You don’t worry about me, ok?
Sure, Tom. Harry thought, humoring his friend. Are you going to disappear again?
I don’t know how to stay, Harry. Tom sighed. I try to talk to you, but you can’t hear me.
I think I’m just not listening hard enough. Harry decided. Tomorrow, I’ll use my magic and try to find you in my head. Maybe when I’m healthier, I’m pushing you aside somehow.
Maybe…Just know, I’m still here though. Even if you can’t hear me. And, know I do care. Even if your family doesn’t, I care.
How can you say you’re a monster and a bad person when you’re so nice to me? Harry thought at him. I don’t believe you’re as bad as you say you are.
Oh, but I am, Harry. Tom said darkly. Your soul has healed the part of me that’s in you. I was insane because of some very bad decisions I made. I turned myself into a monster. Your soul, your magic, has healed me. The first few years I was with you, I could still feel some of the madness, but it seems almost gone now. Even sane, I’m not a good man though. I’ve done horrible things.
You’ve also saved my life twice now. Harry reminded him. That has to mean something.
Yes, I also tried to kill you once though. Tom told him. When you were a baby…I was the one that killed your parents.
What?! My parents died in a car crash. Were you driving the other car? Harry sputtered out.
Harry, Tom thought at him sadly. Don’t believe anything your relatives tell you. Your parents were magical like you. We were in a war and on opposite sides. There was a prophesy that you would be able to destroy me, so I decided to kill you when you were still a baby. Your parents died protecting you. For some reason I couldn’t kill you though. I tried, but my body was destroyed in the process. There are other pieces of me out there like this one in your head, but I don’t have a body anymore. You stopped me, and for that, I can only say thank you, and I’m so so sorry.
Harry sat staring into the darkness, the slice of cheese in his hand forgotten about. Suddenly, he remembered a lady with red hair and a flash of green light hitting her. He remembered the fear before green light hit him as well. I don’t know what to say to that, Tom.
You don’t have to say anything, Harry. I know you probably hate me now. I understand. I’ll be as silent as possible unless you need me.
No!! You can’t leave me! Harry started to panic. He couldn’t be alone again!
What?! You can’t want me to stay around after what I just told you. I don’t know how to get out of your head, but I can at least be as silent as possible.
No!! I can’t…I can’t go back to not having anyone!
I’m not anyone, Harry, I’m a murderer…
Well, just promise not to murder people again, ok? Harry frustratedly pressed, trying to push back his growing panic. You’re all I have. Yes, I’m very angry with you, and I don’t know if I forgive you, but you just…you can’t leave me, ok? If you want to show me that you’re sorry, then you have to stay. I don’t have anyone else.
And, that’s my fault, Harry…
Then, fix it!! You make sure you can talk to me and keep me from going even more crazy. I can’t do this anymore! I need some…I need you.
Ok, Harry. Tom conceded in disbelief. I will stay, and I will make sure I can talk to you if it’s the last thing I ever do. If that is what you ask of me after what I’ve done, then that’s the very least I can do for you.
Harry sighed and stared at the cheese, not sure if he could eat any more after his panic. Thank you, Tom. I’ll talk to you in the morning.
I’ll make sure of it. Sleep well.
Harry did sleep well. He didn’t know why. He felt he should be much more concerned that he had a murderer in his head, especially one that killed his parents. However, he also finally had someone to talk to, someone who knew what all he had been through. He decided that if he was going crazy anyway, he might as well do it with a friend.
Aunt Petunia banged on the door very early the next morning. “Freak! Get up and cook breakfast!”
Harry sighed and stilled as he searched his mind. Tom?
Good morning, Harry.
Harry sighed. His friend stayed, he stayed just as he promised. Good morning, Tom.